When Caroline Staudenraus was looking to transition out of a career in teaching, she landed a job in technology sales as an SDR at Confluent. Five years in, Caroline currently works as an account executive in the Digital Native and Growth Businesses organization and is helping Confluent develop and pursue greenfield opportunities—all while proactively addressing the needs of existing customers.
Let’s learn more about Caroline and hear how Confluent creates a dynamic work culture that helps employees thrive.
Tell us about your path to Confluent. What got you here and what role do you play in the company?
I joined Confluent as an inbound sales development representative (SDR) in October 2018. Prior, I was teaching elementary school literacy intervention with AmeriCorps. I reached out to an SDR after seeing Confluent’s job posting asking for a referral and explaining my unique background. Since then, I have held five progressive roles at Confluent—I am currently an Account Executive in our digital native commercial segment.
Now, I’m responsible for managing a book of business that includes both closing new business in greenfield accounts and supporting the success and consumption of an existing customer base. But I don’t do it alone!
I consider myself the leader or project manager for my deals and customers’ success, but a huge team of sales leaders, technical support, sales development representatives, and operations team members contribute at every step.
What does a typical day look like as a Confluent account executive?
No two days are the same, ever!
I live near our Austin office and work a hybrid schedule, so I go in at least two days a week and work remotely for the rest. For me, I need in-person collaboration, either in the office or by reaching out to teammates to meet up for coffee. We have a lot to learn from each other, and everyone is eager to share tips for success.
Some days, my existing customers need a lot of support either getting started with Confluent Cloud or resolving a setback in production. Sometimes I can spend an entire day on greenfield business development. Other days I study new product releases or other enablement content. And of course, plenty of days (and nights!) are spent chasing down final signatures on a deal. The role of Account Executive is incredibly dynamic, which is my favorite part of the job.
What are some interesting challenges you’re facing in your job today?
Right now, I’m focused on learning how to sell in an economic downturn. The start of my sales career was during a tech boom, but 2023 is dramatically different.
The need for Confluent has been steady, but customers require more approvals when purchasing. I’m getting my managers more involved in deals, taking note when we discuss this shift as an organization, and calling upon mentors who have been selling longer than I have.
What originally made you interested in working here? What was the deciding factor?
Truthfully, I didn’t have many options when I was trying to transition into tech, and I faced a lot of skepticism in my job search. I was a little nervous to enter such a technical space, but I was reassured that you could be successful in the role and learn at the same time.
This couldn’t be more true! Over the years I’ve built up more technical knowledge, but once you’re in the role you realize that even our most tenured, most technical team members ask questions and have a growth mindset.
How would you describe Confluent’s company culture?
When I joined, my first manager described it as a ‘shoulder-tapping’ culture–one where your teammates are always eager to answer questions and see you succeed. More than four years later I think that’s still accurate. The team invested so much in me when I joined, that I felt obligated to pass that along once I had more tenure.
I’m proud to continue seeing that scrappy, helpful dynamic in our SDR and sales organization today.
What’s one thing you would want to see Confluent do differently?
Confluent has grown rapidly year over year - processes and policies change faster than they can get communicated to the field.