lisa vecchio podcast image
Jan 30, 2019

Lisa Vecchio – Head of Marketing, Lantum

By Matt Dodgson

Co-Founder - Recruiter & Marketer



00:01:29 Why don’t you talk to us a little bit about your skills, your experience, and how you got to where you are today?

00:04:55 Having interviewed a host of B2B marketeers, what advice would you give them to perform better in the interview situation, what hints and tips?

00:08:07 What advice can you give to an undergrad starting or trying to find the right path in marketing?

00:11:41 How do you figure out what you want to do marketing career wise out of university?

00:13:14 What’s in the top five KPIs that a marketeer should focus on?

00:15:55 How do you manage a marketing career at a company that’s very, very short-term focused?

00:18:51 How did you make the transition from being a manager to showing that you can strategically have a big influence on key business decisions?

00:22:54 What technical skills are needed to jump to a director position?

00:25:07 Looking back on your career, how often did you value experience over a higher salary, and did you strike a good balance?  

00:39:12 What lessons and learnings or thoughts around that, because it sounds very easy when you say I moved from the States to Australia to London.

00:45:13 Gender pay gap and percentage of male versus female leadership roles, do you think this challenge needs addressing in our industry? If so, how? 

00:48:56 What do you think an aspiring marketeer should be learning now to be in the best position possible to add value to business in five or 10 years’ time?

00:52:22 With pressures of general life, how do you manage the work-life balance, and how important is it in today’s society?

00:55:36 What’s the book you recommend the most to B2B marketeers?

00:57:22 What parting words of wisdom or advice would you share with the audience?



Fiona: 00:00:11 Welcome to Market Mentors, a podcast for the marketing leaders of today and tomorrow. I’m Fiona Jensen, the Director and Co-Owner of Market Recruitment. For over a decade, I’ve been helping B2B marketeers find the best jobs with great companies. Together, we’ll discover how marketing experts reach the top and learn from their experience. Ask career related questions you can’t get answers to elsewhere. Be tough, be challenged, be mentored.

Fiona: 00:00:43 Ever wondered how to create the opportunity to work internationally? Are you considering your options and interested in what it’s really like to work either at a corporate or to go work for a startup? Well, Lisa shares her insight and experience of doing exactly that. Having created the opportunities and the experience and now sharing what she learned in the process. She charts through some of the challenges, how to overcome them, and provides a few questions for you to ask yourself and the startups you might be looking to join to ensure those are good fit for the longer term.

Fiona: 00:01:21 I’m here with Lisa Vecchio of Lantum. Thank you ever so much for having us in your lovely offices.

Lisa: 00:01:26 I’m so excited to have you join us.

Fiona: 00:01:29 As discussed, this is really an opportunity for us to get some career advice that we can’t get elsewhere. You’ve got a lovely amount of experience and some really interesting stories to tell us, but why don’t you talk to us a little bit about your skills, your experience, and how you got to where you are today?

Lisa: 00:01:49 Sure. I’m Head of Marketing at a startup called Lantum, based in Shoreditch. My background is a mix of climbing the corporate ladder for an international publisher in the United States, and then Australia, and then about four or five years ago moving into the startup world, making that transition and really supporting startups with building out their first marketing function.

Fiona: 00:02:11 Perfect, okay. So, with regards to your experience, what sort of companies have you worked with internationally?

Lisa: 00:02:20 I like to think that my background is a bit of tech for good, if you will. I started my career in the education space, marketing technological products in higher education, so quite interesting because this was during the transition of print to digital, and from a B2B perspective, trying to influence higher education institutions to educate using digital resources instead of the traditional print format.

Lisa: 00:02:45 Eight years between doing that in the United States and then being relocated to bring that model to the Australian market. More recently, I then transitioned to working for a startup in the charity sector, both B2B and B2C function, which was quite interesting. On the B2B side there was about really bringing in a lead gen strategy for the sales team, which was used to selling based solely on relationships and actually educating them on inbound methodology and lead scoring and how to build a full funnel to sort of digest their leads and not just rely on existing relationships. So, really educating the business on the value of having a marketing function to begin with.

Lisa: 00:03:30 Then my most recent role here at Lantum, it’s a health tech startup, so working in the staffing sector to help save the NHS money through using a digital platform, staffing platform. That’s quite interesting. This is my first forte into sort of a SaaS environment, working with the SaaS model in large enterprise sales and influencing through content and sales partnerships and field marketing, as well as sort of a B2B to C sell through online conversions as well.

Fiona: 00:04:03 Wow, so interesting. I mean, it’s just such a diverse variety of industries and countries that you’ve worked within, and also it sounds to me like you kind of pick like some of the most challenging situations to be in. You’re like, “Yeah, that looks really hard, let’s go over there.”

Lisa: 00:04:25 Probably not on purpose, but I can’t say that it’s all been easy but it’s the challenge I think that’s been fun as well, both working in an international setting is something I knew from sort of a young age, in terms of being a marketer, that I wanted to be cross territories and deciding to make that move from corporate to startup was, what am I missing out on by sort of being in this larger organisation and what will I learn? There’s definitely a lot to learn between making the transition between the two.

Interview advice for B2B marketers

Fiona: 00:04:55 Perfect. Well, we recently worked on a project with you to recruit a marketeer for your own organisation here. So, if we go for a little bit of interview advice for you first, so having interviewed a host of B2B marketeers, what advice would you give them to perform better in the interview situation, what hints and tips?

Lisa: 00:05:15 I think that’s a really important one. It sounds really obvious, but the amount of people who don’t come prepared, even for that initial 15 minute phone interview that you might be having with a recruiter or the HR team or in some cases, this was myself. I appreciate it’s very much a two-way street, and it needs to be a match on both sides, but showing genuine interest in the beginning that you’ve done your basic research.

Lisa: 00:05:40 I think when it gets further down that interview path and you get to maybe presentation stage or having to articulate the value that you’re going to add to the business, I’ve seen this a lot of times where people can present a very generic strategy that’s very tactical, but they’re not necessarily taking the extra effort to research the industry. Again, it seems very obvious. When you are interviewing at multiple job sites, it can be overwhelming and you’re not necessarily sure yet who the right partner is, if you will, that you want to actually build that long-term relationship with.

