Lead with Confidence: Too Good to Replace

Shannon Fitzgerald-Lussier
April 3, 2023

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

I studied journalism and worked for a local news station. I loved it, but the industry was struggling, and I started thinking about other career paths. When I graduated, I got into digital marketing.  

Then an opportunity came up to join a boutique Salesforce consulting firm. I thought it would be a detour for a few years, but I fell in love with marketing operations.  

I was hired at Cloudera, and there was a major merger happening. It was really challenging, but also really exciting at the same time because our work touched every part of the business. I moved to Slack which was acquired by Salesforce. Now I work on more strategic projects that are focused on revenue growth.   

What excites you most about your role today?  

Every day is different. There’s always something new, and I thrive in that state of evolution.   

Integrating two different businesses brings so much change. Marketing operations plays a huge role in change management and enablement that’s not often talked about. It’s a big effort on our part to get people excited and motivated about new processes or new technology, and to reassure them that the change is for the better. 

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

I always warn marketing operations professionals not to connect themselves too strongly with a specific tool. If you’re consulting, then that can be a very lucrative technique. But if you’re working in-house and trying to grow into leadership, it limits you. Either you’re always asked to fix issues with that tool, or you’re so good they don’t want to replace you.  

My next advice is to communicate often and in a way that leadership will understand. “Internal marketing” or promoting your impact can feel uncomfortable when you’re not used to it. It’s impossible for the VP or CMO to always know what every team member is working on. Share your successes so that when you decline a project or ask for more resources, they understand what’s at risk.  

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?  

Aligning people around a shared mission and goal helps to build pride and a sense of purpose. When you’re at a large company, you’re often focused on a very small part of the whole picture. Make sure to connect your team’s projects and contributions to the impact they’ve created for the rest of the organization.  

In tough economic times, there’s a greater variety of work to be done if you want to keep up with market changes. Find out what areas people want to grow in and match them up with opportunities that align with their career path. They can build experience and get exposure to experiences they wouldn’t have otherwise had.  

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

Believe in yourself. Don’t worry if your career path doesn’t look like a straight line. Ignore the people that are trying to cut down your confidence. Trust that you know your stuff.  

Always negotiate. Show up with confidence that you bring value. It doesn’t always mean you’re going to get what you ask for, but it sets your expectations and how you’ll be treated moving forward. 

My last piece of advice is learning to derive your pride or satisfaction from doing the best job you can do. At a large organization there are so many variables at play. Focus on what you can control and doing the best job with that. Otherwise, it’s easy to burn out.  

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