In this episode, Div Manickam, product marketing leader, product marketing coach, and author defines GTM as a three-letter acronym focused on achieving alignment across stakeholders and teams within a company, particularly when launching new products or entering new markets.

Let’s step into the world of product marketing and discover the keys to thriving in today’s competitive landscape.

Listen to the podcast here:

Personal Values, Mentorship, and Career Growth: Div Manickam’s Journey in Product Marketing

Hello again. Thank you for taking the time to listen to the newest episode. Or maybe it’s your first episode of the B2B Go to Market Leaders podcast but I’m deeply, deeply grateful for you taking the time. I know you have a lot of options out there, but yeah, thanks once again. And, yeah, look forward to hearing from you at some point in time as to how things are going with the podcast. And if you have any feedback with that, I would love to invite the newest guest on the podcast. She is Div Manickam. She is a product marketing leader, product marketing coach and author. So quite a lot of ground to cover here. So with that intro, welcome to the show Div.

Thank you. Pleasure to be here.

Yeah. So it’s my pleasure. I’m looking forward to our conversations. So I always start the show with this question which the audience loves as well as the guest. It gets the conversation going in the deep end, if you will.

Signature Question: How do you view and define go to market?

I like to think of it as the three acronym, three letter acronym that we all want to be better at, but we are so striving towards it. For me, whether I’m working on a launch, whether I’m working on a new product or packaging existing products or services into a new market, go to market. GTM is what gives us the focus and alignment across stakeholders and teams within a company.

Got it. And, yeah, I’ve heard quite a few variations. And typically it boils down to like 2 or 3 points, which is it always starts with who is it that you’re really solving for, what is the specific problem you’re solving for, and how do you convey that value, so much so that they get interested in buying your product or service? Right. So that’s external. And then there’s the internal which is who owns Goodyear. Good. And well who owns GTM and go to market.

And again, go to market has a lot of variations. If you ask someone from product marketing, they’ll say, hey, I have the best view, or I own go to market. But then if you talk to a sales and revenue organisation, they say we are go to market, period. Right. And then there’s another which no one really has any real control or influence because go to market involves a product. It involves marketing, involves sales, involves customer support and success as well. So there’s no one person who owns unless in the more mature organisations it’s typically the CEO who has the influence. It’s not that it’s his or her day to day job, but, yeah, I mean, at the end of the day, the CEO will need to be involved in the go to market. So yeah, I would love to hear your thoughts on all of these things.

Absolutely. And I think you touched on a very key part, which is one of the reasons why I’m excited about where I am right now, leading product marketing for a new product launch that we are working on this year. And our company has evolved where our chief growth officer is now the head of sales and marketing, and we have brought the teams together. So we have a GTM. Alignment and all those things that are needed as part of it. I’m a true believer that if you are trying to bring GTM to life, it’s not just a matter of who owns it. Yes, product marketing touches different stakeholders in different teams. So we are well positioned to be the, the champion, the chaperone, the ambassador, whatever way you want to think of it. But a big part of it is how do we bring these teams together and have shared goals, shared OKRs so that we are all working towards the same outcome?

Yeah, we’d love to. Div. I’m sure we’ll touch upon those things, especially the shared OKRs alignment and working together. But let’s take a step back. Why don’t you walk us through your career journey? I mean, what brought you to what you are today and who do you serve in your current role?

Sure. Yeah. So a lot of. I would say a decade of experience in product marketing across fortune 500 companies and startups, primarily and mainly in the technology space. This has given me opportunities to dive in both feet, and hands and everything all in to figure out what product marketing is. How do we define it, what does it look like? And doesn’t matter which company, which team I’m in? There’s always an educational aspect of trying to understand where the company is today when it comes to product marketing, how is it perceived, where is the value? And then figuring out how can I as a contributor, as a team leader, bring those aspects together? across the journey, I think, with the Product Marketing Alliance, I’ve been fortunate to be, one of the top 100 product marketing influencers, and that has probably given me the confidence that maybe some of the questions that I’m asking is not just me, that there are others also, having similar questions and concerns and also challenging the status quo.

