Lead with Confidence: Eyes on the Prize

Shannon Fitzgerald-Lussier
March 30, 2023

People take all different types of career paths; how did you get to where you are today?  

I have a degree in fashion merchandising and thought I would work for a company like Kate Spade or OPI. When I graduated, it was during the recession, and it didn’t make sense to do a big move while job hunting.  

But my love for technology has always been there. I fell into project management at a tech consulting firm. Managing the programs and operations led me to marketing operations.  

I debated getting an MBA, but I didn’t have a clear goal in mind with the MBA. I started listening to what felt right to me versus what it felt like I should do, and I got PMP certified. When I was leading marketing operations at Mailchimp, HubSpot reached out with the marketing chief of staff role.  

What excites you most about your role today?  

No day is the same. I feel like my job changes every 60-90 days, but I love that. The core of my role is always budget planning, keeping the team aligned, and focusing efforts on our goals and priorities. But priorities and budget can change. I need to be strategic and thoughtful when reviewing metrics and communicating what that means to the marketing team or to the business.  

As the marketing chief of staff, you’re the filter between the CMO and the rest of the marketing team. You need to be empowered to make decisions and work with business partners in finance, HR, and recruiting to understand the path forward. But I’m also always thinking of ways to strategically make our marketers’ working lives easier.  

How do you move from being an individual contributor to a leadership path?   

Find mentors. From the outside, everything can look shiny and easy, like a highlight reel. And having honest mentors who are transparent and don’t sugar coat the situation—telling you everything is perfect or easy—is so important.  

And if you’re a leader now, turn around and look for people that you can lift up with you—especially women.  

Many marketing teams have been impacted by budget cuts recently. What are some things you’re doing now to keep your team motivated when you have to do more with less?  

There’s continuous prioritizing and reprioritizing—what worked in January may not be the same by April. Maybe we need to change the metrics or reduce the scope in some places. And that’s ok, continuously revisiting that isn’t failure. It’s a sign of resilience.  

There is a lot of uncertainty around right now. But leading your team with empathy will help you find the right path forward. 

It’s the year 2023, if you’re looking back at your 23-year-old self, what advice would you give? 

Let go of the things that don’t matter. Will this still be important in 5 years? If not, then learn to let it go and reprioritize.  

Don’t get caught up on the small things happening now. Keep your eye on the prize and stay true to yourself and your intuition. Trust your gut instincts and you’ll be just fine.  

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