Taking Marli to Coffee
Meet Marli van Sittert, the heart of our business development operations. She works remotely for Emergn from the beautiful countryside in Romania. She was vacationing in the Caribbean when the opportunity came to join Emergn, and she jumped on it. She’s not only helping our salespeople get their deals from identified opportunities to closed agreements but also owns the largest metal music collection in Transylvania and takes care of 48 animals with her family. In this coffee chat you’ll learn what the greatest challenges in her role are and her advice for anyone preparing to interview with Emergn.
What’s your role at Emergn, and how long have you been with the company?
I manage global business development operations, and soon it will be 12 years since I joined Emergn. I’ve had quite a few roles here, including finance, project management, recruitment, resourcing, and HR, which eventually molded into the global business development role that I’m currently in.
In a nutshell, my job is helping our salespeople get their deals from identified opportunities to closed agreements. Every identified opportunity needs to go through quite an intensive sales process – they need to be properly qualified, shaped, and priced. There are also quite a few checkpoints and approvals before we develop the contract and actually win the work. At the end of the day, seeing that signature from a client come through is the most rewarding moment.
Please tell me a bit about your ‘backstory’ and how you got started in your career
This could be a long story! I’m from Cape Town and when I finished high school, I wanted to take a gap year, go to London, and travel a bit. I eventually ended up living in London for 16 years. I completed several certifications, got diplomas in areas including business operations, Agile, SQL/database administration, and others, and started to work in learning and development for a small consultancy firm, which later got acquired by a large U.S. consultancy company.
12 years ago, I was lying on the beach in the Caribbean on a vacation and a friend contacted me insisting I should send him my CV immediately. He let me know that the Emergn team was looking for someone in operations, which he thought would be the perfect fit for me. Soon after, I started to work for Emergn and helped out with a lot of different areas of the business, including HR, recruitment, finance, and other operations. Eventually, our operations team grew, and we had greater access to resources. We started to define roles more clearly, and I ended up with one focus – business development operations.
Five years ago, while I was expecting my daughter, my husband and I decided that we wanted to build our family close to nature in the countryside. We moved to Romania, and I kept working remotely for Emergn, which is something that I’ve always appreciated.
What’s one of the challenges you face at work?
The greatest challenge is the intense timelines. We have to work at a very fast pace without letting anything slide. You have to complete detailed checks on any commercials, pricing, or deal that you’re going to share with a client. So, the biggest challenge is just having proper planning and prioritization. If an opportunity is identified and a client wants the proposal quickly, you need to make sure that all the right things get done before anything goes out to the client.
Communication is also critically important. I need to have a good relationship with all the client partners, as my job is to help them make sure everything is completed on time. Also, given the time zone differences, we all need to be considerate of each other and be flexible.
What would you say or recommend to someone preparing for an interview at Emergn?
First, congratulations on getting the interview! Don’t try to be anything that you’re not, and whatever level you join Emergn at, there’s always an opportunity to grow. We have a great career progression framework in place that helps us map out career opportunities at Emergn.
It’s been 12 years for me, and it never gets boring – there’s always room to grow or change your career path.
Outside of work, what’s one thing people should know about you?
It’s hard to list only one! The first thing that comes to mind is that my husband and I are big fans of metal music. We probably have the biggest metal collection in Transylvania, maybe even in Romania. We have a dedicated room for our CDs, vinyl, and cassettes!
Another fact about me is we live deep in the countryside, a two-hour ride from Cluj. We had to use a bulldozer to build a road to our home. When we moved in, we had to bring our furniture on horse and carriage, as no motorized vehicles could pass the offroad we had.
Also, we have 48 animals: 38 chickens, two dogs, two rabbits, two cats, two roosters, and two budgies. Our life never gets boring!
If a colleague were coming to visit Romania, what’s the #1 thing you’d recommend they do or see?
Cluj is a great city, so we would stop there, but I would invite them to my house to just relax in nature! We are on the border of the upper side of Apuseni Național Park, which is part of the Carpathian Mountain Range. It’s beautiful and great for tourists who like adventures, such as caving, climbing, skiing, and other outdoor sports. It’s my favorite area of Romania. It’s so beautiful that it actually hurts your eyes.
There’s so much to see in Romania as it’s a huge country. We’ve done many road trips and I think the people are great wherever you go.