“I really enjoy the story of creating something”
Hacer "Haja" Demiroers
Position: Director of Sales Operations at Datadog, a monitoring service for cloud-scale applications
Family: Fiance, Carl Faille
Education: Undergraduate degree in international business and marketing from Berufsakademie Mosbach in Germany and MBA from the University of Massachusetts
Favorite movie: "A Beautiful Mind"
Favorite books: “The Pillars of the Earth” by Ken Follett
Fun Fact: Speaks four languages – English, German, Turkish and Kurdish
Interests: Electronic Dance Music, fitness. She hits the gym four or five days a week and sticks to a healthy diet that’s heavy on fresh fruits and vegetables.
Best advice she ever received: It came when she was worrying about how to afford graduate school in the U.S. “I remember my mom saying: ‘Just take the first step and the rest will follow.’ I still remember that anytime I have to do something. Just take that first step.”
Quote: “The universe will never give you more than you can handle. Somehow it will always work out. You just have to do the right thing and not be too proud to ask for help. People genuinely are nice.”
Hacer “Haja” Demiroers was a little stressed. It was 2011, and she had almost completed her MBA degree. But she still wasn’t exactly sure what she wanted to do. So, she thought about trying sales.
That’s how she found herself
“He quickly said, ‘Oh, you’re not a salesperson. You have the mindset of Sales Ops,’” Demiroers recalled. “I just told him, ‘I don’t know what that is.’ As he was explaining what the responsibilities would be, he suddenly stopped and said: ‘I can see excitement growing on your face.’ I told him it was because I never knew that this was an actual role.”
A career was born.
Demiroers has carved out an impressive niche on the Sales Operations front lines — helping a series of businesses build revenue-generation machines. Today, she is the director of Sales Operations at Datadog, which has emerged as one of the hottest startups in the tech industry.
Fasano, who now is a principal at the sales consulting and recruiting firm MickTec, estimates he has hired more than 600 sales reps and about 75 Sales Ops pros over the years.
In a sense, her entire life has been about reaching for the sky. Demiroers, who is Kurdish, was born in Turkey, moved to Germany at age 13 and later relocated to the United States to earn her graduate degree. And while Demiroers has always been quick at adapting to change, she was a natural when it came to Sales Operations.
“I really enjoy the story of creating something,” said Demiroers, 33. “I love how you start with an idea and you bring it to this end product. If you do it right, people just love what you create. So my job is to think about the journey that the customer is on. I try to make sure that there’s a process for every milestone on the customer lifecycle.”
Demiroers’ personal journey has taken her around the world.
* * *
Ask Demiroers about her background, and she’s likely to laugh and tell you that it’s a little complicated. The youngest of five children, she was born in a small Kurdish village in central Turkey. When she was 3 years old, the family moved to Konya, one of the country’s most-populous cities.
Demiroers’ father later went to work in Germany as a factory laborer, and the rest of the family would follow him to Heidelberg when she was 13. Demiroers wasn’t exactly happy about moving to another country. But she immersed herself in school and quickly mastered a new language by asking teachers to diagram sentences for her so she could analyze German grammar.
“My parents really didn’t know what it meant for me to bring home an ‘A’ grade, but they knew that I was doing well,” she said. “I just had a lot of motivation to prove myself. I realized at a young age that there’s no limit to what you can do if you work hard for something.”
Her parents were also strong role models — especially her father. After being badly injured in an industrial accident, he ran a small bed-and-breakfast before getting into the building management business.
“He’s my hero, for sure,” Demiroers said. “When you’re an immigrant and you have five kids and a wife to support, you have to make it work somehow.”
After earning an undergraduate business degree, she worked in Germany for a few years. While employed by a U.S.-based company, Demiroers visited the headquarters in New Hampshire. Demiroers was smitten by America.
“I just think this is a place where you can go after your dreams,” she said. “It really doesn’t matter who you are. It’s only about what you can do. I feel like all the black sheep from around the world came here, and I’m proud to be part of that.”
She returned to attend the University of Massachusetts. Then, she discovered Sales Operations.
* * *
The truth, Fasano said, is that he wasn’t actually looking to hire a salesperson when he interviewed Demiroers. He had been brought into a software company called Axceler to modernize an outdated sales operation. Fasano needed a Sales Ops partner to assist him in creating an information-based engine.
Demiroers, he said, intuitively understood the role that data was beginning to play in the sales and marketing startup technology ecosystem. He also was impressed with her eagerness to debate the thought-process behind decisions — but in a non-confrontational way.
“She has a unique ability to collaborate,” Fasano added. “She’s constantly asking: ‘Why would you want to do that?’ Then you ask her, ‘How would you do it?’ Then you have a great discussion. She doesn’t just agree to do something. She tries to intellectually understand what needs to be accomplished and then comes up with the best plan. She’s just a driven businesswoman who marches to the beat of her own drum and never gets caught up in any kind of drama.”
Demiroers, who taught herself how to use Salesforce, believes her Sales Ops “mindset” may stem from having lived in Germany. While the Turkish people are known for being free spirits, she said Germans expect everything to be very structured.
“I know that sounds weird, but even the way you close the door is a process,” she added. “You really come to love the process, and that’s so important in Sales Ops. I’ve always been analytical. But you learn in Sales Ops that if you’re not following through on something, nobody else will do it for you.”
At Datadog, Demiroers has been instrumental in helping the sales leadership design and implement the innovative process that fuels one of
“We’re growing and expanding like crazy,” she said. “We’ve been knocking down walls. Every day is something new. The company is exploding, so it’s a very exciting time for us.”
And someday, she would like to try her hand at running a business of her own. It would be a mistake, Fasano added, to bet against her.
“Haja is just thankful for every opportunity she gets,” he said. “Then she just goes out and executes to the best of her ability.”
About the Author
Mark Emmons is the staff writer at LeanData. He previously was a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at email@example.com.Follow on Twitter