Becoming…a business developer

by | Oct 19, 2019

Becoming a business developer. Read how our Martina aka @abisinissgirl found her passion for business development and spiced up her career.

Since I was a child, I always knew I wanted to study languages. I would spend hours reading, writing, studying English – all the little activities that a 6-year-old girl living in an Italian town could do.

I have always been very shy, that is probably the reason why I was looking so closely at language: to find a way to communicate, eventually to know the world.

That has been the focus of all my school years. As you can imagine, my favorite subjects where English and Italian language and literature. So that’s what I chose at university too! I graduated with a degree in translation for special purposes.

While studying, though, I spent a few summers abroad to learn English and German. Those were the weeks I was waiting for the most throughout the year – when I would embark on a plane and live something unexpected and exciting somewhere away from home.

Traveling is like a drug, I’m pretty sure you agree, and I was hooked.

I kept traveling while studying at university. Whenever I had the chance to apply for an Erasmus scholarship, I did! And so I spent 6 months in Bulgaria studying Bulgarian and Russian and another 3 in Estonia, working at a translation agency.

Lost in translation

The way I described my life so far seems pretty happy and accomplished, however, this is not a linguistics enthusiast blog, but a business development one! What went wrong?

I realized that the life I chose for myself, that I shared everything about with anybody, didn’t really fit my profile. I was feeling unsatisfied as if I did not yet fulfill my potential. Spending all day in front of a computer, struggling to barely have the money to buy a low-cost plane ticket to wherever was not what I wanted from life.

I wanted crazy, thrilling trips to unknown places, where I could lose and find myself.

One night, at an Erasmus party in Tallinn, a guy made a (not so funny) joke, and I spit all the beer I had in my mouth on him. He was about to become my colleague! We started chatting and I found out he was doing an internship at a startup.

They were, in fact, looking for new people to join the team who would boost sales. “Do you want to send us your CV?”. I said “Why not?” even though I had never even sold candy in my life. But I thought you figure it out yourself with time, don’t you?

After many interviews, I don’t know how but I got the job, as a business developer!

the bd school martina di pasquale nafsa conference

The way to becoming a business developer

I barely knew what I had to do in my work hours and I had different kinds of pressures on me. The pressure I put on myself, to learn everything that I could in a short period of time. I had the pressure from my boss, who hired me even though I didn’t have any sales or business background. His reputation was on the line.

Finally, the pressure from my company, because I had sales quotas I had to meet and almost no help because of the small size of the startup.

I have spent the first two years on the job basically doing almost nothing productive. I made a few small sales, and I used to spend most of my time just studying, reading, trying to crack this business thing that fell on my lap!

The only good thing was all the work traveling we were doing, but after a year it started to feel tiring because it was not really bringing me any results. And after all, it definitely didn’t feel like going on holiday.

Believe me when I tell you that I felt like quitting many times.

A fresh perspective

Do you know when I cracked business? When I changed perspective. Being a business developer really teaches you to stop being a child and start being an adult, but in a fun, light way.

I was not an employee in a company – I was the parent of the family and I had to find ways to provide for my family, to let it have a good life.

Business development is all about bringing the money in, but not in a heavy, worrisome way. It injects vital lymph into a company because you use your most creative side and combine it with your most rational self.

You start looking at clients as friends you want to help out. You begin looking at marketing campaigns as a way to test your brain with never-before-seen strategies that will trigger curiosity into people.

Business development really puts you in contact with your most human side – you can learn a lot about human behavior, mind, and emotions. But it’s not all flowers, glitters and beautiful poems.

You’re not just an abstract artist.

The best part of it is when you discover that the unique fruits of your imagination actually bring money in! You can expand, you can make your colleagues earn more, you earn more. You start looking at markets like Napoleon used to look at the map of Europe.

The bright side of a shipwreck

I was stranded away from my original path, the canonical one I figured would be good for me. Let me tell you – a shipwreck sometimes is a great thing.

Even if you think that you want to reach the Indies, you can’t imagine the feeling you get when you discover America.

Do you think you are a resilient, open-minded person? Are you creative? Do you have a fetish for money? Are you ready to face failure over and over again? Are you a megalomaniac business person that wants to see their team succeed?

Then becoming a business developer is definitely an option. Join our community today to be inspired by other professionals!

Continue reading: Portrait of a Business Developer


Martina Di Pasquale

Business Developer at The BD School

My energy comes from working for companies that meet the values I live by. I want to see them reach their full potential and virtuously influence the marketplace.


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