So I truly believe in empowering folks, whether it’s to be their best selves, to be their true, authentic selves. And so I’ve published books on my journey, all the way from stress and anxiety to leadership to product marketing and everything in between, I guess. And, I love to share my experiences on career growth, on authentic leadership, mindfulness, mental well-being, and product marketing. So you’ll see flavours of that through my LinkedIn and every, every aspect of the social sphere that I’m in.

Yeah. Very cool. So if I do go, I mean, I’m looking at your LinkedIn profile, and if I go back in time, I mean, you started off as a marketing intern, then you did some stints and Mark Marcum and then analyst and then went into technical product marketing and then eventually product marketing. So what got you into or what aspects of product marketing gravitated or pulled you in?

I knew that after I got my first job after my MBA, that product marketing is where I want to be.

It was just a matter of time for me to get there. And every job, every interview that I had at ten, 12 years ago, it was, hey, we love your energy. We love what you’re saying. But we just found someone who has got the product marketing experience. So I didn’t quite land that first job, but I knew that that was where I was headed. And so the first opportunity after my marketing communications role was to become a sales enablement manager. So I had a chance to dive into the adjacent aspects of product marketing before I really went into product marketing. So it was a long winded path. But I finally made it, and, I realised that this is right where I’m supposed to be and, kind of building my career around it. So. Yeah.

Yeah. And you also mentioned you’re not just a product marketer, but you also dabble in other aspects, including being a wellness or a leadership or a mentor and a coach, and you’re also a book author. So, yeah. Tell us about each of those. 

Well, there’s plenty more. I recently got to have my first photo exhibit, so I love photography. just a personal passion of mine, and, I think I am, an individual and an explorer who likes to try many firsts. And this is another first into my book of living. I am a big believer in wellbeing, primarily because I have experienced stress and anxiety in my own career and want to make sure that as I’m navigating through the next ten years, in the next decade that’s coming forward, that I’m thinking about those aspects as well. the books came into existence primarily from that. So the first book that I wrote was A Broken Teacup. This was my journey, going from an always optimist person to always worrying and always anxious to now finding mindfulness and self-care as part of my own well-being. I’m also part of the Chief Wellbeing Officer program at the World Happiness Foundation. going through that program right now, and I want to see what I can do to help, folks, my mentees, my students, I teach product marketing at the PMA, the Product Marketing Alliance as well.

So I like to do many things. I’ve realised that doing one thing doesn’t satisfy my own curiosity, if you will.

Yeah. I think this is the first time I’m having someone from a background with a background in mental well-being and happiness. I know we can carve out a separate podcast and deep dive on that topic, but then let’s just spend maybe a minute or so. So how do you, How do you think of happiness? Because happiness is again such a. It’s one word, but can mean so many things similar to go to market. Yeah. How do you define and how do you guide and advise folks around it?

For me, it has been the journey of opening up and being comfortable with your fears, being comfortable with your vulnerability. I got my U.S. citizenship in 2021 and I was like, I’m on my pursuit of happiness. And that was my path. And I was like, what does happiness mean? And then there are other words: joy, different aspects of it.

And so where I’m landed right now, in the past five years of my searches, I think well-being is more rounded, especially when I think about workplace well-being. And that’s the area that I’m focused on, because a lot of times we want to create that sense of belonging. We want to create that sense of camaraderie, collaboration, everything. And I think this goes very neatly to GTM, right? If all of us are not rowing in the same direction. And I take the analogy of rowing because I’m right by the Marina and we have the rowing teams around here every morning at 5 a.m., 6 a.m. it’s a team of six, seven folks, and you all have to move in the same direction. Otherwise that boat is not moving. Right. so it’s a similar analogy when I think about wellbeing and, thinking about belonging, because I have been in teams and companies where I have thrived. Right, I have and you’ll see in my LinkedIn career as well. Right. Like my path has been paved out because I was able to do the things and I had the support system, I had, everyone helping each other out.

Then I’ve been in companies where it has been a totally toxic environment, where I barely lasted a few months. And, as much as I’m an empathetic person and a leader, who’s imparting empathy in all shapes and forms, with their teams, I also realised that that is a key part to whatever you’re trying to do or achieve in a company, right? I’ve joined this new company here, and I’m just a few months in and we had our performance review, and the feedback I got was, hey, you’re doing great. And it feels like you’ve already been here for years, right? That shows that you’re doing something and that your peers recognize you, the peers, appreciate the value that you’re bringing into the team. So that’s, that’s where I think all of it comes together when it comes to well-being. Thinking about what happiness means for you. And same as the question about success, right? What does success look like for you? And if you had asked me five years ago, I would have had a totally different definition for success and happiness as compared to today.

