Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

Digital Women: Susanne Mostertman, Head of Mid-Market and SMB Sales EMEA, Reddit

The sales industry has in the past had a reputation for being somewhat of a “boys club”. Has that been your experience and how have you navigated it? What advice would you give to anyone experiencing the same thing?

Beginning my career in consulting, which could also be considered a boys’ club, I was lucky enough to find strong female role models I looked up to. One of the first managing directors I worked for was a single mother raising her young daughter, and I observed her careful balance between being present at work without missing her daughter’s piano recitals. She showed me that by identifying key moments at work and as a parent, you can prioritize with fewer compromises. 

Across the board, my role models taught me effective, natural communication without mirroring a male attitude simply to fit in. By actively diverging from the boys’ club, they showed me how their voices stood out for the better – bringing in a much-needed alternative point-of-view that I began to see as a strength rather than a challenge. 

Reddit is a values-driven company and it’s one of the reasons I was attracted to it initially. Values like “Evolve,” “Add Value” and “Default Open” shape how we stay connected with one another, how we show up to work every day and how we make important decisions. Reddit has created an environment that encourages and allows me to embrace my natural leadership style:  I approach my teams with empathy and connection first, regardless of seniority or experience, and prioritize impact over maintaining the status quo.” 

How do you balance a leadership position with a busy family life and other life commitments?

“Overall, it took my family patience and time to find our rhythm, between navigating travel schedules in my global role at Reddit and caring for three daughters alongside my husband. That said, I’ve adopted a few helpful philosophies along the way.

Balance is an art: At the start of the pandemic, my husband took a sabbatical, resulting in a 180-degree flip from my control of the household to his leading most of it. I never imagined this would be possible, and at first, it was difficult to let go of my role in school meetings, homework help, and extracurricular activities. However, once I stepped away, he really embraced the full-time dad life and is a great role model to our daughters in challenging traditional household patterns. With three daughters, my husband and I will always be trading off duties, but having him more leaned in has allowed us to communicate and surprise each other in new ways.

Prioritize and focus on impact rather than input: As a leader, I’ve learned to feel comfortable with delegating, both as a way to organize myself and give others the opportunity to grow. It’s a big mistake to think that success is dependent on how many hours you are present in the office or every meeting. Being efficient with my team, my time, and the value in those moments I’m online has helped me be more present and effective at work and at home.

Embrace the chaos: It’s okay if I don’t have the prize-winning homemade cookies at the school fair, or I need five minutes between Zoom meetings. My family and team at work enjoy our company together in the moments that matter – as long as everyone is happy, working on their goals, and nobody gets hurt along the way, we did a great job. I’ve learned to be kind to myself when things aren’t perfect.”

What lessons have you learned throughout your career and what do you wish you knew when you were starting out?

When I was starting out in my career, it was very difficult to trust my own skills and power. That also meant that one small setback or piece of feedback could easily make me question myself, and it took time and effort for me to develop the confidence I have now. 

On that note, I’d also add that hard work does not equal progression. As a junior-level employee, I was taught that adding value meant long hours and hard, complicated work. At that time, I also imagined an invisible force would be rewarding my hard work, while guiding me in the right direction, whether it was a promotion or new roles I could be interested in. The reality is, workplaces don’t work that way – it helps to be intentional about what you want to do and where you want to go, and also doing the work to establish sponsors and unofficial advocates who will vouch for you and help you get there.”

What advice would you give to those starting out in their sales careers?

“A few helpful tips for those starting out in sales:

See your journey not as a straight path to promotion but a way to develop a variety of skills across multiple industries. Sales organizations span nearly every industry and company – the best opportunities at your level will expose you to the specifics of so many different practices. 

Be deliberate about who you work for and ensure they support your growth and embrace diversity. When I was looking for my current role at Reddit, a key factor was how inclusive, human and real the culture of the company was. At Reddit, one of our core values is to “remember the human.” This manifests across the company’s culture, into the work we do, and who we attract and retain around us – it’s a simple but extremely important reminder to us all to remember the person behind the work or the deliverable, and it helps us feel like we’re all in it together which is an important part of feeling supported and part of something.

Finally, build a network of peers and sponsors that can not only challenge, develop and ensure you grow, but can also pick you up when you make a mistake or have a bad day.”

How important is a company’s culture when it comes to work/life balance and satisfaction at work? Anything Reddit does particularly well?

“Community is at the heart of everything we do at Reddit, which is personally meaningful to me We strive to create a platform where everyone can find community and belonging, and in order to achieve this, Reddit ensures that its employees feel supported, welcomed, and excited to come to work every day – that means fostering a  culture of inclusivity and promoting a positive work-life balance. In my experience, so much of work satisfaction doesn’t come from the work itself but the ability to feel like you’re building towards something meaningful, while feeling empowered to prioritize what matters in your personal life. That doesn’t mean we don’t work hard, but we also work smart which brings me back to our “Remember the Human” value – it makes good business sense to champion an environment that supports and celebrates beyond the project deliverables.”

Any other thoughts on key learnings on your journey so far or what you’re looking forward to in the next chapter of your career?

My career has already taken me across a wide variety of roles, geographies and cultures, which have collectively underscored the importance of trusting your own instinct when it comes to what you’re working towards and where you want to be. Try not to change your goals because of pressure from others, whether it’s your peers, your manager or the company you work for.

The last thing I’ll add is that as much as possible, make sure your job gives you energy. Any role requires hard work and the not-so-fun responsibilities, but especially when balancing your personal life and family, having a job that overall contributes positively to your mindset makes everything easier and so much more rewarding.”