Lisa: 00:06:10 But taking that extra effort to understand as much as you can even if it’s a new industry, altogether, and using those examples in that presentation or even in the conversational elements of the interview go a long way to demonstrate A, you’re interested in the role, and B, you’ve gone that extra mile to demonstrate how you’ll apply those skills when you actually come into it.

Lisa: 00:06:34 I think it’s also important to come prepared with questions. I like to ask people things like, “How would your friends describe you if you’ve left the room?” I don’t mind if people do the same to me. I often do that in interviews as well. I want to know who I’m going to be working for, and even if it’s a personal element, it means that that relationship can be a bit more meaningful and you probably enjoy your job more.

Fiona: 00:06:58 Yeah, because it’s 50% culture, isn’t it? And 50% actually the day job itself, because if you’re not happy with the people you’re working with, then you’re kind of in the wrong room I think just to start with. But yeah, it’s really interesting about the research element, because from my understanding, marketing is always about the customer, and that’s kind of the audience, isn’t it? Who you’re trying to communicate with. So the fact that people don’t research enough about who the actual audience is or the customer is, I just-

Lisa: 00:07:28 It’s just crazy how often it happens. I think there’s also the element of reading the job brief in detail and coming with prepared examples for each of those points. Marketing is a broad area and yes, there are specialists who are more brand focused or more lead general focused, et cetera, and that may be obvious in the title of the job, for example. But in many cases, if you are being asked to sort of achieve multiple KPIs in your [remit 00:07:58], it’s really coming prepared to talk about all those, or being honest if it’s something you haven’t done before, then coming with ideas on how you would tackle that challenge.

How to start out in marketing as a graduate

Fiona: 00:08:07 How you’d pick up that skillset or experience quickly and then get running with it. Good. What advice can you give to an undergrad starting or trying to find the right path in marketing?

Lisa: 00:08:19 So, my advice, as I just mentioned, marketing is quite broad, and there are so many different avenues you can go down with it, and identifying the right avenue I think is the most intimidating aspect.

Fiona: 00:08:36 Intimidating is probably quite the right word there actually, isn’t it? Because we never really know everything at that sort of age, I think it’s difficult to know where you want to end up half the time.

Lisa: 00:08:47 Definitely. I’ll just share a piece sort of from my background but actually going into uni and being … It’s a big ask to say you’ve got X amount of years and you need to come out of it and earn money on the other end. I simply put a list together, I thought this is a lot of pressure and what do I need to do to make sure that I’m successful at finishing in the correct amount of time so it’s not costing extra money and I can come out and land a job quite easily.

Lisa: 00:09:16 So for me, it was about putting together a list of what I’m good at, and I simply said, “What do I like doing?” I like talking to people. I like being organised. I like planning. I like the social element of my life, and I kind of went through the list of courses that I could take and PR was the obvious route for me to go down, and I went down that route. But then I wasn’t quite sure as you’re sort of taking those classes and you’re realiSing what it actually means to take theory and put it into practice.

Lisa: 00:09:42 So, my next piece of advice is to, from that, get as much experience as possible. It might be free and that might be painful that you may be taking your personal time to work for someone else for nothing, or you might get a stipend, which obviously is appreciated. But definitely take the time to try different elements of marketing and whether that’s writing a blog, just to get some writing experience and something published.

Lisa: 00:10:11 Myself, I did an internship sort of in three different areas. I looked at event planning, I looked at PR, and I looked at market research, and all of that helped that when I came out of uni, I had a leg to stand on and it wasn’t just the theoretical stuff which put me in a better position to get hired more quickly. So, stepping back, my advice is to, first of all, you do want to enjoy what you do, so look at what’s natural for you and your skillsets and see how you can apply it.

Lisa: 00:10:36 If you’re good at maths, great, that also works in marketing because there’s a big analytical aspect to marketing, but maybe something like market research is better suited to your skillset, where if you are someone who likes to organiSe things in event planning in a corporate setting. I think then trying before you buy is also really, really important so that you can have a successful career coming out.

Lisa: 00:10:56 A big decision that I wanted to make that it felt pressure early on was agency versus in-house roles, and how easy if I went too far down that path would it be to transition. I think that’s something you learn with experience. So, the try before you buy I think is my biggest recommendation. If you can’t, because you are limited by personal time or finances, there are other things that you can do in terms of, like I said, writing a blog or testing social media, if you’re interested in digital, putting five pounds behinds a few social media ads for your friend’s birthday party just to see how it all works and to use those theoretical things in practice.

Fiona: 00:11:37 Perfect. So you get out there and try before you buy.

Lisa: 00:11:40 Yeah, yeah.

What career path to take when you’ve finished your Marketing Degree

Fiona: 00:11:41 I like it. How do you figure out what you want to do marketing career wise out of university?

Lisa: 00:11:48 I think that leads on from what I just said, but I think networking and building relationships with right people is key. If you’re going to just graduate and send a few CVs and expect to land the jackpot, I think you’ll be surprised by the likelihood of that actually-

Fiona: 00:12:06 Or disappointed.

Lisa: 00:12:06 Yeah, very disappointed. Things like LinkedIn, even Facebook, Instagram, people are using to connect with influencers. There are so many opportunities to A, leverage your professors, leverage the people who are advising you while you’re in uni, so that you understand sort of who they can potentially connect you with. If you have done the internships, that’s great because even if you decide to move cities, maybe you’re starting up North, and you’re going to move back to London, there still could be referrals and recommendations made.

Lisa: 00:12:38 Then lastly, don’t be afraid to make those connections, get people’s email addresses, use LinkedIn. I’m a big fan of LinkedIn. Not everyone is. It’s used correctly in terms of the social stream, et cetera. But I’ve got a rule. I will not connect with anyone on LinkedIn that I don’t genuinely have a relationship with. I think that’s really important, because when you do ask for that referral, you want them to be able to say, “Yeah, I put my full step behind you,” as opposed to, “Who are you?” You’re just some kid I passed one day that was hoping for a quick win. I think that’s where I would start.

Top five KPIs that a marketeer should focus on

Fiona: 00:13:14 Good. Okay. Very good advice. What’s in the top five KPIs that a marketeer should focus on?

