Roacher Spotlight: Aika Zikibayeva Thrives on the Small and Mighty

Roacher Spotlight: Aika Zikibayeva Thrives on the Small and Mighty

Tell us a bit about yourself and what you do here at Cockroach Labs.

My name is Aika Zikibayeva and I am a Partner Marketing Manager at Cockroach Labs. I am part of the Product Marketing team, yet in my day-to-day responsibilities, I maintain a tight-knit collaboration with the Channels & Alliances team. 

Tell us about your career journey— how did you become a Partner Marketing Manager?

Ever since I was a child, I wanted to be a diplomat. Without a doubt, growing up in Kazakhstan in the 90s, which was going through an incredible political, economic and social evolution after the collapse of the Soviet Union, had an impact on that career dream. And I did embark on that journey after graduating from university. My career journey began when I worked for the Russia & Eurasia department of an international security think tank in Washington, DC. Intellectually I was challenged every day, however, I quickly realized that working on issues of foreign affairs and dealing with US and foreign government representatives was no longer my calling.

I decided to switch gears and began working for a boutique marketing firm that specialized in building grassroots campaigns on behalf of industry associations. For the first time in my life, I understood what it meant to think like a marketer – understanding the psychology of consumers, honing in on their aspirations, understanding what motivates them. 

Then my personal life took a turn and I found myself moving to Copenhagen, Denmark. After a hiatus of embracing the ‘hygge’ lifestyle of Scandinavia, I started asking myself: What’s next? The expat community I so quickly engraved myself with were mostly working for tech companies and I followed suit. And that is how I found myself working in B2B marketing, starting out as a generalist and eventually paving a path in product marketing. 

The fascinating thing with someone in a product marketing role is that it very much draws on the diplomatic skills of that person. That is probably why I enjoy being a product marketer at heart – my inner child gets to build connections and collaborate with many internal and external teams and agree on common goals via specific tactics. And partner marketing is really just another flavor of product marketing with its own special unique aspects, which make my job so much fun.

What made you choose to work at Cockroach Labs?

After living in Copenhagen for almost five years, I craved a more vibrant, diverse, exciting city and New York City met my criteria. Two former colleagues of mine were already working at the Cockroach Labs HQ in NYC, which is how I learned about the company. I am a strong believer in the fact that organizations that succeed and outlive their competition are the ones that attract and retain people who are aligned with their core values. And they see the reflection of their innate values in the leadership, the direction of the organization, and everyday interactions. Cockroach Labs and the people here won me over with their passion and values. 

Plus the technology is so innovative! I have the privilege to work with our partners at the likes of Google, AWS, and Red Hat. And every day I am reminded by them that what we are building here is going to be transformative for so many companies and industries in embracing cloud-native platforms. 

On a more personal note, because I was coming back to the US after living in “the happiest country in the world” where people work to live and not live to work, it was important for me to join a company that respected and promoted a life-work balance. Cockroach Labs’ benefits and attention to the well-being of its employees were definitely a winning factor in why I chose to work here. 

Where are you most excited to make an impact at the company?

As the first and (for now) the only partner marketing professional at Cockroach Labs, I have the exciting, and sometimes daunting, opportunity to build the foundation of how we position ourselves within our ecosystem. From something as small as a joint webinar to as large as a multi-year strategizing marketing campaign, I constantly think about the best way for us to collaborate with our partners on various marketing efforts. I enjoy building relationships that lead to a joint strategy and eventually impact the objectives that we have as a business. It’s an exciting and new space to be in. 

What advice would you give to people starting careers in product & partner marketing?

Product and partner marketing functions often have stakes in multiple teams/departments. And more often than not, these teams have varying cadences, processes, and objectives. For someone to succeed in this role, you have to be able to see those aspects for each team from a bird’s eye view. Then, you need to align the teams where it makes the most sense. Never forget the big picture and always have your eyes set on the overall goals! Work on your ‘diplomacy’ skills, build trust with people around you, and show them that you can deliver value so that they can open more doors for you and will be willing to collaborate with you even more going forward. 

How would you describe the culture of the Product Marketing team at Cockroach Labs?

Small and mighty! We are one of the slimmest teams at Cockroach Labs (only five of us), yet because the nature of our job is to build webs into other teams, and with outside organizations in my case, we hold an incredible amount of valuable information. And because our forte is positioning, message development, alignment, we are able to empower other teams with the right information at the right time.

Join us in building something mighty! Check out our open roles.

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