Exploring Entrepreneurship as a Partnerships Professional
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.
Today, Kristen Roeter joins us to discuss her experience as a woman in partnerships, making the leap into entrepreneurship, being a mom during COVID, and more.
Kristen Roeter is the owner and founder of Penultimate Channel Marketing, which helps SaaS companies that are just starting in the partner channel or looking to invest in building out scalable partner marketing programs.
Kristen started her partnerships journey in the Microsoft and Sage ecosystem, handling marketing for an ERP reseller. This provided incredible exposure to the relationship between reselling partners, publishers, and integrated add-on solutions. Kristen then moved to a Channel Development Role at Avalara, which was an excellent place to learn about partner recruitment and enablement and the role of the partner team in a growing SaaS company.
With that experience under her belt, Kristen gravitated toward marketing conversations with partners, which was her passion. As the company and her role grew, she shifted into a Partner Programs Manager role, focused on driving revenue through operationalizing marketing programs for referral partners and developing go-to-market strategies with integrated technology partners.
Hitting Her Stride in Partnerships & Parenting
Kristen enjoyed the dynamic of working in the partner marketing role. “It was fun to work with referral partners, knowing what is like in their shoes, and say, ‘I know you have 20 different add-on solutions talking with you, here’s why we’re different, and here’s how I can help.’ I also enjoyed talking to peers at other SaaS companies and strategizing on joint campaigns. Sometimes I was educating partners about marketing tactics and other times we were looking for that joint story to tell.”
Kristen shared that she and her husband then decided to start their family. “I had my first child at that company and when our second came along, I was feeling torn as a parent. We were far away from family, and my role was expanding significantly. The company had grown a lot, and with the role shifting, I really wanted to go back to something I loved on the creative and strategic side.”
Her decision was fueled by realizing time is precious. “My kids are only little for so long. I wanted to figure out a way to do what I love while still focusing on my family. I took the plunge and went off on my own at that point.”
Kristen shared that taking the leap to working on her own has helped her to collaborate with a variety of organizations. “I’ve been able to help different SaaS companies build out their partner programs and develop scalable marketing programs that can help them launch and grow. It’s exciting to work within a variety of ecosystems, not just ERPs anymore. I’ve had exposure to lots of organizations I wouldn’t have had the opportunity to work with otherwise.”
Going out on her own has also allowed Kristen to focus more on her kids, as she now builds her own schedule.
Parenting During a Pandemic
Motherly called parenting during the coronavirus pandemic a “new level of burnout.” Similarly, HRDrive shared that working mothers have been mainly shouldering the responsibilities of parenting during lockdowns. Kristen shared that she and her husband have found a balance at home that doesn’t leave her with the short end of the stick.
“My husband is super supportive and has taken an active role as a parent. We are lucky to have an amazing au pair that helps out with our three kids, but without in-person school, we knew things needed to shift. We sat down together at the beginning of the pandemic to discuss each of our strengths and how we can fill the gaps. It’s true what they say; it takes a village to raise kids.”
Kristen shared her advice for others looking to achieve a similar balance. “It comes down to figuring out what works for your family and realizing that everyone will have to make some compromises. My 6-year old shares an office with me. She does her virtual school while I work from home, which means she can sometimes be heard in the background of calls.”
The Power of Setting Annual Themes
Taking the leap and going off on her own is Kristen’s proudest accomplishment of her career, but it was also a nerve-racking and challenging decision to make at the time. “One of the things I’ve been doing is setting a theme each year and goals that flow into that theme. Even when things get tough, I go back to what my theme is.”
It takes a lot of courage to face new obstacles each day as an entrepreneur. Kristen shared that she struggled with having confidence in herself. “Sometimes, I start doubting that I can be a mother and a business owner and that I can provide value for companies in different spaces. I really have to focus on getting out of my own head and making it happen.”
Almost three years into her journey of entrepreneurship, Kristen shared her advice for cultivating that confidence. “For me, it goes back to developing that theme and using it as a mantra of the year. Past that, you just have to take the next step and realize that if you fail, it’s okay, and you’ll learn from it.”
Excelling as a Woman in Partnerships
Kristen was lucky to have a fantastic team at Avalara, where she was before making the leap to entrepreneurship. “There was a combination of mothers that had kids older than mine, women just getting into motherhood like me, and others without kids. They were an incredible band of people to work with and learn from. I’m still close friends with many of them today, and we lean on each other for mentor-mentee relationships.”
Her primary mentor helped her envision herself as a successful professional and mother. “My main mentor is Liz Anderson, who I worked with at Avalara. She is an impactful partner marketing leader and is also a mom. She provided an excellent example of how to step up, own what you do, and be proud of your successes. She has had a huge impact on my career development.”
Advice for Other Women
Kristen’s most significant piece of advice is that time is precious. “You only have a finite amount of time. I realized I only have so much time while my kids are young. Figure out what that means for you and what achieving success looks like from a personal and professional setting.”
As far as careers, Kristen recommends finding where you can provide value and focusing on that. “What can you do moving forward to help those companies? For me, it was realizing, ‘Hey, I can help these smaller companies that are looking to grow in the partnerships space.’ Then, I’m a better mom because I’m happier with my work situation.”
She also circled back on the benefit of setting themes if it helps you. “My theme for this year is ‘Balance & Boundaries.’ With working from home all the time, I’m trying to make sure I’m providing quality time for my family, myself, and focusing on work as well.”
The Importance of Groups Like Women in Partnerships
Kristen highlighted how helpful it is to be able to connect with women in similar situations. “It goes back to just having peers who are going through similar things. It’s nice to be able to bounce ideas off of people and talk to women who are going through similar situations and maybe have progressed ahead of you.”
Having role models in your career path who remind you of yourself that you can look up to and go for advice is so important. That’s why we’ve created a Women in Partnerships group, specifically for women in the industry.
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