This article comes from Stephanie Cwynar’s talk, ‘Creating specialized global enablement functions and programs’, at our Denver 2023 Sales Enablement Summit, check out her full unedited discussion here

Have you ever had to build a plane while flying it?

That’s exactly what it felt like when I took on the challenge of creating a sales enablement program from scratch.

I’m Stephanie Cwynar, and today I want to share my story of building a global enablement team when we barely had the basics in place. It was thrilling, exhausting, and pushed me far outside my comfort zone.

If you’re an enablement leader looking to take your skills to the next level, I hope my lessons learned will give you fresh inspiration.

I’ll take you through how I built an empowered team, gained skeptical stakeholder buy-in, drove alignment across regions, and ultimately achieved the results that made it all worthwhile.

This is the real story – no sugarcoating! I’ll share the tactical steps as well as the leadership principles that guided me. My promise is to be vulnerable so you can learn from my wins (and stumbles) over three years of rapid growth.

So grab your favorite pen and brace yourself for my tale of creating a sales enablement program where there was literally none before. If I can do it, you can do it too. Let’s get started...

  • My background
  • The challenge: Building a global team from scratch
  • My approach: It's all about people
  • The proof: Measuring results
  • Final thoughts

My background

I spent the first decade or so working in sales and marketing roles - everything from selling lipstick to developing hair color trends for L'Oreal. 

But I realized my true passion was for education. I went back to grad school, earned my masters in higher ed, and started working for the New York City Department of Education.

Talk about a switch from corporate sales!

My focus was helping scale career and technical education programs that created pathways from high school to community college. I partnered with companies like IBM and Microsoft to develop curriculum to prepare students for careers in tech. It was rewarding work but I eventually burned out.

On a whim, I Googled "How to combine marketing, sales and education" and stumbled upon the world of sales enablement.

A new door opened.

I landed a role at Facebook focused on product training and was able to combine my knowledge across sales, marketing and learning.

After a few years, an exciting opportunity fell in my lap...

The challenge: Building a global team from scratch

In 2019, I was asked to build a brand new enablement team to support Facebook's rapidly scaling customer service organization. We operated call centers around the world and were adding thousands of agents a year.

It was an awesome challenge but also daunting. I'd be managing a distributed team across multiple regions, time zones and companies. And I'd be tasked with enabling a global operation when we didn't even have the basics in place.

I had to wrap my head around the opportunity and current challenges:

  • 13 call centers globally but no centralized view of what training existed
  • 6 core customer service programs but continuity across them
  • 50 vendor trainers but minimal coordination
  • 1500 agents to enable with plans to scale dramatically

It was essentially starting from scratch. My mind raced with questions:

  • How do I build a high-performing team across different cultures and time zones?
  • How do I get stakeholder buy-in when enablement is brand new to them?
  • How do I drive consistency globally while still localizing content?
  • What infrastructure and systems do we need to be successful?
  • How do I even begin to prioritize where to start?

I was energized by the challenge but knew I couldn't go at it alone.

My approach: It's all about people