How Julia Doran Finds Silver Linings in Challenges
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.
Julia Doran is a Partner Sales Manager for Contentsquare, where she’s been for just over a year after joining in February of 2021. Julia joins us today to discuss her winding career path, accomplishments and challenges along the way, and advice for other professionals in partnerships.
Julia’s Path to Partnerships
Like many others, Julia Doran shared her career path has not been a straight line. “I like to try new things, and I’m inquisitive. I’d love to say it was a well-thought-out plan back when I started my career, but it just happened this way naturally based on my interests at the time. I started in marketing at Warner Music and Warner Blackcomb. After getting my MBA, I wanted to dive deeper into the operational and business side of organizations. Global consulting for IBM gave me the mass-transformational projects I was looking for and the opportunity to get into the nitty-gritty experience with operations, strategy, and change management.”
Julia moved into sales, where she worked with partnerships more heavily. “I started my own consultancy company working in sales and partnerships before moving to Contentsquare. Ultimately, my marketing, consulting, and sales experience was an interesting trifecta of skills that supported my leap into partnerships.”
Julia has genuinely enjoyed her time at Contentsquare, highlighting the fantastic team she works with. She shared, “From an opportunity perspective, it’s fantastic to build things off the ground. A small team has built the partner program in the Americas — that’s an extraordinary time to be in a company. We doubled the size of our partner team in the Americas since I joined (we’re up to six team members with an open headcount if you know anyone interested)! We’ve been experiencing massive growth on a wild ride you’d rarely get anywhere else. That business scaling element was something I was looking for in my next role because it fits so naturally into my skill set.”
Creating a Consultancy
Leaping into entrepreneurship can be scary, especially when you decide to do so during a global pandemic. “Going out on my own was a huge milestone for me professionally. I had wanted to do so for a while, so the perfect opportunity opened up when I was part of a downsize due to COVID. That day, I pitched that same company with a consulting project that led to a positive outcome because I saw a business problem they needed to solve.”
While losing your job is never fun, this gave Julia the push she needed to realize her abilities and make the leap. “That first project gave me confidence in my skill set to know that what I say and bring to the table as an independent consultant is valuable to clients. The experience working on my own also gave me clarity to understand areas that I still wanted to learn within partnerships and guided me towards what I was looking for in my next role.”
Overcoming Obstacles and Finding Silver Linings
Julia has overcome two significant challenges recently. The first was being let go during the pandemic. “Being let go can leave you doubting yourself or your abilities. As unpleasant as it is, I think it’s something everybody needs to experience in their career. I learned that if you’re marketable and have an in-demand skill set, you can always turn it into something positive. Often it gives way to something better. Challenges and setbacks will always happen, so the true test is how you react and handle them.”
She did turn her experience into something positive when she started her own consulting business and ultimately took a new role at Contentsquare. At Contentsquare, she faced her next challenge: breaking her back. “I was in my role for a month when I had an accident and broke my back. It has been a long road to recovery with many challenges, but Contentsquare has been so supportive. During the first few months of my recovery, I struggled with feeling like I was failing, stressing out, and, on occasion, feeling that infamous imposter syndrome that so many of us women are familiar with at one point or another because I could not physically work at the same pace. The silver lining was it made me more efficient because I had to say no and focus on what would build a program, drive pipeline and revenue.”
Julia continued, “This experience, although tough, constantly reminds me to look at the positive and my progress. We often look at how much distance is between us and our goal, but this process helped me see how much I’ve achieved and progressed over time. I’ve taken this lesson into building partnership programs. The partnerships space is a constant juggle between hundreds of tasks demanding your time, energy, and attention. Remembering to look at the progress and what you’ve built to date can motivate you to keep building. I am almost back to normal — pun intended.”
Succeeding as a Woman in Partnerships
While being a woman in a male-dominated industry has its challenges, Julia also highlighted the benefits she experienced. “On the positive side, I have found emotional intelligence to be a factor that’s associated with women and has really helped me. Empathy, dealing with people, and understanding that everyone’s situation is different are characteristics women frequently possess that have helped me.”
Throughout her career, Julia has been able to grow through the support of mentors. “I think mentors, in general, are so critical to career growth and are wonderful sounding boards because they are in your corner. They’re people you can be honest with, and they’ll tell you their opinions openly.”
“I love having female mentors, and I think it’s essential to have a mentor who understands the female perspective and unique challenges women face in business,” Julia continued. “There are many challenges men never see. They can’t help you through something they’ve never experienced, whereas women can be great sounding boards there.” However, she does believe that having male mentors is equally important. “They’ll teach you different perspectives and approaches that can help you throughout your career. I’ve always championed both.“
Now, Julia has gotten to a point where younger generations are approaching her for mentorship. “I’m finding it’s a wonderful way to see the growth in how these things are changing. How these women are approaching the workforce is different than I did and how many in my generation did. They’re bolder and believe they deserve a seat at the table right out of the gate, which I love to see and fully support.”
Advice for Other Women in Partnerships
From her years in partnerships, sales, and marketing, Julia had advice to share for women in the industry. “Every quarter, take a look at some job descriptions of titles you would like to move into for your next role. Highlight skills or experience that are consistently needed in this role and understand your skill gaps. This way, you can always look for projects and experiences that will help you gain these skills and grow into the requirements for your future role, setting you up for better success in your company.“
Never underestimate the power of networking and helping people in your journey. Julia shared, “I have found that when I give my time, experience, or help to someone in my network or beyond, it has always come back to me positively. One of my favorite ways to help people is to make connections within my network. I am such a big fan of connecting people who I know will be great business collaborators or can help each other with something specific. I also really enjoy having soundingboard conversations and troubleshooting particular subjects. Bringing in people outside of your industry, role, and company can help you come at the problem from a completely different view. That’s probably why I’m so drawn to partnerships. There are so many wonderful people to work with, great conversations about partnerships, and fast-paced businesses with no shortage of challenges to solve.”
The Value of Women in Partnerships
Julia is part of the Partnership Leaders group, Women in Partnerships. Of the group, she shared, “I think women’s groups in anything you’re doing are so valuable. My passion outside of work is to ski and ride motorbikes, both of which are very male-dominated. I’ve done a lot of co-ed and female-only training. I think what I’ve noticed about all of these communities I belong to is they’re very supportive and encouraging. Women-only groups, including people who identify as women, provide a platform to be more open and vulnerable than in other groups where everyone can join. It’s a safe space for women to talk about things openly, which doesn’t always happen in other co-ed groups.”
An incredible thank you to Julia for sharing her powerful journey with us. We’re proud to see Julia crushing the game at Contentsquare, with another powerhouse, Sarah Jackson. Best wishes to Julia for a continued recovery.
Get advice from and connect with hundreds of powerful women in partnerships from different backgrounds 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, like Julia, in our Women in Partnerships spotlights.