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Women Of The C-Suite: “Being an early adopter is critical to building a competitive edge” With Michelle Pampin

Being an early adopter is critical to building and maintaining a competitive edge. Sticking to tried-and-true practices may be safe and…


Being an early adopter is critical to building and maintaining a competitive edge. Sticking to tried-and-true practices may be safe and reliable, but it’s also going to keep you and your company in the same place — without any room for growth. New tools and technologies are popping up every day, all of them claiming to perform X function faster, easier, cheaper, etc. Not all do what they claim — but some do, which is why our world is constantly advancing. As with all new technologies, it can take some time for all the kinks to be worked out and for people (and businesses) to figure out how to effectively use them to their advantage. But if you wait to try a new tool until others have proven it works, you’re not embracing new tactics that can give you an edge to accelerate the rate of growth over the competition.


I had the pleasure of interviewing Michelle Pampin, vice president of demand generation at Redis Labs. Pampin has been running marketing teams since 2002 and has demonstrated success implementing and executing global demand generation programs to scale.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?

I have a passion for data-driven decision making to scale and grow companies. I was fortunate early in my career to be part of a team whose mandate was to develop new markets and make investment recommendations for strategic growth. As the marketing stack evolved, I was drawn to digital technologies and the data they generated to reach new target markets and audiences to cost effectively understand intent and generate plans to spur growth. When your audience is in the thousands, the only way to successfully achieve reach and scale is through digital tools. Companies that excel use data as a strategic asset to decision making and customer acquisition.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you began leading your company?

I joined Redis Labs in December 2017 as vice president of demand generation. Prior to that, the company did not have a specialized demand generation team. I had the pleasure of growing a team from the ground up, in an extremely short amount of time. I’m proud to say we have been more than meeting our quarterly goals, and in fact Redis Labs just marked its 12th consecutive quarter of double digit growth. I am immensely proud of my team and the fact that our work positively impacts the entire organization.

Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

When you’re starting out in your career, you don’t know what you don’t know. At the first company I worked for, I was sent to South America to assess a new market in my second month on the job. I prepared and did all the research, and even had someone with me helping me to prepare for local interviews. I took copious verbatim notes, but when I returned I struggled to put together a report because I didn’t feel I had gathered enough meaningful information to develop an insightful market report. I felt there wasn’t a great opportunity for us, and we eventually abandoned the market. A few years later I re-read my notes and realized I had my best set of raw data ever, and could have written a great report after all. At the time, I didn’t have the context and experience to understand and process it all.


What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?

Redis Labs enables organizations to deliver instant experiences in a highly reliable and scalable manner. In today’s business environment, companies rely on the power of real-time data, and consumers expect websites, apps, etc. to function flawlessly without delay. Redis Labs makes this possible by delivering superior performance, matchless reliability and unparalleled flexibility for personalization, machine learning, IoT, search, ecommerce, social and metering solutions worldwide. Redis Labs is consistently ranked as a leader in top analyst reports on NoSQL, in-memory databases, operational databases and database-as-a-service and is trusted by more than 8,500 enterprise customers worldwide.

For example, Malwarebytes offers innovative real-time security tools to detect and prevent malware infections for companies and individuals across the globe, and provides interactive dashboards that trace the trajectories and velocities of detected threats as they spread. Fondly referred to as “zombie apocalypse maps,” these visualizations provide an analysis of outbreak geography, velocities and can even provide insight into gestational periods of early malware formation. The problem is that they’re built on vast amounts of data and require tremendous amounts of compute resources to generate. Malwarebytes relies on Redis Labs to aggregate, correlate and visualize data in a manner and speed that otherwise would not be possible. Redis Labs enables powerful applications and services like Malwarebytes to perform exactly as they’re intended to, in real-time. This is what sets the company apart — the direct and positive impact it has on businesses and consumers.

Are you working on any exciting new projects now? How do you think that will help people?

We are constantly innovating and coming up with solutions to address common challenges for our users. As a result, more and more companies and individuals are turning to us to solve common pain points. Recently, we achieved over 1 billion downloads on Docker. No other database company has done this, and it’s a great testament to the popularity of Redis in the community. So, we’re going to celebrate this great achievement and milestone!


What advice would you give to other female leaders to help their team to thrive?

I am a firm believer in empowering my team to take risks. I encourage bold, out-of-the-box thinking and to do that, your team must understand that failure is acceptable. We won’t get ahead of our competition by maintaining the basic, tried-and-true approaches to marketing and demand generation. We are early adopters of the latest tools and services, and sometimes these don’t have all the kinks worked out. However, if you wait until all the early issues with a service are worked out, you’re going to run at the same speed as your competitors, and never close the gap. This holds true for just about any industry and any company department.

What advice would you give to other female leaders about the best way to manage a large team?

I take a very hands-on approach when it comes to leading and mentoring my team — even though it’s a large team and we are growing by leaps and bounds. I have weekly one-on-one meetings with each of my direct reports to discuss personal and professional goals, and to identify areas where they can take on new responsibilities. I also take an interest in my employees’ long-term goals and invest in their growth, so they will be successful not just within the company, but when they move on to their next career opportunity as well. Some business leaders focus only on growing their talent to advance the company — but in my experience, it’s important to recognize that people don’t stay with one employer forever. Having a boss who is committed to developing their skills beyond the scope of their current role (or even beyond their current company) helps build trust, respect and appreciation among your team.

