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Women in Technology series: Yodit Teklemariam

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This profile is with Yodit Teklemariam, Senior Global Product Marketing Director at Sage. You can watch her video, or read the transcript of Yodit’s interview below.

Brittany Benson: Thank you for joining and sharing a few minutes of your day with me, Yodit! Could you share a little bit of detail about your role at Sage? 

Yodit Teklemariam: Yes, absolutely. I have been at Sage for nearly nine years, and I currently serve as the Senior Global Product Marketing Director for our Sage Business Management Solutions. These are solutions that include our Sage 100, Sage 200 and Sage 300 products. I'm responsible for gathering global and regional customer and partner insights, and then taking those insights to help form product strategy and innovation with an eye to what will both help our customers and grow our business. Then we use the insights, strategy, and commercial objectives to interlock with the regions to build messaging and positioning to prepare for go-to-market launches and optimizations. 

Brittany: Can you dive a little further into maybe how you got involved in the world of technology? 

Yodit Teklemariam: Before I joined Sage, I was working in a dual role as a Brand Marketing Director and an Integrated Marketing Director for various publications at Time Warner, including Time Magazine, Money Magazine, Fortune, and Fortune Small Business. During my time there, I had the opportunity to lead a marketing team to develop integrated marketing programs for clients in the group's largest categories of business. These categories included finance, insurance, energy, travel, pharma, and of course, technology. Coincidentally, in the tech sector, I had exposure to Sage, specifically from a media marketing perspective, when Sage was running small business-targeted advertising in our publications. When the opportunity arose to join Sage, I was absolutely thrilled to find myself on the other side of the table, helping to build demand generation and acquisition marketing strategies for the accountant businesses across Sage North America. I essentially went from media selling to media buying, while managing messaging and positioning responsibilities in both roles. I found it just fascinating to be able to see it from both sides. 

Brittany: My goodness, there are so many touch points that you've been able to impact throughout your career. That's remarkable! Speaking of that, what type of impact do you have in your role today and hope to have going forward? 

Yodit Teklemariam: In terms of impact, one of the things I am most proud of during my time at Sage is having been able to pay it forward by being a champion of and a contributor to a program we call the Sage Product Marketing Excellence Program. This has served as a best practice for other teams at Sage to follow. It started out with a group of us Product Marketing Directors from around the organization globally, getting together a few years ago to collaborate and build these frameworks and then present them back to the PMMs (Product Marketing Managers) all over the world in full day training sessions. What's wonderful is I still receive notes today, years later, from PMMs around the organization with requests for links to the go-to-market framework deck that I created, for example, which means that these templates we created are still being used today to help teams align globally. 

In my current role, I hope to continue to have this type of impact, to be able to partner with the teams to create best practices, share them globally, to ensure universal success, but also to help instill confidence in the regions that they're doing all the right things. 

Brittany: That's fantastic. Do you have any advice for aspiring leaders that are interested in pursuing a career in technology?  

Yodit Teklemariam: I think it takes a combination of attributes and actions to be a successful product marketing leader at Sage. It takes insights, soft skills, hard skills, as well as experience in leading change management and a commitment to continuing education. 

To provide a little more detail for insights, it's really vital to understand your customers and your partners and what they need from you. One way you can do that is by spending time talking with them every single day. This is something we're doing now as a part of our Sage Partner Cloud Program with Beta partners, in the BMS team, and the insights have been invaluable. 

The next step is also important, which is to make sure you're taking actions based on feedback you're hearing from customers and partners. For hard skills, that's really about spending time diving deep into specific areas of product marketing, such as business strategy, competitive research, go-to-market, pricing and analysis of both leading and lagging indicators. This is all necessary to project and plan appropriately for any future success. It's something I think the teams at Sage do particularly well. 

For soft skills, it's crucial to be able to collaborate with people across different functions with an understanding of what each one brings to the table and then to bring them all together to support a common goal. When you're doing this, it's important to inspire and foster creativity and thinking outside of the box.  

For change management, I believe the ability to productively pivot and function in an agile, fast-paced environment such as the one we have at Sage, to be essential. I feel that is both a hard and a soft skill. It's also critical to being a successful leader today, especially in the SaaS market.  

Lastly, for continuing education, it's important to never stop learning. This includes everything from taking internal and external courses to staying on top of the latest product marketing strategies and industry trends. These are key traits that I believe are personal strengths of mine, but I'm always looking to improve and grow. 

Brittany: I think that you just laid out a roadmap for career success! You mentioned quite a bit about the customers. How do you ensure that you and your team are always working with the customer-centric framework in mind? 

Yodit Teklemariam: We try to think about what questions customers and partners might have, or additional support they might need. We proactively try to answer those questions and provide that support in a way that is consistent, accessible, and leaves the door open for ongoing dialogue. Specifically, our team helps to gather insights from our customers and our partners all over the world to best understand what their needs are. Then we try to determine how best our solutions can help meet those needs, whether that's through development, partnership or acquisition. Finally, we work with the regions to support them in rolling out these solutions locally to ensure a consistent best practices approach to go-to-market and to ongoing optimizations post-launch. 

Brittany: Are there any final comments, additional insight, or advice that you would like to share with us? 

Yodit Teklemariam: I do want to share that I believe each of us has an opportunity to make an impact in our roles, whether or not we have a title that may be typically associated with leadership. I like to think of it as six degrees of separation. I truly believe each person has the opportunity to be a leader and to positively impact a connection with a colleague, customer, or partner if we each show up each day and do the right thing with every opportunity that we get.  


Read the other colleague profiles who are part of Sage’s Women in Technology interview series.