How Yunita Hollinger Built Her Career Supporting Partners
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.
Yunita Hollinger has been in the SaaS sales world for the last decade. Originally from Indonesia, Yunita left when she was 15 and spent time studying in Australia and the Netherlands. She started her career in luxury hotels in Riviera Maya, where she serviced wealthy and sometimes famous guests. These high-profile guests, by nature, demanded the finest service and attention to detail during their stay — this is where Yunita first developed her skill of relationship building.
Today, Yunita joins us to discuss her journey into SaaS from hospitality, what it’s like working in her third language, and her career trajectory.
Yunita Hollinger built her career on helping others, starting during her time in hospitality. “When I moved to San Francisco, the first time I got my first tech job was because I went to a hotel conference. I met a business owner at the conference who I could tell was looking for a spoon. My background in hospitality inspired me to find one for him, and we struck up a conversation, which is how I found out he ran a bed and breakfast. After the conference, he reached out to me for help improving the hotel’s online presence, and I ended up managing his hotel’s social media. Even though I was only taking night and weekend social media marketing course classes at SFSU, I convinced him that I could manage his social media while helping him with operations.”
Remembering the small details about her partners and doing what she can to help has proven beneficial for Yunita. She explained, “I have a deep background in relationship building. You have to invest in getting to know people on a personal level. It helps you to navigate the complex organization quickly. Then this champion will go and advocate for you.”
During her time working for hotels, Yunita worked unpredictable hours. She longed for a consistent schedule and applied for hotel sales jobs to find something that would be a good fit. Unfortunately, her search was unsuccessful, and she decided to make the jump to SaaS instead. “There was a SaaS startup looking for a sales intern, but I wasn’t sure about being an intern in my late twenties. I took the risk and worked my way up, ultimately becoming the Director of Sales, Latin America. It’s more rewarding that I was doing it in my third language.”
After climbing the ladder, Yunita took a year off to travel and start her family before taking a role at Cisco. She explained, “I wanted to learn about partnerships. I managed resellers and the program’s go-to-market strategy. I was there for three years and felt like I nailed the reseller side of partnerships, so I wondered what my next move was. I wanted to learn about another side of partnerships, something different than managing resellers which is why I started at Nacelle managing their technology partnerships.”
Yunita’s experience in hospitality was very applicable to her future career in partnerships. “The ability to build deep relationships and give personal attention to each individual is invaluable. I try to remember small details about my partners (as I did with my guests) and can pick up on what a partner needs and reciprocate it in kind, creating partners that become brand ambassadors and advocates. In addition, the hospitality experience (with its last-minute operation changes) prepared me to be resilient to the changes in a start-up environment and strengthen my ability to collaborate across multiple departments with various stakeholders to drive initiatives forward to completion.”
Achievements and Obstacles
Yunita has had an incredible journey since moving to San Francisco and getting started at hotels. Her proudest accomplishment was climbing the ladder and thriving in challenging roles. She shared, “I started as an intern without any tech sales experience. I came from the hotel industry and did it in my third language. As a BDR, I locked myself in a room so people couldn’t hear me cold calling in Spanish. It’s not easy to move to a new country, change roles, and start from zero, but I did it and enjoyed the challenges along the way.”
When Yunita transitioned from hospitality into tech, she proved herself a professional worth betting on, even though she didn’t have any tech experience. “It’s not easy applying for a job in a new function. I always want to do something new and try something new, but it takes a while to convince someone to bet on me, even though I have proven that I crush whatever I do. I am a fast learner, and I believe that you can do whatever you put your heart to. I think the obstacle is when I start doubting myself. I can sell myself to the max. I can convince the hiring manager.”
After getting experience in the reseller side of partnerships, she decided to move to technology partnerships. “I did a lot of interviews, but often people want to play it safe. It’s challenging to convince someone to believe in you to do something you’ve never done before. If you have a passion and want to prove yourself, you just have to do it.”
Having someone see your potential is essential and can inspire you to take on challenges you would never have otherwise. “For my career at Nacelle, I have Brian Jambor to thank. I always remind him that he put me on the partnership map, and I am incredibly grateful for him and others like him. In my first job in SaaS tech sales, the Senior Marketing Manager, Ashley Ford, taught me Salesforce 101 as an intern. She took the time to train me on how to use Salesforce. I still reach out to her and thank her for her patience in answering my many questions. People need to see more than experience on paper. I am where I am now because of these people, and I’m finding more and more people in partnerships who are willing to go the distance to help me grow further in my career.”
Partnerships and Parenting
Yunita took 18 months off when she had her first child, which is time she’s grateful for. “In my two roles in partnerships, I had very understanding managers. They were both parents and knew what it’s like to be parents. I have two boys — two and four — who’re hyperactive and never stop going. I think partnerships jobs are more family-friendly than a typical sales role.”
As a parent and a professional — especially in today’s remote work world, it’s easy to get overwhelmed. “Partnerships is a never-ending role. You can always do more engagement, more training. It’s all about balance and learning how to prioritize. At Nacelle, I had many partners, so I prioritized the partners closest to revenue and our KPIs.”
Today, Yunita is looking at her next career step. “Now that I’m looking forward, there’s a lot that’s important, but having a good manager is crucial. It’s not just about flexibility, but about mentorship for your career. I always do everything I can to serve my partners throughout my career. And I think that’s why they reach out now that I am looking for my next challenge — because they know I cared.”
Advice for Others in Partnerships
From her experience in hospitality and partnerships, Yunita had an observation to share with others in the industry. “Coming from the hospitality industry, I met different people from different walks of life. I once slept on a hammock under a palapa in a small village in Mexico to attend a bell boy’s wedding. During the holiday season, we worked 15-hour days for two weeks straight, from the General Manager, reception, and the waiters, we all brought something to the table to ensure a successful holiday experience for our guests. I believe we should see everyone we met as a learning opportunity because everyone has a story to tell. Because I always want to do and try something new, I believe in being a life-long learner. The world continues to evolve, why shouldn’t we?”
Especially as an immigrant, Yunita sometimes struggles with comparing her journey to the journeys of others. “I came from a different background and different language. I always remind myself not to compare myself to others. You’re on your unique journey. It’s easier for me to say that now, but it was hard when I got all those rejections early in my career. Just be kind to yourself. You always tend to be kind to everyone else and not to yourself. Just stay open-minded.”
Welcome Yunita to Your Team
Yunita is an expert at partnerships and relationship building. Her experience helping others is unparalleled, and her partners appreciate her attention to detail. Yunita is currently seeking her next role in partnerships! If you have an open role on your team, connect with Yunita on LinkedIn or via Partnership Leaders to see if it would be a good fit.
Get advice from and connect with hundreds of powerful women in partnerships, like Yunita, 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.
Dig deeper into the career journeys of impactful ladies in the industry when you download Powerful Women in Partnerships. Discover additional insights from powerful women in the industry in our Women in Partnerships spotlights.