As the winner of the Women in ICT Awards (WIICTA) Rising Star Individual (Distributor) award, Anna Christensen has delivered multiple programs to offer paid opportunities for interns and freelancers during her time at Exclusive Networks.
Now at Nextgen Group, Anna also created scores of programs to maximise support for its partner community.
How did you get into the IT industry?
I got into the IT industry in 2018 and it was love at first sight.
Before IT, I worked for a small marketing agency that specialised in demand-generation for ICT vendors, distributors and resellers. That was my first real taste of the channel, and it wasn't easy. I was constantly under the impression that we worked hard and used good tactics, but feedback and results were nowhere near as satisfactory as the effort we put into our projects.
So, when Angela Conlon (then at Exclusive Networks) was interested in offering me the role of marketing manager at Exclusive Networks, I didn't have to think twice.
However, I joined the industry with a mission: I wanted to understand why demand-generation, especially in the ICT channel environment, is so challenging and I promised myself to fix it once and for good.
Have I succeeded? I guess channel vendors and partners I've worked with so far can help me answer this question. One thing is for sure communication lies at the core of solving all our problems.
What were some of your key achievements in the past few months?
At Exclusive Networks: the world's first cyber security edition of the well-known Monopoly game and multi-vendor activation program, which I launched in September. I decided to use a well-known brand and format to gamify the behaviours of Exclusive Networks' business partners to achieve vendor objectives.
The game concept was created at the beginning of 2021 when some of our vendors proposed their business plans and had many common action points on their journey to build self-sufficient channels that will kick goals for many years ahead.
One of the first things I've worked on at Nextgen, which I joined only five months ago, was creating a structure and process for multi-touch vendor marketing plans and programs for distribution-led business models. The method allows Nextgen to maximise our marketing capabilities and improve collaboration with vendors by choosing the most suitable tactics according to their market positioning and objectives.
Building a successful channel is a multi-level journey, and there is no 'one size fit all', that's why both vendors and distributors need to understand each other from the beginning of collaboration.
We have recently rolled out the method across Australia, New Zealand and ASEAN, and we are expecting to see the first results in the next three months.
Who or what has most influenced you professionally?
If I'm to choose one factor, it will always be business-to-consumer communicated via social media. I don't have a degree. My marketing adventure started in 2011 when I decided to share my passion for fashion with the rest of the world.
I built my website and social media presence, and after the first 12 months, I was already collaborating with large brands like Myer, The Iconic, Asos and YSL Beauty. Facebook and Instagram turned out to be my true Alma Mater. I learned how to communicate, engage, understand, and analyse my audience.
People often underestimate bloggers but, for me, it was a great way to practice constantly test my tactics and keep on improving as the market was evolving. Also, in my opinion, digital marketing for retail and hospitality is extremely aggressive and competitive compared to corporate space.
Following marketing trends in the B2C space strongly influences my go-to-market strategies and helps me build unique tactics and witty content campaigns that address personas rather than just job titles.
What is the most surprising or profound thing you've learned or discovered while working in the IT industry?
It may sound surprising, but the IT industry has been incredibly inclusive for me so far. Many people here have been working for years to promote equality and diversity.
I seem to be a bit of a colourful bird, which sometimes polarises people. Coming from the hospitality industry, where I often was bullied, IT has been a breath of fresh air, full of inspiring leaders and supportive colleagues.
I particularly can see it at Nextgen; they don't just talk about having a good culture, they work hard actually to make people feel empowered and motivated, so everyone else can see it.
What are your professional ambitions going forward?
Again, coming from B2C space, I thought the IT industry would be very corporate, conservative and simply boring, but I was wrong.
Technology is the defining force of our age and is now the fastest-growing and most dynamic industry on the planet. There are no wo days that are the same, and that excitement is just going to accelerate. I already know my strengths and I'm really excited by the potential this industry has to take them in new directions.