Kaia Skillman, Hamster Garage's First Employee, Wins the "One to Watch" Award at the US Partnership Awards 2023

Congrats to Kaia Skill, Hamster Garage's first employee, for winning "One to Watch" at the US Partnerships Award 2023

Grace Lee

Hamster Garage is excited to announce that our very own Kaia Skillman was recently chosen as this year’s ‘One to Watch’ at the 2023 US Partnership Marketing Awards. Kaia began working at Hamster Garage as our first associate in January 2021 following her graduation from Northwestern University. She quickly proved herself to be a rising star in the partnership marketing industry and is now an Associate Account Manager for Hamster Garage’s enterprise accounts. 

We interviewed Kaia about her experiences working in the industry so far: 

How did you decide to work in the partnership marketing industry?

Like many others, I came to the partnership marketing industry without any real idea of what affiliate or partnership marketing was all about. I had some experience in the influencer marketing industry prior to joining Hamster Garage, but really, my first exposure to affiliate marketing was here. As the first employee at Hamster Garage, I was really taking a gamble on the leadership of the company. I believed in our cofounders Faique and Imran's vision for the company and also the type of culture that they wanted to create. It was definitely scary at first, but I absolutely loved having the opportunity to jump in and create structure. I wanted to be part of building a company, and I feel like I’ve made a strong impact on the future of Hamster Garage’s growth.

What has been your favorite part about working in the industry so far?

My favorite thing about working in the partnership marketing industry is the ability to experiment with new campaigns and broaden the idea of what partnership marketing can be. The campaigns that I love to run are the ones that are an amazing combination of strategic, innovative, and experimental. I love that there is so much potential to work with new types of partners, channels, and departments. Hamster Garage has the pleasure of working with some of the most innovative and exciting new brands that are really concerned with growth and smart optimization, so I'm happy to say that I've been exposed to some really cool projects. 

What accomplishments in your career are you the proudest of?

I think there are two parts to how I view my accomplishments during my time at HG. The first is my contribution to the account management side of the company, and the second is my work in building the operations. I’ve been responsible for building out a lot of the processes we use today in our daily account management such as trackers, compliance protocols, and how we look at optimization and activation at Hamster Garage. Additionally, as an Associate Account Manager on our enterprise accounts, I've led robust strategies to meet the changing needs of our clients. 

But I've also really enjoyed creating the hiring process, including writing the associate exercises and building out our framework for hiring, as well as the performance review process that was rolled out to the entire company. I've been fortunate enough to work in so many different aspects of the company from sales to HR to account management, really having my hands in everything. I hope to be a resource for every single person at the company and help create a positive work environment. I guess that's just the function of working for any young startup: you feel so committed to the future of the company, and I've tasked myself with the success of our agency. 

What advice do you have for newcomers to the industry?

My journey in the industry is really just beginning (and I still have lots to learn), but the thing that I’ve really benefited from has been driving my own experience and education. At our agency, we're still quite young, but that has allowed me to wear so many different hats, learn like crazy, and have exposure to all of these different problems that I was expected to find solutions for. There is so much growth potential in this industry because there are so many questions that haven't been answered. So my advice for anyone coming into the industry is to start to think about how you can contribute to the future of affiliate and partnership marketing. Find out what you are most interested in and the biggest challenge within that category – how can you contribute to solving that problem?