Lisa: 00:13:21 In the B2B setting, I think not a KPI per se, but really understanding the entire customer journey and the funnel. There are so many elements to influence growth, and if you’re just sort of looking at one area, you could be missing an opportunity to optimize in another area. Going back to KPIs, then what are you looking at? You’re looking at your channels, cost per lead, cost per acquisition, conversion rate, things like that. But I want to think that needs to be brought up a level and where in the funnel is it actually happening? Where are the points? Then you can look to test, optimise, look at growth sort of hacking opportunities.

Lisa: 00:14:08 The other thing is lifetime value. We’ll probably touch sort of upon being a marketer, adding value to the business, and not only using the channels that you’re using, to getting the most out of them, ensuring that the cost per acquisition and the channels that you’re actually using to bring in, in this case we’re talking about leads, are sort of the best bang for your buck.

Lisa: 00:14:33 But then retaining the customers that you have and using channels that are going to be making sure that the quality leads will be converted and not just front loading the top of the funnel and then having them all sort of abandoned afterwards. Then retention being massive. It costs more to bring a new customer than it does to retain a customer, and often that gets overlooked and at times sort of management will be looking down, putting pressure and going more and more and more is better. But if you don’t also focus on those you already have, you’re going to be leaking out the back and that’s going to hurt you in the long run.

Fiona: 00:15:09 Got you. Okay. So, build the funnel, but also make sure you retain your customers, and with regards to value, look at where there’s the best return on investment and spend more time there versus just doing the cool stuff.

Lisa: 00:15:27 Doing the cool stuff or spending because the budget’s there. There’s definitely an element of experimentation that’s needed in marketing.

Fiona: 00:15:34 Yeah, and test.

Lisa: 00:15:35 Testing and trying. If it’s not broken, don’t get away with it, but also if it’s not broken, is it still being used-

Fiona: 00:15:46 Effectively.

Lisa: 00:15:46 Effectively?

Fiona: 00:15:49 Yeah. Can it be improved?

Lisa: 00:15:50 You’re never done in marketing. There’s never I found the magic bullet, see you later. I’ll move onto the next.

Fiona: 00:15:55 Yeah. How do you manage a marketing career at a company that’s very, very short-term focused?

Lisa: 00:16:02 I think especially in the startup world, you’ll see that more often than in a corporate setting. In my current role, we work towards quarterly KPIs. We’ve got the big vision, but that goalpost is constantly shifting as the market is shifting and our ability to support with product need is meeting that. We have to be short-term focused. It’s lots of little wins to sort of build up to hitting a key milestone that’s going to get the investors to give us more funds or sort of achieve market saturation to move on to sort of the next thing.

Lisa: 00:16:39 That can be overwhelming and it can be a challenge, because as a marketing function, you do, in a sense, constantly have to prove your value, and it’s about setting a strategy, working back from those core objectives, and in this case quarterly, but in other cases it may be yearly, and that’s still considered short-term. Building a strategy, working backwards from that I think you’ve got to be quite focused, anything sort of out of the scope of that, you’re going to lose track and you’ve got the potential to lose track.

Lisa: 00:17:13 So, that happens all the time though. In a startup, it’s agile and out of nowhere, there could be a request from a board member or we have competition kind of sneaking up that we weren’t anticipating. It’s about being flexible and knowing when to adjust resources accordingly, but as much as you can, sticking to that strategy that you put in place.

Lisa: 00:17:41 On top of that, understanding what the key KPIs that you want to be performing on are and setting those up upfront so that you can form the business on how effectively you’re achieving them, because if you sort of lose sight of the goalpost, it’s easy for marketing then to be sort of challenged as, is this function being added to the business, resources are tight, where could that money be better allocated or even really being able to present the outcome of those efforts, and the success rates.

Lisa: 00:18:12 I think most people are quite reasonable in circumstances that, as we just discussed, there’s a level of testing and experimentation. If that’s demonstrating that, you’re trying to get to the objective, and you don’t succeed, but you’ve got other things in the plan in place to get there, it gives you a little bit more rigor room to experiment.

Fiona: 00:18:35 Where you learn something every time, don’t you?

Lisa: 00:18:35 Yeah.

Fiona: 00:18:35 If a test doesn’t go to plan.

Lisa: 00:18:36 Even if you found the magic bullet, it’s not magic for long.

Fiona: 00:18:40 Yeah. You have to keep testing and challenging, and then looking at ways of improving what does work.

Lisa: 00:18:48 Yes.

Moving into more strategic marketing jobs

Fiona: 00:18:51 How did you make the transition from being a manager to showing that you can strategically have a big influence on key business decisions?

Lisa: 00:19:00 So, it can be challenging to get noticed. In the corporate world, you may not have access to the C-suite at the same level that you do, in this case, I am the C-suite in a much smaller organisation. For me, I found sort of the key to that, getting recognised is the use of storytelling and data. You’re not always going to be invited to the meeting, but it’s about building relationships with those senior people, and whether you’re asking them to be your mentor or you’ve had a successful campaign, it’s putting that into a narrative that then you can share with the organisation.

Lisa: 00:19:44 I think that’s the opportunity maybe that you’re asked to present it at the quarterly update meeting, or your boss ahead of you recognises it and shares it as her update to senior management. A good boss is going to give credit where credit is due, and I feel very strongly about that. I don’t need recognition. If you hire right, it automatically translates up. Giving credit where credit is due is really important.

Lisa: 00:20:16 Going back to what I was saying about storytelling in data, if you have a successful campaign, putting that into a narrative and sort of elevating it. That doesn’t necessarily mean you’re going to then get the director position. I think that’s about getting recognised so that when there is an opportunity, you’re not putting your hand up for it. You’re already on the radar, and those sort of opportunities then turn into themselves as opposed to just keep applying here and applying there and hoping for the best.

Fiona: 00:20:43 Yeah.

Lisa: 00:20:44 The other piece of it is to learn leadership skills. That’s about being a confident public speaker. When you’re putting your hand up to do the presentation on behalf of your manager and saying, “Yeah, I’d love to present on behalf of the department.” So again, being sort of seen in the right circles, but when you’re being seen demonstrating. I do have analytical skills because I was able to put that data into a narrative.

Lisa: 00:21:08 I am confident speaking in public, and you should feel confident, and you can trust me to sort of have big conversations, and asking for more responsibility, not being afraid to say this is my remit, no one should ever need to be told what to do sort of. If you’re running out of work, then there’s an issue there in terms of your ability to be proactive and identify opportunities to contribute. So, yeah, put your hand up for more, and hopefully it comes to you.

