Q&A with Paige O'Neill, CMO at Sitecore

MEDIA 7 | May 19, 2019

Paige O'Neill, CMO of Sitecore is an experienced, data-driven B2B marketer with enterprise and mid-market SaaS experience that ranges from Fortune 100 to late stage startups and stages in between. Her career graph uniquely combines extensive product marketing and PR / communications backgrounds resulting in an adeptness at creating brand stories and differentiated positioning. 

In this thought-provoking Q&A with MEDIA 7, Paige shares her journey into the field of marketing and her unrelenting zest for technology.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into Marketing?
PAIGE O'NEILL:
 My journey started when I was a Ph.D. student at New York University, and I thought I was on the road to become a college professor, but one day I had an interview at a high-tech PR firm for a part time job. The enthusiasm for technology at that agency changed the course of my life. I felt enamored with everything I heard about “PR” – even though at the time I didn’t even know what it actually was – so I dropped out of the Ph.D. program and started a career working for IBM’s PR agency. I loved technology communications, but wanted to tackle messaging from a more technical perspective, which led to my interest in product marketing. The transition from technology public relations to a product marketing role wasn’t an easy one. It’s an uncommon trajectory and there wasn’t a precedent at the company I worked for at the time, so I had to build my own path. In the end, I hustled to prove that I could leverage the skills I learned through my communications-focused position and translate them to a more product-focused role. It took persistence to prove that point.

"Success for marketers is defined by the ability to deliver experiences that are aware and adaptive to individual customers’ specific needs, in a way that is seamless to the end-user."



M7: What is your favourite part of working at Sitecore?
PN:
I love working with organizations during times of change, and there’s a lot of that going on at Sitecore. We are in the midst of a complete marketing transformation at Sitecore that starts with our top-level messaging, augmenting those messages more towards the marketing department. We are doing this through a new visual identity and branding, an expansion of our demand generation function (which is scaling to map to new personas and go-to-market areas), and, finally, a complete digital transformation leveraging Sitecore’s technology to build a new version of our website and align our digital channels to the customer journey. It’s truly a thrill to be a part of.


"Consumers’ expectations outpace companies’ abilities; most organizations are still early in their efforts to transform the business for a digital world."



M7: What do you consider the biggest challenges for a CMO these days?
PN:
 Marketers have had to accept a heavy truth: it is up to consumers, not them, to decide when, where, and how to engage with their company. Success for marketers is defined by the ability to deliver experiences that are aware and adaptive to individual customers’ specific needs, in a way that is seamless to the end-user. In many cases, though, consumers’ expectations outpace companies’ abilities; most organizations are still early in their efforts to transform the business for a digital world. Getting there will take an investment in technology, and we’ll see marketers rely more on things like channel-agnostic services, machine learning capabilities, and data management systems. But marketers are also going to have to rethink their people and processes, so they have the right training and organizational design to make sure they can leverage the power of those technology investments.


"Marketers have to rethink their people and processes, so they have the right training and organizational design to make sure they can leverage the power of technology investments."



M7: The past year has seen Sitecore hiring four women in executive leadership roles. Is the gap between the number of men and women at Sitecore shrinking? How do you see it?
PN: 
Our CEO, Mark Frost, has always had a passion for diversity and bringing women into senior roles, and it’s been great to see him implement his proactive approach to inclusive hiring at Sitecore. As a result, diversity representation is definitely on the upswing - although we prefer to think of it as more than just a numbers game. Rather than having a quota for female hires, we focus on setting benchmarks that will ensure an equal representation of potential candidates for any position. We’re also taking a top down/bottom up approach to ensure that leadership is setting the right example, while every department is just as engaged in diversity practices.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
PN: 
Speak up! Articulate your professional goals and don’t wait for someone to notice you and hope they will give you an opportunity. There’s no way for those around you to know what you want, if you don’t vocalize it. I think a lot of time women in particular think if they work hard, someone will notice them, they will earn that promotion or be selected for that exciting opportunity, but I know from personal experience that making your career ambitions known, can pay dividends.

ABOUT SITECORE

Sitecore is the global leader in digital experience management software that combines content management, commerce, and customer insights. The Sitecore Experience Cloud™ empowers marketers to deliver personalized content in real time and at scale across every channel—before, during, and after a sale. More than 5,200 brands––including American Express, Carnival Cruise Lines, Dow Chemical, and L’Oréal––have trusted Sitecore to deliver the personalized interactions that delight audiences, build loyalty, and drive revenue. Visit Sitecore to know more.

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Andrea Lechner-Becker, Chief Marketing Officer at LeadMD is an experienced Marketing and Sales Executive with a demonstrated history of working in the marketing and advertising industry. Skilled in Business Process, Marketo, Sales, Customer Relationship Management (CRM), and IT Service Management, Andrea is also a strong business development professional and a storyteller. MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into marketing? ANDREA LECHNER: Frankly, not having better options. I originally attended the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse thinking I’d major in Archaeology. I wanted to be Indiana Jones! But, after visiting the archaeology building – i.e. the cold, dark basement of the science building – where a girl sat to piece together pieces of an old Native American vase, I knew archaeology was not going to be the right path for me. And so, without being good at science and a major in art or art history was unlikely to pay my bills, I decided to go into “business”. I originally registered as a management major, but took my first marketing class and thought it was more interesting and switched my sophomore year. That was pretty much it. I’d never been involved in business classes or DECA in high school – I didn’t really know what to do or what jobs in marketing were even possible. I dumb lucked myself into it really. M7: As a storyteller, do you relate the brand to a story or story to the brand? AL: Both? Neither? I think there are stories in every brand, because there are people working on the brand and people engaging with the brand and people using what the brand creates. People, most often a single person, are at the heart of great stories. You can start with the “point” of the story you’re trying to tell. Say you have a software that help accountants better create reports for board meetings. It’s likely you’ll want to tell a success story about an accountant getting promoted to CFO in part because your software helped better communicate their work product to the board. You could have the idea for that and go looking for that story in your customers. OR, you could hear that story, and say, “That’s amazing!” and share it with customers, partners and internal people. Stories are all around us – the most important thing is to keep your ears and eyes open for finding them.

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