Lynn Vojvodich, CMO, Salesforce.com

Vojvodich is marketing’s Alpha female. In a discipline where most male marketers grapple with digital technology, Vojvodich is more than comfortable with binary code. She started working life as a structural engineer, helping design offshore oil rigs and Gulfstream Jets. A Harvard MBA metamorphosed her into a marketer, one who now sits at the center of the digital maelstrom.  As lead organizer of Dreamforce, she plays host to tens of thousands of Salesforce customers, partners, and prospects who have their heads in the marketing cloud each year in San Francisco. Vojvodich and her marketing department ride the cloud pretty well themselves. “We’ve been very successful,” she says, “with more than $2B in pipeline generated annually.”

Marketing strategy: It’s driven by three values. First, inspiration: In our marketing programs, we strive to help customers reimagine how they do business. Second, innovation: I encourage my team to experiment with new marketing techniques and channels. We test, and then invest. And last, impact. It’s imperative that marketing is measurable for growth.

Winning ways:  Dreamforce 2015! Salesforce’s flagship customer event is the now world’s largest software conference. The Salesforce community collected one million books for the San Francisco Unified School District and raised $10 million for UCSF Benioff Children’s Hospitals [during the 2015 conference]. So amazing! To top it off, we also hosted the inaugural Women’s Leadership Summit to promote diversity and equality in the technology industry.

Defining moment: I started my career in a hardhat. I worked as an engineer on oil rigs and construction sites, designed a wastewater treatment plant, and brought the first Gulfstream GV business jet to market. I enjoyed engineering, but I went to Harvard Business School and that’s where my passion for marketing began. It’s led me to where I am today—a recovering engineer who is now a CMO.

Trend watching: The convergence of cloud, mobile, social, data science, and IoT. On the one hand, customers have more knowledge and control than ever before. On the other, these disruptive forces have opened up entirely new opportunities for companies to understand and delight their customers.

Marketing staff must-have: First and foremost, I look for passion and a can-do attitude. I also need marketers with strong analytical and technology skills. My team makes data-driven decisions about everything, from how we optimize our website to where we invest our marketing dollars.

Advice to young marketers: Use technology, especially technologies marketers use, to engage customers. Follow leading marketers and companies on social media. Finally, build your data analytic skills and learn how to code. Having that knowledge base will give you a competitive edge in interviews and on the job.

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