Fiona: 00:21:40 Yeah, yeah. Well, definitely. I think a lot of people probably worry about maybe this is going to frustrate my manager if I’m always asking for more opportunity or anything like that, but really I think managers benefit from an engaged team, from a team who wants to add more value because I think that reflects really well on the manager.

Lisa: 00:22:07 I think there’s a challenge … There can be a challenge if someone’s asking for more that’s completely out of their remit, maybe stepping on toes of someone else’s responsibility, or if you’re not performing your own and then you’re asking for more, or something outside of scope, that’s when it can be a challenge because what you’re saying is I want a job that’s different than mine. Give it to me, and the department may not have the resources or the need that’s for the current job is because there’s a need for it. I think it’s a careful balance, if that makes sense, of ask for more that’s above and beyond what you’re contributing, not instead of what you’re contributing.

Fiona: 00:22:44 Yeah. Makes sense, so make sure it adds value to what you’re doing in the day job versus completely random or a segue, sideway step.

Lisa: 00:22:53 Yeah.

Skills needed to be a Marketing Director

Fiona: 00:22:54 Very good. What technical skills are needed to jump to a director position?

Lisa: 00:23:02 Data is super important. I think anyone’s going to say it. It’s also about what you do with that data. As a marketeer, it can be entry level. You kind of think uh, this is frustrating. I’m doing a lot of admin, and I can’t wait to just climb that ladder and just say goodbye Excel and spreadsheets and manually putting together mail outs et cetera. But the truth is-

Fiona: 00:23:35 It gets worse.

Lisa: 00:23:37 It gets worse, and it doesn’t ever go away.

Fiona: 00:23:38 Yeah.

Lisa: 00:23:39 I think instead of what do you need when you’re becoming a manager, I think what you need early on that’s going to enable you to become a manager when you eventually get there, because Excel is something that not everyone learns. There’s a bit of resistance to learning it, but having it is such a powerful tool. I think in this day and age, we’re quite lucky that there are so many dashboard tools, analytical tools that plug directly into Facebook or Salesforce or Google Analytics to be able to give you dashboards and charts on the fly.

Lisa: 00:24:15 So, maybe 10 years ago Excel was way more important than it is now, but it’s still very, very important. Then it’s about taking that data and turning it into not just reflecting back, but also turning it into forward thinking insights. So, nobody wants a spreadsheet handed to them and going here it is. What they want is you to tell them what’s there, why it’s there, and what can be done with it to either fix or improve the data that’s being presented.

Lisa: 00:24:45 So, having that analytical mindset, but also being inquisitive and curious and wanting to say, “This isn’t just one plus one equals two. It’s actually a whole opportunity to enter new market here, or whoa, this is actually one of my most successful channels that we didn’t recognize was. What can we do to double it, triple it, et cetera?”

Fiona: 00:25:07 Perfect. So, Excel for Dummies is out there, also YouTube tutorials I’m guessing if you need to brush up on Excel, get on it. It’s often said that you can be paid in money or experience. Looking back on your career, how often did you value experience over a higher salary, and did you strike a good balance?

Lisa: 00:25:31 I do think I did, and looking back I’m quite proud of the career path that I took. I do think it was quite strategic and it may not be for everyone. But I do think getting hands-on experience early on at the sacrifice of the salary is worth it, because of the exposure that you get to so many disciplines within marketing, and the opportunity to just learn on the job. Early in my career, after I graduated uni, during uni I did about three different internships unpaid, and then after uni, I joined a program called Mountbatten Program. I’m not sure if anyone’s familiar with it.

Fiona: 00:26:18 I haven’t heard of it.

Lisa: 00:26:19 I highly recommend it. It’s changed a lot since I did it in 2006, but it’s basically a postgraduate exchange between people in the UK and people in the States.

Fiona: 00:26:31 Okay.

Lisa: 00:26:31 They place you with a company for a year, which is a [inaudible 00:26:35] more or less, and you take some international business classes on the side. So, it’s continued education after uni, but it’s hands-on working as a full-time employee, so not necessarily considered an internship. What that meant was it meant I got my first dip into working in an international setting here in London early in my career, but also I was learning about international business practices.

Lisa: 00:26:59 The stipend we had to live off of was pennies, but it was more the opportunity of working abroad in that setting as a very young individual, that then taught me about … I was working for Forrester Research at the time sort of what it’s like to work in international settings when you’ve got head office in a different location and how you adopt to cultural nuances. For me that was the most rewarding experience both from the professional standpoint and from building relationships as well as sort of putting me in a position to work in other international remits in the future.

Lisa: 00:27:32 Doing that, I then moved back to New York and a lot of my friends worked in banking and that was cool, because it was a lot of money at that point turning 23, but for me I took the salary cut because I wanted the marketing career and I got my first job with Wiley who are an international publisher marketing their digital education tools. It was very much climbing the career path in one organisation, which I think is quite rare these days.

Fiona: 00:28:03 It is, yeah.

Lisa: 00:28:03 But it was so rewarding to kind of know that this is what I need to do to achieve the next step and the next step and the next step, which then gave me the ability when I wanted to move on to just jump right into sort of the next phase of my career. So, early on, kind of wrapping it up, yeah, take a sacrifice if it means you’re going to get the experience that you want. I knew I wanted to be in an international setting, so taking a pay cut to have that opportunity to come abroad and work for an international market research firm for me was the right choice, and looking back, I still think it. My colleagues and my friends and even my family go, “Oh, that year really changed your career.”

Lisa: 00:28:45 Now, what I look for in a career and a work environment is very different, and that’s because personal circumstances change what you’re looking to achieve once you kind of achieve a certain level as a marketer, it’s then about identifying what’s going to make you happiest, how you’re going to use your skillsets to the best of your ability. Do you want to shorten your commute and have a work-life balance, or do you want to make big bucks and go and be director at a big corporate, or create your own startup or a consultancy? So, for me, things that are important now are very different than they were when I came out of my …

Fiona: 00:29:28 Makes sense. You talked a lot there about the career that you had at Wiley, but as you already touched on, you then decided to leave the corporate world and go to the startup, which I think a lot of people do think about. They spend a good five, maybe 10 years in corporate and then they think, what am I missing out on the startups? What led you to take that leap and what experience or questions or information would people benefit from if they are sat on that cliff edge right now in corporate world twiddling their thumbs thinking, there’s got to be something better.

