Jordan Coleman, Enterprise SaaS Sales Account Manager at Weedmaps
As a kid, what did you want to be when you grew up?
Growing up, I wanted to be a number of things, ranging from a certified scuba diving instructor to a physics teacher to a sports journalist. My mom was a data programmer and my dad built computers, so I grew up surrounded by tech, but didn’t envision a career in the space that early on.
What did you study in college, and what degree(s) do you have?
I earned a Bachelor of Arts & Sciences in Communications Studies and Corporate Strategy from Vanderbilt University, I took a couple CS electives during my undergraduate coursework, which sparked my interests in tech.
In a few sentences, describe your career trajectory.
After graduating college, I moved to Shanghai to work for an education consulting firm, where my primary role was to help students with aspirations of going to college in the U.S. curate dynamic admissions portfolios. I lived in Shanghai for a year before relocating to Seattle, where I worked as a media planner for a national cable company’s ad sales department. I learned pretty quickly that performance marketing and digital advertising piqued my interest more than choosing day parts for TV commercials; so I explored career options with more focus on digital marketing.
I then moved to Southern California for a digital sales role with NBCUniversal, where I planned and managed digital campaigns that ranged from brand integrations to editorial sponsorships across NBC’s Digital News platforms. I learned a lot about planning and performance marketing, but after two years, I was ready for an opportunity where I could make more of an impact. I’d considered moving back to Seattle before coming across an interesting role with Weedmaps. I was familiar with the platform as a user, and the prospect of working in such a dynamic industry piqued my interest. While I had some reservations about venturing my career into canna-tech, as Weedmaps sits at the intersection of two industries that struggle with fostering diverse and equitable environments, I was drawn to Weedmaps’ mission, which is to power a transparent and inclusive global cannabis economy.
It turned out that my experience was exactly what Weedmaps had been looking for in their efforts to continue moving forward and expanding! I’ve been at Weedmaps for about nine months now, the learning curve has been steep (getting familiar with learning the cannabis space and our SaaS platform felt like drinking water from a fire hydrant for the first few months), but I couldn’t be happier with my decision. Beyond my core responsibilities, I’ve also had the pleasure of assisting in the development of two Employee Resource Groups, Women of Weedmaps and WM Noir, both of which have goals of hiring qualified women and people of color to join our Weedmapsteam.
How would you explain your day-to-day role at your current job?
For context, Weedmaps is the largest technology company in the legal cannabis economy. Today, we’re building the operating system for the industry, with software that helps businesses thrive within the complex cannabis economy, and that is where I come in.
I work cross-departmentally to support the expansion efforts of multi-state cannabis companies. My day-to-day responsibilities include creating annual advertising proposals for their growing retail footprint, scheduling training on our platform for retail staff, creating sales collateral that highlights new features on our platform that streamline B2C advertising efforts for our clients (i.e. Online Orders, Point-of-Sale System), and connecting with Regional Marketing Managers to identify localized opportunities to incentivize Weedmaps users purchase intent. Multi-state cannabis operators (or Enterprise accounts, as we call them) have very unique operations, so I also spend a fair amount of time partnering with our Operations teams to identify processes that streamline their experience on our platform.
What professional advice would you give your younger self?
First, I’d say feel empowered rather than intimidated as the only Black woman in the room. My younger self often felt intimidated being in that position. But developing the confidence that I am where I’m supposed to be, based on the work I put in to develop my skills has been a rewarding process. Secondly, know your stuff, and don’t second guess yourself. For the better part of my early twenties I spent time being insecure about my unconventional professional experience. I didn’t have the opportunity to partake in internships in college because my basketball scholarship required me to be on campus essentially year-around. Then I moved abroad for a job that had nothing to do with digital marketing. I wouldn’t apply to jobs because I preemptively assumed I wasn’t what the company was looking for. I realize now that channeling that energy into a solution (i.e. utilizing online sources like Coursera to learn new skills, and finding time to meet with recruiters to get a better sense of what was missing from my skill set that companies were looking for) was far more productive and really helped to mitigate my insecurities. Lastly, lean into the relationships that push your limiting thoughts about yourself and challenge you to be better. Fortunately, I have a really solid group of women who inspire me to “aim higher” everyday that I’m super grateful for.
What advice would you give to other Black women who want to get into the tech world? I’d encourage self-study and encourage them to reach out to people within their network, who are working in the space they’re interested in. Offer to buy them coffee and pick their brains on what they like and what could be better about their current roles. Doing this I learned pretty quickly that there were roles and companies I thought I wanted to pursue, until getting a peak under the hood. I’d also encourage them to find time to attend conferences to network in their desired area of focus. Organizations like AfroTech and Black Women Talk Tech both bring together a dynamic group of black techies, start-ups and entrepreneurs.
What can tech companies do to make the industry more inclusive of Black women and other people of color?
The answer to this one is pretty simple — make a concerted effort to source qualified candidates from different backgrounds. If tech companies want to create an inclusive space rather than using diversity as an essential buzzword for politically-correct SEO, then tech recruiters should aim to source talent beyond America’s Top-25 PWIs; HR leads should create and leverage relationships with organizations that incubate and bring together diverse talent (a couple are linked above); and lastly, it’s going to require recruiters checking their biases, personalizing the hiring process and offering opportunities to passionate and qualified humans.