Episode TwoHundredFiftyEight

Change Leadership: Taking a People Focus

Guest: Heidi Cadwallader, Director of Inside Sales at VWR

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About This Episode

Leadership through change is on all our minds lately.

Change is the one constant, right?

In this episode, I had a great conversation with Heidi Cadwallader, Director of Inside Sales at VWR, about focusing on your people while driving towards your goals during change.

With a career in sales leadership for over 15 years, Heidi has experienced plenty of changes. “I learned a lot about myself through that endeavor through emotional intelligence and how to drive change,” she said. 

She has cultivated the mindset of appreciating change, which certainly isn’t an easy place to arrive.

Let’s get into the conversation!

Leadership during change

“Mindfulness and reflection is a necessity, especially now with what people have been dealing with with the pandemic,” Heidi said.

She makes sure to give herself plenty of stimulating recreation by rock climbing and playing piano. “If you’re not in the right mindset, and you’re not having your self-reflection as a leader, it’s hard to help your people through a time of change, too,” she said.

That looks different for everyone, but here are some tips:

  • Hold yourself accountable to small goals
  • Find things outside of your work day to give yourself structure
  • Share a hobby or a pastime with your spouse, partner, children, or friends

It’s like the safety reminder on airplanes. Put on your own mask before you help someone with theirs.

Rebuilding or restructuring a team

Being at the same company in various roles for 15 years, Heidi has seen a lot of growth and changes — rebuild teams, start new teams, move off those new teams, disperse them, and rebuild again. 

“During these times, when you look at rebuilding a team, communication and transparency are very important,” Heidi said.

She suggested a zero-based mentality around building a team.

  • What are the goals of the corporation at this point? 
  • What is the best use of resources?
  • How will I earn the buy-in of team members?

“The more conversations you can have with the people who are the most impacted is the best payoff,” Heidi said.

Everyone knows that companies have goals, especially sales team members. When you lay out your plan for the best route to arrive at the goals while getting input from others, you learn about their best fit at the company.

“To get those different perspectives helps to build that stronger culture,” Heidi said. “Then that buy-in helps you retain that talent because they see the vision. They can help build where their best fit is, so they feel like they’re being set up for success.”

Read that over several times. It’s full of brilliant insight into why communication matters so much.

Keeping talent at your org

Heidi shared about how she uses performance evaluations and reviews to strengthen connections.

Build a future

Don’t just point out strengths and weaknesses. Understand the career path your associates want. As a leader, you should help them to envision their future, especially if they’ve gone through a specific hardship with a pandemic. 

“This last year, leaders have found themselves having to be more flexible and understanding of what’s happening to help those associates see where their path is and where they can be successful,” she said.


2021 is a time for leaders to recognize even more to help everyone feel valued.

Shout out numbers, sure. But think beyond that with recognition.

Innovation. Are they thinking of things differently for their organization? Did they use a tool in a new and excellent way? Was their suggestion for improving a process a win for the whole team?

Customer-centricity. Did they support customers excellently? Have there been things in standard work that they’ve set up or reviewed and revised to make that customer journey better?

Don’t just praise your team to your team, either. Be sure to spread the news of their successes throughout the whole organization.


A quick note on feedback: It’s critical to the development of a team.

Especially during change, communicate this truth about feedback: Success isn’t about what you’ve done, but about what you’ve learned from doing wrong and how you correct and grow with it.

Heidi just flat out announces to the managers on her team when she’s about to be critical…“Now I’m going to give you some feedback, but it’s because I see a growth point here. I want to help you grow through this, and here’s where I think you could go with it.”

She also spreads her direct reports across multiple levels of the organization so that she keeps in touch with the pulse of her team. Make these calls brief — 15 minutes will do — and turn on your video.

Heidi’s parting wisdom

Professionally: To keep a competitive advantage, and to always scan your environment and have a clear picture of it. Sometimes it’s okay to slow down to take it all in.

Personally: To be beautiful, you have to see beauty in others. Go out, appreciate humanity, see the beauty in others, and I think we’ll have a fun life and a successful career.

Contact Heidi on LinkedIn

About The Podcast

The Sales Engagement podcast is the #1 podcast focused on engaging your customers and prospects in the modern sales era. This show features real-life stories and best practices from revenue leaders doing the job day in and day out, in a casual, radio-like talk show.

Each episode features modern tactics, strategies, hacks, and tips to get the most out of your sales engagement strategy and help you navigate the next generation of sales. You’ll find energetic talks that will provide you with real actionable value around building meaningful connections and creating a better selling experience through authentic conversations that you can measure.

The Sales Engagement podcast is here to help B2B sales leaders, customer success leaders, and marketing leaders innovate and usher in the next era of modern sales by building pipeline, up-selling customers, and ultimately generating more revenue with more efficiency.

Hosted by Joe Vignolo, Senior Content Managing Editor at Outreach, and Mark Kosoglow, Vice President of Sales at Outreach.

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