Yeah. Success. Happiness, how others perceive you, the others expectations, your own expectations, vulnerability. I mean, so many of these things. Right. And and again, you might be happy one moment, but then the very next moment things just flip 180.

Absolutely. Yeah. Yeah. We just lost a very dear friend last week. And there are times where you’re like, oh my gosh, what are the life choices that I’m making? And every moment is precious, right. Like that, I think the coming back to mindfulness in some way, like being in the present and being fully present, I never understood that until just a few years ago. So yeah, I hear you loud and clear.

All right. bringing the conversation back to go to market. So tell us about what you do and where you are nowadays and what is your role like and who do you serve?

Sure. So I am the director of product marketing. It’s illegal and I am supporting the data integration product.

And this is something that we’re working towards to launch this year as part of my role, my key stakeholders are product sales and marketing and the customer success team. So we are working towards serving our internal stakeholders. But at the same time, our customers and partners who are in the data integration space, so who are looking to better understand and make sure that the data is in the right places, whether it’s going to data warehouses or data lakes and. Bringing data insights and analytics from that.

Yeah. And one key stakeholder I didn’t hear you say maybe it’s embedded within, which is the buyers and the customers. Like how do you spend time or do you spend time and how much time do you spend in understanding the buyers? And is it like a direct one on one, or is it through sales call recordings or a mix of various things?

So when I was talking to you about the external stakeholders, right. My customers and partners are equal, equally embedded into the equation.

For me, it’s all about understanding the voice of the customer, the voice of the market. So I always like to think of it as threefold. Right. Who are we targeting and why now? Right. Something has shifted in the market. What is this new thing, new opportunity, new market trend that is driving this? Yeah. Are we catching up with the market or are we creating a new wave? Right. So that’s the competition, the market landscape, if you will. And then what is our unique differentiator that will help us stand out? So we have different methods. customer one on one interviews are always top of mind for me. That’s number one. But then similarly, we also have our product Advisory Council where we are bringing customers and partners together as we are building the product and as we are doing our work on design. And what does the experience look like? We are getting that validation right. So understanding the personas, understanding the customer use cases, what is the key challenge that they want to solve right now at this moment in time.

And then kind of fine tune, our messaging positioning everything from the get go to create that go to market launch.

Yeah. I mean. 6 to 8, programs come to my mind when I think about product marketing and when I speak to other folks in the industry. Right. So it always starts with, the customer program, like the customer insights. It starts with that. And then you move on to the positioning and messaging that that’s a program or an initiative in itself. And after that it goes into sales enablement. If you are a sales lead component, or it can be like a variation, like maybe a partner lead or a partner enablement and so on. following that will be a new product launch. it can be a new market entry. And then there is product content that’s a big piece, right? At the end of the day, product marketers are really good. Product marketers are and will be good storytellers. And so how do you frame that is just not putting together a data sheet.

But then how do you frame that and convey stories in different channels and formats? Following that would be like product adoption. and I’m sure I’m missing 1 or 2. Right. But broadly speaking, this is how I think. So anything that I’m missing or anything that stands out and where you invest your time and energy into in all these.

Sure. I like to think of it as the buyer journey. Right. So that end to end from the buyer or the prospect came across a webinar, came across a demo, came across, maybe a review on a website somewhere. That’s that first touchpoint. and I like to think of it as five phases. Discover this is where they have they’re like, oh, I think I have a problem. I need to find a solution or validate whether I really have a problem. The second is your learning phase where. They’re still absorbing the information that’s out there. They’re learning about what are the challenges, what are the problems that they’re trying to solve. So this could be product web pages, content that can initially serve that initial need.

Then I’d like to look at the aspects of what am I going to do? I’m going to try. Right. This is my try phase. I’m going to try to use a demo. See what this product can do. Maybe even check out some product webinars, things like that. Then it comes to that buy phase where now they’re at the point where they’re making a decision. So they’re probably looking at analyst validations. They’re looking at customer reviews, review sites, all of the information that can come in. And then after the buy phase comes the advocacy phase, right. This is where. And this is how I think about product marketing is all of those touch points, not just, oh, I got customers to buy and my job is done. I’m going to try to bring more customers in. My job is done when I’ve actually created those customer success stories, when I have created those advocates so that they can go and build the momentum that we have started with. Right. So that’s how I like to look at it.

