Lead with Confidence: Build Your Own Board of Directors

Shannon Fitzgerald-Lussier
March 29, 2023

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

I have a PhD in cancer biology. Then I started working as a CSM for a biotech company and moved into field marketing. Your success as a field marketing manager is based on lead processing and marketing ops, so I started learning more about that. I worked for a few different companies where I had to wear both hats and fell in love with marketing operations. 

I taught myself Marketo and worked as a consultant for a while. It gives you a whole different perspective working with so many different clients. I also spent some time working in-house running marketing operations and demand generation. Now I own marketing analytics, marketing operations, and technical program management.  

What excites you most about your role today?  

I love solving problems.  

When the demand team flags that MQLs are down, we, in marketing operations, have all the pieces to solve the puzzle. We see everything and can produce insights that no one else can. 

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

Getting the first level manager position is usually because of your technical acumen. But it’s very different moving to the next level.  

You need to learn how to communicate in outcomes that make sense to your CMO and leadership. It’s critical to create alignment with other stakeholders. 

Also, invest in yourself and learn about stepping into leadership. You can do that by hiring a coach, reading books, listening to podcasts on leadership, or getting inspiration from LinkedIn. 

You also need champions for your career. This means building out a network like a board of directors, or a “street team”. This might be a VP of marketing you know well and have worked with or mentors you’ve had throughout your career. Schedule one-on-one’s with them every quarter, even though you don’t work with them. Ask for feedback and share templates. I landed my current role because one of my champions referred me.  

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?  

Managing a global team requires a whole new skill set to make sure everyone understands the value of their work. You have to give them something to aspire to, help them picture their future and give them problems to solve.  

When you’re just thinking from a money perspective, you run into problems when you don’t have resources. Your team won’t feel like they’re winning. 

So, every Monday and Friday, the team meets just to build human connection, share ideas, and sometimes even just work together in silence on a Zoom call.  

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

Don’t let fear hold you back.  

Fear of failure can stop you from even trying because you’re too afraid to fail. But no one has all the answers. You need to learn to trust that you’ll be able to figure it out.  

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