9 leaders worth clearing your schedule for at Dublin’s SaaStock

30 Sep 2019

Image: © Roman/Stock.adobe.com

There’s a huge number of speakers at SaaStock19, but here are some of the top women who will be at the event, from companies such as Stripe, Zendesk and SurveyMonkey.

The agenda for Dublin’s SaaStock19 was recently released, and with more than 250 speakers from companies including Google, Intercom, Stripe and AWS, it can be quite a challenge to decide how you want to spend your time at the three-day event, which takes place from 14 to 16 October.

To make things a little easier, we have a round-up of nine women who will be speaking at the event and are definitely worth your time.

Claire Hughes Johnson, COO, Stripe

Stripe’s chief operating officer, Claire Hughes Johnson, is responsible for scaling Stripe’s business operations to meet the needs of its ever-increasing userbase. She brings almost two decades of experience in sales, product marketing and operations to her role.

During her talk at SaaStock, Hughes Johnson will explore the global state of the cloud, including ‘megatrend’ predictions. The COO will also look back over IPOs, investments, mergers and acquisitions that have defined the SaaS industry, before forecasting the significant disruptions the SaaS ecosystem is set to face in the coming years.

Nazma Qurban, CRO, Cognism

Nazma Qurban is Cognism’s award-winning chief revenue officer, overseeing sales and marketing at the firm. Qurban was Cognism’s first employee and salesperson when she joined the company in 2016.

Since then, she has played an instrumental role in creating a predictable revenue process and building a successful sales team. Managing the entire sales process, Qurban is credited with achieving a 657pc growth in revenue in 2018 and taking the business to $3m in annual recurring revenue within 18 months.

April Dunford, founder, Rocket Launch Marketing

Executive consultant, speaker and author April Dunford has run marketing and sales teams at a series of successful tech start-ups and has launched 16 products to market. She is also a board member, investor and advisor to dozens of high-growth businesses.

Dunford’s session at SaaStock will be about how to scale beyond early product-market fit, including how to spot phantom product-market fit and what to do when you do learn how to recognise it. She’ll ask attendees to explore an alternative way of thinking about markets in the PMF equation, which will ensure they know when and how to “pour gasoline on the fire to ignite the next stage of a company’s growth”.

Anna Gong, CEO and founder, Perx

Anna Gong is the CEO and founder of Perx Technologies, a leading mobile loyalty and customer engagement SaaS company, backed by the co-founder of Facebook, Eduardo Saverin. Prior to joining Perx, which is her fifth start-up, Gong was vice-president at Wily Technology for Asia Pacific and Japan.

A contributor to CNBC, Bloomberg and Forbes, Gong has two decades of experience in technology and management consulting. She’s also an expert in enterprise software in the US, Asia Pacific and Japan. She’ll be leading the Moving Up Market Bootcamp and the panel ‘Forget the US, our next step is Asia’ at SaaStock19.

Hande Çilingir, co-founder and CEO, Insider

Hande Çilingir is responsible for running operations, building a strong company culture, managing overseas growth, supporting sales and marketing teams and developing Insider’s technology, powered by AI and machine learning, in 20 countries around the globe.

Crunchbase recognises Çilingir as one of the top three women CEOs outside of the US, and Microsoft recently awarded her its award for most successful woman entrepreneur of the year.

Nicola McClafferty, investment director, Draper Esprit

Prior to joining Draper Esprit in 2017, Nicola McClafferty was the co-founder and CEO of online retailer Covetique, which was eventually sold to ASOS.

McClaffety then spent five years as a venture capital investor with Balderton Capital and media consultancy Ravensbeck, focusing on early-stage technology and media investments.

At this year’s SaaStock, McClaffety plans to discuss tech’s ongoing mental health issues.

Leela Srinivasan, CMO, SurveyMonkey

Since Leela Srinivasan joined SurveyMonkey in 2018, she has been responsible for all marketing functions, including brand strategy, growth marketing, product marketing and communications.

At this year’s SaaStock, Srinvasan plans to discuss the feedback economy and how marketers are charged with driving disruptive business growth, and the risks that this entails. For one, CEOs often hold CMOs first in the firing line if growth targets aren’t met, leaving marketing leaders worrying about how they can continue to innovate when a misstep could mean they are shown the door.

Tiffany Apczynski, VP of public policy and social impact, Zendesk

Tiffany Apczynski was one of Zendesk’s earliest hires, beginning her work with the company in 2010. Now she is the VP of public policy and social impact, and also the director of the Zendesk Neighbor Foundation.

Apczynski will discuss how she drafted and executed the city and county of San Francisco’s first community benefits agreement, a section of legislation tied to a tax incentive for pre-IPO tech companies.

Zendesk’s agreement has been held up by the city as the gold standard, and was distributed to other tech companies as the model to follow. Zendesk went on to model its global social responsibility strategy after this framework.

Kathryn Petralia, co-founder, Kabbage

President and co-founder of Kabbage, Kathryn Petrlaia has been working in credit, payments and lending for more than 20 years. As a result, she’s recognised as a season leader in financial services for the role she has played in solving cash flow challenges for small businesses.

The co-founder started out her career as an English major, with no experience in tech. Now, she leads a company worth more than $1bn. Petralia was also recently recognised as one of the Most Powerful Women in the World by Forbes.

Kelly Earley was a journalist with Silicon Republic