And, I have a ten step, product launch process so similar to what you were touching on all the way from your. I like to start first with OKRs. Right. I need to know. Yes, we need to launch a product that is crystal clear and we need to drive revenue. But I need to also know what am I working towards and what is this driving towards for the organisation at the same time? I also have 30, 60, 90 day follow up metrics and goals that we are setting within each team, right? So the marketing team has a goal product as a goal, sales as a goal. Customer success might have a goal. Even our certification training team might have a goal, right? Like, yes, we have a new product, so we need to make sure we get X amount of certifications started by day 30, completed by day 90, whatever that is. Right. So all of that has helped in becoming more methodical in the process, but also understanding that all of this feeds into keeping the buyer in mind.

Right at the end of the day, everything we are doing is for the customers, and if what we’re doing doesn’t matter for them, it’s all going to be just another piece of content that’s going to sit on the shelf.

Yeah. And in terms of OKRs, I’m sure somewhere along the lines you must be measuring specific metrics. would you mind sharing like a couple of metrics that are always on your radar and what and how you think about it.

Yeah. So, there are different ways to think of it. And, oftentimes I like being a data person, I like to think of data as the essence, but not the data as the number is going to decide your fate. so I like to look at what I can influence. Right. So when it comes to product adoption. So if we are working on in-app notifications and in-app messaging, how is that going to drive from a customer who’s currently using a part of the platform and now has this opportunity to use a new product? Right.

So product adoption metrics are some that I would consider. I also look at the sales, pipeline, metrics. So the average deal size is one that I’m always keeping an eye out for to say, okay, today our average deal size is x. Now we are starting to go up market to the enterprise. Our deal size should grow. Right. Like that’s a metric I think I can influence, because it all comes down to how we’re positioning ourselves. Who are we talking to? The persona, all of that good stuff. 

So those are a few, top of mind, but there are many others, depending on what levers we have, to pull within the organisation, how we can tie it back to our campaigns and our go to market strategy itself.

Yeah. Very cool.

So, yeah, you just touch upon the different KPIs and how you think about OKRs, working with the different teams as your partners and stakeholders. So let’s switch gears. Let’s make it even more real. Let’s get even deeper into maybe you can share, like a customer or go to market success story and a go to market failure story. And I’m sure we’ll double click on many of those. I’ll leave it to you on which one you want to go with first.

All right. Let’s always start with success. So for me, I think one of my best, success stories and probably one of the propellers in my career has been, the opportunity I had to create a whole new platform positioning and a new path to our go to market. at a company that I worked in a couple of years ago and this success story, I think the winning together has been the mindset that helped us. Right.

So as a team, we were working together as one team. This new positioning, this new narrative that we had reshaped, how we talked about ourselves as an organisation, how we talked about ourselves to the company, to our customers, to the analysts, to the media. Everything was changing. So this was a big pivot going from we’re talking to the technical buyer to now we’re going to talk to the line of business, to the business. audience. Yeah. that meant a lot of things that meant how we sold, the conversations we were having in our sales pitches. We’re shifting the people who are in those buying committees. Right. So this brought that intersection between business and it coming together. And I think that’s where the story needed to evolve, because we were not just talking to the technical audience anymore. Right. So and.

Was this at Lenovo or somewhere else?

This was at Boomi.

Yeah. Okay.

Yeah. Yeah. So this was our opportunity to recreate our story for what it looked like.

And I was able to apply similar principles at Lenovo as well as part of the data centre group as well. So this was our opportunity to recreate and have a new narrative on how we want to think about who we are and how we position ourselves. So the Boomi example was at the platform level, at a product level, and at Lenovo got to apply similar principles to create a narrative for our services organisation. So this was a great example of. Bringing teams together, right? Very quickly. As companies grow, we and as companies are in the process of growing up, a lot of things can fall apart. We might not have all the right pieces of the puzzle yet figured out, but we are all moving, right? We’re creating the rocket ship, and we’re building it and moving along the way. So that, I think, is where it all came to. And I had the opportunity to work with the product team, the sales team, customer success, documentation, user experience, everybody and anybody.

