The Power of Embracing Change

Cass Polzin
Cass Polzin17 Mar, 2022

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.

Education is a surprisingly prominent element of every partnership leader’s role. In a given week, you may find yourself educating your team on the value of partnerships, educating your partners on your solution, and educating your sales team on your partners’ businesses. While it may not seem like it at first, transitioning from a teaching role to one in partnerships makes a lot of sense.

April Trask is the Senior Director of Partner Enablement at Cloudinary, which is her first partner-specific role. In fact, she started her career in academia as a historian of modern Europe and Germany, teaching most recently at Amherst College. Today, April has joined us to share her experience transitioning into partnerships, the value of mentors, and proud accomplishments throughout her career.

April’s Career in Education

April Trask Photo by Sarah Deragon
Photo by Sarah Deragon

April Trask’s background is in academia. She shared, “After college, I got my Ph.D. in modern European history with a second emphasis on learning. My post-doctorate was in digital learning — translating pedagogy into a one-to-many environment.”

This experience lent itself well to her next roles at Dropbox and Slack in Customer Education. April explained, “My expertise is in building learning experiences that resonate with customers and partners. I helped build the certification program at Slack from the ground up, getting to work with admins, partners, and more. I spent a little over two years in that role, which was a fantastic experience.”

Today, April has transitioned into working with partners as the Senior Director of Partner Enablement at Cloudinary, an end-to-end image and video management solution for websites and mobile apps. In her role today, she uses much of what she’s learned about education throughout her career. She shared, “My background in academia is an important part of how I approach research-informed learning. My focus is on understanding what research tells us is effective. I look at how we can use all of the information learned in psychology or other fields to craft better programs to serve partners and customers. I’m currently launching a badge program at Cloudinary to help us upskill our partners across the whole ecosystem. Next will be a partner certification that demonstrates verifiable expertise in media solutions and Cloudinary.”

That transition wasn’t easy, but it turned out to be one of the proudest moments of April’s career so far. She explained, “I think a lot of people can feel like it’s too scary to change careers. I’m proud of having embraced that terror — it’s difficult to leave behind everything you’ve built and learn something new.”

The Impact of Gender in Male-dominated Fields

As a scholar, April’s research focused on the history of sex, sexuality, and gender as well as the history of medicine. This theoretical work also informed her perspective on being a cis-gendered woman in fields and industries dominated by men, both in academia and later in the tech space. She shared, “Being a woman completely impacts everything, especially in fields that are male-dominated. Academia has historically been very white, able-bodied, male, and heterosexual. It’s the same with SaaS leadership. It means I – unfortunately – have to do more, and it’s been crucial to my career and well-being to build and rely on strong communities of women. I value the shared sense of experience and support that I have received from so many women in my career.”

Throughout her career, many women have provided support and mentorship to April. “My most recent mentor is Lisa Rothrauff, the Director of Customer Education at Amplify, among others in the community. Liana Maharaj-Parrish, for example, created opportunities for me to learn about exam development for high-stakes certifications during my time at Slack. Because of her and the connections she facilitated for me, I can bring those skills to my certification needs at Cloudinary. Others have consistently supported me, starting back when I was in academia. Kristen Leng, among others, was an incredible mentor when I was at Amherst College. Many of the people who had huge impacts in my career are women.”

April is a member of our Women in Partnerships group, where women in the industry connect to discuss challenges, solve problems, and share experiences. Of the group, she shared, “I think it’s essential to have a space where women can come together and seek support for a shared experience. We all share the experience of being women. That shapes how we are perceived, the opportunities we have, how we’re expected to communicate, and how we’re compensated. It’s invaluable to have a community that is safe and supportive.”

Advice for Other Women in the Industry

April has a wide breadth of experiences across tech and academia. She had a few pieces of advice to share with others from her time in both industries. “First, assume that everyone else has the same imposter syndrome that you do. If you feel like you don’t know what you’re doing or are too afraid to reach out to somebody, recognize that they are probably experiencing the same anxiety about something else. Don’t be afraid to ask people for help, ask questions, ask if they want to be your mentor, or create a support group.

My philosophy in life is, ‘If you’re not hearing no, you’re not asking enough.’ Someone gave me that advice years ago, and I love it because it gives you permission to push, to ask for things for yourself, your career, and your program.”

Both April’s philosophy and her unique set of experiences have helped her reach this point in her career where she’s launching a partner enablement program from scratch. Get advice from and connect with hundreds of powerful women in partnerships, like April, 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.

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