None of us can achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

I have been very fortunate to have had many great mentors, and have learned many great lessons from them along the way.

One manager very early in my career instilled in me the ethic of always taking the long view and understanding each and every step required to get to the finish line. I had to revisit the game plan weekly and adjust it based on new information I had acquired that week. It helped me gain organizational buy-in throughout the project, and to manage expectations for organizational resource support at critical junctures. Information becomes available to us over time, and we need to keep adjusting course accordingly along the way. You can never set and forget a plan — or you won’t end up where you need to be.

How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?

I became involved with Larkin Street Youth Services, and together with a group of close friends formed Friends of Larkin Street to raise awareness of and support for the organization among Bay Area professionals through a variety of events and activities. Larkin Street Youth Services is a nonprofit in San Francisco that empowers young homeless people that have been hurt or abandoned by the important adults in their lives with services such as healthcare, housing, employment and education services. Founded in 1984, Larkin Street has helped over 75,000 young adults in San Francisco.

Friends of Larkin Street has created new avenues of private funding, and developed mentors for San Francisco youth. My fellow founders and I have since transitioned Friends of Larkin Street to a new generation of local leaders that have continued to promote Larkin Street through various programs.


What are your “5 Leadership Lessons I Learned from My Experience” and why. (Please share a story or example for each.)

● It is important to invest in employees’ PERSONAL growth and development, rather than looking to grow employees solely within the confines of your company.

○ In today’s world, professionals are switching jobs more and more frequently, always looking for new challenges and growth opportunities. As an executive, you do yourself, your company and your employees a disservice in not recognizing this fact and understanding that it’s okay to discuss with employees what their goals are — even if those are outside of the company. For one thing, having an open dialogue may help you find opportunities to grow your employees within the company to retain top talent. But even if that’s not the case, acknowledging and investing in employees’ personal growth builds trust, loyalty, respect, appreciation — the list goes on.

● Failure is something to be embraced.

○ I can’t speak highly enough about failure. It is integral to learning and improving. Failing means that you’re taking risks, and taking risks is the only way you can get ahead of the competition. In creating a company culture, it’s important to set the expectation that employees will fail — and are even encouraged to fail if it means trying something new, creative and bold to move the needle.

● Being an early adopter is critical to building and maintaining a competitive edge.

○ Sticking to tried-and-true practices may be safe and reliable, but it’s also going to keep you and your company in the same place — without any room for growth. New tools and technologies are popping up every day, all of them claiming to perform X function faster, easier, cheaper, etc. Not all do what they claim — but some do, which is why our world is constantly advancing. As with all new technologies, it can take some time for all the kinks to be worked out and for people (and businesses) to figure out how to effectively use them to their advantage. But if you wait to try a new tool until others have proven it works, you’re not embracing new tactics that can give you an edge to accelerate the rate of growth over the competition.

● Numbers don’t lie. Leveraging data and analytics to inform programs and business tactics is critical to success.

○ I don’t know many professionals who don’t have some form of metrics they have to answer to. Whether it’s revenue, sales, customer retention, Net Promoter Score, website traffic, social media engagement, etc. — everyone at a company is working toward improving a metric of some kind. Taking a “set and forget” approach to any business function is sure to fail. You need to constantly be reviewing and evaluating your programs to determine what’s working and what’s not. For my team working on demand gen, we look at data daily so that if a marketing program isn’t resonating with our target audiences, we can quickly make changes to get back on course. We rely on advanced analytics to fine-tune our programs as needed and stay nimble so that when the numbers are telling us something is off, we can adapt immediately.

● Embrace vulnerability and that it’s okay to say, “I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out.”

○ We all bring our own set of past experiences to the equation. But we can’t forget that every situation is different. It’s important to look at each new scenario with fresh eyes and make the best decisions for the team/company. It also means that you’re open to learning and challenging yourself. To borrow a sports metaphor, old plays are very comfortable because we’ve executed them many times. The new plays are always uncomfortable at the beginning, and there needs to be a culture that allows one to figure it out and define the new plays that will work for that organization.

You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂

One project I’d like to see realized — and have been involved with over the years — is closing the digital divide and getting the next 4 billion people connected to broadband. Access to broadband and information empowers communities to grow their economy, creates local jobs, provides access to healthcare and education resulting in overall improved quality of life. I’d like broadband to be available to everyone.

A specific project I was involved with was providing broadband at a refugee camp. Once the volunteer team had gone in and setup, we soon realized that there was a group of developers in the camp, and they were using the broadband to code and work on their software development projects. Having internet access gave this group the ability to continue working and have a path to economic security for themselves and their families.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

“If you want a different outcome, you need to change how you do things.” This is a mantra I live by and have come to understand that if you keep trying the same things the same way, you’re going to get the same result. I see people doing this time and time again and hoping and praying that luck will prevail to a different result, and analytically, it makes no sense. This philosophy is something I apply both in and out of work. You have to keep adjusting how you do things and keep pushing yourself to think differently or you’ll keep doing the same thing over and over again. Another way of saying it, “the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”

When you adjust things, we often feel uncomfortable, which is why a lot of us revert to however we’ve done a task before. To grow and change, we need to keep adjusting how we look at things, and change our approach to get a different outcome. Most of us are uncomfortable with the unknown, but we need to embrace it.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

LinkedIn

Twitter: @Michelle_Pampin

Thank you so much for these inspiring insights!

Originally published at medium.com

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