Ray De Silva

Chief Commercial Officer

1. Tell us about the business you work for and its mission

I work for Brainnwave, a decision intelligence company that helps clients to figure out how to leverage the power of AI&ML through richer evidence and insights

2. What attracted you to working in sales originally?

One of the most rewarding elements of my role is bringing about fundamental change to the way business is done. Seeing people's eyes light up when technology can be applied well to solve really valuable challenges. Bringing a powerful message that sells itself, and allows me to be well rewarded!

3. What was your path to becoming a Chief Commercial Officer?

Well it was a case of pushing myself at the right time and being ambitious. Believe it or not I started my career as a trainee accountant but very quickly found that a 'back office' role was not for me. I have always been a bit of a geek when it comes to technology so right when mobile technology was starting to take off, I co-founded my first business in New Zealand as a BellSouth (now Vodafone/One NZ) exclusive reseller. Having grown and sold this, like many other founders, I wasn't done so founded another, grew and merged this with my biggest competitor.

Moving to the UK I was determined to get into the world of digital communications and landed a B2B sales role with Vodafone UK. Having built this from a £12m to a £150m/year business within 3 years, Vodafone Group came calling and wanted me to lead the development of a global B2B partner programme which I successfully launched across 30 markets, generating some £3bn/year for the group and for the first time being able to attract and partner with players like Google, Microsoft and Spotify. Fast forward to now and I've had the pleasure of working as VP Sales, CCO or CRO with multiple early-stage tech businesses in both full time and fractional roles to steer the creation of revenues by delivering innovative propositions providing true digital transformation for clients in both enterprise and Government.

4. What are the core skills and experience required for your position?

I'd say that THE single most important skill for an early stage or scale-up business is being laser focussed on providing value to the customer and prioritising what value to go after and why. I recently published an article on what I think makes the difference in achieving product-market fit, and having discussed this with other leaders recently, it's this - make sure you're solving visceral customer pain and the value of that, and ruthlessly prioritise the development of features and proposition to solve this. I believe the key skill I bring is the ability to marry the bigger picture "whys" with the execution in the detail of the "hows" to create a winning North Star that the organisation can guide itself to success against.

5. Who are the key players every sales leader should have in their team?

Product leadership - why is the product you're developing important to customers, the market, competitors? Technology leadership - why we can do it better than anyone else - technical vision - USP. Customer success leadership - those who understand how to best activate traction. Customer experience leadership - those who understand what great customer experience looks like from discovery through to renewal. Technology stacks that are constantly being refined - especially in ICP development and targeting and acquisition.

6. What qualities do you look for when hiring sales people?

Tenacity, ability to listen, ability to take the initiative, ability to understand next steps and stay focussed on what it takes to get there. Experience - brings valuable experiences working with customers and rolling sleeves up to both understand what the problem is and how to solve it.

7. Tell us what you love most about working in sales

Figuring out what is a valuable problem to solve and bringing a solution that commands a premium to exceed expectation and growth ambition. And people! Being able to meet people in diverse walks of life from across the globe and build lasting relationships.

8. What advice would you give to someone wanting to develop a career in commercial leadership roles?

Don't sell a product. Sell something you believe in or care passionately about. Have conviction, and don't be afraid to stand up for what you believe in. Remain humble, understanding how little you know about the customer. Be curious, always ask "why", "so what" and "what happens if you can't do [x]?"

9. What do you do to relax in your free time?

Read, travel, immersive theatre, cinema, gym, cycling, skiing and gaming.

10. Which essential item do you always pack for a business trip?

Comfortable business attire that makes air travel much more enjoyable. Hugo Boss performance range is my go to.

By clicking “Accept All Cookies”, you agree to the storing of cookies on your device to enhance site navigation, analyse site usage, and assist in our marketing efforts. View our Privacy Policy for more information.