Chloe Washington, HubSpot
I came to my career in a bit of an unconventional way. I’ve always had a strong technical aptitude. I taught myself how to code HTML at a very young age and built my first website when I was 12 or 13.
But despite my strong affinity for technology, I still loved the arts—photography, architecture, performing arts. This made it really challenging to figure out what to do when I graduated high school. At first, I put in an application to study computer science, but halfway through my studies I knew it wasn’t right for me. I didn’t feel excited about my career prospects.
So, I switched to communications with a focus on marketing and spent the last 15 years working in enterprise B2B software for global international technology companies. I’m now the Director of Global Marketing Operations at Electronics for Imaging (EFI).
Marketing operations allowed me to exercise both the right and left side of my brain, which is something that I need. I’m constantly solving problems and using technology to do that.
I started in marketing because I was able to code emails. It felt like the wild west of email marketing then.
Fast forward, and now it’s a career path you can pursue with purpose and not something you fall into. That happened in the last 15 years, and I’m really excited to see what happens over the next 15 as AI comes into play.
The first thing is to determine if you even want to be in leadership because managing people isn’t for everyone.
If you’d asked me at the beginning of my career if I wanted to manage people someday, I’d say, ‘absolutely not’. But managing doesn’t have to just be about the people. It’s sometimes managing processes and functions.
Now I can’t imagine being in a role where I didn’t manage people. I discovered how much I enjoy the mentorship aspect of helping people grow in their careers. Sometimes that means fulfilling their potential in marketing ops or helping them discover what it is that they want to dive deeper into.
Either way, getting experience in managing project processes, implementing change management, and building relationships with vendors are all stepping stones to leadership.
All of us working in this space are tasked to do more with less, and we have a lot of tools that we rely on to do that. But if renewals are coming up, and budgets are scrutinized, we have to ask if we really need that many licenses.
Can we downgrade the subscription package and still function? When things are working, no one notices or asks these questions. So, when budget cuts come around, it’s actually a good time to start asking those questions and optimize everything.
But, as a leader, I’m a strong advocate for optimizing even when things are working, and there aren’t budget cuts. You must identify key business drivers and where we are making the most impact.
As for your team, you should frame discussions about how their time and resources might be sacrificed to get to new goals. As someone that has come up through marketing operations, I know what they’re dealing with on a day-to-day basis. It’s important to me to be close to the technology, be knowledgeable and understand what the team deals with. I’m in the weeds with them.
I make it very clear that they’re not going to be useful if they’re stretched too thin. I’m continuing to have open discussions with them about their capacity and how we can support each other.
You don’t always have to be perfect. We can always be more empathetic, more patient, more productive, more collaborative, more of a team player, but we just can’t be all those things to everybody at the same time. That can lead to a lot of imposter syndrome.
Also, you can fail fast and hard, but you have to pick yourself up. Listening to successful business people speak and hearing about their origins will help you get to where you hope to be in your career.
A Slack community to share strategic marketing operations best practices