Industry Profile: Partnerize partnerships director APAC Kieryn Cowan

3 March 2020

Our Industry Profile takes a look at some of the professionals working across the advertising, ad tech, marketing and media sector in Australia. It aims to shed light on the varying roles and companies across the buzzing industry.

This week we speak to Partnerize partnerships director APAC Kieryn Cowan.

Time at the company:
I joined Partnerize in early 2019 to lead our Asia Pacific partnership strategy across publishers, technology companies and agency partners.

How would you describe what the company does?
Partnerize is a SaaS partner automation platform. We help brands and retailers form and grow all partnerships, from affiliates to influencers and strategic brand partners. By using automation to streamline partner management and applying AI to challenges like optimization, forecasting and fraud, we help brands get more revenue and profit from partner relationships. What makes us different is this idea of intelligent partner automation.

An example of the sort of feature that sets us apart in this way is Intelligent Partner Discovery. Companies can find their “best next” business partners with the power of machine learning and artificial intelligence. It’s a breakthrough technology for smarter partner recruitment.

What do you do day-to-day?
My day-to-day focus is across APAC as a whole. And the range of things I do in a day is often just as broad. To give you some insight, I can spend my morning running a workshop with our technology partners on a go-to-market strategy, then an onboarding and training webinar with one of our key agency partners, and then I might finish my day working with publishers across the region, ensuring everything is running smoothly and providing product updates.

Define your job in one word:
Diverse.

I got into martech because:
The whole reason I got into martech is because it’s driven so much by data and insights. It about applying lessons and learnings from data and helping people get the very best results from those insights. These days, martech shapes the decisions we make. What brought me into Partnerize specifically is that the partnership channel is going through a dramatic growth period, and I wanted to be a part of the journey.

What’s the biggest challenge you face in your role?
I work across three partner channels, across eight different countries, and each market has its own different nuances. Although that’s my biggest challenge, It’s also one of the things I enjoy most about the role, because it is truly diverse. It’s never the same day twice.

What’s the biggest industry-wide challenge you’d like to see tackled?
There are so many challenges to address - fraud, attribution - just to name a couple. But for me, automation is the most important because that’s what truly enables growth. The more you can automate your day-to-day work, the more you can focus on strategy and creating powerful new partnerships—that’s where true growth comes from.

Previous industry related companies you have worked at:
I’ve got a bit of a different introduction to the corporate world than most. I spent my earlier years travelling the globe with an ice hockey team, and then navigating it as a professional sailor. It was on a Sydney-to-Hobart race that I first mentioned my passion for tech, and the owner of the boat told me to take a leap (not literally) and go for it. Seven years later and I’ve worked for incredible tech brands including dataxu, Domain.com.au, and Snakk Media.

Who has been a great mentor to you and why?
I’m lucky to have always had great mentors around me. I always learned a lot from my dad growing up about making smart business decisions and being adaptable. I’m now lucky to have our global SVP Partnerships Anshu Khurana, who is not only commercially a great mentor, but also always looking for what’s next.

Words of advice for someone wanting a job like yours?
Don’t necessarily think your expertise is only relevant to one industry. You can always bring business concepts and learnings to multiple different channels.As you learn, think about the lessons and how they can help guide you in other, broader areas.

For the partnerships industry specifically, you’re in luck because there are many different kinds of companies and ways to be involved. Brands, partners, and solutions providers are just three of the key roles in our space. Agencies, related tech, influencers—they all play important and unique roles. Even if you haven’t directly worked in partnerships, if you’re people-first and strategically-minded, you can succeed.

If I wasn't doing this for a living, I'd be:
Exploring ways to achieve my goals and pursue my own company.

My mantra is:
As a Kiwi, this has always stuck with me… “Do the mahi, get the treats.”

My favourite advert is:
It’s not one advert specifically, but I loved the advertising for the RUOK campaign. For me, something with such a powerful message is the most important.

Music and TV streaming habits. What do you subscribe to?
I’m really big on podcasts. I’m currently listening to a great start-up podcast series by Gimlet Media. I also love some good kiwi music such as Six60.

Tell us one thing people at work don’t know about you?
I’ve travelled the world representing New Zealand in ice hockey. My last championship was in Bulgaria and I was named MVP.

In five years’ time I'll be:
To be honest, the industry is so fast-paced, I’m excited to not know where I’ll be. All I do know is I’ll definitely still be a part of the tech industry.

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