Women in Industry: Katie Duvall of Vsimple

A Path of Positivity
Katie Duvall Focuses on Optimism, Persistence and Connecting with Others

By Nicole Needles

It was a routine Friday catering run for the Cosí restaurant. Katie Duvall was doing what she does best – delivering premier customer service with a smile. What wasn’t typical about this catering run, however, is that it would land Duvall a new job and a career for life.

One of the human resources professionals at Big Ass Fans was impressed with Duvall’s energy, enthusiasm and professionalism while on the catering run. He told her that she should apply for one of their sales positions.

“That’s really where it started. I went in, and after multiple interviews, they only hired 1% of everybody that ever interviewed, but I had the opportunity to work there for about six years,” Duvall said.

From there, she found her next step at Wesco, one of the leading distribution companies in the country.

In December 2021, she came full circle with her technology sales specialist role at the startup Vsimple, where she was invited to work with two Big Ass Fans veterans who asked her to join the Vsimple team.

With such a shift in her career trajectory from hospitality to sales, it helped Duvall to have some mentors along the way.

Duvall said of Keith McKay, Sales Director at Vsimple and her former manager at Big Ass Fans, “He provides guidance on critical thinking on a daily basis, in the mind of a salesperson, in the mind of a parent, and he regularly encourages personal growth. He continues to get me out of my comfort zone, is constantly challenging me.”

Mentors and role models such as McKay have shaped one of Duvall’s favorite parts of the job: human relationships. Making the sale is about seeing the person on the other end of the deal before anything to Duvall.

“I thrive off finding their pain points and helping make their life better, learning about them personally and developing a relationship along the way. My goal is to motivate others and for them to be successful,” Duvall said.

The human element has been a prominent part of her career. Being a woman in a male-dominated field is very often at the forefront of her mind on a day-to-day basis.

“After watching my mom and the women in my life, we like to tackle those challenges,” Duvall said. “I don’t think we’re okay with something being frustrating all the time or something being inefficient. We want to provide that fresh perspective. We want to help overcome and brainstorm these challenges.”

Amy K’s advice at a MHEDA women’s group to “protect your energy” made it onto a sticky note on Duvall’s desk.

“For somebody with my kind of positive attitude, I have to constantly remind myself: it’s not about me. I have to understand the resistance. I have to elevate their understanding and protect my energy,” Duvall said.

She cold-calls for many hours of her day. This task can often lead to discouragement or rejection, so Duvall knows how important it is to stay upbeat.

“Whether that’s small or big, I really thrive off those small victories throughout the day. So it’s not just completing projects and closing sales. It’s getting someone on the phone after calling him 20 times. Little things like that keep me going,” Duvall said.

Alex Reed, Chief Commercial Officer at Vsimple, concurs. He said Katie is a problem solver who gets results for her colleagues and customers.

“Katie is a bright light in the industry, bringing a level of vibrancy and clarity that signals to customers they’re in great hands,” he said. “She stands out from her peers thanks to an unwavering enthusiasm coupled with more than a decade of experience in the business operations of manufacturing and distribution companies.”