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10 | Own Your Expertise & Curiosity with Kirsten Brenner Informed K12

Jun 2, 2022 2:00:00 PM


Today, Kirsten Brenner, Senior Manager RevOps at Informed K12 joins host Islin Munisteri about owning your expertise. We talk about her experience with formal deal desks, and a content writer joining her RevOps team. Curiosity is a learned skill and necessary to get to the root cause. We end with her career advice of being more aggressive--in speaking up at meetings and pursuing opportunities.

Kirsten Brenner is currently Senior Manager, Revenue Operations at Informed K-12, a platform that transforms paperwork for school districts. She has worked at Paycor and Olive over her 8 year career. She graduated from the University of Cincinnati in Marketing.

Connect with our guest, Kirsten Brenner, on LinkedIn


[00:00:20] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. Thanks. Hi, this is Islam monastery with marketing and I'm host of the rev ops careers podcast. Today. I'm excited to have Kiirsten Brenner with us today.

[00:00:37] Kirsten Brenner: Okay Islin

[00:00:39] Islin Munisteri: hey, so Kirsten is currently a senior manager revenue operations at informed K through 12, a platform that transforms paperworks for school districts. She's worked at Paycor and Olive over her eight year career. She graduated from the university of Cincinnati in marketing. It's great to have you on the podcast.

[00:01:01] Kirsten Brenner: Thanks. Yeah, I'm happy to be here.

[00:01:03] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. The kickoff tell me about how you started your career and how things got started in

[00:01:12] Kirsten Brenner: rev ops. Yeah, sure. So I really got started with my career at pay for which is a human capital management company. I worked for a short period of time in their marketing department before transitioning to sales and marketing operations.

[00:01:25] I just found that I enjoyed the data and technology side a little bit more. So as I worked as an operations analyst, I was there for about three years. And in that time I got to experience a variety of different tasks from Salesforce administration to database management, territory, design, performance analytics, pretty much everything under the sun.

[00:01:44] So I learned a lot there and, towards the end of that three years, I really decided I wanted to lean a little bit more into that performance analytics side. So I actually transferred to their financial planning and analysis team and was a financial analyst supporting marketing and our major market sales team.

[00:02:02] And in that role, I think I learned a lot as well, just more on that analysis side, particularly as it relates to. Financial modeling and best practices in that area. I also had some opportunity to leverage some of my more technical expertise and led a database design project that really helped to streamline about a lot of our reporting.

[00:02:23] And ultimately after about two years, I decided that I wanted to focus more back into that operation side. So I started looking for opportunities to really elevate my career. More on the ops side. And that's when I joined olive which is a very rapidly growing healthcare technology startup.

[00:02:39] And I originally joined as a sales operations manager but very quickly pivoted into more of that revenue, operations role. So touching really all aspects of the customer journey. And that was a really incredible career experience. I had the opportunity to work on a lot of really intense projects and build out a lot of systems and processes from the ground up.

[00:03:00] It was also really interesting to join a startup at around 150 employees and watch it grow to over a thousand and the two and a half years I was there. So just a really incredible experience. And then about six months ago, I moved on from olive and joined InformedK-12, which is an education technology startup I joined at around 50.

[00:03:20] And I think we've grown to about 50 or sorry, joined around 40. And we've grown to about 50 right now. And I essentially joined to help establish their revenue operations function. So that brings us up to today. Loving my experience here so far. And I think there are a lot of growth opportunities for the company and for rev ops, specifically that I'm looking forward to tackling this.

[00:03:42] Islin Munisteri: Awesome. And speaking of those challenges what big challenges are you experiencing now in your role?

[00:03:49] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah, so I think a lot of what I'm working on right now is taking some of the processes we've established and really, transforming them to more system-based more streamlined for the teams making some enhancements where necessary to.

[00:04:05] Provide more value and help make our sales and our customer success teams more successful. So I think, some projects to toss out I'm kicking off and starting to build out a formal deal desk for our team to leverage. And then we'll be looking to do some more things around contact management and we're actually working on hiring.

[00:04:24] A marketing role right now, as well, since we haven't had a traditional marketing function up to this point. So we're going to have a content writer join our rev ops team and really start to ramp up our lead generation activity.

[00:04:39] Islin Munisteri: Cool. And I guess I haven't heard of a content writers joining a rev ops team.

[00:04:43] So I guess what are, what's their.

[00:04:46] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah. So the role is a little bit more broad, I think, than your typical content writer. It's really going to be a growth marketing and enablement focused role. So there'll be, doing all of the copywriting for a cold email outreach, a blog post for our website things like that.

[00:05:04] They'll be helping to build sales, collateral, like pitch decks. And competitive battle cards and really honing in on that competitive analysis. And then they'll also be focusing a lot on, client testimonials and helping to build out that repository for the sales team. So it's a little bit of a broad role.

