Kate Cardone never imagined herself pursuing a career in sales.
“If you asked me 10 years ago if I saw myself in this field, I would’ve laughed,” she says with a smile. “I always wanted to do something in business, but I didn’t know exactly what.”
Through a series of twists and turns, Kate found herself leading customer growth for the world’s first open API modern card issuing platform, Marqeta — and she wouldn’t have it any other way.
“While I might not have pictured myself here, I love what I do. And I’m grateful for the challenges and new opportunities that led me to this role,” she says.
We asked Kate to tell us more about her path from business school undergraduate to sales leader, and the five most important lessons she’s learned along the way.
Searching for impact with a start-up
After college graduation, Kate landed a two-year rotational program with Visa where she dipped her toes into marketing, strategy, consulting, and partnerships.
“I learned that I liked doing a little bit of everything, but I also realized that my impact as a more junior professional wouldn’t be felt at a large corporation like it would at a start-up,” she recalls.
Living in the San Francisco Bay Area, Kate was already familiar with Marqeta and their market-leading modern card issuing platform. When a recruiter reached out about a strategic partnerships opening, Kate embraced the opportunity to drive business growth and market expansion.
“I got to think about how we grow our ecosystem and help our sales team expand and grow,” she explains. “But, what really drew me in was the feeling that the culture here is people-centered. We’re a team that’s going to build together.”
Just as Kate was getting into a rhythm with partnerships, she made a comment in passing that would change her career trajectory.
Finding her niche in customer growth
“I noticed Marqeta was hiring a director of a growth segment within customer success. I mentioned, as a side note, that it sounded interesting. But I had no intention of moving — I was still enjoying partnerships,” Kate recalls. “The hiring manager completely sold me on why I should come over and run a team of customer success managers.”
With aspirations of one day becoming a chief revenue officer (CRO), Kate also recognized the importance of broadening her skill set. She became an extension of Marqeta’s customers as the Senior Director of Customer Success, identifying opportunities for customers to grow their business.
“Soon after, our go-to-market group went through a reorganization, and our CEO reached out to me and said, ‘I think you should take this opportunity to become our Head of Growth,’” Kate shares. “Frankly, I didn't feel ready at the time. But that push — and the faith that the leadership team had in me — persuaded me to jump in head first.”
5 lessons learned along her career path
From a college graduate with no intention of pursuing sales to a go-to-market leader, Kate has come to accept that personal growth lies on the other side of misconceptions, fear, and self-doubt.
“Sometimes, it still surprises me how I got here and the fact that I’m loving sales,” she says with a smile — and then shares the five biggest lessons that helped her get to this point today.
Keep an open mind to new opportunities
“The fact that I enjoy my role today taught me to be open to anything. You have no idea what you’re going to like, and just because you have a certain perception of something, it doesn’t mean that it’s accurate,” Kate says.
“I initially did not see myself being in these leadership positions at this stage of my career. And women do that a lot. We have imposter syndrome and think we’re inexperienced,” Kate says. “Say ‘yes’ anyway. If you fail, at least you tried and you learned something in the process.”
Find the right mentors
“I was so timid and nervous when I first joined Marqeta. I remember traveling with our CRO at the time on a work trip, and we had different meetings with partners. At one of the happy hours, he pulled me aside and said, ‘Hey, I want you to do something for me in every meeting. I want to hear your voice,’” Kate recounts.
The CRO led practice scenarios with Kate, helping her to brainstorm questions she could ask in future meetings.
“Having that permission to speak up, especially as someone so junior, was really great,” she says. “It’s important to surround yourself with people who see your potential, and find coaches and mentors along the way.” They later joked that now Kate never stays quiet!
Prepare — and you’ll build confidence
“Over prepare, over prepare, over prepare,” Kate laughs.
When stepping into new roles, she found that taking the time to immerse herself in the material helped her to feel comfortable in the new space.
Kate adds, “I always say I may not ever be the smartest person in the room, but I am probably one of the hardest working.”
Lean on your peers for guidance
“Don’t be afraid to say, ‘Hey, I’m stuck here. Can you help?’ No one is going to look at you and think that you’re not capable. They’re going to gain confidence in your ability to know when it’s appropriate to escalate and seek out guidance as opposed to going it alone,” Kate says.
She also stresses the importance of asking for feedback.
“We don’t give it enough, but feedback is a huge gift,” Kate reinforces. “Get in a rhythm after every meeting by asking, ‘What feedback do you have for me?’ Chances are, you’ll get something you’re doing really well and something you need to hone in on. And that doesn’t mean you’re bad at it — it simply means you can approach it differently.”
Remind yourself that you deserve a seat at the table
Kate tells us, “I think my biggest hurdle is always going to be myself. So it’s so important to continuously tell myself: ‘You are in this role for a reason.’”
She encourages you to do the same.
“When you're in the minority in a room, it's easy to feel like you don't deserve to be there. Remind yourself why you were given this opportunity. Why do you have this seat at the table? Because you earned it.”Are you interested in carving your career path at Marqeta? They’re hiring! Check out the opportunities to join the world's first modern card issuing platform.