I started out as a general marketing coordinator after college. But I distinctly remember the day my boss said, “Hey, we have this system called Salesforce, do you want me to teach you how to run a report?”
I really latched onto that, and from there that same manager taught me Silverpop. Handling all of the data felt magical. We eventually merged with another company that had Marketo, so I had to learn that system as well.
I enjoyed it so much, I kept trying to find ways to make it a larger part of my day to day. Eventually I found a large company that was switching from Silverpop to Marketo, and was able to make it my entire job. I came in to start a whole marketing ops function at a startup and then built up that team over a number of years.
Seeing my team succeed. When I first got into leadership, I was concerned that I was eliminating my own role.
I taught my team everything I knew, and they were doing it even better than me. But then I realized that my role is coaching, mentoring, and problem solving. Now, solving problems with my team is what lights me up every day.
Part of the path can be natural—your workload increases and that creates a need to build a team. But you can start by leading yourself. Doing the research, offering suggestions, and elevating the work of others were all paths I took.
Even when I didn’t have a team, I was always ready to speak up, try new things, and provide feedback, so people saw me as a leader.
It’s all about what you bring to the table. What’s your energy? What’s your strategic vision and are you willing and able to speak up about what you think is the right thing to do? That’s when people really see you as a leader.
My marketing ops team has a wide breadth of responsibility, but we need to make sure our work aligns to the company performance. One of the things we’ve done to help show this is “executive documentation”. For every project we have a very short summary for executives about what the project is and the value it brings to our organization.
We also stay very focused on our roadmap. We set a portion of time aside to handle the one-off or more random tasks that crop up, but a greater portion of our time for planned, strategic, focused work.
Don’t take it all so seriously. It’s hard to give myself that advice because it was so challenging and stressful in the beginning. But I think being less serious about it would have helped me perform better because it would have emboldened me to speak my mind more. I was very caught up in the idea that I was new, young, just take orders and do my job.
But I was so focused on trying to get it all done—design, managing swag, writing press releases—that I couldn’t have fun.
It’s better now because there are so many resources for new marketing ops people— communities, Slack channels, and free digital resources. You just have to pick a few channels and really dive in.
A Slack community to share strategic marketing operations best practices