[00:05:23] And yeah we'll live under operation revenue operations right now. As a way to, help keep our team focused on enabling a sales and customer success to really be effective at their jobs.

[00:05:35] Islin Munisteri: Wow. So it's really a broader road, like a Grove specialist.

[00:05:39] Kirsten Brenner: It really is. Yeah.

[00:05:42] Islin Munisteri: Cobbled together. Cool. And I guess so far what's been your biggest learning experience.

[00:05:52] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah. I think this is a learning experience I've had throughout my career. And that's really that curiosity is a really important skill and it's also a learned skill. It's something that you have to work at.

[00:06:06] And I think this is true for many professions, but definitely rev ops. We have to be curious. We have to be asking questions. We have to be asking questions when we think we know the answer, we have to ask questions to help clarify requests or just information that we're trying to gather.

[00:06:23] And we have to ask important questions that might connect dots that we don't even know exist. I think one thing that I've been really working on and that, continues to come up throughout my career is just being very intentional about the questions that I'm asking when I'm asking questions and making sure I'm really honing in on that important information that needs to be surfaced.

[00:06:44] Islin Munisteri: Wow. That's pretty big. Cause I feel like you, you need to understand. The system, what systems you're building out.

[00:06:51] Kirsten Brenner: So definitely. Yeah. Yeah. There are so many things we need to continuously be learning about whether that's, different technologies, the inner workings of those systems, new ways to approach processes, or just diving into issues that the business is experiencing.

[00:07:07] So yeah, like we're continuous learners in this field. And so that curiosity piece is something that I think. It's easy to forget about it seems like it should be natural, but we have to be very intentional about how we're asking questions and things like that.

[00:07:23] Islin Munisteri: I agree. And I guess speaking of the growth special, I guess the content, you're going to hire, like what platform are you going to put that.

[00:07:34] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah. So I think that's something that is a little bit TBD. We have a couple systems right now, but we'll really be looking for this role to take charge of where they want to take our marketing function. Today, our sales team is doing all of their outreach through SalesLoft.

[00:07:50] So that will likely be, the original medium for a lot of that email outreach. We do also have HubSpot. That's a platform that's available for more nurture type campaigns, I, which is not something we've historically done. So that will be a new realm for us to start diving into.

[00:08:05] Islin Munisteri: That's great. Cause with HubSpot, you can do a lot of nurturing, a lot of lead scoring. The figure out when someone's right to become an SQL, to it from an MQL.

[00:08:16] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah, definitely. There's a lot of functionality available in HubSpot that we're not fully leveraging today. So I'm really excited to get this person on board and really vamp up what we're doing there,

[00:08:28] Islin Munisteri: wow, that's exciting.

[00:08:31] And What do you have a single source of truth in your tech stack between HubSpot sales loft?

[00:08:38] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah. So today our single source of truth is our CRM Salesforce. So you know, we have a couple different platforms and things that we're using, but they all integrate with Salesforce. It's the primary platform.

[00:08:52] The team is working out of for their information and for our opportunity management. We even track things. Invoices and commissions within Salesforce as well. As we continue to grow, that may change, we're relatively small right now, but really Salesforce, is our hub for all of our information.

[00:09:09] Wow.

[00:09:10] Islin Munisteri: That's great. And do you have, I guess at the different roles that you've worked, do you have a philosophy on rev ops and how teams should interact?

[00:09:20] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah. So I've done a lot of research cause I've been very curious on this field. And I would say I, I generally aligned to a lot of the material that's out there around focusing rev ops on enablement, technology, operations and really honing in and supporting

[00:09:38] the entire customer journey. So marketing sales and customer success. One of the things that I've always found interesting about rev ops though, is that it's really both a support role and a management function. So you have to find that balance between enabling the success of sales and customer teams while also enforcing the best practices that are really needed to progress the business in the right direction and ultimately ensure the happiness of external clients.

[00:10:03] So generally when I think about rev ops and how they interact with other teams, it's a very consultative interaction. We're constantly gathering information and feedback where evaluating the state of processes, technologies, trainings and then we're, going back and advising the business on ways to improve operations and results.

[00:10:23] I also do believe that it works really well for RevOps to live outside of marketing sales and customer orgs. Really just to remain that neutral party that can help ensure the success of all areas, equitably, and even in some cases act to mediate between teams and ensure they're best able to work cohesively.

[00:10:44] Ultimately it always comes back to. Progressing the business forward and ensuring a positive client experience. And I think rev ops really plays a key role in coordinating and managing that customer journey to make that happen.

[00:10:58] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. Yeah. I believe that too. You've got to have kind of a neutral look at all of your people, processes and systems and data before you can come up with a I guess like a good story to tell.

