FSQ Faces/Behind the Tech: Carissa Tjia, Enterprise Product Business Development Manager

Can you tell us a little about your role and responsibilities at Foursquare?

I contribute to Foursquare’s Enterprise Business Development team. We build and manage strategic partnerships that help enhance our core data assets as well as our advertising and analytics products. The work of this team has a tremendous impact on consumer experiences for the millions of people who interact with our data via developer partners, as well as the experience of our media clients who use and rely on Foursquare’s data and marketing services.

From managing partners to sourcing and evaluating prospects and driving the deal process, I think through how Foursquare’s location intelligence solutions can create value and measurable results for prospects and partners, and how various types of data align with Foursquare’s business and product goals. One of the most thrilling parts about supporting the team’s pipeline of activity across many data and partner types is that I get to spark and foster connections with product, legal, finance, engineering, and business stakeholders within and beyond Foursquare. Collaborating with cross-functional teams on a daily basis, I maintain a bird’s-eye view of the dynamic, critical components of a partnership deal. Every project to which I contribute has helped me flex my critical thinking and problem-solving skills. Never a dull moment!

Did you always know you wanted to work in technology?

Not at all! I had convinced myself that I would spend my entire career in television news production. I left my family and turned down a promotion offer for a producer job at a top news network in Sydney, Australia, to move to New York City without a job or apartment lined up – I wanted to find out whether I could break into and thrive in the mecca of network news. After that dream became a reality at ABC News and with a couple of Emmys under my belt, I was ready for a new challenge that offers a more metric-driven, less subjective way to gauge performance, and working hours that are not dictated by breaking news events.

How did you end up at Foursquare? What does your career journey look like?

After leaving TV news production, I dabbled in marketing and communications for a non-profit organization while working part-time at a flagship Apple store. During the pandemic lockdown in 2020, I seized an opportunity to work remotely with Apple Pay’s Business Development team for six months. That short stint turned out to be a pivotal point in my non-linear career. 

I discovered that I enjoy the rigors of business development and strategic partnerships as I helped merchants (mostly Fortune 500 companies) integrate Apple Pay into their e-commerce stores on web and mobile platforms to optimize their end customers’ online checkout experience and boost sales. Following the advice of a mentor at Apple Pay, I pursued business development opportunities at mid-to-late-stage tech startups in NYC and, after going through countless interview rounds with ten companies and receiving multiple offers, I chose to join Foursquare. I found Foursquare’s proven track record in harnessing location intelligence to unlock tangible, measurable value for businesses and the millions of end users of their products and developer tools extraordinary. Needless to say, my career journey has been full of twists and turns, yet I am consistently astounded by my Foursquare teammates’ unique stories.

Since starting at Foursquare, how has your career grown or changed?

When I joined Foursquare in June, 2021, the location tech space was uncharted territory for me. Through lost deals and technical roadblocks, I have learned of the importance of asking hard questions to see things from a stakeholder perspective and looking into different areas of the business to think about solving a problem holistically. My teammates have shown me there can be more than one way to approach a problem; that is critical when grappling with problems no one has seen or solved before. While the learning curve has been steep, my leaders and peers have been generous in sharing their time and expertise. Trusting that I can step up to the plate, they expanded the scope of my responsibilities, which culminated in a promotion six months later. I am grateful for the ample opportunity to grow into this role and continue discovering the nuances of location tech.

What sets Foursquare apart as an employer?

One of Foursquare’s leadership principles is: “Highly aligned, loosely coupled.” In my professional career so far, I had never encountered this principle in action throughout a high-growth company until I came to Foursquare. I love contributing to a company that executes leadership through context, not control, and empowers its people to deliver results – unafraid to give teams the room to take bold yet informed risks. It is liberating to work with managers that trust me to execute my work yet are ready to brainstorm ideas, contest points of view in a collaborative debate, and build on each other’s thinking to come up with the best solutions.

Recognizing that everyone has individualized needs when it comes to career development, Foursquare offers malleable systems and frameworks that make that development process more frictionless and enjoyable. For example, Foursquare offers leadership programs that carve out time for employees to assess where our strengths and blindspots might be holding us back and explore ways to tune them. 

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

I received this advice early in my career from an executive producer at an Australian television network where I worked: regardless of your job title, think like an owner and don’t wait for permission. In practice, this might entail filling a gap beyond the scope of your role, or making some upfront sacrifices at the start of a new venture or job to earn and set a baseline of respect. Applying this advice has opened up doors to exciting projects and opportunities.

What are you working on right now?

Negotiation and deal-making are the two interrelated skills I want to master. I have decided to study and practice them. We negotiate in almost every domain of life and with just about every person with whom we interact. In the professional sphere, there are effective negotiators in every sector, from cobblers and flea market vendors to high-profile individuals like Stephen A. Schwarzman of The Blackstone Group and politicians like Henry Kissinger. My goal is to close more value-creating (for all parties involved) deals by strategically formulating and executing my case. 

Shout-out to Foursquare and leadership sponsors for helping partially fund my tuition to participate in a course on negotiations at Harvard Business School. One of the perks of being on the frontline of business development is I get to work on these skills day in, day out. Driving data acquisition partnerships at Foursquare lays the foundation for executing product innovation. The negotiations in which I engage are critical to turning innovative ideas into tangible products with impactful results, impacting millions of end users across various digital app ecosystems. Securing key partnerships will help create and maintain Foursquare’s competitive advantage and set it up for sustainable success. 

When employees join Foursquare, they’re always asked to share a fun fact. What would your fun fact be?

I have lived in three countries across three continents and speak three languages. Get to know me better and you will find out what they are!

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I dust off my producer hat and create short videos, capturing simple moments of life in NYC while sharing tidbits of learnings I have been blessed enough to collect from people I have met and experiences I have accumulated. Bonus: filming is my favorite form of meditation; composing shots through a camera lens has been surprisingly effective in honing focus, anchoring myself to the present moment, and tuning out distractions. 

What local hidden gem would you recommend to people?

My go-to local gems in NYC are truly hidden in that they are not open to the public: the rooftop of my apartment and friends’ apartments. During the warmer months, at the end of a busy work day, my partner and I like to sip iced coconut water, catch up, and unwind while taking in astonishing sunset views. Make the most of any private rooftop access that comes your way!