2020

Data Scientists & Operations Optimizers

Ben Staley

Ben Staley

Rackspace Technology

dustin dewberry

Dustin Dewberry

LiveRamp B2B 

melissa doerksen
2020 Innovator Of The Year
melissa doerksen

Melissa Doerksen

Hitachi Vantara 

Ben Staley

Ben Staley envisioned what marketing operations could do and drive at Rackspace when he was asked to take on the function as part of his demand gen leadership team role in September 2019. Due to attrition, he had to staff the team from the ground up. Nevertheless, Ben and the team put together a roadmap of what they wanted to accomplish and, in less than a year,

delivered some impressive achievements that drove tangible business impact: YoY increases in sales-accepted leads (+23%), marketing-sourced revenue (+42%) and average deal size (+26%), a greater than 30% increase in SDR productivity, and more than 40X time savings for marketers to make data- and AI-driven account-based targeting decisions.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role?  

I’m tremendously proud of building a creative, innovative marketing operations team that drives success for the whole marketing organization. Our marketing department had significant attrition in 2019, so I got the opportunity to build the team from a blank slate. The team of  three was formed by bringing over a very data-driven SDR, a top integrated campaign marketer and just one external hire. The mix of new perspectives, sales experience and deep background in our business and existing processes gave the team instant credibility, which was needed to drive substantial change and transformation. And of course, the team was able to do the majority of their innovative, transformational work in a completely remote environment while still being incredibly collaborative.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality? 

There are a couple of platforms that the team has leveraged to drive our use of data to make better decisions, drive more predictable outcomes and accelerate the marketing organization’s performance. The first step for us was a complete redesign of our Lattice instance, modernizing our ideal customer profile (ICP), increasing by 5X the number of data points we were ingesting from our CRM and overhauling our approach to intent. We then fed the ICP, intent and other data back into our CRM for use in segmentation and targeting. This is accomplished in a few different ways, but the biggest innovation for us was marrying this with DiscoverOrg data through Salesforce’s Einstein Analytics. Among other tangible results this drove, one of my favorites is the 40X — no, that’s not a typo — time savings this delivered for marketers wanting to self-serve segmentation. What used to take over week as a cross-functional project can now be done in less than an hour.

In terms of work from home, there are lots of techniques I use to help foster collaboration amongst the team. We’ve formalized and added monthly check-ins with stakeholder teams so we can be more deliberate about information-sharing. I also do regular “Office Hours” drop-in meetings, which is an idea I got from an HBR article. It’s different from a structured stand-up meeting. Oftentimes, we end up using half the time as watercooler talk, but it’s a great forum to catch up more casually and hear what the team is dealing with in real time, whether personal or professional.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?  

I’ve definitely learned how to be a better leader through the Covid-19 pandemic, particularly when it comes to my approach to authenticity, and how I deploy empathy.

With regards to authenticity, I’ve incorporated it probably similarly to how a lot of folks have. I have an “open door” policy to my workspace at home, so many of my co-workers have seen my four-year-old daughter come in to get her iPad, come color while I’m on a call, or come tell me she needs me to help her with something. These are not normal work-from-home circumstances, so I don’t try to hide that from my team or co-workers.

On the empathy front, I’ve become much more attuned to individuals’ work preferences. When everyone’s not coming into an office to be at their desk, and parents are juggling remote learning for their kids, what each person on my team needs to do their best work varies dramatically — and that’s okay. In the past, I expected myself and others to accommodate the perceived needs of the team and stakeholders by showing up to the office at more defined times. Now, I realized that myself and everyone else needs to be much more accommodating of the needs of each individual in order for everyone to be at their best.

I’ve tried to model these approaches more this year as well. One way is through actually using the majority of my time off. While I naturally haven’t been able to take normal vacations this year, I’ve made a point to make time for 3- and 4-day mental health weekends and stay off email and Slack during this time. Not only does this hopefully show my team that I trust them in my absence, and that it’s important to take time to recharge, but it’s also an important opportunity to elevate my team and allow them to interact with other teams and leaders that they might not otherwise, if I was providing the buffer and filter.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?   

I have two sources of inspiration outside my Rackspace role that invigorate me.

The first is my family — my wife and 4-year-old daughter. Being a #girldad and supporting my wife as a mom, part-time homeschool teacher and owner of her own business makes me want to show up and be my best every day. It has also made me much more aware and sensitive to the inequities women and working moms still face in the workplace, and therefore makes me more conscious and passionate about elevating the awesome women on my team.

Secondly, I mentor as part of a program founded here in San Antonio, TX called Digital Creative Institute (DCI). This is a digital marketing apprenticeship — a year-long program for usually young professionals looking to gain modern marketing workforce skills who haven’t had a ton of hands-on exposure or leadership guidance previously. With Covid-19, DCI has also started a bootcamp accelerator to assist in re-skilling the workforce that is out of a job because of the pandemic. Being a part of DCI enables me to be around young, super-passionate professionals looking to make an impact in their jobs or the world. While I “teach” them as a mentor, I always say I learn at least as much from them as they do from me. And guiding the bootcamp sessions makes me feel like I’m using the knowledge I’ve gained as a marketing leader to help local folks put out of work by the pandemic find their footing and help get them on their way to finding a job again — it’s incredibly humbling.

