Susan Sheridan-Austin, 51, passed away on Feb. 13, after a two-and-half year battle with brain cancer. Prior to her August 2004 diagnosis, she had risen to the post of general manager at Sage Accpac.She began her career in the accounting software industry in 1996, joining SBT Accounting Systems in Marin County, Calif., as vice president of marketing. Sheridan spent five years building a strong reputation with the SBT value-added reseller channel as a marketing wizard, and was invited to continue that role when Accpac (then a division of Computer Associates) acquired SBT in 2000.
She had a quick wit. Interviewed about her role in marketing, she commented that she was a housewife by trade, but had been "was unable to find a job in [her] chosen profession." Sheridan was also innovative -- persuading Accpac to forego the usual multimedia openings for its last reseller conference in Quebec City. Instead, each day started with a string quartet playing music that ranged from Queen's "Bohemian Rhapsody" in a classical style, to folk songs.
And Sheridan had a strong focus on brand building, saying that that underlying key to success in marketing was taking a scientific approach that could be taught to virtually anyone. After the SBT acquisition, she took a brief hiatus to visit Antarctica and climb Africa's Mount Kilmanjaro. Even during her own illness, she reached out to others, taking pets to visit nursing home residents, and she spent time learning Swedish, adding to an array of languages that she spoke.
The resellers that she worked with held her in high regard.
"She was admired, respected and genuinely liked by her channel and the competitors," said Peyton Burch, vice president of marketing and public relations for the Enterprise Resource Group, a Dallas-based Sage Software reseller. "I never heard anyone say anything negative about Susan. Ever. I cannot think of anyone else in a similar role that I could make the same statement about."
A pioneer in technology, she was one of Microsoft's first 25 employees, leaving to form a marketing and public relations firm in Atlanta, Sheridan/Schmeisser, which she and partner Ian Schmeisser sold in 1988. Sheridan then marketed her way through a nine-year stint at CAD software developer Autodesk in Sausalito, Calif.
She motivated channel partners during much-anticipated public speaking events at events such as Accpac Partnership, and then, following Accpac's purchase by Sage Software in 2003, at Sage's Insights conference. Sheridan shared stages with presenters such as Zig Ziglar and Brian Tracy, and post-conference channel partner surveys rated Susan's marketing sessions as among the most popular. Those partners were always able to easily pick her bright purple, orange, and lime-green ensembles out of crowds of hundreds, and sometimes thousands, at those annual conferences.
Sheridan considered her highest career achievement to be her collaboration with former Accpac chief executive and industry luminary David Hood in bringing Hood's vision of, "End-to-End Business Applications," to market.
She is survived by three sons, as well as her husband and long-time companion, Brian Austin.
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