In the world of business, leadership is often regarded as an art and science. What does it take to steer a company through a changing business landscape, while trying to inspire and empower your team and followers?
Sodales’ CEO Sana Salam sat down with Robert and Luke from The Bo and Luke Show, a personal and professional growth podcast, to gain insights into her mindset from when she discovered a gap in the market, and how she has been able to grow and lead Sodales to become what it is today.
Keep reading to learn about the invaluable lessons Sana has learned throughout her career, her role as the leader of a thriving SaaS company, and her story about the evolution of leadership in today’s world.
“It’s your responsibility to teach if you have the knowledge and skillset to do so.”
Sana explains that what she teaches her team and the people she coaches is that if you have high energy when you work, and you gain the knowledge and skillset needed to succeed, it is your responsibility to share this knowledge, and to amplify it beyond your inner circle. “There is a lot of bad in this world, but the good can become more powerful than the bad if we choose to enrich people with our knowledge, skills, expertise, and passion.”
“Have a learning mindset.”
Sodales was founded with just a $20 investment. Today, it has a global customer base that relies on its software to meet their crucial compliance and HR requirements. This is particularly true for regulated industries such as healthcare, public sector, utilities, railway, and transportation, where government laws and regulations are binding.
When Sana decided to leave her corporate job at a large enterprise company over 10 years ago, people called her crazy. She had an idea, but also modesty, as she understood that she didn’t have all the answers. She began to discover that within regulated industries, there was a heavy reliance on manual processes and lack of digital systems. She dedicated this time to experiment and learn. She researched the market, discovered the gaps, learned how cloud products are built, and began to build her team. Sana, along with her team, began to build and test their product, to eventually launch a comprehensive platform to service organizations in highly regulated industries.
At Sodales, we’re proud to call Toronto, Canada our home base. Our dedicated international team works tirelessly to build our top-notch product. It’s been over four years since Sodales launched its main platform, and our fearless leader Sana has been using her expertise to take the company, our customer base, and our community to new heights every year.
“There are moments of doubt, but the people around me always offset that.”
The road to success is rarely a smooth one, and a good leader knows that challenges and setbacks are opportunities for growth. At the beginning, Sana really focused on learning – she was aware of her surroundings, and surrounded herself with people who nurtured her as an entrepreneur. She started her journey with a humble mindset – money was not on her mind, rather, making a lasting impact for her customers and employees. At Sodales, 80% of our workforce is comprised of ambitious and diverse women. Whether they are just embarking on their professional journey, single mothers, or seeking a career change, Sana’s goal is to empower them to thrive. She works to support her employees with valuable tools such as childcare assistance and resources for skill development, ensuring their professional growth.
Sana is a visionary, but she is also pragmatic and grounded. She is not afraid to learn, to ask for help, or to rely on others. Surrounding herself with a diverse and talented team, Sana can foster an environment of collaboration and innovation, giving everyone a sense of purpose that unites them all.
“We give a percentage of the company’s earnings to our global community, prioritizing widows or underprivileged families across the world. The work becomes easy when I know I can help others around the world.”
How did you handle challenges when building the company?
Sana stresses, “respect and knowledge were my drivers for determination and discipline, and these quality habits attract people, money and success.” She goes on to say that you are the first investor in your life, and that time, energy, and your money should be used wisely. She discovered that her time would be better used to not only benefit herself, but also the people around her.
She references a book by John Maxwell, a great leader, who talks about turning points in life – “every person gets 6 to 9 turning points in their lifetime, and these turning points come early. It is up to us to pivot our own life.” Most people who make good decisions during these turning points will do well in life, as these turning points define the direction of your life. The same applies to a company, and in Sodales’ case, in a period of pivot, Sana explains that at first, they were trying to be a service company with a different structure; she quickly realized that they were not going in the right direction. Though it was a difficult choice, as so much time was spent building, she decided to pivot and rebuild the company with a new team. Sana knew she had a purpose and had a specific end goal she wanted to achieve, so she used her courage to successfully rebuild her company.
It takes courage.
We can find true inspiration from Sana. Sana explains that courage is like a muscle, you can build it. As you build and keep putting one foot in front of the other, your courage builds – setbacks will happen, but you can keep building and rebuilding. “Just don’t give up,” says Sana.
How can someone be a great leader?
“A great leader must lead with empathy, must understand the needs and aspirations of their team, and create a culture that encourages personal and professional growth”, says Sana. To be a great leader, it is about being a source of inspiration, setting the tone for the company culture, and maintaining the company’s integrity.
Sana is familiar with the evolving business landscape, so she explains that the ability to adapt quickly and to embrace change are paramount. A good leader must stay ahead of the curve, must always be willing to learn, and be fearless in the pursuit of excellence.
Sana uses her off time to coach other team members to help them grow professionally, and she takes the time to volunteer to help those in her community build their resumes and coach them to build their confidence to go out and find jobs.
Leadership is a multifaceted and complex feat, but Sana was able to identify a gap in the market, set ambitious goals for Sodales, and establish an empowering company culture. Through this tenacity and dedication, Sana and the entire team have transformed Sodales into the thriving business it is today—supporting ambitious women in their professional journeys along the way. Ultimately, what we can learn from her is that every challenge is an opportunity for growth, enabling you to reach your goals and make the impact you’ve always wanted. To join Sana on this empowering journey at Sodales, visit our careers page and discover how you too can help build something extraordinary.