Lead(H)er Profile - Jennifer Sartor, Head of Product Marketing at Poppulo banner image

Lead(H)er Profile - Jennifer Sartor, Head of Product Marketing at Poppulo

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Our Lead(H)er series features impressive women leaders in the Tech Industry.  In this Q&A, we are featuring Jennifer Sartor, Head of Product Marketing at Poppulo.

Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?

I was born and raised in Buffalo, NY. I was a quiet kid, a reader and a thinker. When I was a baby, my parents put in an inground pool and so I learned to swim before I could walk. To this day, my happy place is in the water. My father was a central banker with the Federal Reserve and when I was 12 he had the opportunity to travel to the Sultanate of Oman to rewrite their banking policies. He brought my mom, sister and me with him and we spent 3 months immersing ourselves in the ancient and fascinating culture of Oman. On our way home, we explored Europe by train. This once-in-a-lifetime experience forever expanded my perspective on the world, opening my eyes to its remarkable beauty and diversity.

What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?

I double majored in English and Political Science at the University of Rochester and parlayed my writing skills to land a marketing internship with a local transportation engineering firm. Though I didn’t have a technical background, I was fascinated by the firm’s experience building roads and bridges and enjoyed helping them win new projects by bringing their experience to life in the proposals that I wrote.

I leveraged this internship to land my first full-time marketing job with a small New York City structural engineering firm that had engineered the St. Louis Gateway Arch, Madison Square Garden, the Seagram Building and countless other historic structures. 

Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?

After several years in NYC, I headed north to Boston. Fueled by childhood dreams of being a writer, I tried my hand as an editor of early education textbooks. Though I was honing my writing and editing skills, I missed the faster pace of the business world. It was the early days of the internet and I caught the tech bug when I joined a geographic information systems (GIS) software firm in Cambridge. Living in Boston, higher ed is huge and I eventually decided to pursue my MBA, choosing Babson College’s program for its strength in entrepreneurship. After earning my degree, I dove head first into the internet economy, landing a market strategy role with internet backbone provider Genuity. I loved researching and advising the business on new market opportunities. When the dot com bubble burst, I earned my project management professional (PMP) certification and combined my market strategy and project management skills at MultiPlan, where I helped launch new products. Next up I dove into a product management role at Monster, developing career tools for job seekers. It was a turning point when I saw the positive impact my work could make for real people. I fell into my first product marketing role at Workhuman (then Globoforce), where I marketed SaaS employee recognition solutions to HR buyers. This led to leadership roles in product marketing and demand generation at Virgin Pulse, a SaaS employee wellbeing solution provider, and ultimately to my current role with Poppulo. 

What is your current role and responsibilities?

I now lead product marketing for Poppulo, an employee communications software provider. After many years marketing employee programs aimed at helping people and businesses thrive, I had seen firsthand how the success or failure of these programs rested on how well they were communicated to employees. It’s a noisy world, fast-changing world and leaders are struggling to get through to their employees. At Poppulo, I’m thrilled to be helping leaders at many of the world’s leading employers cut through this noise and create the clarity each employee needs to embrace change and drive business results.

For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?

If you’re interested in becoming a product marketer there are many paths you can take. Look for roles that get you close to the buyer. Study other players in your market, including competitors, influencers and partners. Work on your writing and communication skills. 

What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?

As a product marketer, it’s essential to have empathy for your buyers. Successful product marketers are resourceful problem solvers, skilled communicators and natural connectors. They’re both analytical and creative.

What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work?  What’s most challenging?

There’s no better way to understand a market or a company than from the vantage point of a product marketer. I love working at the intersection of product management, sales and customer success to deliver solutions that meet the needs of our customers. 

What is your proudest professional accomplishment?

Hands down, my proudest moments are those where I’ve been able to contribute to the growth members of my team members, colleagues and mentees. Seeing them achieve career success is incredibly gratifying.

Are you involved with any professional organizations outside of the company? Volunteer work?

I’m a member of the Product Marketing Alliance, which has some useful templates and a Slack channel that gives me direct access to the collective wisdom of a large network of product marketers. As a Babson College MBA alum, I’ve also enjoyed volunteering as a mentor and coach to some impressive students.


What do you enjoy doing in your free time?

I love to swim, read, bake and hang out with my husband and kids, Broderick (18) and Claire (13).

How do you manage stress?

The key for me is sleep and exercise. A nap, a walk or some laps in the pool usually do the trick. But when life gets overwhelming, guided meditation has been a game changer for me. List-making also works for me. At the end of each work day, I write out my to-do list for the next day to help free my mind until the next morning.

How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?

I’m a tea drinker -- Earl Grey every morning.

What's one of your favorite places in the Boston and New York area?

These days I love a stroll along the Assabet River in my town of Hudson, MA and, because once a New Yorker, always a New Yorker, when I’m back in NYC you’ll find me on the move walking anywhere and everywhere to take in the city’s irresistible energy.

Any book or podcast recommendations? 

With neighborhood walks one of the few safe ways to get out of the house lately, I’ve been enjoying podcasts while I stroll. A few favorites include How I Built This, This American Life, The Bigger Narrative and The Daily.

What advice do you have for recent college graduates?

A good network is critical to your career trajectory so the advice I often give to new college grads is to learn how to network well -- ask lots of questions, listen, learn and, most importantly, give before you expect to receive. Every organization needs good writers so work on your writing. How do you do that? Good writers are good readers. Read everything you can get your hand on. And just write. Start a blog. Volunteer to write for professional associations or your school’s alumni association.

About the

Poppulo is the global leader in employee communications technology.

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