In honor of Black History Month, Icertis is spotlighting Black employees who have helped make Icertis the undisputed leader in contract lifecycle management.
Today we catch up with Carl Saxon, an Enterprise Sales Director based in our Seattle office. Carl has been with Icertis since 2015, serving in roles across our sales organization. Below, Carl shares his inspirations, influences, and insights from his career in technology.
What experiences or career choices led you to the tech industry?
I have been in sales since 1996, starting with medical devices and then switching to financial services. After the birth of my son, Mikel, my wife Tia and I decided to move to Atlanta from Chicago—not only for warmer weather, but to help further my wife's career. I had to get a job and applied for an inside sales position at a lead generation company, PointClear, that focused on finding leads for companies offering tech solutions. I found the space intriguing and quickly noticed there were not many people that looked like me. That needed to change.
Who are the leaders, influencers, executives, or individuals you admire and follow? Why?
I would say there are three: Eric Thomas, Shonda Rhimes, and Michelle Obama. Eric Thomas is a motivational speaker who was formerly homeless. He found a way to pick himself up by his bootstraps and now has a master's degree and does professional speaking sessions across the world. Shonda Rhimes is an American T.V. producer responsible for shows like Scandal, Grey's Anatomy and How to Get Away with Murder. When she felt she was not being treated as well as other producers at ABC, she turned down their offer and went to Netflix. She bet on herself and now has a more lucrative contract. Lastly, Michelle Obama. I can only imagine the pressure of being the first African American First Lady. But she came in strong with the goal of helping end childhood obesity within a generation. This was unpopular with many, but it was a goal that I believe will have a major positive effect on the health of the U.S. My main point with these three is to respect the hustle; I've achieved a lot in my life have through the same kind of hard work and determination that these three exemplify.
What communities or organizations are you involved in and why did you pick that organization?
I am licensed to offer insurance and securities and help middle- and low-income people navigate financial products. I do this because I truly believe that education is key. My biological dad passed before I was born, leaving us with no insurance or investments, and my mom did not have a high school education. So needless to say, we grew up low-income (relative compared to some countries). This plagues the African American community and I try to educate as much as possible. My last act in Chicago before I moved was hosting seminars for the "unbanked" area of Chicago, teaching people how to set up a regular bank account, then graduate to investing.
What advice would you offer to your younger self?
To not to be so angry. A mentor of mine once pointed out to me that I was always either mad about something or mad at somebody. Being angry and letting your emotions show is tricky professionally, and it's particularly fraught for Black Americans, who are often held to a different standard. A big part of my maturing as a professional has been learning to channel my emotions – when I don't agree with something, I count to 10 before reacting and/or typing. But I am still a work in progress.
Anything else you’d like to share?
I would say my life revolves around Tia and Mikel. Trying to raise my son to be a strong African American male has its challenges in these times. One of the conversations we've had, like most African Americans, is "The Talk." I've taught him to control what he can control, and make sure he makes it home. I've also taught him, true or not, that he has to work 10-20 percent harder and more efficiently than those next to him. As an African American, this is what is bred into us, and as my mom used to say, "Make a way out of no way."