Gesine Halligan, Senior Director Field Enablement EMEA at DocuSign
Senior Director Field Enablement EMEA at DocuSign, Gesine Halligan successfully completed her UCD Diploma in Organisational Change & Transformation at UCD Smurfit School.
Field Enablement EMEA Senior Director and a recent UCD Diploma in Organisational Change & Transformation graduate, Gesine Halligan, has grown accustomed to change during her career which has taken her from the auto industry to DocuSign, which offers the world’s #1 e-signature solution as part of the DocuSign Agreement Cloud, following a degree in adult education and learning in her native Germany.
“DocuSign is growing at a really fast pace,” she points out. “And the technology sector is always changing. It can be change driven by M&A, organisational structure, different products being launched, or new systems to use. Part of my job is helping people change their behaviour and do things differently. I am fascinated by how often people try to adopt new ways of doing things and it doesn’t work out. I want to be a change agent and help people go through change and to navigate it. The social psychology part of the diploma programme has been very helpful in that regard.”
In her role with DocuSign, she is responsible for the enablement of sales and customer success teams. “I make sure that the people who work in sales or customer success have everything they need to do their jobs effectively,” she explains. “That includes training to make sure they have the right skills and getting people ready to do their jobs. I have been working in DocuSign for the past two years and have worked in enablement in some shape or form for the past 14 years.”
Having begun her career in the auto industry she moved on to Oracle as a salesperson. “I started in sales and that’s a good thing. It means I’ve carried the bag and done the job. I understand the pressure and what success looks like.”
She joined DocuSign in February 2020 following stints with Citrix and LogMeIn. “Since starting at DocuSign I have been able to grow my team from two to six people. There’s never a dull moment and there are lots of opportunities in a fast-growing company.”
Continuing her education was something she had been thinking about for a long time. “I finished university in 2001 and had done additional training courses here and there. DocuSign has a genuine commitment to the training and growth of its people, and I have a real appetite for learning and investing in myself. I did a short course on Leading for High Impact and Results in UCD Smurfit School many years ago and it was a brilliant experience.”
Having decided to do a UCD diploma it was then a question of choosing one. “It wasn’t easy to decide which course to do but I’ve always been interested in how organisations work and how to get teams to work together. You often see overlapping functions in organisations which are not working well together.”
The course exceeded her expectations. “I thought it was going to be about getting a professional qualification to further my career and maybe open up new career prospects. But it surpassed all my expectations. It’s a high-quality programme. I got to meet interesting people from different backgrounds and have built up a phenomenal network. With the pandemic, we couldn’t have in-person lectures apart from the very last module, but it was so well managed over Zoom that we still got to meet and work with everybody. I can pick up the phone to classmates for advice and so on.”
Practical learnings about the nature of change were very important. “I had previously done a two-day course in change management, but it was very theoretical, and I walked away from it without learning anything applicable to my work. The way the teaching is done in Smurfit is very different. You work on a lot of case studies and have rich discussions in class on them. You learn so much from the others in the classroom. Reflective learning is a big part of the programme. I enjoyed it thoroughly.”
The module with Professor David Loree from Canada was particularly fascinating, she says. “It was eye-opening for me to see what we need to do differently when trying to initiate change. When I joined a new organisation, I had a point of view pretty quickly about what needed to be done differently. But I always made the same mistake. I told people what I thought, and they agreed but didn’t act on it. I learned a lot about influence on the course and about getting people to acknowledge the need for change and to prioritise it. If you really want change, you need an influencing strategy. And you need to present things differently to different people. You need the emotional intelligence to understand them and to be aware of how people can perceive things differently. It was fascinating to learn about all the different facets.”
That was just one of the modules that stood out for her. “I took so much from each module, it was great. I learned a lot from the module on diagnostic models and organisational analysis with Professor Pat Gibbons where we studied how to diagnose organisational effectiveness to ensure you are focused on the right change initiatives.”
The programme is already having practical application in her workplace. “We are implementing a new sales methodology and I am now coming to the table with a lot more confidence in making sure we think through all the different elements to put in place to make the change successful. I now have this great learning foundation to know how to make these things successful and I’m not afraid to speak up about it. I would absolutely 100% recommend the programme to anyone considering it.”
And her advice to them? “Ensure you make the most of the opportunity to get to know the people who you will meet through the programme. You will be able to build a great network of people from different backgrounds in the private and public sectors. It’s a brilliant journey; make sure you make the most of it.”