AP Employee Spotlight: Sarah Johnson

As Acceleration Partners’ Vice President of Client Services, Sarah wears many impressive hats.  She’s served on AP’s leadership team for over five years, is responsible for the success of our 60-member client services team and the happiness of our clients. She has been especially instrumental in shepherding the success of our key accounts, including Target, Uber, and adidas and has been the driving force behind AP’s innovative and creative problem-solving culture.

To introduce you to this AP wonder woman, we asked Sarah to share a bit about herself, her perspectives on the affiliate industry and what she enjoys most about working at AP.

 

What are a few things we’d might not guess about you?

Sometimes I feel like I’ve lived a few lives! My college degree is in Marine Biology. I actually spent the best semester of my life on an island at a marine lab. But, I really only studied this because I thought it was fascinating. I always knew I wanted to go into business, not train dolphins. So, after a few years in corporate America, I opened a fashion e-commerce retail business and a store on Boston’s Newbury Street for 7 years before coming to AP. Today, I live in Brooklyn with the loves of my life, my husband and two toddlers (15 months apart – they are almost like twins!)

 

How did you find yourself working in the affiliate marketing space?

By chance really. I started working in the general e-commerce space around 2004 so I have engaged with a lot of channels since then. With my business, I did have an affiliate program but now I realize that I had no idea what I was doing and I definitely wasted a lot of money on sketchy affiliates. I’m over it now though 🙂 Then, as I was finding my way after I closed my business,  I found AP as a company first and that evolved into working in the affiliate space.

 

What are some misconceptions about affiliate marketing?

Some still perceive affiliate marketing as being a channel that facilitates and supports fraudulent or sneaky behaviors. In reality, it has evolved well beyond that. However, misperceptions still exist.

Additionally, I don’t think most people realize the complexity and strategy that goes into a well-managed affiliate program. There is a lot to know and do in order to develop a program that’s both smart and successful.

 

How did you come to work at Acceleration Partners?

After I decided to close my business, I was trying to figure out what to do with my life. When I came across an ad AP had posted, I was freelancing in the digital marketing world and with working with local businesses in NYC.

At the time, there were only a few people working at AP and they needed help with some account-based work. Even though it was a support role and a bit of a step down in terms of my experience, the job description was really smart and thoughtful. So, I responded. Once I talked with Bob and the team, I knew AP was a company I wanted to be a part of. I always tell Bob that AP was the best Craigslist ad I ever answered!

 

Most memorable AP moment?

Our team-building “Amazing Race”- style event at an AP Summit a couple of years ago. We were all running around Boston in teams. I’ll never forget seeing our GM, Matt jump into a pool for a photo op, our team accosting strangers to get points and, of course, my team winning! (I’m “a little” competitive…).

 

Had you worked remotely prior to AP?

Yes. Since I had my own business for 7 years, I worked remotely fairly often once the business was up and running and I didn’t need to be in the retail store or warehouse every day. I knew I could never go back to working in an office after that!

 

What do you like most about AP’s remote work environment?

Time with my kids. Not commuting gives me an hour in the morning and two hours in the evening to spend with my kids that I wouldn’t have otherwise. I typically hide out from them most of the day, but I can also help put them down for their nap occasionally or just grab a cuddle if I need a break.

 

Life outside of AP. What do you enjoy doing?

I spend most of my weekends exploring Brooklyn with my family – there’s always something new to do, see or visit. Last weekend we went to a family-focused afternoon dance party at a club DJ’d by Questlove. So fun. I try to take advantage of these “only in Brooklyn” type opportunities whenever I can!

I also am obsessed with my Peloton and try to ride at least four times a week and confess to binge-watching Netflix whenever I travel for work; a silver lining when I’m traveling and missing my family.

 

What’s your favorite memory of working at Acceleration Partners?

There are so many. Our first official company off-site has to be one of them. There were about 8 of us in the company at the time and we spent a weekend in a house in Vermont. In between work sessions, we cooked for each other, played icebreaker/trust building games, and went on an epic icy hike that turned into an inadvertent team-building activity.

 

Piece of advice you’d give to new AP hires?

There is SO much opportunity at AP. If you want to grow and are committed to putting in the effort, you can make it happen. If you see something we can do better/faster/stronger, or an opportunity that we haven’t tapped yet, you’re encouraged to raise your hand and say something. Our culture truly fosters and rewards innovation. Be open and honest with yourself and your team, and ready to give and get feedback, both positive and constructive. At AP, we understand that this is key to our success as individuals and a company.

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