Lisa: 00:30:08 Yeah, it’s got to be better than this.

Fiona: 00:30:11 What would you tell them advice wise?

Lisa: 00:30:14 I think firstly, the grass isn’t always greener is really important. How I got to that point, I’ll start with that. I had been with Wiley an international publisher for eight years, four years in New York and four years I was relocated to Australia. When I knew that I was ready to leave Australia for personal reasons I thought, “This is my opportunity to start over. I want to move on from the corporate world.”

Lisa: 00:30:39 There were frustrations that I was having, not with Wiley as a company specifically, but the corporate world is great in the sense that you often have a defined career path. You kind of can set your eye on the prize, and if you do the right movers and shakers, you will get there. It’s great because you have set budgets and very large revenue targets and if the business achieves them, everyone benefits from those achievements, and you also have the opportunity to collaborate with often other marketing departments or other product lines to get exposure to lots of different things.

Lisa: 00:31:14 But where it’s challenging is it’s super bureaucratic. There’s a lot of red tape. Getting approvals can be very, very slow. It can be very political, even moving across job positions within. Those are some of the frustrating things. Startups, if I’m honest, five years ago, it was cool. It was uh ah, I don’t want to-

Fiona: 00:31:35 It still is.

Lisa: 00:31:37 It still is, but I don’t want to miss out on this cool thing, you know. It’s an opportunity to start. I’ve got an opportunity to start afresh. I knew I wanted to move back to London, and I actually connected with market recruitment who supported me on that transition. I was just open really to ideas of what that next step is.

Lisa: 00:31:58 There are things that I wish that I knew now that I would recommend people to just really think through when they identify that next career opportunity. It doesn’t necessarily mean only startups, but I think startups are a lot riskier moves and there are things that you assume are there if you come from a corporate world because that’s just business-

Fiona: 00:32:16 That’s been your experience.

Lisa: 00:32:17 That’s business as usual, that isn’t necessarily business as usual in startup. I think the first thing is really asking questions around profitability, where is the startup? Is it a startup? Is it a scale-up, where they’ve been getting their funding up unto this point? Are they actually profitable? If they’re not actually profitable, what is their path to profitability, and how is that going to impact the business?

Lisa: 00:32:42 From my experience, everyone wants to get there, so everyone is quite hopeful that if we do X, Y, and Z, we will achieve that, but that’s not always the case. So, really take a look at Crunchbase, take a look at these are things you should be asking in the interview, not after you’re hired.

Fiona: 00:32:57 Yeah.

Lisa: 00:32:58 I see that you haven’t gotten funding since 2012, how have you been funded since that stage? Oh, you actually are profit-making, that’s great. Your revenues are driving growth, and that’s how you’re entering into this new market, versus we don’t know yet. We haven’t found the magic bullet, and therefore, we’re hoping bringing you on as a marketer, you’ll fix that for us. No, that would be a warning sign.

Lisa: 00:33:18 Yeah, who your investors are and how much influence your investors or the board has on your business. A lot of times, startups who are going through this growth period can be at the mercy of their investors, especially if they’re not profitable. What that means is, while you may be brought in to build out the strategic plan of how you’re going to help grow the business, that can quickly change if an investor has an opposing view. I’m not saying I’ve experienced that specifically, but it is something that does happen.

Fiona: 00:33:48 That you have to be aware of.

Lisa: 00:33:49 You have to be aware of that. If the game changes, that you need to be adaptable to that. I think a few other things around share options, if you don’t come often in corporate world, you don’t get equity. Equity especially when people haven’t yet IPO’ed is a floating sort of mysterious, you’ve got 200, you’ve got 2,000. What are those actually worth?

Lisa: 00:34:13 I worked in different businesses where it was a very dramatic difference between the number of shares, and not really knowing what to ask for, you really need to ask the hard questions over what’s the share value now? When are you next being valued? What is that share value expected to be? When are you expecting to sell great? Especially that’s being added in as part of your package in place of salary.

Fiona: 00:34:40 And that does happen a lot. Yeah.

Lisa: 00:34:41 Being a startup [inaudible 00:34:42], so you may say, “Well yeah, but if they hit big, I can be a millionaire.” Yes, but can you live off of your base, or off of your base plus performance bonus enough that if they don’t get there, you’re not going to be just sitting in the back crossing your fingers, hopefully you’ll … It’s not a get rich quick scheme. Little things like working from home, asking what their flexi working is.

Lisa: 00:35:09 A lot of startups I think the challenge is saying what your culture is versus actually what is your culture? These are super high growth, super fast-paced environments, and everyone loves having a dog running around the office, or free beers, or whatever those incentives are, and you really need to understand what those mean to you versus what is the culture? Are you going to have a work-life balance? Are you able to work from home if you need to for personal reasons? What are sort of the holidays, because those are just expected in a corporate world, where …

Lisa: 00:35:40 Sorry, they’re not expected in the corporate world, so they seem like extra perks. But if it’s a trade-off for something else that you’re not used to, such as really long hours or yeah, things that are being sacrificed, then you need to have a think about that.

Lisa: 00:35:55 Then finally, my last tip is to really understand salary. There are huge bandwidths sort of, especially when you’re working with startups, because they often have limited budgets. Something that may be a bit more attractive in the corporate world, may be 20, 30 grand less here. But that’s not always the case. My advice is, if you don’t ask, you don’t get. Don’t assume it’s going to be low, and don’t take it because it’s going to be low.

Lisa: 00:36:21 If you show your worth, most often there is budget to find if they feel that there’s value there. Those are the things that looking back, I wish some of them I have asked, and some of them I’ve reflected on and gone, oh yeah, I would have asked a bit more detail. I wouldn’t have just taken word as the answer. I would have done my research beforehand.

Lisa: 00:36:43 I think the other important thing to know is there’s a big difference in terms of working style that I quickly picked up on moving into a startup, so what we just talked about is in the corporate world, there’s that clear path to success and you know what’s being asked of you, and you’ve got set budgets. Those often aren’t taken away.

Lisa: 00:37:07 In the startup world, things are a lot more fluid. My biggest surprise going into my first startup job was the lack of processes, the lack of standardization. That can often be a frustration going, “Wait, there’s no expense policy? How come someone over here just expensed lunch for 50 pounds, and I was being conservative and expensed it for five. That’s not fair.”

