Climbing the Ladder from Executive Assistant to Senior Manager
This article is part of our Women in Partnerships series, highlighting female professionals in the partnerships space. To learn more about the series and the Women in Partnerships group, check out the series intro.
Jenny Hopkins spent over a decade in the hospitality and retail industry before she stepped into an Office Manager role at a digital agency. Through hard work and perseverance, Jenny has excelled in the industry. This week, Jenny began a new role as the Senior Alliance Manager at Fast. Today, we’re excited to help Jenny celebrate the next leg of her career by digging into the journey that brought her to Fast.
An Unconventional Path into Partnerships
Jenny Hopkins spent the first decade of her career working in restaurants, hotels, and retail. When she moved to Austin in 2010, she ended up pivoting out of hospitality. She shared, “Through a series of events, I ended up having to support myself full time, so I stepped into an Office Manager role at a small digital agency. I was also the Executive Assistant to the CEO, who believed in my potential and supported my growth. After a year at the front desk, I progressed into internal project management, external project management, account management, and, ultimately, sales and marketing. I started from the bottom and climbed all the way up to running sales and marketing.”
Not many people can say they truly climbed the ranks as Jenny did. After transitioning to running sales and marketing, Jenny helped with the initial development of a partner channel. She explained, “We partnered with Magento, BigCommerce, and more. I was developing our channel across the board. I was so impressed with the partner team at BigCommerce and I got such a good vibe about the company. It turned out they had an open Sr. Channel Account Manager role that I took, spending four years there. That’s where I did my real partnerships work with agencies and SIs.”
Jenny is no stranger to growing partner programs from the ground up. She shared, “I started at BigCommerce managing the Southeastern territory and built up our whole network in that region — I did the same in the Northeast two years later — acquiring and developing 15+ Elite Partners across the combined territories. There were only five of us on the channel team when I started. In the four years I was there, we grew to twenty-five team members worldwide. The Agency Partner channel became one of the most valuable revenue-generating pieces of the business. My proudest moment there was being named Channel Account Manager of the Year, Americas, in 2020, having generated the most revenue for the team. BigCommerce has built a world-class partner program and I look forward to bringing that experience to Fast.”
Jenny decided to become an Office Manager out of necessity. Today, she’s comfortably supporting her family, which she shared is her greatest accomplishment thus far. “Partnerships are incredible — the fact that I can support my family in a meaningful way and have a balanced life here is so important to me. My career in channel sales allowed me to move cross-country into a 250-year-old farmhouse in Vermont, slow down, and do what we wanted to do as a family.”
Excelling Professionally without a Degree
Despite going to three colleges during her years in hospitality, Jenny never finished her Bachelor’s. She’s accomplished everything up to this point without a formal degree. Jenny shared, “I really believed that I wanted to get into the tech space. Believing in myself enough and raising my hand for the next challenge each time has helped me get where I am today.”
While Jenny is incredibly accomplished without a degree, she is currently going back to school. “I’m actually doing a course per semester. Many of my mentors have told me that I don’t need it, so why take on the debt? If I do finally finish, I will be a first-generation graduate. While my career hasn’t been impacted by not having a degree, I want to get it done at my own pace.”
Experiencing Partnerships as a Woman
In technology and sales careers, women undeniably face many challenges. Jenny explained, “I really identified with Amanda Nielsen — being a woman in sales is a rough ride. Part of being in sales and hospitality is owning and building those relationships. I’ve certainly run into situations where people have taken advantage of that or made inappropriate comments. In fact, in one role, we ended up removing a partner from the program because they were so inappropriate.”
Despite the challenges, Jenny is super proud to be a woman in the workplace. She shared, “I love to see all the other women in the workplace kill it and be badasses. There are lots of programs and support out there. I take every opportunity I can to mentor other women. I’ve learned that part of the reason women are paid less is that they don’t negotiate when they get job offers. No matter what role, I always negotiate and recommend others do as well. I knew they came to me with the best possible offer in my most recent role, so my negotiation was on my title. It’s important to me to always ask for what I want.”
Many female mentors have helped Jenny along her journey. She highlighted a few, “There are so many strong women in eCommerce. My boss at BigCommerce, Tessa Jones, is a force to be reckoned with. She was empathetic, fun, supportive, and she’s a hustler. Another is Lindsay Moore at Marketplacer, who has such an executive presence, works so hard, is so smart. They all give me the motivation to get there one day.”
Powerful women helped sell Jenny on her newest role. “One of the driving forces of me going to Fast is the VP of Partnerships, Calanthia Mei. Women in executive positions are of utmost importance to me when choosing an organization to grow with. In the few conversations I’ve had with Calanthia, it was evident how powerful and confident she is. She’s super passionate and has a unique background in partnerships, finance, and strategic investing. I wanted to figure out how to work with her and learn from her.”
Women in Partnerships
Jenny had fantastic advice for other women looking to get into partnerships. She shared, “Own the challenge of being a woman; hustle, work hard and raise your hand for the next challenge. Nothing is outside of the realm of possibility as a woman. Raise your hand anyway and push for it.”
Of Partnership Leaders’ Women in Partnerships Group, Jenny shared, “I love Partnership Leaders and Women in Partnerships. We’ve had some ‘off-the-record’ monthly meetings in Women in Partnerships that have been powerful. We speak about how important it is to negotiate. It is great to vent about the same struggles. There’s lots of learning we can do. There’s the reality of living as a woman in the workplace. It’s hugely important and I find it so impactful to be able to connect with others.”
Get advice from and connect with hundreds of powerful women in partnerships, like Jenny, when you join Partnership Leaders’ Women in Partnerships group. Hundreds of industry professionals turn to Partnership Leaders for support with their latest projects, answers to burning questions, and general camaraderie.
You can also be inspired by more powerful women in the industry in all of our Women in Partnerships spotlights.