I think being the ambassador of the new story and the new message and the new go to market that we’re working on, was critical and it paved path for us to start thinking about what is the story that we want to tell the world and how are we going to tell it. And I think the success came when we were at our user conference. Fast forward nine months into the process, after we got everything from the website to every piece of information out there, how we told the story and our customers, our CEO, everybody was telling the same, platform story. I think that was the big shift that we could see. analysts were saying the same thing. We started seeing that go far and wide into the ecosystem. And that, I think, was my success story, if you will.

Well, and then I heard quite a few, important critical product marketing elements in there. You mentioned messaging, you mentioned about the shift of the buyer persona to more of a technical buyer persona.

To a business.

From a technical point of view. Yeah. So I got that wrong. So from a technical to a business buyer, you mentioned messaging, you mentioned storytelling. So walk us through that process. Like how did you come up with the personas shift, how did that translate into the positioning and messaging and then into storytelling?

So the first shift was, we had an acquisition, which led us to, go from the layers of different products to how do we think about us as a platform, how do we start looking at the acquisition? It gave us an entry point to talk to the business. Before, we were always talking to the technical buyer, the it, leader. and that led to what is our story now? How do we tell our story now? And that 360 degree pivot, is what opened up the conversation for okay, what is our story and how do we want to position it? So we had workshops to brainstorm collectively as a team to come up with that new narrative and come up with, how are we looking at it? What does this mean? That touched everywhere from new iconography to the product to new product naming conventions? Everything was getting revamped, right? And this became more holistic because it wasn’t just over launching a new product.

It was as a company, we are, we are relaunching ourselves. And so that led to the storytelling aspects and how do we tell our story, the pitch, how do we look at what is the essence, what are the themes? What are the taglines? Right. So connect everything, engage everywhere. Like that became part of the story. And, it started having that sticky factor because now the analysts were saying the same thing back to us. We were hearing it from our media publications, everything. So yeah.

Yeah. And how did you get the validation if the messaging and the story resonated with your buyers? Because at the end of the day, the real proof comes if it’s resonating with your business buyer person.

Absolutely. Yeah. So we have a customer advisory board. And so whenever we have a new shift or a new message, we test it and validate it with our customer advisory board. These are our top, 1% of our customers who believe in us and are with us in, in the ride, to the new future.

Right. So this is our opportunity to validate with them. We did a similar validation with the analysts as well. And that’s the approach that I take whenever I’m launching a new product or a new go to market, plan itself to make sure that who we think we are going to talk to is still the same folks and that they see the same way. And as I mentioned earlier, like in the user conference, our customers were telling the story back to us in their own way. Right. And that’s where things started falling in place. And you’re like, yep, this story definitely works. And, it’s still the story that is continuing to be championed. So I’m really proud of being part of the team that was able to bring that story to life.

Very cool. Yeah. So one of the things that I do when I work with my customers, I provide product marketing and growth services to B2B SaaS companies, both big and small. And one of the things that I do, and we’d love to get your thoughts on this, the as to how you would tweak or if this is resonating or not is I have like a series of interviews, interviews with my customers.

Okay. And that goes along the lines of what were you trying to solve, what made you look for alternatives in the first place. And then the next one would be who were you talking to and why did they choose me or us, depending on what we are, the entity and the organisation and follow up to that, our follow up to that would be what is the impact? I mean, how did your day to day change because of this buy or the purchase that you did? And I would also wrap it up with how do you describe us to appear in your industry?

Yeah. I have a similar set of questions. I call it my interview, question bank, if you will. I use a similar approach. Right. Like, I like to understand what their day in their life looks like. What are the current challenges that are in the industry? Right. Sometimes industry and industry to industry, the needs might be different. regulatory industries may have a little bit more friction in getting to where they want to get to.

And so those are all factors that I do consider. And I also like to understand. If these are customers that are using the product, let’s say they’ve used the product for a year or so, then where do they see the value? Right? Like I have a value proposition for how I’m seeing based on my initial customer interviews. But once the customer started using the product, I would like to understand where they are seeing the value today? What is it that we are still missing and that creates a path for our future roadmap as well. So I’d like to leave that into the customer interview or the voice of the customer process as well. Yeah. Looking forward to it as well. Right. Like where if we are continuing this and where do you see yourself in the future? What are your goals? What are you working towards and how can we continue to be part of that partnership together and be a trusted advisor at the end of the day.