[00:11:13] I guess have in your experience have you seen some of the, I guess when I was talking to one of the guests they talked about politics and like affecting the data and affecting the story that's coming from the data in the CRM. Have you seen that?

[00:11:31] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah, absolutely. I think it's a, I think it's something that a lot of RevOps professionals run into.

[00:11:37] Each party, if we look at teams of marketing sales, customer success, they're all important to the customer journey. But they have their own priorities and their own things that they're running at and their own information that they feel is important. And so there's always this conflict of the, those battles there of who is getting rev ops attention at what times there's also interesting the politics around how those teams want their data to be viewed.

[00:12:06] Rev ops as a neutral party, especially on the analytics side. We're often responsible for reporting on performance and that's good or bad performance. And. Obviously, marketing sales customer success professionals should be able to come in and help provide that context and that story as to whatever the results are.

[00:12:26] But I think as a result rev ops can often end up, feeling like the enemy or the babysitter that's watching over their metrics. So it can be a difficult environment to, to work in. But I think developing those relationships with leaders in each of those groups is incredibly important.

[00:12:43] Just making sure that they know that you're there as a collaborator as a teammate to really help progress their area in the right direction can really help to alleviate some of that tension.

[00:12:53] Islin Munisteri: I agree. Yeah. Having those relationships, can take you through the data, then people can respond better to feedback.

[00:13:03] Yeah, definitely. And. What's the best piece of career advice you would tell your younger self?

[00:13:11] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah. So if I could tell my younger self one piece of advice, honestly, it would be to be more aggressive. And I mean that in regards to like asking questions or asking for feedback like speaking up and pushing the boundaries and like most importantly advocating for myself.

[00:13:29] I think it's very easy for a lot of people when they're first starting their career to be hesitant. You feel like. The most inexperienced person in the room. And really the reality is that even the most inexperienced person in the room has something of value to offer. And so you should feel comfortable speaking up and, at some point when, as long as you're putting the effort into your career, you do become a bit of a subject matter expert and it's okay to acknowledge and be proud of that.

[00:13:56] It never, dismisses the need to constantly be learning new things or engaging with others collaboratively. But I do think it's important, especially for people early in their career to feel comfortable advocating for themselves and expressing what they need from a career to skills development perspective.

[00:14:12] Of course there's a lot that you can do on your own and, communities like rev ops co-op, for example are great places to do that. But it's also really important, I think to ask feedback. Communicate your goals with the people in your professional life openly and without hesitation.

[00:14:28] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. So that's held you back in your career.

[00:14:32] Kirsten Brenner: Yeah. So it's interesting. Cause I feel like I have been able to be fairly successful in my career, but there are a lot of opportunities where I look back and I think, oh, if I would have spoke up and asked this question, maybe.

[00:14:45] Would've gone a different direction or maybe if I would have advocated for myself a little bit more, we would have been able to accomplish, XYZ from a project perspective. So I think it's just always important as a professional to own your area, own your expertise, and really speak up and advocate for what you feel needs to be done for the organization.

[00:15:07] Islin Munisteri: That sounds great. And is there anything we haven't covered?

[00:15:13] Kirsten Brenner: I don't think so. Honestly, I think, we've talked about a lot of things related to rev ops rev ops is. Somewhat of a new field, in comparison to other functions and organizations. So it's really awesome to be, joining today and really being a part of a lot of organizations that are helping to facilitate that collaboration and really redefined what we're doing from a revenue operations perspective.

[00:15:38] Islin Munisteri: Yeah. That's exciting. That's what we're doing every day. And I guess I had a question like when you hear the word rev ops roadmap what do you think.

[00:15:47] Kirsten Brenner: Oh, wow. When I hear the word rev ops roadmap, I think I wish I had a good one. I it's so interesting, especially being a, a small rev ops team, right now I'm a team of one we're working on hiring a couple people at my last company for the longest time.

[00:16:03] We were a team of two. As I exited, we were only a team of four. And when you're that small and. Trying to handle all these requests and be strategic and be as proactive as possible. It just gets very difficult to define that solid roadmap. So I feel like at times I have good definition on, near term priority is and how those would incorporate into a roadmap.

[00:16:25] But we're tactical right now that it's hard to really build that out in a way that I feel it's meaningful and I think that's definitely a challenge that all rev ops teams experience, but small rev ops teams in particular getting out of that tactical and trying to be more strategic.

[00:16:41] Islin Munisteri: Gotcha. That's been really helpful Kirsten and I think that wraps up the episode. Thanks for being with

[00:16:48] Kirsten Brenner: us. Yeah. Thank you for having me.

[00:16:53] We appreciate you joining us for this session of rev ops careers. Be sure to rate, review and subscribe to the show and visit That's T H E I for more resources on today's topic, as well as access more episodes to plan your career. That's been done careers.

Islin Munisteri

Written by Islin Munisteri