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Three tips to carve your path in the sales industry: Insights from clinical sales director Soyal Mahmud  

Soyal Mahmud

Soyal Mahmud joined Intuitive more than a decade ago, but she remembers her first impressions well. “I felt a genuine sense of authenticity,” she says. “I sensed that I could truly present myself as who I am, rather than conforming to societal expectations of how a woman should be in this industry.” After working her way from pre-med to med tech sales, Soyal overcame self-doubt with grit and determination, proving that she could deliver exceptional results and build a successful career. Now she sees helping those women that come behind her as an essential part of her role at Intuitive. Below, Soyal shares her story, along with her top three tips for other women growing their career in sales.  

 


Soyal Mahmud moved to the U.S. from India when she was just six years old.  

“It was a significant decision for my parents,” Soyal explains, “as they willingly left behind a comfortable life in India in order to provide us with greater opportunities through an American education. Despite holding advanced degrees in economics and literature, my parents humbly started their journey in the U.S. by sweeping the floors at 7-Eleven and working at Dunkin' Donuts.” 

Seeing the sacrifice her parents were willing to make to attain their dreams for the family was a source of inspiration for Soyal that she carries with her to this day.  

“Their determination and perseverance set a remarkable example of what it truly means to work hard and demonstrate grit.” 

Soyal has emulated that grit in her own career, tackling gender bias, societal expectations, and imposter syndrome on her way from her days as a pre-med student to her current role as a clinical sales director.  

From pre-med to medical sales 

Reflecting on her early career interests and motivations, Soyal shares, “I was a girl with a strong desire for financial independence and desire to make my family proud, yet I had no concrete plan on how to achieve it.” 

This uncertainty led to Soyal’s decision to heed her family’s advice and study biology in preparation for a career in medicine. After completing all of the required courses and applications, Soyal sat down for a difficult conversation with her father.  

“I informed him that I had chosen not to attend medical school,” she recalls. “In response, he asked, ‘Well, what will you do with a biology degree?’ to which I had no answer, except for a resolute, ‘I’ll figure it out.’”  

After a conversation with her brother-in-law who worked in the medical device space, Soyal discovered that she was still interested in a career in medicine, just not as a medical doctor.  

“Curiosity led me to explore other opportunities within the realm of ‘medicine,’ and I sought guidance from family and friends who were physicians,” she says. “They educated me about the roles of medical device representatives and pharmaceutical representatives. Armed with this knowledge, I reached out to make connections and asked for introductions.”   

But where to start? An area that was repeatedly mentioned was copier sales, so Soyal decided to start building her career in that realm.  

“This provided me with a foundation in the fundamentals of the sales process and taught me how to engage with individuals from diverse backgrounds while fostering a problem-solving approach when faced with challenges,” she says.
 

Overcoming hurdles as a woman in sales 

Soyal landed her first role in medical device sales at Medtronic before moving to a startup spine company. Even though she’s always had a go-getter mindset, Soyal says that imposter syndrome impacted those initial steps in her career.   

“It's not uncommon for women in sales to grapple with self-doubt and imposter syndrome, feeling as though they don't deserve their accomplishments or questioning their abilities,” she says. “Overcoming this challenge required me to acknowledge and celebrate my successes, which did not come naturally to me. Seeking feedback from trusted colleagues and mentors played a crucial role, as did continuously investing in my professional development. By nurturing confidence in my skills and knowledge, I triumphed over self-doubt and thrived in my role.” 

Gender bias presented another hurdle, especially with the low representation of women of color in the sales industry.  

“I remained focused on consistently delivering exceptional results, surpassing targets, and fostering strong relationships within the organization,” Soyal says. “By showcasing my results, expertise and professionalism, I was able to dismantle gender stereotypes and earn respect in the industry.” 

After becoming a mother, striking the right balance between work and personal life while managing societal and cultural expectations for a working mother posed yet another challenge. Soyal credits her husband as her biggest supporter. To this day, he encourages her to be her authentic self, establish clear boundaries and prioritize her time—all key elements to her continued professional growth.  

How a late-night call turned into a career opportunity 

Soyal discovered Intuitive while on maternity leave.  

“I took the opportunity to search for something more than just a job; I wanted a fulfilling and long-term career,” she recalls.  

One evening, Soyal sought advice from a fellow mother while struggling to put her child to sleep. As their conversation unfolded, Soyal learned that the mother worked at Intuitive and felt genuinely supported as both a professional and a parent. Soyal took a leap of faith and applied for a role—a decision that marked the beginning of an 11-plus-year growth trajectory.   

“For the first time in a long while, I felt a genuine sense of authenticity during the interview process. Perhaps it was the countless sleepless nights with a newborn at home or the realization that I had the luxury of searching not just for a job, but for a fulfilling career,” shares Soyal. “In that moment, I sensed that I could truly present myself as who I am, rather than conforming to societal expectations in this industry. Additionally, it marked the first instance where I was interviewed by another woman.”   


Uplifting fellow women at Intuitive 
 

Now a clinical sales director at Intuitive, Soyal makes it a priority to ensure the women on her team never feel isolated or alone. She cultivates a culture of inclusivity, respect, and collaboration where open dialogue and the sharing of diverse perspectives are encouraged.  

“Through the establishment of this supportive atmosphere, I try to ensure that my team members feel valued, heard, and empowered to contribute their unique ideas and opinions,” she says.  

Soyal is an active member of Women Intuitive Network (WIN) employee resource group (ERG) and an ambassador for BLACK, Intuitive’s ERG for Black employees and allies. She’s especially passionate about advocating for the advancement of women and people of color in the organization. 

“As someone who has fought for a seat at the table, I firmly believe in pulling out the chair next to me for the next woman. I refuse to ask them to find their own way,” Soyal says. “It is my responsibility to support and uplift other women, as others have done for me, helping them navigate their career journey and providing opportunities for growth and development.” 


3 tips to carve your path in the sales industry  

For other women looking to carve their own path in the sales industry, Soyal offers these three tips:  

  1. Embrace your unique qualities. “Embracing your authentic self allows you to bring your whole self to work, fostering genuine connections with colleagues and clients,” she says. 
  2. Seek continuous learning. “Differentiate between professional development and career progression. While professional development focuses on growth and skill-building, career progression is centered around upward mobility and advancement within the professional hierarchy,” Soyal shares. She encourages you to stay focused on both, yet put more emphasis on professional development, in order to excel in your current role and be positioned well for future opportunities.  
  3. Demonstrate resilience and persistence. Soyal knows that sales comes with setbacks and rejection. She advises, “Cultivate resilience and persistence to overcome obstacles and maintain motivation. Learn from failures, bounce back quickly, and stay focused on your goals.” 

These three tactics helped Soyal get to where she is today, and she hopes that they’ll help those who wish to follow in her footsteps. But most of all, she hopes that anyone looking to excel in their sales career can find a supportive environment like the one she’s found at Intuitive, where they’re empowered to do their best work.   

“Intuitive became the place I yearned to be—a company that not only values women in the workplace but also champions working mothers,” Soyal says. “It was a perfect match that aligned with my aspirations and the kind of environment I knew I could thrive in.” 


Interested in carving your path with a company committed to empowering women? Check out opportunities with Intuitive here.  

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Soyal Mahmud

Soyal Mahmud joined Intuitive in 2012 and is a clinical sales director.