In this APAC Employee Spotlight, we sat down with Senior Account Manager, Michelle Kalinowski.
How long have you been with Acceleration Partners and what is your current role?
I have been with AP for close to three years (2 years and 11 months) and am currently a Senior Account Manager on Global Accounts.
My role involves managing a team that is running our global clients from APAC and ensuring we are reaching our brand goals with new innovative strategies. It’s also not uncommon to find myself sneaking in a nice flat white over meetings at a café with our partners on land to help strengthen our working relationships.
What is the biggest change you’ve seen in the affiliate marketing industry since you first entered it?
I’ve been in the digital space for over 14 years and when I started in affiliate, the landscape was still maturing with most brands paying out on last click with a heavy focus on coupons.
Over the past few years, affiliate has evolved with enhanced capabilities and stronger partnerships to think outside of what was seen as the “norm”. Customers have a better shopping experience and brands are able to reward based on more actions.
We are constantly seeing new innovative rollouts from the networks and platforms we work with that by next year, I know we will have even better technology our brands can take advantage of to support their programmes.
What has surprised you the most about working in a remote environment?
When I first started at AP, what surprised me the most was how easy it was to adapt to working remotely without seeing my team in person. We have numerous ways to stay connected at AP from Zoom, Slack channels to occasional fun events in person when possible.
When moving to Australia and working remotely, I was surprised at how quickly I was able to embrace traveling with only a laptop to do work. (Relying on two screens and then going to one was something I never thought I could do). However, by reducing to one screen versus two, I have been able to enjoy more time out In Australia, stay motivated when doing work and it has tested my ability to get creative on how I can find places with wi-fi.
You were one of the first team members to put boots on the ground for our Sydney, Australia hub. How has life down under been treating you?
Living in Australia has provided many new experiences professionally and personally. Once being on land, embracing as many opportunities to make friends and new partnerships was key. This involved week-long boot camps, never turning down a chance to grab a coffee and even gatherings to play lawn bowls.
Professionally, I have had the chance to own many roles at one time to support our team growing in APAC. This has involved supporting sales, onboarding new team members and training, to building partnerships on land. I have been very fortunate to have a lot of opportunities to enhance my overall skill set outside of the US market to now a global level while contributing to an ever-growing team!
Personally, I find Australia to be one of the best places one can live in. I have met many people in a short time that have become close friends. Australia has a very friendly ex-pat community that is welcoming to making new friendships.
Also, there is always something fun to do from bushwalks to enjoying a new café to local venues running trivia. One can never be bored! I have so many items I still want to cross off on my bucket list while here. I was fortunate to have had the chance this year to see the fireworks in person from the Sydney Harbour Bridge!
What is something that you have learned about the affiliate industry in APAC while working in Sydney?
What works in one region is usually not going to work in another. It’s not uncommon for brands to be targeting dozens of APAC locations at one time which means you need to prioritise and plan early what your execution strategy is going to be.
You need time to invest in understanding each region’s local and cultural nuances for running a business. For some regions, it’s not uncommon to see responses to emails taking days. One might need to wait days to respond again to partners, so you are not seen as pushy. In other regions, follow-ups may mean multiple calls and building relationships through messaging on Wechat and Whatsapp.
Prioritising regions to promote also varies based on what the brand’s margins are, internal resources to support the region’s needs and the brand’s presence. At AP, we do a lot of work in the early launch phase of a global account to understand what our long-term goals are and what roadblocks we expect that we need to plan for, even if they may be six months into the future.
On a personal level, I have learned to slow down when speaking. Coming from the USA and being Italian, I have a habit of being louder than most when speaking. I have had to quickly adjust my working style in APAC to ensure I am connecting better with those I’m around.
You’ve been able to do a bit of traveling while you’ve been in Australia. Do you have any favourite spots you’d recommend?
Travel has always been a passion of mine so having the opportunity to travel within Australia and internationally with South East Asia nearby has been a highlight.
Within Australia, Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, was a wonderful spot to visit as it’s the outback in the middle of Australia. Uluru is probably Australia’s best-known natural landmark and I was able to see Dingo’s in the wild!
Outside of Australia, I have had the chance to explore many new regions in APAC, from Singapore, Thailand to Indonesia. By far, my favorite is Bali where I did a solo trip. I even visited the Balinese healer Wayan Nuriashi who became famous from the movie “Eat Pray Love” starring Julia Roberts.
To learn more about how Acceleration Partners can help your brand, check out our Global Services page.
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