OpenSesame Employee Spotlight: Kolene Hammer

Kolene Hammer

Senior Manager of Sales

Portland, Oregon


Over her five years at OpenSesame, Kolene Hammer’s personal life and professional paths have all been rearranged. As a current Senior Manager of Sales, Kolene leads by example with both her strong business results and her consistent managerial courage. Kolene encourages her entire team to be their authentic selves, ask for help, and share their stories. Kolene knows first-hand what it means to endure public loss and grief surrounded by a supportive work team. “Sharing our stories not only may help others deal with and heal from experiences, but owning our stories also helps us heal,” Kolene said. “Vulnerability is the greatest strength and allows others permission to be vulnerable as well.” 

Briefly describe your role. 

I coach my team to improve daily while accomplishing and exceeding our business objectives daily, weekly, monthly, and annually. I help steer my team by helping them close business efficiently and effectively within OpenSesame guidelines and best practices. The best part of my job is to help develop my reps far beyond what they believe they can accomplish and help them reach the next level in their career, no matter what that is. 


How did you get into the field you’re in and grown through the jobs you’ve held? 

I worked at my last company, in telecom and software, for 17 years. Fifteen of those were in management and my last role was as a district manager. I decided to take some time off before determining my next move. I wanted to work for a company providing something meaningful to other companies. My brother was the one who pointed me to OpenSesame. I was also looking for a role outside of management as an individual contributor. After a few years at OpenSesame as a sales rep, I soon realized my heart was still in management. I moved into a hybrid role, leading a team with a territory and sales quota. From there, I was promoted to a sales manager. Given the outstanding results my team had, I was promoted to Senior Manager of Sales last year.  


What OpenSesame Employee Resource Group are you in? 

I’m in Feminine Leadership and Juntos, a Latin ERG group. I’m half Mexican, and the Juntos group is a safe space to talk and shed more of a spotlight on our company’s culture, charity work, and recruiting efforts. 


What has been the best part of working in your role? 

Breaking sales records and having reps on my team accomplish high-set goals. We have built a truly collaborative environment in my team. I’ve dubbed us Hammer Team (after my last name). Also, I have a voice in the direction of the company. My voice matters.


How has OpenSesame changed since you’ve joined? 

We’ve grown so much. I believe I was employee number forty-seven, and now we are close to 200 people. When I started, the OpenSesame brand was not well known in the industry — today, companies seek us out. 


In what ways have you been supported by the OpenSesame team or culture? 

A little over two years ago, I lost my fiance, suddenly, to a massive heart attack. In the blink of an eye, my entire life changed. From the minute I told my manager through this very moment, I have had more support than I ever imagined from everyone at OpenSesame. There isn’t a manual on how to help employees through grief, but OpenSesame could write it. From leadership members and their spouses coming by to hug me, to the countless meals they sent, to the messages, flowers, and just overall mountain of support. I didn’t once worry about my job. For anyone who has ever lost someone and worried about their job being in jeopardy, I am so sorry. Almost to the day, a year later, my mom passed away from cancer: round two, and just as much support. OpenSesame has given me a platform to tell my story when and where appropriate. It gave me what I needed most, a purpose outside of family to pour all of my heart and soul into. It’s a hell of a long way back up from rock bottom. OpenSesame not only helped me survive, but allowed me to thrive. 


What is your favorite course in the OS catalog? 

Leveraging the Power of Generations by The Jeff Havens Company. I love the similarities between the course and the different generations we have at OpenSesame. 


What is your favorite TED course? 

Everyday Leadership by Drew Dudley, showing everybody is a leader no matter their title.


If you feel comfortable, give a glimpse of life outside of work; where do you get your energy, or what do you enjoy? 

Without a doubt, my “why” — the well from which I draw all my strength, perseverance, and grit — comes from my two boys. I am blessed to be their mom. Two of my favorite things are music and sports. My oldest, Cody, 27, was born with a guitar in his hand and a song in his heart. My youngest, Cam, 13, was born with a baseball in his hand, and competitiveness in his heart. When life gets tough and I have bad days, I just stop, realize I am “Mom” to those two fantastic boys, and I have all the strength I need. I want to show them what a strong woman looks like and females are a force to be reckoned with. 


What is a unique thing about OS? 

Every voice matters. 


What enneagram type are you? And what part speaks most strongly to you? 

I am a true eight: The Protector. I protect those closest to me, whether my family and friends or my team at work. I will always come to the aid of the underdog if they are being bullied. I get angry when people hurt those closest to me. The Challenger: I’m not afraid to say exactly what is on my mind. I don’t follow the status quo if I don’t agree with it. I have no problem being a voice for those who are afraid to use theirs. 


How has your OpenSesame team maintained a sense of community through the pandemic era? 

We started something called “HH” for my team. It started as Hammer Hangout but quickly turned into Happy Hour. Of course, “HH” is always virtual. When reps have a question or just need a connection, they can join and invite others on the team to meet them. I try my best to keep conversations light but real. I want everyone to know we’re all going through different things during these crazy times, and it’s okay to not always be on top of your work game. 


What advice would you give to new OS hires? 

Bring your authentic self to work every day. No matter what you have going on or what feelings you have, always be true to yourself. OpenSesame offers a safe space and welcomes you. It’s how we grow individually, as a team, and as a company.  


What makes a team member successful at OpenSesame? 

Ability to adapt and hunger to always be learning.


Do you have a motto or personal mantra? 

Own your story; share your story. We all have a story to tell. Be proud of who you are. Embrace all the life you have lived before today, and welcome all your tomorrows with open arms. Today, this very second is all you are promised. Sharing our stories not only helps others deal with and heal from experiences, but owning our stories also helps us. Vulnerability is the greatest strength and allows others permission to be vulnerable as well. 


What’s something people may not know about you?

I am an ambassador for an organization called Mission22. Twenty-two veterans commit suicide every day and this organization helps veterans and their families with support. My father was a veteran and he died by suicide 37 years ago, so this is dear to my heart. I also have my Certified Personal Training certificate through NASM. I am certified to be a personal trainer.