Katelyn Sorensen is the CEO of Sendible, a leading social media management tool for agencies and brands to schedule, engage, and measure success on all your social platforms. As someone who utilizes social media on a daily basis, I can assure you – it’s the real deal.
Katelyn Sorensen has been known to shift the way brands think when it comes to increasing traffic and driving revenue, while maintaining brand loyalty at companies such as Fierce Inc., Traject and now Sendible.
In this Q&A, I asked Katelyn how her experiences within sales and marketing led her to become CEO of Sendible, what her transition onboarding and leading a company remotely amidst COVID-19 was like and what other SaaS leaders can learn from her unique perspective and background.
There’s been a lot of updates since you’ve been announced as the CEO at Sendible, how has the transition been for you amidst COVID?
It has been challenging to transition during COVID, especially with an international move thrown in! Virtual introductions are different, somehow less personal, even without the 8 hour time difference. Luckily, now that I’ve made it across the pond and things are starting to open up in the UK, I’ve been able to meet some of the team finally. Connecting on a more personal level, talking strategy, and overlapping for the full workday has been a game changer.
What inspired you to join Sendible and move across the pond to London?
My dad taught me from a young age that if you didn’t ask the question, the answer would always be no. So, when we were talking about acquiring Sendible, I saw how great of a business it was, how I resonated with its values, and became very excited. When the conversation came up about how we would run a business on the other side of the world, I sat down with my wife and said, “Hey, I think I want to offer to do this, will you come with me if they agree?” And she said yes.
What is a valuable lesson you’ve learned so far as the CEO of Sendible?
Every leader is different, and different doesn’t mean bad. Gavin Hammar built an incredible company and did a phenomenal job leading it, and I am not going to be able to replicate his leadership style. It is important for me to learn from him and also to bring my personality into it and be me.
You’ve had nearly 10 years of experience in Marketing, Sales and leadership. What made you passionate about these areas?
I have always had a passion for learning and wanting to improve myself and others. My first job in high school was as a math tutor, and in college, my job was door to door paint sales, so I suppose you could say I combined those skills into leading (teaching), Sales, and Marketing.
I also love psychology because I want to understand what makes people “tick”, am very competitive, and fun fact: my mom was the top salesperson at her company for many years before switching careers – so there may be something to that as well.
Did you always know you wanted to be CEO?
Before joining the ASG family, I didn’t really know that being a CEO was an option for me. But when I joined Traject as the Director of Sales & Marketing, I was exposed to the ASG network and business and became inspired. The more I learned about the business model, the more intrigued I was.
I started asking questions early about what the options were, and how I could develop myself to make that a possibility. I was really lucky that Steve Reardon (CEO at ASG) entertained my questions, and that Alice Song (CEO at Traject) continued to support my goals and aspirations when she joined.
In 2020, only 8 percent of companies are led by women. Did you feel welcomed and accepted as an underrepresented group in the senior leadership space?
Representation is so important. I want to be a different kind of leader that helps people identify and strengthen their unique talents, and create a space for different people and personalities to feel comfortable striving and volunteering for positions they aren’t quite sure they can qualify for. As a woman and as a gay woman, I have been so lucky to work for female and LGBTQ+ leaders that helped me to see this as possible.
On top of that, ASG, Alpine Investors and Traject are very proactive, and do a lot to ensure all leaders feel supported no matter who they are – but I’m not blind to the other side and understand I am very fortunate. Our society has a lot of work to do to encourage and enable leaders from backgrounds. Even though I feel supported, I still get nervous every time I tell a customer or an interviewer that I’m gay.
How did you network, find communities and make the connections you needed to succeed in your role(s)?
Genuine curiosity is the best approach in my opinion. Basically saying yes to anyone who offered to give me advice or talk to me, and paying it forward by saying yes to anyone who asked me for advice. I love helping people find jobs, providing referrals and making connections.
I find that the more willing you are to help people, the more likely people are to help you when you are looking for a job or crowdsourcing an answer to a tough question. I’ve done a TON of coffee chats, Zoom calls at odd hours and do my best to respond to as many emails and LinkedIn messages as I can. Membership organizations and online communities such as Out in Tech and Revenue Collective (now Pavilion) have both been really helpful for me.
What is your advice to other CEOs who are beginning their entrepreneurial journey?
You don’t have to do it alone. Reach out, ask for help, and build a community of people that build you up and hold you up. The ASG community has been incredible, and so has my wider support system, my family and my wife. I know everyone says it, but my friends are actually the coolest. They inspire me to be better every day and are truly making a difference in the world. Find people that make you want to be better, and invest in those relationships. If you want to talk, email me or reach out on LinkedIn.
Any thoughts for entrepreneurs/CEOs in the current economic climate or looking forward?
COVID and the business climate it created is something we will be studying for decades to come. While there are a lot of really exciting indicators in the market, there’s still going to be a lot that we can’t predict. I do think that a strong online presence will remain incredibly important, being authentic as a brand will continue to matter to consumers and we have to continue to evolve how we communicate with each other as we determine what our “new normal” will be.