From Ad Sales in Gaming to C-suite Executive: Susan Kuo’s Career Journey
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.
Susan Kuo is a co-founder and the Chief Operating Officer at Singular, a mobile advertising measurement platform providing attribution analytics. As part of her role, she oversees the global partnerships team at Singular. Today, Susan joins us to discuss her career path, the impact of being a woman in the industry, and advice for others looking to achieve similar success.
Susan’s Path to COO
Before she helped found Singular, Susan Kuo spent much of her career in the gaming and technology space. “I started my career in the gaming world in sales and business development roles. I would never have thought of myself as a gamer growing up, but I fell in love with it after joining the industry. From there, I moved into ad sales and mobile.”
Susan held various sales and marketing roles before becoming the SVP of Sales & Business Development at Onavo. “It was there that I met my co-founders for Singular. I was employee number two in the United States and built their go-to-market strategy from the ground up, leading to a successful acquisition by Facebook in 2013. It was there that I worked closely with the largest performance marketers in the space. At Onavo, we were solving a very different problem around market insights, but it was through this experience that I realized many of the key challenges that marketers face in connecting and combining marketing data from disjoint data sets and not having a single source of truth across their marketing efforts.”
After Onavo, Susan decided to co-found Singular with two of her former colleagues to help solve those pain points she saw marketers experiencing. Founding the company as a woman in tech is one of Susan’s proudest accomplishments thus far. “You don’t see a lot of women founders in the industry today, but I am seeing more and more of it every day and hope that continues. I want to inspire other women to believe they can found their own companies, too, regardless of their background. When I recruit for folks within partnerships roles, I have a unique appreciation when people come from a sales, customer success, or solutions consultant background, have dealt directly in the market, and have had a chance to deal with clients and understand their decision-making process’s challenges and dynamics. Having that first-hand experience in the front lines is an invaluable asset in making people more successful in partnership roles where you have to collaborate closely with your partners to deliver a good experience for your mutual customers.”
The Impact of Being a Woman in Gaming, Sales, and Partnerships
Having started her career in the gaming industry and spending time in business development and partnerships roles, Susan is no stranger to male-dominated spaces. However, she’s been lucky enough to have many mentors who have inspired her success in those roles. “I never really saw barriers as a woman within the industry. I understand it’s a very male-dominated industry, but I had the fortune of working with many strong women early on in my career. Seeing how they’ve traversed male-dominated industries without seeing barriers, as well as their ability and conviction of passion for leading their specific teams within the organization, was inspiring. It was ingrained in my career DNA early on, and I’m extremely grateful for the experience and still work very closely with some of these women today within our partnership ecosystem.”
Susan’s Advice for Other Women in Partnerships
Susan’s early experiences were incredibly formative for both her perspective and her career. When asked about advice for other women in the industry, she pointed back to those lessons she learned early on. “Do whatever you can to unsee the boundaries you think are there. Whether you think a role is unachievable or certain limitations gate your vision, the reality is if you see those boundaries, you’re making them realistic for yourself. So instead, remove them and be convicted about achieving your vision.”
Susan also encouraged women to be vocal about what it is they want to achieve. “What is it that you’re interested in? Ask for mentorship along the way, whether it’s from your peers, managers, or founders. The more you can let your guard down in a candid and approachable way, the more doors of opportunity you are creating for yourself. At Singular, we strongly encourage our employees to share their aspirations beyond their role today.”