Formerly leading BetterCloud’s partnership strategy was Emily Catalado, VP of Alliances. We had the pleasure of interviewing Emily Cataldo about her experience, best practices, and challenges as an Ecosystem Pioneer.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I’m the VP of Alliances at BetterCloud, responsible for two types of partners: technology partners that we co-market and/or co-sell with and our channel partners which include all our resellers, distributors and services partners. I currently live in Atlanta, Georgia.
How did you land in Business Development / Partnerships?
I landed in partnerships somewhat by accident. My first job after college was as a sales rep for McKesson’s new web-based medical system. Since the product was so different from the prior products sold by McKesson, those of us on the sales team had to help train, enable and co-sell with the McKesson VAR Community. After a short time in sales, I moved into account management for all of the customers, and that’s where I really started working more closely with the McKesson VARs to help them drive adoption and satisfaction with their customers. I loved building relationships with the partners, so I was thrilled when I had the opportunity to join Cloud Sherpas as the Google Alliance Manager. At the time, Cloud Sherpas was Google’s largest partner, so it was a really amazing experience and taught me a lot about partner management.
What does BetterCloud do?
BetterCloud is a leading SaaS Management Platform (SMP) that enables IT professionals to discover, manage, and secure their cloud applications in a best-of-breed world.
What previous roles did you hold? How did those roles help you in your current role?
Prior to my current role at BetterCloud, I’ve held various roles at McKesson, Cloud Sherpas, and Accenture across sales, account management, marketing, operations, and alliances. Each of these roles has helped prepare me for a career in partnerships.
In my current role, my team and I are focused on driving pipeline and sales, so I use my marketing experience to create campaigns and initiatives with our partners to source pipeline. My sales and account management experience is helpful given how closely we work with the go-to-market teams at BetterCloud and at our partners. Running a partner program requires a lot of organization, so my operations experience helps a lot.
"Career progression and making an impact were definitely what motivated me when I first got into partnerships."
What motivates you to wake up, get out of bed and get to work? What excites you about this space?
My motivation has definitely changed over the years. Initially, I was excited to get into partnerships because I loved building relationships, and was thrilled at the opportunity to learn about partner management from my counterparts at Google. Career progression and making an impact were definitely what motivated me when I first got into partnerships. Today, I am motivated by making an impact and compensation.
What excites you about working with various teams at BetterCloud?
In a partner role, we work with so many different cross-functional teams internally and at our partners, and I love the variety that this field brings. On any given day, I might be working with marketing on a campaign, supporting sales reps on deals, helping our success/renewals team with a resold customer, discussing our technology integration with a partner and our product team, creating a new process or enablement, or a whole list of other things! I love that every day is different and I get to interact with so many different people.
What's one of the biggest challenges you tackled in your role as an Ecosystem Pioneer?
After Accenture acquired Cloud Sherpas, we had to come up with the new structure and plan for the Accenture-Google partnership. This was a team effort with a lot of stakeholders, and definitely came with a lot of challenges given the size and complexity of both companies. We created and launched a very exciting initiative together that we called “the Launchpad” so that we could start working together and learning how to partner in this new way.
How do you influence internal stakeholders to support you in achieving the vision either you or your company might have?
Communication is key. It is important to remember to communicate highlights and updates so the company is aware of the impact partners are making and how it aligns to the vision/strategy that the company has set out. We do quarterly updates on our partner ecosystem as part of a company meeting, and we also have separate QBRs and sessions to talk about the results and future strategy.
What are some super powers you have seen in other Ecosystem leaders that you believe makes them very effective?
Some of the key things I’ve noticed successful and effective partner ecosystem leaders have in common include: effective communication, creativity, tenacity, strong networking skills, and ability to develop and execute on strategy.
Who amongst Ecosystem leaders do you get inspiration from or admire? If you had an opportunity to get mentored, who would that person be?
There are so many amazing partner/ecosystem leaders that are inspiring, so choosing one person is hard. At the moment, I think Carolee Gearhart, VP of Worldwide Channel Sales at Google Cloud would be an incredible mentor. She is managing a big partner organization at Google that makes a huge impact on Google’s business and the partner community.
If you envision a utopian state of Ecosystems, what would that look like? Alternately, where do you think Ecosystems will be in 5 years?
There is a lot of change happening in the ecosystem - we are seeing an emergence and adoption of marketplaces such as AWS and GCP marketplace, consolidation of services organizations, increase in technology partnerships, and more.
It still feels like the role and value of Partner/Alliance people are unclear to many companies and often partner team members feel like they have to fight for “a seat at the table” in their company. In a utopian state, I’d love to see the roles of partner folks become more standardized in the industry so that we can continue to elevate the role within each organization given the impact that partners can play.
"In a utopian state, I’d love to see the roles of partner folks become more standardized in the industry so that we can continue to elevate the role within each organization given the impact that partners can play."
What's one book you have read and would recommend others to need?
Keith Rosen’s book: Coaching Salespeople Into Sales Champions.
What do you want our readers to know about you that they don't know or we didn’t ask you?
Due to COVID, it was an interesting transition going from nearly 75% travel to 0% travel for my job/role. For nearly the past 10 years, I’ve traveled 2-3 weeks per month all over the world visiting different partners, customers, and company offices. Many of my peers in partner leadership roles have been impacted in the same way. I’ve noticed my day-to-day productivity has increased and my work/life balance is MUCH better, but it has been challenging to build relationships and activate new partners with only video calls and email. I’ll be excited to start meeting with partners face-to-face again soon!