Being Fearless – Key to Success

Sandra Nielsen’s career advice to others is to be fearless. “Be fearless about speaking up, calling out something you know isn’t right, and asking questions,” she said.

As senior vice president of sales, marketing and HR at Great Basin Scientific, Inc., she says her biggest career leap was taking leadership over of the sales organization at Great Basin ahead of its IPO. “You don’t have to be the expert, but you have to boldly ask questions, listen, then act bravely on the information you have. And adapt on the fly,” Nielsen said.

Her fearlessness with the molecular diagnostics company has generated results. Under her leadership, the company nearly tripled its customer base and successfully launched a variety of new products. During the period from September 2014-2015 alone, Great Basin’s sales cycle successfully went from 45 days to 16 days, the sales funnel increased 143 percent, a customer base grew 78 percent, and the customer win rate increased from 75 to 91 percent. Nielsen’s successes recently earned her a Utah Business Magazine’s Sales and Marketer of the Year award.

Nielsen says adaptability is key to success. “Your life, career, opportunities, and your day can’t necessarily be mapped out ahead of time; so you have to adapt to new circumstances and information and be prepared to seize unexpected opportunities,” she said.

She supports Great Basin’s employees through the Better Place to Work initiative. Under her leadership, it has established generous maternity/paternity leave, fully paid health insurance premiums for employees, $15 per hour corporate minimum wage, and a liberal paid time off policy.

She joined Great Basin as vice president of marketing in 2010, then ultimately accepted leadership over the customer support and human resource functions prior to being appointed vice president of sales. Today, Nielsen continues to be a key contributor, including product development, corporate branding, and establishing HR policies and procedures. Nielsen lives by the words, “What would you do if you weren’t afraid?”