Lisa: 00:37:30 To actually taking that as an opportunity to help the business grow and say, “I’ve come from bigger business, have you thought of putting in place an HR system that may help people track their holidays better? Because doing reviews on a spreadsheet doesn’t really seem like a reliable sort of place, or well, let me be the champion for GDPR because I can appreciate you may not have exposure to all of these laws that are coming in because it’s a smaller team. I’m happy to be the GDPR champion because in my corporate, I sat on that committee.”

Lisa: 00:38:02 Expect lack of processes, but use it as an opportunity, going back to what we were talking about, to get noticed, to put your hand up, to be a visible contributor to the business to say, “Well, I’ve got some ideas on how we may be able to help the business as it becomes more mature, utilize more efficient.”

Fiona: 00:38:20 Become more effective.

Lisa: 00:38:20 Yeah.

Fiona: 00:38:21 Yeah, and efficient. Wherever you can save time or money, I suppose is always going to be a [inaudible 00:38:26].

Lisa: 00:38:27 Absolutely, that’s the ticket. Yeah.

Fiona: 00:38:28 Super. That’s really good advice. I think there’s probably a million other questions that people would want to ask around that.

Fiona: 00:38:39 Market Mentors is produced by Rockwood Audio, a subscription production service that takes the pain out of podcasting. From advice and support to editing and production, to music and artwork, Rockwood Audio has you covered, so you can stay focused on your goals, better, faster, easier. Rockwood Audio, save time, sound like a pro.

Fiona: 00:39:06 The other thing I was going to ask you is around the international moves.

Lisa: 00:39:10 Yes.

Fiona: 00:39:12 What lessons and learnings or thoughts around that, because it sounds very easy when you say I moved from the States to Australia to London.

Lisa: 00:39:22 London, yeah.

Fiona: 00:39:23 It sounds so easy, but it’s not.

Lisa: 00:39:26 It’s not.

Fiona: 00:39:27 How do you do that?

Lisa: 00:39:29 Yeah.

Fiona: 00:39:30 You’ve done it three times.

Lisa: 00:39:31 Well, I’ve done it four times actually.

Fiona: 00:39:33 Four times, yeah.

Lisa: 00:39:34 And I started when I was in uni as well, over here in London and in Edinburgh and I think that’s what really sparked that desire to want to continue to have this international background. There’s quite a few things I can say about it. I think A, do you have the desire for it, because there’s lots of big corporates who are looking for people to move to China or India to train departments and et cetera. If you’ve got family commitments or personal reasons that you have got no interest in doing that, then that’s not for you.

Lisa: 00:40:05 But if you do have a desire to do it, A, are you working for an international company? That’s kind of the first stepping stone is, if you are, great. Do you have an opportunity to work with international counterparts? If you do, build those relationships out, whether they’re monthly catch up calls or whatever, having relationships with those people if you have the desire to relocate to potentially where they are.

Lisa: 00:40:31 If you don’t, use that as an opportunity to get mentors or to, again, going above and beyond your remit, ask someone to lunch, just to learn about what’s it like over there. For me, at Wiley when I actually decided I wanted to move to Australia and I was there on holiday and I went, “You know what? If I can’t move back to London, this is a great opportunity at this point in my career.”

Lisa: 00:40:57 I happened to know the guy who was the international guy. He was the liaison between all of the international companies from a strategic development perspective, and so I did. I asked him to lunch and I just said, “Look, what do I need to do to move to Oz,” and he was like huh, that’s a joke. There’s no jobs. That’s fine. And he said, “But let me reach out to the director and just let her know that there’s an interest there.”

Lisa: 00:41:20 It does sound really easy, but coming from a head office to a smaller regional location, she welcomed the expertise coming over. Someone actually wants to pick up their life and move across the world, great. We’ll take her. A learning from that, however, is I definitely would have negotiated harder. I thought wow, lucky me. Someone’s going to pay for me to move across the world, but actually the other way around is lucky them, I’m willing to pick up my life and move across the world.

Lisa: 00:41:50 There were things that I would have … Again, going back to the questions I would have asked and the things I would have negotiated on is really understanding sort of market value for salary. They were looking at my U.S. salary and sort of converting it over and transitioning, and I think definitely got one over on me, questions about my long service leave. Was I leaving one entity, a U.S. entity, and moving to an Australian entity, and what does that mean for continued service? So, lots of questions around, am I still employed by … Which entity am I employed by, and what does that mean for tax reasons?

Lisa: 00:42:26 I think that’s a bit more of a complicated subject to properly go down, but don’t take it for granted is what it is, is make sure that you’ve done your research. At the end of the day, if I pushed back and maybe negotiated harder on salary or maybe negotiated on relocation cost, et cetera, would they have said, “No, you’re going to stay here?” I don’t think so. So, a little bit regret there.

Lisa: 00:42:52 Then coming to move to London, my approach was very different. I knew I wanted to start over, start a new career, and it was about putting feelers out. I literally just went online one day and looked at 50 different recruitment agencies, and this isn’t a plug for you guys, but Matt came back to me, Market Recruiter came back within five minutes and said, “Lisa, let’s jump on a call. What’s your international number? I’ll call you. Tell me what your deal is. What are you looking for?”

Lisa: 00:43:19 So many agencies said to me, “We won’t meet with you until you’re here. We don’t want to talk to you till you’re here.” They’re used to lots of backpackers coming over and people looking for short-term work. As much as I tried to express that in my cover letter, I’m looking to relocate, I’ve got housing and whatever situated, people just don’t want to take that risk. It’s about, again, building relationships. The reason I still four or five years later still have a relationship with Market Recruitment and I look to them when I’m recruiting as well is because you took care of me and now it’s about returning the favour and having sort of lasting relationship.

Lisa: 00:43:54 So, relationships are key. Going back to asking the right questions, doing your research, don’t take no for granted, you’re in a position to negotiate as well. If you don’t ask, you don’t get. I think if I just said, when I said to my colleague back in 2011 at Wiley, “Oh, in 2010, I want to move there,” and he kind of went, “Ha ha, good luck.” I said, “Can you just send her an email? Just send her an email. If she says no, she says no.” Literally three months later, I was there. So, you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Fiona: 00:44:27 Yeah. It’s so true. Also, from my perspective, I’ve helped people when it gets to offer stage. I always think, from a company’s perspective, it’s really positive when people are negotiating because they’re really interested in joining that company or making that move, and now than making it work for them. Why wouldn’t you want it to work for them?

