Interview with Natalie Buford-Young CEO/President of Rainfield: Risks, Heroes and Women In The Workplace

Meet Natalie Buford-Young the CEO/President of Rainfield Group. Young manages relationships with Fortune 500 clients and emerging businesses in the technology and professionals services arenas and she is a leader in sales recruitment.

She started her career in broadcast sales before transitioning to technology sales and has accumulated over 17 years of experience.

According to Young, “salespeople are born and not made,”  and clearly she was born with sales in her blood.

WashingtonExec had an opportunity to speak with Young about her career in sales and her journey toward the success of Rainfield.

WashingtonExec: As the CEO/President of Rainfield, what are you most proud of?

Natalie Buford-Young: As a business owner I’m extremely proud of the Rainfield Group’s ten years of solid year to year growth. Our success in placing sales and business development talent has allowed us to truly become an engine for growth for both Fortune 500 and emerging technology companies in the Washington, DC market and nationwide. Being in a position to help both individuals and companies thrive by making the right hiring match is very rewarding.

On a personal level, I’m proud of the people who work for me. Seeing their personal and professional growth lets me know that I am getting it right.  I also take pride that I have been able to become directly involved in the area’s technology industry associations helping new and established companies stay on top of trends and weathering the economic storm. Rainfield is certainly a for-profit company but we are a company that is built on people and relationships. The ability to be a good corporate citizen and an accessible CEO keeps me interested, involved, and proud of what I do every day.

WashingtonExec: What is the most important characteristic that someone needs to have in order to be successful in sales?

Natalie Buford-Young: For the record, salespeople are born and not made.  I have been in sales for most of my life and I have mentored and trained scores of people from dozens of backgrounds. I truly believe that successful sales people are born that way. This doesn’t mean someone can’t learn sales skills but people who are the most successful, and find this career to be rewarding, have the personality for it.  As for characteristics, all sales professionals embody a balance of Ego and Empathy.  Ego drives the competitive nature to win business and empathy drives their ability to discern a client’s needs and offer up creative and realistic solutions.

WashingtonExec: This month, Washingtonian magazine profiled DC’s 100 Most Powerful Women and pointed out that many women are quickly climbing the corporate ladders in companies all around the area. What can you say about your experience being a female CEO?

Natalie Buford-Young: I didn’t think twice about being a woman CEO, only about creating an organization that provides the best Sales and BD talent to our clients.  I am betting that none of the Women profiled on DC’s Most Powerful Women’s list ever think about being a woman either until someone else reminds them.  I believe in a meritocracy.   May the best man er…um… woman win!

WashingtonExec: What’s been the biggest risk you have taken in your career?

Natalie Buford-Young: I left a solid career in broadcast television to join the alluring dotcom arena. I was an award-winning sales executive and created campaigns that are still on-air today such as “Tribute to Working Women” and the first sponsored Storm Chaser vehicle for ABC-7. It was an exciting time in my life. Then the Internet came along and the pull was too great to ignore.  I needed to be a part of the technology world. As history now tells us for many talented people, dotcom became dot-bomb. But not for me. Those lessons improved my sales acumen and gave me a grounded view of the business climate. I then started Rainfield and that was an even bigger risk.

Perhaps though the biggest risk would have been standing still and not taking chances. Luckily I have the sales “gene” that I spoke of earlier. That means I understand that there are a lot of “nos” on the path to “yes”, and sometimes you only need one yes, even if you have to say it yourself.

WashingtonExec: Who are your heroes and why?

Natalie Buford-Young: Like many of my peers, my parents are my heroes. Both of my parents came from modest means and are two of the most impressive business people I have ever met.  They epitomize how a strong work ethic and high moral values can propel a person forward.  After a successful Army career, today my father is a senior vice president at CACI and my mother is in the top one percent of residential real estate agents in the nation.   If I wasn’t able to do something positive with their great examples, I should be grounded.

*Featured in the 10/21 edition of the Fairfax County Economic Development Authority online Magazine E-Bird.

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