Right. And then how do you bring it to life in the sense, yes, it’s good to get these interviews and insights, but we’re doing a disservice to ourselves and the organisation if it’s not, if we’re not bringing it out in the world.

So how do you, what is your process and how do you take it out, like in terms of storytelling, messaging, website content and so on.

So that is the ten step process that I talk to you about, right? Like all the way from OKRs to creating the go to market kickoff. Right. It’s not just me as an individual launching this. It’s a collective. And so bringing the team together is a big believer of cross-functional collaboration. So having and bringing the peers and stakeholders early on in the process is important for me. Right? We don’t want to walk ten steps only to realise now we have to walk back 20 steps. So we try to bring folks along. Right now we’re working through some key elements of initial foundations right? Pricing, packaging, naming, like what are we going to call this product. So this is all happening as we speak and it is bringing the teams together, but also making sure that we have the resources and the time to put all of this together.

So our go to market launch process can be anywhere from 3 to 6 months to nine months, sometimes. Right. depending on the scope of the project that we’re working on, depending on what it is that we’re working to launch. So these are all things that are part of the launch process and launch template and start with the initial planning all the way to execution, which is all the content we need to put together web pages, assets, demos, webinars, everything that goes into getting this message out there in the world. So that’s part of the process as well.

Yeah. Very cool. And then going back to my question, the earlier question was just there is a good market success story and there is a go to market failure story. So let’s talk about the failure story and the lessons learned.

Well, the failure story is more that the teams couldn’t quite see the end light. and so we started working on, we know today, right in the world that we are in, there’s a lot of competition.

Everyone is always out to get a slice of the pie, if you will, and where it gets difficult is where it doesn’t feel like we are all working towards the same goal. And unfortunately, there are situations like that where the teams are competing with each other and they all have different goals and different priorities. And so even moving one step forward can feel like you’re climbing a mountain. And, sometimes you’re also stepping on each other’s toes because everybody is trying to do the same thing, duplicating the efforts. And that doesn’t go anywhere either. Right? So those are the environments that I was talking to you where it can get very toxic very quickly. And, as much as everybody wants to move forward, we are all pulling each other backward. And that’s not a good place to.

And was it again a Dell Boomi or somewhere else.

It was a different company. Yeah.

Okay. Yeah. Got it. And then what were the learnings and how did you take it forward. Like how did you correct it going forward.

Unfortunately I didn’t have the opportunity to correct it, but I definitely learned a lot from it. because it is important to have a team that is supportive and that is, it comes back to that sense of belonging. Right. as much as your job was giving you the paycheck, that’s not primarily why we are doing what we do. We are equally just as passionate about what we can do for the organisation, for the company, and for our customers. So bringing that alignment and holding on to your values, right? I, I’m a big believer of, three key values. The first one is inspiring. So it’s important for me to build that trust and credibility. Number one the second one is about influence. So I am a big believer in extreme ownership. Right? Own the good, the bad and the ugly. And the third is about impact. So this is all about results and relationships. As much as we are working towards achieving those OKRs and numbers and all of those metrics, if you will, when I look back at my career, it’s not the numbers that strike out for me.

It’s the relationships that I built. So those three have been the. Values that I have held. True and that has kept me grounded and has also helped me realise that if some things are not working out, it’s okay to find other paths. And, you don’t always. And this also was part of my stress and anxiety that I navigated through. So I think it all comes full circle at the end of the day. But, understanding what is important for you is just as, just as much required.

Yeah. In my mind, I mean, the biggest learning is more at a personal level in this case, where as much as you want to and want to have an impact, at the same time, there are factors outside your control, the environment and the people that are not in your control. It goes back to mental well-being and it’s okay. I need to take care of myself. I need to be kind to myself. And, this is what I can do. I did my best. From an input point of view, output is also how much I can control and again goes back to the bigger one, which is go to market, who owns go to market.

