Heidi Bullock, Chief Marketing Officer at Engagio, the marketing software company, wasn’t always focused on boosting the mission and sales of an enterprise.
Before making the leap into the world of marketing, Bullock spent her career in very technical roles. But even then she understood the frustration between how information between the technical teams and marketing and sales groups were exchanged. Technical teams were heavy with the details but skipped the "so what" and the "why does that matter," said Bullock in a recent interview with The Software Report.
“I tried to make it a point to provide technical information at the right level for what was needed. Seeing other teams appreciate that translation was motivating and felt good,” she said. “Now, I have twin girls, and continuing a career in tech is important to me. I did not see many female leaders, and I want all women to see themselves and feel it’s possible to become leaders themselves.”
Making the leap from a technical role into technology marketing wasn’t always easy. Bullock spent years mastering her skills on the technical side. Entering a new industry was challenging to say the least. She felt isolated and alone in the beginning but used that as motivation to push herself. “Someone once told me ‘It’s PR, not the ER’ – so no one was dying. That mantra keeps things in perspective, so the unknown doesn’t feel as intimidating,” she said.
Bullock’s management approach was honed over the years, with the marketing head drawing from the good, the bad and the ugly. After all, she isn’t alone in working with leaders that left you thinking this simply isn't working. “You learn a lot from what doesn’t work,” said Bullock. “That being said, you also learn by working for great people. The best form of learning is observing people in real situations with real-world variables. I tried to focus on qualities I saw that worked and were effective. I know what makes me do a better job, and I try to mimic that with my team.”
In order to get the most out of the people she manages, Bullock said it's important to hire the right staffers and then get out of their way. She also takes pains to ensure she is being very clear with her directions, is decisive and provides feedback in real-time. The executive said that being clear about goals and discussing them is helpful to ensure everyone is on the same page.” I also try hard to be a bit clairvoyant too. Not everyone will tell you when they are unhappy or feel like they are losing steam on a project – it’s my job to spot that and be proactive,” said Bullock.
As for what advice she has for aspiring women tech leaders, Bullock said to not take feedback or criticism personally. And that’s even if you disagree with what the person is saying. “It’s work, and you have to be able to hear things that are not always pleasant and get better from it. So listen and try not to be defensive.”