Lisa: 00:44:54 Yeah.

Fiona: 00:44:54 Why wouldn’t you want them cartwheeling through the door, feeling like it’s a right opportunity for them? If it’s a tweak here and there with regards to salary or coverage or relocation support, or anything like that, it’s got to be worth it, because in the long run, you’ll have this amazing employee who can add so much more value.

Lisa: 00:45:12 Yeah.

Fiona: 00:45:13 If you’re not the right person, you’re not going to get the job offer, as simple as that. So yeah, I definitely agree with that. Gender pay gap and percentage of male versus female leadership roles, do you think this challenge needs addressing in our industry? If so, how?

Lisa: 00:45:29 Absolutely. I have witnessed it firsthand, and look, there’s a lot going on, a lot of noise about it. I don’t have the answer for it, but what I would like to do is see it continue to be championed. There’s things like Sheryl Sandberg, she’s a great role model sort of for that, and things like Lean In groups. At my previous startup, I started a Lean In group to welcome sort of this isn’t addressing gender pay gaps specifically, but just sort of to help women with confidence in their ability to sort of own their careers.

Lisa: 00:46:09 If you haven’t read Lean In, it is a really good book because there are scientific facts about why women tend to not be as assertive in certain situations, or self-doubt around their ability to be eligible to apply for a role even. I’m a huge advocate of those sorts of groups. What was nice about that group that I started at Givergy was men were invited as well, and a handful of men, they’re small groups, but still came in and said, “I’m really interested about this, because I’ve got a partner and I want to make sure I can support her in the right way.” Or actually, “I don’t get it. I value you just as much as a colleague as myself, so I’m an advocate here.”

Lisa: 00:46:51 Sometimes those things can be tricky in businesses, because it can be seen as negative of super feminist or everyone sort of rallying up, and you’ve got to be careful with how you manage that. That’s not the intent. It’s not about women versus men. It’s about trying to collaborate and work together and be seen as equal beings. My other point on that is about the fact that one of my decisions to come to Lantum was because I have a female CEO and a female founder, and I’ve never worked …

Lisa: 00:47:21 I’ve worked for female bosses, but I’ve never worked for a female founder, and when I was making the decision between this and another startup where I would have been a single female in a male dominated team, I’ve spent years in other businesses fighting for that voice in very male-led businesses. I feel quite happy with the results of those relationships, but they took years and it was really challenging to change the culture. So I said, “Do you know what? Let’s see what it’s like to go into a culture where that’s already part of it.”

Lisa: 00:47:53 Here at Lantum, I think it’s 60/40 female to male, so there are areas that we want to invest more relationships. For example, yeah our Dev team is male heavy, but we’re aware of it. So, certain teams that are … Our account manager team is a bit more female biased. Not deliberately. So, as a business, we’re taking on those challenges and going, great, how do we get that balance right? I think that’s really important.

Lisa: 00:48:25 So, I’m quite motivated by businesses that take that seriously. There’s big corporates that take that quite serious, Google being a really good example of it. But as a small business, it’s too important to ignore. The companies that are ignoring it, aren’t going to have longevity in their employees, and it’s going to become evident in their culture. I’ve witnessed it and I think yeah, it’s kind of a challenge that we’ve got to keep moving forward with.

B2B marketing skills future marketers need to learn

Fiona: 00:48:56 That you have to take seriously nowadays as well I think. With social, technological changes set to continue a pace, what do you think an aspiring marketeer should be learning now to be in the best position possible to add value to business in five or 10 years’ time? So, get your crystal ball out for us [inaudible 00:49:19] know what the future holds for us all.

Lisa: 00:49:20 Do you know, I used to say as an entry level marketer, two things are super important. One, Excel, and two, basic design skills. It’s something that when I sort of graduated uni you didn’t have design skills. You didn’t know InDesign and Photoshop and writing, and digital marketing. But now, moving forward, those are just assumed. People naturally have them when they sort of come out of, or at least at their first job because people are learning those on the spot.

Lisa: 00:49:54 It’s now about I think AI is the future, but that’s connected to personalisation. Personalisation has, we’ve seen the data about personalised customer experience and how valuable that is, and how that links with AI I think is just going to take it so much further. I don’t know what that skillset is to master AI, but I think having that on your agenda is very important.

Lisa: 00:50:23 I think there’s an element of coding that doesn’t just sit with developers, because marketing and Dev can be so tightly intertwined, yet so far away. A lot of developers don’t understand marketing, and that’s not a criticism. It’s just when you’re asking for things like pixel tracking on your footer of your websites that you can track your campaigns, or marketing automation tools embedded in your website so you can customise the user journey based on dynamic based on the behaviour, often sometimes development teams don’t see that as a priority with the list of new features or the value it’s bringing because they’re not as commercially astute.

Lisa: 00:51:05 So, having basic developer skills, whether that’s Google Tag Manager, is like a very basic level, or coding and knowing HTML means that you’re not going to rely on designers as often. You’re not going to rely on the Dev team, and you can be sort of self serving marketing function, and it’s quite interesting.

Fiona: 00:51:23 Yeah, really interesting. Yeah. It really makes sense with what you just said about the future and the fact that people, customers want more of a personalised experience. Everything seems to end up in the commodities market, doesn’t it? Where it’s all driven by price or whatever, so in order to stand out, you kind of need to deliver a much better experience, and with that, hopefully, improve your value in the industry.

Lisa: 00:51:58 Yeah.

Fiona: 00:52:02 Really interesting. With the developers, as you say, I suppose the more you appreciate and understand the challenges in what they do on a day to day basis, the better that relationship will become, the more effective you’ll get at working together with them versus the kind of them and us, which I suppose is typical in sales situations.

Lisa: 00:52:21 Absolutely, that as well, yeah.

Fiona: 00:52:22 Yeah. It could end up there too. Interesting. With pressures of general life, how do you manage the work-life balance, and how important is it in today’s society?

