Mark Weber has already enjoyed a successful three decades in high-tech sales. Now, the Virginia native is taking his experience to the classroom, as he works to groom the next generation of salespeople.
Weber spent 31 years working for just three companies—an unusual feat in the sales world. Beginning his career with Hewlett-Packard, he went on to work for Sun Microsystems and later NetApp, where he rose to the level of senior vice president for the Americas and president of public sector before stepping down in 2015.
“All those companies were in the height of their growth, so I got to experience a lot of fun,” he said.
Under Weber’s leadership, the Vienna NetApp office was ranked in the top 10 Best Places to Work in Washington, D.C., six times by the Washington Business Journal and in Washingtonian’s Best 50 Places to Work. What made it so successful?
“Growth,” Weber said. “When you’re winning and growing, you get to hire the best people. You do not have to put up with average.”
Life balance was a critical issue that attracted employees, he added, as was developing a candid leadership team in which people were empowered to lead and do their jobs.
Weber said he was attracted to sales from an early age.
“I studied engineering in college and knew quickly that I didn’t probably want to be a practicing engineer,” he said. “I was always intrigued by my father’s sales career, and I loved the lifestyle that he had—work hard and get paid for your results, the flexible schedule, and it’s family friendly.”
Weber has divided his life now into several different endeavors, including consulting through Weber Strategies, LLC.
“Several companies had approached me to join their board or to be a board adviser, so I set up Weber Strategies to help those companies,” he said. “I am blessed, and I could afford the ability to do something different in my life, so I drew a line and hit a certain age and decided I’m ready to do something different.”
Weber was already involved with the business school at The Catholic University of America when the dean asked him if he wanted to teach. He now teaches “Selling and Sales Management” as the university’s first executive in residence.
“I got to make up a class, and I keep making it up,” he said. “Every time I teach, it’s a little different.”
Because successful business-to-business sales are relationship oriented, students in his classes work on honing soft skills.
“I teach them about human networking, conversations … not to sell, but to discover what the need is, what the customer’s issue is,” he said. “It’s a professional view on selling and why it’s a complicated, hard, exciting job.”
His classes top out at 20, and students are expected to use and develop their social skills in ways technology use alone doesn’t allow. There are minimal PowerPoint presentations, no mobile phones, no laptop computers.
“It’s pretty different for these kids,” he said. “They’ve got to come very, very prepared to discuss things, and they role play a lot.”
There are plans underway to expand his class from a single course to an entire minor in sales.
In his spare time, Weber enjoys playing golf and tennis and doing “anything with my bride and five children,” who are in their late teens and early 20s. He sits on the Virginia Tech Leadership Council and is involved with fundraising for the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist.
He enjoys growing fruits and vegetables in a small garden and raising chickens and turkeys on his six acres. Last year, he grew 100 pumpkins.
He has received several recognitions, including being the Institute for Excellence in Sales 2015 Lifetime Achievement Award winner.
He holds a master of business administration degree from The College of William and Mary and a bachelor’s degree in industrial engineering and operations research from Virginia Tech.