Harley Stevens on building relationships and a flexible work life

Harley Stevens, Adobe Account Executive

Harley Stevens hadn’t considered a career in sales. Her heart was in words—she earned a degree in English Language and Literature, followed by a master’s in Victorian Language and Culture.

But as she was studying for her master’s and working full-time, Stevens received a call from an Adobe recruiter about an opportunity in sales in the London office. She’d only ever heard about the company’s creative tools. When the recruiter gave her a bigger picture of Adobe’s business, where the company was headed, and how they support the growth of their employees, Stevens was intrigued.

“Once I started, I just fell in love with the work. I didn’t realize that sales could be about genuine relationships,” says Stevens. “I love talking to new people each day, building relationships, and seeing our trust in each other grow. And I get so much fulfilment from helping customers find solutions they really need.”

Life in sales—and advice for moving up

It’s been four years since Stevens joined Adobe, and she has advanced quickly from account development manager (ADM) through inside sales, and on to enterprise account executive (AE).

“When I joined as an ADM, Adobe offered me tons of development opportunities and resources so I could learn quickly. My work focused on the very beginning of the sales cycle, but I was able to shadow people to see the whole process,” she explains. “Even when I was very junior, my team let me be part of bigger deals. I was building a rapport with them, and they saw that they could trust me with their deals. It let me get my name out there, which helped me advance quickly.”

With a strong background in communications, but not a lot of experience with tech, one of Stevens’ early concerns was whether she’d be prepared for the more technical aspects of the job. She soon discovered that sales is not a “one-man-band kind of job. It’s easy to pull in the tech experts to put the right people on a team.”

In fact, when people ask for Stevens’ advice on growing their careers at Adobe, teamwork and relationships are front and center: “Pick a few people you admire and learn from them. Ask them to join calls, find out where your gaps are and learn from people who are great at those things. Those people will help you learn, so you’ll be prepared for your next role before you take it on.”

Finding flexibility with work and life

The tech industry is notorious for long hours, but Stevens says it has been easy to find flexibility with her work and personal life, especially given the independence that comes with the sales role.

“When you start as an ADM, the job is very nine-to-five. But as you move along, it becomes more like your own little business that you can run as you’d like. My managers are very accommodating. I have the flexibility to work from home when I need to (and all the time during COVID), which has been great since the commute in London can be tough and I have two dogs that like to have me around. The flexibility is a big reason I plan to stay in sales.”

Life in the Adobe London office

She hasn’t been to the Adobe London office in a while because of COVID, but Stevens looks forward to getting back. “It’s lovely there. We have the most amazing office space with a rooftop bar and running track, all right in the heart of London. And everyone there is very collaborative. You can talk to anyone and they’ll always take the time.”

While COVID keeps them socially distant, Stevens’ tight-knit London team has stayed close, leaning into group chats and virtual happy hours to support each other and even share laughs.

“There’s so much more to Adobe than the job,” says Stevens. “I’ve made lifelong friends here and I’ve traveled to places I never expected to visit. Being at Adobe has opened so many doors for me.”