Lisa: 00:52:34 I think it’s more important than it’s ever been. It’s not that it’s never been important, but now it’s being more recognised as an importance than it’s ever been. For me, we discussed early in your career what sort of sacrifices are you willing to make and is that salary, or is it personal time commitments, or travel? For me, it’s more important than ever, and it’s something I look to first when I identify what organisation I want to work for. Is it something that they value? Is it something that they say they value, do they actually demonstrate those values, whether that’s flexible working from home, or summer Fridays?

Lisa: 00:53:14 To get that right, it should be a competition of is my boss still here, I should still be here. There needs to be a level of trust. I don’t think that’s true everywhere. I think it’s something that a lot of organisations are still being challenged with of how do we … The traditional model as you come in, you clock in, you clock out. If you’re not there, you’re not loyal.

Lisa: 00:53:34 There’s a lot of remote working going on, but I still think that’s a very small fraction of your average business. If there’s no trust there, then personally that’s not an organisation I want to work for because it means that I’m not able to do my job to the best of my ability if I’m being stressed of having an hour commute, or if you’ve got childcare issues or whatever. I think the other important thing is to take time out when you have time out. Years ago, I started turning off my emails when I went on holiday and it just seems like a sinful thing to do, oh my gosh. But it’s about-

Fiona: 00:54:13 How dare you?

Lisa: 00:54:13 Yeah. If you are on holiday, you do. You’re spending the whole entire time every time you get something coming in. Naturally, there’s emergency, you’ll make yourself available. People will WhatsApp you. They will call you. So, if you are on holiday, take half hour out X set of days that’s work time that you say to my family, I’m stepping away. I’m doing this. But don’t worry, I’ll be back, because once that’s shut off, it’s shut off.

Lisa: 00:54:37 It’s the same thing when you come home at night, it’s being present and not constantly being on email. It just takes one email when you’re getting to bed that ruins your whole night. You read it again in the morning and you think, “Actually that wasn’t that bad. That wasn’t passive aggressive. That wasn’t this. That wasn’t that. I’m just misinterpreting it,” because they interrupted my personal time.

Lisa: 00:54:55 Well, don’t look and your personal time won’t be interrupted. There are coping things I do as well. I’ve learned about meditation and meditation is something I’m a very fast-paced person, I thought that’s not for me. I won’t be able to sit still. But actually finding that as a resource in the last sort of year, year and a half, at least once a week I make sure that I go to sort of a meditative yoga session.

Lisa: 00:55:17 That’s super important for me to clear my head. It takes the stress away of maybe I’m going to have a glass of wine, or maybe I’m going to call my friends and have a bit of a chat about how worked up you got from time to time, is not a solution but actually practicing mindfulness can be very effective. There’s apps like Headspace and stuff like that that help.

B2B marketing book recommendation

Fiona: 00:55:36 Yeah. I’ve seen those actually. They’re really cool. What’s the book you recommend the most to B2B marketeers? I wonder whether Lean In might have been.

Lisa: 00:55:46 You’re right, Lean In is one. I don’t know if I have any male friends who’ve read it. That’d be interesting to sort of hear their feedback on that, but definitely from an understanding the natural way that as human beings we differ and that’s why we may not … Some people who don’t have the confidence may not put their hand up in the meeting or are fearful to apply for a job because they don’t think they’re qualified enough.

Lisa: 00:56:12 Another book that I read, and I wouldn’t say this is relevant just to B2B marketing, but I read this book a couple of years ago. It’s Jack Trout, Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind. It was written in 1980. It is one of the classics of sort of positioning. In both startups I’ve experienced, there is this identity crisis because you start out quite young, and as your product evolves and as your customers evolve, there will be crucial points where you need to evolve your brand.

Lisa: 00:56:44 This book was, while there are some very old school examples, it’s still relevant to today, and just some really good exercises to think about where you want to be and who you actually are and being truthful to yourself as a business that you just can’t say you want to be this and start acting like that, and assume the two are going to align. It’s really about sort of challenging those beliefs and then taking that and doing workshops with looking at the entire customer journey really.

Fiona: 00:57:16 That sounds really interesting actually. I’m going to add that to mine.

Lisa: 00:57:20 Sure.

Fiona: 00:57:22 What parting words of wisdom or advice would you share with the audience?

Lisa: 00:57:27 So, I’ve got two. One is have fun. Marketing is fun. People are jealous of people in marketing because we’re the fun team. You know what? It looks fun, but it’s a lot of hard work, and recognise that, but also enjoy the fun stuff because not everyone gets to work with creative agencies and design stuff, and think of interesting ways to influence, to show growth. There are so much opportunity out there, enjoy it.

Lisa: 00:57:58 My last piece of advice I think for people starting out their marketing careers is really think about, there will be a point I think where you have to decide if you are going to remain a generalist that touches on lots of different elements of marketing, and you’ll have to scale up in terms of becoming that leader, being able to be a manager, and that’s leadership skills and the ability to be analytical, and all the things we touched on earlier.

Lisa: 00:58:26 Sometimes that requires training. Maybe you need time management training because you’re not really sure how to allocate or you’re not sure how to coach people, because it can be overwhelming to become a first time manager, or if you are still a generalist while you’re quite young in your career, think about if you really want to specialize. Is there something that you really enjoy? Then go ahead and take those extra classes, or go ahead and try and transition to a sole digital marketer or graphic designer or product marketer sort of, because those avenues can be really rewarding as well.

Lisa: 00:59:01 But I think you may have a challenge where you get to a certain level and you’re going to expect a higher pay raise and you’re going to expect more responsibility and if you’re not strategically there, or you’re not specialised, you will potentially get stuck in the middle there. If you’re okay with that, that’s great. But if you’re not, upscale in either of the areas.

Fiona: 00:59:27 That’s down to you, isn’t it? It’s down to you taking the opportunity, asking and-

Lisa: 00:59:30 No one can tell you that but you, yeah. It’s really where you want to guide your career.

Fiona: 00:59:34 Yeah, yeah. It’s very true, very good advice. Thank you ever so much, Lisa, for your time and for talking us through your experience and giving us those nuggets of advice. Much, much appreciated.

Lisa: 00:59:45 Yeah, it was a pleasure, and if anyone has any questions or like to sort of discuss anything further, feel free to get in touch.

Fiona: 00:59:51 Thanks ever so much, Lisa.

Fiona: 00:59:56 So there you have it, career advice from a real marketing expert and leader in the field. Thanks for listening. If you’re enjoying this podcast, then please leave us a review in iTunes. We’d love to hear your feedback.