Women in martech
This is Part 3 of a three-part blog series on the importance of increasing the representation of women in martech. This piece features a Q&A based on an interview conducted with a successful woman working in martech. Read Part 1 and Part 2.
Jessica Creces (McElhone) is the perfect example of a successful woman with a STEM background who has chosen the marketing technology stream and landed a role in martech.
Jessica started her career at BlackBerry, focused on Competitive Intelligence and Analyst Relations. She has since moved on as a senior business leader in Market Strategy, Product Management, and Marketing. She is currently Vice President, Strategy & Data (Business Strategy, Data Science, Product & Marketing) at Cineplex Digital Media. She has successfully paired her data analytics skills with her marketing knowledge. She is often approached to share her success story, has participated in panels on mentorship, and works with women in the same industry to inspire future women in science at the Perimeter Institute.
A common theme from this discussion is how to be taken seriously and hold your own as a woman in what’s observed to be a male-dominated field. Among the advice is how to find mentors, how to beat impostor syndrome, and how to persevere in the face of rejection.
Q: How did you get into marketing?
A: My roles have actually evolved from my time at BlackBerry where I primarily worked with external research, gathering information for Competitive Intelligence and Analyst insights. My role was considered an extension of the Product Team. We would validate marketing communications content with market data. I have a mathematics and statistics background and this is where I realized that my tech understanding and the ability to take a very technical topic and make it understandable was in fact the 'sweet-spot' for tech talk. Research and market insights are essential in supporting any marketing communications piece.
My experience in mathematics and statistics leads me to be very analytical. One cannot make decisions around market sizing and market opportunity; we need more rigor than that. Marketing has evolved. It is no longer solely marketing visuals and communications; it has a broader expectation. Market strategy drives the direction of the business, and the rest of the business aligns with the pieces of data that feed the insights to drive the business.
Q: Did you originally see your STEM background leading you into a marketing role?
A: I've always seen a connection. I took statistics in University, which resonated more with me because they were real world problems. I took the data and insights and turned them into marketing content implications.
Q: Were you aware of the skills shortage and even more so for females?
A: It starts early. Women are few and far between. This goes back to girls not taking the STEM path, so they aren't going into technology-oriented roles. Rather, they are going into less hard-core tech roles, such as healthcare tech.
Q: Based on your qualifications, how did you gain the confidence to transition from science and math into marketing?
A: I didn't like being head-down. My personality gravitates towards people and I get my energy from being around people. Marketing is a role where you have to be aligned with Sales. Everyone needs to be on the same page in terms of value proposition and engagement. Here is where I realized that an important connection point is that marketers who have credibility with the technology folks are those who are focused on data, are thoughtful about measurable and analytical data, and adapt it to not only their value proposition but to increase engagement. Marketing teams need credibility, and this really is a recipe for success.
Q: Imposter syndrome can affect anyone regardless of their success. What made you so sure you knew what you were doing from a marketing and technology perspective?
A: I wasn't sure; I don't think everyone is ever sure. You have to take little wins. We need to reflect on success, no matter how small. When I graduated from University and I first started interviewing, the use of analytics was frowned upon and was discredited by those companies who traditionally saw creative/visual marketing versus looking at marketing opportunities in a more quantifiable way.
Q: What advice are you giving young girls who still have no idea what they want to be when they grow up, but still feel the world is their oyster?
A: Hey, I still don't know what I want to be when I grow up! What does that all boil down to? Continuous learning! We should continuously seek to improve or re-invent ourselves because jobs that currently don't exist will soon exist, and how tragic if you can't stay relevant. The more you learn, the more you can connect to different parts of the business
Q: What do you see inspiring future women in marketing with technology-driven organizations?
A: Branch out. Don't stay confined to the commonly known jobs, like a doctor, teacher, lawyer, engineer or architect. See it to be it.
It's also about role models. You need your own personal board of advisors (PBOA) to get where you want to be. Aside from their own personal support group, women need others to support and guide them on their career path. So, representation and PBOA is essential.
We also don't typically see women in senior roles. We take on parenting, caregiving, and household roles which become overwhelming responsibilities. But if emotional intelligence (EQ) is a critical focus for success and is becoming more important than ever – and women have repeatedly demonstrated that they can lead with care – then there absolutely needs to be a balance of both IQ and EQ. Employers are in fact more and more looking for workers with both hard skills and soft skills. Women can absolutely draw that balance.
Influencing young women early on in their career path is incredibly important. These can easily become STEM-trained females transitioning into more martech roles!
Q: What are you doing to give back and champion young female minds from the classroom into the boardroom?
A: In my hiring practices, I directly decided to engage with a diverse group. Thereafter, once hired, if I see potential, I give critical feedback and advocate within my organization. Advocacy is huge.
Q: What is your opinion? Should marketing technology be the second 'M' in STEM?
A: Food for thought. Marketing has predominantly been known to be female-dominated. The strongest marketers have had a STEM education. Nowadays, strong marketing = creativity + STEM.