And it comes back to that. And that’s where I think there’s a lot of division of The ownership aspect, right? If it was a co-ownership or co-creation? I think that’s a much more feasible model, if you will. Like today, product marketing doesn’t function by itself. We function in parallel to our product management team. And when I’ve had an amazing product manager, we have seen success come and come through because we are both supporting each other and we are both working towards the same goal. But when that doesn’t happen and when there’s friction within the organisation, right. Another big topic that just came to mind is where does product marketing sit? Is it under the product? Is it under marketing? And sometimes that can also lead to part of the friction. So I’ve seen it play out in different shapes and forms.

And I’m sure we can have debates and discussions along the way. But that, that is critical when, when you’re trying to figure out what does go to market mean and how is that structured within the organisation? Are you a sales leader? Your product lead like all of those factors play a big role. But once you know where you are and where you’re headed, it’s very important to bring the teams along. And, for those, it doesn’t make sense. there are other parts for that for sure.

Yeah. So we touched upon quite a few points over here. I mean, clearly there are learnings that lessons and the new frameworks and and things that we all I mean, for me, me, myself as well, I mean, this is one of the reasons why I do podcast is allowed to meet experts out there in their own fields and, and then learn and share the learnings. So along those lines, I know you authored a couple of books. You’re also with the Product Marketing Alliance. So what other resources do you lean on, or what is the 1 or 2? What are the 1 or 2 resources that you lean on or people you lean on daily?

Sure. So, I came up with this idea, or what I call the skills that are must have, for us to be successful as a product marketer as you’re working on launch or go to market, whatever it is. And it’s the CEO mindset. And by CEO I’m talking about curiosity and openness, right. We should be able to challenge the status quo. We should be able to. Understand where the friction is and find creative ways to come up with solutions that will move things forward, to drive growth, to drive innovation. So every time, it’s always been those synergies and bridges that you can build. And fundamentally it’s about understanding people at its core. Right? it’s not the job title. It’s not the role, but it’s the individual that you’re working with and how you can support each other. So. Books have been a big, big part, for me, ever since I took the path of being a leader, supporting my communities, whether it’s the PMA, whether it’s other mentoring communities that I’m part of.

That has always been an engaging factor for me, just meeting other folks. That’s one of the reasons why I love to be part of podcasts is I get to connect with other folks that are in the same mindset, in the same environment, and they’re also coming with new perspectives. So lots of resources out there. I think there are lots of books that have guided me through the process. I think “The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho” is one of the number one books that I think over the past five years have been following me, through my journey. And every time I have my doubts, I literally have the book in hand to help me guide myself. So I’ve been very fortunate. There have been lots of folks that have influenced my career. I always give a shout out to my fearless leader, Steve, who probably believed in me more than myself and saw something that I could go from an IC to a leader and was always there for his team. Right? It comes back to that sense of belonging.

Like, you knew that whatever you did, you were always working on the right thing and that he had your back. And that’s life changing. Having a leader like that also helped me realise what kind of a leader I wanted to be, right? Someone who’s authentic, who’s not saying one thing and doing the opposite on the other side. Like, that’s the kind of person that I want to live up to. so being able to empower everyone along the way.

Yeah. For sure. So the other topic that comes to my mind and which is unique and it brings out a good discussion, which is like, what are the 1 or 2 things that people in your organisation reach out to you for? Like, for example, if they come across a challenge or a situation from a go to market perspective and they say, hey, you know, what is the person that I need to speak with? So what are those 1 or 2 things that they come to you for?

Probably more for brainstorming than anything else.

I am a big believer that collectively we can solve any problem at hand, but we should come with that open mindset, right? That CEO mindset that I talk to you about, having empathy, is one of the reasons why I’ve had my mentees, my students, my teams come to me and say, hey, this is what I’m going through. This is what I’m navigating. one area that I think since I was diagnosed with generalised anxiety disorder in 2020, has opened up doors for others to feel comfortable because I’ve been sharing my story, and it was only after I shared my story that I realised I had two team members of my own team who had similar struggles, but they never felt comfortable sharing before. Right? So those are the things that people generally come to me for advice. I think I took a path. I have my own personal OKRs, and every year I look at it and say, okay, what is my next year going to be? And to be a mentor, to be a guide, is something that is important for me.

It’s one of those things that matter, right? Like when I look back at my life, that’s one of the things that I will cherish. And so that’s the opportunity, right? How can you be a sounding board? Can you share experiences so that they can maybe take something from it and then apply it onto their own thinking?

