Advancing Life & Work

It all started with Latin Dance


 Let me start off by saying that I truly love my job at HPE.  I just celebrated my 10 year anniversary, and aside from the amazing “le creuset” cookware that I received as my gift, I felt a distinct sense of honor and pride.  It 's been an incredible ride and I have certainly been through some of our most turbulent and prospering times (and have lived to tell the story!)

I began my career at HPE as a college hire and was screened initially by a recruiter named Archie Bunker (no joke!).   I’ll never forget Archie as he and I had quite the interesting initial conversation.  It started out as an unexpected call from Archie with me sitting in a parking lot awaiting to head into another interview. 

First of all, I wasn’t exactly the technology type.  I was graduating from college with a degree in Marketing and Spanish.  I didn't know CPU from a server, but I could translate most of the terms into Spanish.

After about 20 minutes into the discussion, with me saying,  "I don't know" a lot, Archie paused and said,  “Kristen, tell me more about this Latin Dance on your resume”.  Well that I could say something about!  We got to talking (I almost missed my next interview) and finally hit some common ground.  I sold him on Latin Dance and from that point on it seemed like he was sold on me.  A few days later, the hiring manager reached out to me and the rest, as they say, is history.

First day, week,  and month on the job was truly the cliché of "drinking from a fire hose".  I didn’t know what I was doing but I was determined to figure it out.  I aligned myself to successful people, spent a lot of time networking in the office (Marlborough, Rocky Hill and 49th Street offices in Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York, respectively, for those of you who remember ancient times) I shadowed other sales reps, networked with people throughout the organization, and spent countless hours on webinars and flashcards, and with my Solution Architect counterparts, arguably my most important resources in developing my technical acumen).



There was a lot of learning, but it was a lot of fun, too.  Once I was six months in, I was assigned my first set of accounts and started carrying a bag, driving an HP Ford Taurus, and spending time with customers. This proved to be the most exciting part of the job by far (the customer part, not the Ford Taurus).

Fast-forward 1.5 years and I was promoted to an Account Manager role. In this position I was responsible for managing (hunting) in a 70-plus-account-based territory in the Connecticut/New York area. Customers were tough and already loyal to other vendors, so it wasn’t easy. It was mostly an acquisition role; however, I prospered and grew the business, attacking competitive footprint and gaining customers/mentors for life, but none of this success would have been possible without my family ongoing support. 


Next I was promoted to a Global Specialist role, aligned to one of our top financial accounts. This was the big leagues and the most pivotal few years of my career. I developed sales and technical acumen that can only be learned on the job. 

 I grew into my career, built a name for myself both internally and externally, and from there took a nine-month stint at a big data company, only to be recruited back to HPE for my dream job of AGM (Account General Manager) for two of our largest financial accounts. 

I spent nearly three years as an AGM, and that’s where I learned how to build customer relationships, position the value of HPE, align our solutions to our customer needs, and, most importantly, become an extensiona trusted advisorto my customer’s organization. 

Now comes the interesting part. After almost eight years in sales, along came an opportunity to shift my focus to lead Sales Strategy for our Financial Services Strategic Account Organization. Im always looking to step outside my comfort zone, and I thrive on self-development, always challenging myself to grow and learn new skills. Here I was able to take my selling experience, work with various customers, and strategize with our sales teams on how to best position and differentiate our solutions. I continued to build my network and my brand and broaden my knowledge base. 

This role led to one of the most challenging opportunities of my career, a position that helped me grow more than I ever thought possible. It was the kind of opportunity where you sit back and ask yourself, “am I ready for this”? (a little piece of wisdom: the answer is always “yes. If your leadership and others believe youre the right fit, the only one who can stop you from achieving it is yourself.) 

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I became the Data Center and Hybrid Cloud (DCHC) Program Execution Lead for U.S. Enterprise, where I was responsible for accelerating the HPE go-to-market strategy across conventional infrastructure and our emerging software-defined infrastructure. In this role I was focused on driving the linkage between the DCHC Regional Business Unit (RBU) and the sales teams, serving as an essential connection point between the RBU and the field and leading the execution of programs to grow the business. 

It was like drinking from the fire hose all over again, not only requiring my knowledge of selling, but also mandating that I become more operationally focused, develop financial acumen, and lean into the ins and outs of managing a business. I struggled at first, made mistakes, and fell a few times, only to pick myself up, learn from my mistakes, and develop into a mature, confident sales leader. Looking back, I can honestly say that this role, along with the leadership surrounding me, shaped my career, paved a new path, and, most importantly, opened my mind to see and realize my own potential.  

Now, here I am, honored and excited to lead the North America Inside Sales Specialist Organization. It’s a new challenge, and an opportunity to be at the forefront of a significant transformation. My four short months in this role have been very rewarding. Im impacting early-career individuals who are on the same path I was 10 years ago. I can now give back in ways that many along my journey gave to me, and that alone is what makes the day-to-day grind worth it.

They say theres no such thing as luck, but I believe Ive been lucky to be part of a team, a network, and an organization that empowers and fosters growth and development, and to have had many mentors and leaders that have believed in me consistently. HPE has been a family to me, both personally and professionally, and Ive shared many amazing life experiences here, from traveling the world to meeting my loving husband (a former HPE employee) to building a network of lifelong friends. 

 I am grateful to HPE for giving me opportunities to grow, pushing me beyond my limits, and helping me develop into the successful woman leader I am today. 

 I’ll leave you with one of my absolute favorite quotes. It’s something I live by, having realized that the outcome of being uncomfortable is generally a positive, life-altering experience. I challenge you to do the same.

 “I always did something I was a little not ready to do. I think that’s how you grow. When there’s that moment of ‘Wow, I’m not really sure I can do this’ and you push through those moments, that's when you have a breakthrough” Marissa Mayer

About the AuthorKristen Twining, North America Specialist Inside Sales LeaderKristen Twining, North America Specialist Inside Sales Leader

Kristen Twining leads the North America Specialist Inside Sales Organization at HPE.  In this role, Kristen will be responsible for driving the business towards solution selling and accelerating growth in the shift from volume to value. 

Kristen has been with HP/HPE for 10 years and has held a variety of field sales roles in the organization, including specialist sales, account management, and sales strategy.  She has proven expertise in business, technology and solution selling.  Her experience in delivering positive customer outcomes and her passion for leading, coaching and mentoring have been key to her success in the organization.

 Kristen is a Magna **bleep** Laude graduate of Bentley University, where she earned a B.S. degree in Marketing and Spanish. She has relocated from New York City to live in Dallas with her husband, Reese, and dog, Isabelle in mid-November of last year and is looking forward to leading the specialist team.   Kristen enjoys travelling, reading, fitness, dance and spending time with friends and family.

Stay connected to Kristen via LinkedIn and if you are interested in learning more about job opportunites in Sale  explore HPE Careers here

Susan Graye
About the Author


Talent Acquisition and Attraction