• Cass Polzin

Building a Space for Women in Partnerships with Joni Deus

Updated: Mar 4


Joni Deus Women in Partnerships

Men have long dominated the tech scene. Even today, women comprise 19% of entry-level tech positions, 16% of senior-level tech positions, and a mere 10% of executive-level tech positions. Unfortunately, that leaves many women in the tech industry turning to male mentors.


Enter: Women in Partnerships (WIP), a new initiative of Partnership Leaders, led by Joni Deus of Mailchimp. After experiencing first-hand what it’s like to have to search for relatable mentors, Joni decided to start the group to unite women in the industry.


In tandem with the group’s launch, each week we’ll spotlight a WIP member. This week, founder Joni Deus shares her experiences and hopes for the group.


Meet Joni

Joni Deus Women in Partnerships

Joni Deus hails from Texas (the land of cowboys and songs about dirt roads) and leads Mailchimp’s Partnerships team as Senior Director of Partnerships. Her team manages Mailchimp’s technology partner relationships and builds the product experience for the company’s creative agencies and technology partners.


Before joining Mailchimp, Joni was the Director of Partnerships for SmartThings, the Smart Home division of Samsung. Before making the switch into the software world, Joni’s career focused on retail partnerships which eventually led her into the technology world through smart home products.


Female Mentors & Advice for Women in the Industry

Joni began Women in Partnerships because she feels we need more women in leadership positions that can help build the next generation of women in partnerships. Throughout her career, most of Joni’s mentors have been men. However, she has found her own ways to foster relationships in the field.


“Although not the traditional mentor-to-mentee relationship, I’ve developed what I’ll call a mentor-to-mentor relationship with a fellow executive in my department. We bounce ideas off of each other, serve as gut-checks for each other, and have a strong bond so we can be transparent and vulnerable with each other about our strengths and weaknesses to help us reach the next level.”


Since there are so few women in leadership roles, this type of relationship where women find other non-traditional ways to help each other develop is common.


Joni also explored the breadth of opportunities in the industry. “Because partnerships is a new discipline, there are no best practices developed from 20+ years of people that have worked in the industry.” Joni recommends women in the partnerships industry, “use that relatively blank canvas to your advantage to help shape what partnerships is, how it operates, and what defines success.”


The biggest piece of advice Joni has for females in the industry is, “Whether you’re more junior or senior in your partnership career, I always recommend networking with people outside your organization. It gives you alternate approaches and viewpoints from your own perspectives. Learning about how others tackle goals and problems, gives you more to draw from and better shape your style. Take the time to seek out partnership leaders from industries different from your own. Different industries can approach partnerships very differently and those insights can give a unique perspective that you could use to relate to your specific industry of partnerships.”


Joni Deus Women in Partnerships

Launching Women in Partnerships

Joni believes that creating a women in partnerships group gives women a crucial network and support system to grow their career and shape themselves for the better. The group is just getting off the ground. It’s primarily been a way to network with like-minded women by asking and giving partnership advice, sharing articles & books that relate to our experiences. Any Partnership Leaders member that identifies as a woman is encouraged to join.


Joni shared, “Carving out a group outside the larger Partnership Leaders group, allows us to share and solve similar experiences and challenges. It brings a diverse cross-section of a larger group together to accomplish the mission of a bigger organization, but in a more tailored way so the individuals can relate based on their shared experiences.”


Looking to the Future of Women in Partnerships

While the group is just beginning to form, Joni hopes it will have a lasting impact on members. “I hope that we have strong relationships formed within the Women in Partnerships group over time and that the women in the group can point to specific people or examples where WIP helped them make a decision or helped lead to a change in their career.”


Over time, Joni hopes more women will become involved, including in the planning. “We’ll have more content and events to offer with more women in the group to provide and ask for advice. When the world returns to normal, we’re hoping to have face-to-face events.”

If you’re interested in getting involved in planning, be sure to get in touch with Joni!


Based on initial survey responses, WIP is hosting a roundtable with guest speaker, Samiksha Khanna from Fuel The Vision. Fuel the Vision shares stories of women succeeding in the workplace and the stories of their journeys.


Partnership Leaders has enabled professional and personal growth for hundreds of individuals at modern technology companies. Subscribe to our newsletter to learn more about Partnership Leaders and the Women in Partnerships group.