Very cool. So, yeah, it looks like you built your career in product marketing, and now you’re a product marketing leader, potentially leading a team. But we never talked about the team and the marketing organisation. So can you shed some light on that?

Sure. So today I’m an individual contributor. But in the past, I’ve had opportunities to lead teams. So I’ve had, from a team of four, I’ve grown the team to 13 in 18 months. in my experience at Lenovo. I’ve had a team of both product marketing and product management, a team of 25, in, literally ten countries around the world, from North America to Latin America, EMEA, as well as Asia Pacific.

So, yeah, I love working with teams, and I think that’s what led me to become the mentor that I am today, because I see the opportunity in unlocking their potential and helping them see what they can do and just be a guide for them.

Yeah. So did you want to go into an individual contributor role? I know people who have aspired to be people leaders. They did the people leader thing, and then they realised, you know, what individual contributor role in a senior position is what they are meant to be and how they can deliver impact. So is that something that you did intentionally?

I wouldn’t say it’s intentional, but I’m always open for opportunities wherever the path takes me. And this opportunity has given me the work life balance that I’m looking for, the opportunity to try and do different things. and this is where I call my portfolio life. So I am, maybe five parts, right? I’m a product marketer. I’m a mentor, I’m a teacher, I’m an explorer, a photographer, an author, all of those things.

And I want to do the things that matter. And I’m a student at the same time. Right. I’m learning languages on Duolingo just because I want to learn. And I don’t think all of those will be feasible if I have what I had before. And now I’m also taking care of my own mental well-being and taking care of the people that I work with. So it’s a cross collaboration. At the end of the day, whether I’m a people leader or not, I know I’m a people leader, and that’s that’s all that matters. I’m not a big believer in titles and positions. I think product marketing has taught me that influence and inspiration comes from within. And you can lead, folks, whether you have the title or not.

Yeah. No. Fair enough. I think that’s a much bigger discussion. We can have a whole podcast topic around how you build your identity. First of all, do you tie your identity towards a job title? Why or why not? Why should someone care? Why should others? Why should you care?

That’s pretty much how we have been trained, through life.

Right? It’s the credentials that define who you are. And I want to break that stigma as well, amongst many other stigmas that I’m working to break from mental well-being to, just taking care of your own self. It’s okay to take care of your own self, because if you can’t take care of yourself, then you can’t take care of your team. You can’t take care of your mentees, your family, your community for that matter. So yeah. Absolutely. Yeah.

For sure. Yeah. So the other part, the other part of the question, which I didn’t get answers for, is you did mention about the product marketing structure, but how about other parts within marketing? And you also mentioned I think the CRO now owns both marketing and sales. So sheds light on the idea and sales. 

Yeah. So how. Yeah. If you can share of course, without going into too much detail in terms of how the marketing and the sales are structured, and then how do you interact, like how do you shape your interactions as the product marketing leader?


So it is part of the GTM, right? It is driving the growth factor, into where we want to be as an organisation. 


And that has been part of the equation of how do we bring those teams together so that we can all work and grow in the same direction, if you will?

Yeah. Fair enough. All right. The final question for you is what advice would you give to your younger self if you were to turn back the clock and go back to day one of your go to market journey?

I would say be patient, to myself, to really listen. Because sometimes others perceptions can shape or break your identity and what you are working towards. And then please, please be empathetic to yourself if things don’t seem to be working, if it feels like a struggle day in and day out, it’s not worth it. I’ve had so many students, so many mentees come and share short stories after stories of what it’s like in their organisation or what is working, what is not working.

And it’s appalling sometimes to be like, how can we keep doing this day in and day out? And it still continues to be the case, right? We’re all going through layoffs, in organisations and. Somewhere down the line. I think we have to be really mindful of how we look at employee satisfaction, right? We all believe in customer satisfaction. We talk about customer lifetime value, but not much emphasis on employee well-being. And, as much as we’re doing what we can. Right. Mindfulness app is not going to solve the internal challenges that an organisation might have. So. I’m a big believer of Simon Sinek, so the concept of starting with why has always got me to ask the question, and also shape the future of authentic leadership across right where without people and without values, there are no companies. So maybe we can part with that thought.

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