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Dustin Dewberry

In his role as Head of Data Science for LiveRamp B2B, Dustin Dewberry led his team to leverage rich account-level data, client pipeline data and data science expertise to tie revenue from long sales cycle deals to funnel activities that drive each stage of a B2B marketer’s pipeline. Dustin brings extensive experience as a marketer, technologist and data scientist, consistently driving best practices and innovation in the marketing and advertising industry leading to unique and highly specialized measurement solutions for the B2B vertical.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role? 

The accomplishment I am most proud of is the LiveRamp B2B product suite our teams have created. This includes Channel Dashboards, Advance Revenue Dashboards, Title & Seniority and the B2B Identity Graph. Each of these products is meant to help B2B marketers with common challenges they face.

Our products work together to help B2B marketers leverage their own data better, measure their strategies/tactics at an account level, understand the effectiveness of their strategies/tactics and to create a close loop system to leverage their insights in more meaningful ways.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality? 

Our data engineers and data scientists promote a communicative environment through leveraging a joint sprint-based approach. We have daily stand ups where both the data engineers and data scientists share the prior day’s work, struggles and accomplishments. We also do joint sprint planning and execution to ensure both of the teams understand the dependencies and requirements. This establishes a collaborative environment that serves to drive efficient work but also serves as an incubator for creative ideas. These ideas can come from improvements and/or pitfalls which have been obverse through day-to-day work or they can come through client/brand feedback from usage of our various products.  They can then be discussed and prioritized across the needs of stakeholders/clients.

In the absence of personal interactions, it becomes even more crucial to not only maintain the existing cadence of normal interactions as well as encourage additional interactions within the virtual space.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?  

I think some of the core learnings from Covid-19 are the value of interpersonal connections, balancing your work life and products that demonstrate clear solutions to problems.  Interpersonal connections are such a crucial part of team continuity and productivity.  The in-person “watercooler” talks offer so much value. Moving forward, creating events that promote these team interactions will be something I continue to do. The new remote working environment has definitely highlighted the need to balance work/life even more. This is due to the elimination of the delineation between the physical workspace and home space. Ensuring your teams are taking time to manage this and get the break they need to unplug is crucial for productivity.

In these challenging times, it becomes even more crucial for your products to demonstrate clear solutions to real problems that clients face. With shrinking budgets being driven by decreased demand, products need to be indispensable to a clients’ workflow and offer a differentiated value that can’t be gained through other strategies/tactics. I think everyone always knew these principals prior to Covid-19; however, Covid-19 has increased the weight that these topics hold.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?   

Three keyways to stay inspired about work are hearing client success, planning for future ecosystem changes and staying in tune with the evolving tools/platforms/tactics that can be used for product evolution. Hearing firsthand client success from utilizing the tools and services your teams create really validates the hard work.  Any feedback is good feedback and hearing challenges that clients may be facing gives a unique perspective perhaps not thought about before.

In the ever-changing data ecosystem, planning for the future can become a very interesting task. Building something that not only works today but we will work two to five years down the road can create an interesting challenge to solve. Ensuring that regulatory changes, technology changes and even platform changes will not eliminate your product functionality can offer a wide range of problems to think through and be excited about. Data science and analytics is an ever-changing space with new API’s, modules and systems being developed almost daily.  Taking the time to learn about new techniques not only ensures your teams are using the best tools possible but also that your products delivers first-class functionality. Additionally, most folks who work in the space find learning about new technology to be “fun.” At least, I know I do.

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Melissa Doerksen

2020 Innovator Of The Year

Melissa Doerksen

Melissa Doerksen is a savvy marketer that knows how to tackle tough projects. She is an expert in wrangling the internal and external resources needed to drive pipeline impact. She is a true marketing innovator who is always learning, growing, testing and optimizing in her program execution.

Can you share any particular achievements you are most proud of in your current role? 

In my marketing roles within the Hitachi organization, I’ve had the opportunity to bring new vendors and partnerships to our marketing tech stack, allowing for innovative, more dynamic GTM strategies and tactics.

I believe in focusing on behavior and using insights like intent data to drive not only actions for sales follow-up and prospecting, but more meaningful communications and strategies for lead gen marketing. I brought the full suite of TechTarget capabilities to our sales and marketing teams. From Priority Engine intent data driven contact procurement at the top of the funnel, prospecting stage, to SRLs (sales ready lead) at the bottom. This project provided sales with the opportunity to prospect in a smarter, more efficient manner and it allowed field marketing the opportunity to market to engage audiences in a meaningful way.  We picked contacts from various surge lists, based on GTM project, and knew that we were providing the right audience with the right message … and based on intent, we believe at the right, most opportune time, such as when the contact is in the buying mindset. The full funnel project has proven value in strategic lead gen, pipeline and recognized revenue. As an added value, the project has restored relationships with sales, as we are able to provide strategic partnership that is immediately recognized in prospecting and buying center expansion efforts.

I’m also proud of my efforts to bring in BombBomb as a video email vendor. BombBomb allows for meaningful, dynamic email interactions. With the impacts of Covid-19, we needed a way for sales to feel closer to customers and prospects and bring a personal touch to often flat, dry email copy.

Can you share any details about how your team, or individuals on your team, have helped drive innovation? How have you maintained your collaboration and innovation despite the current WFH reality? 

The Hitachi field marketing team has historically been responsible for hundreds of events each year; industry, small vendor-run and Hitachi driven. With the significant shifts in event abilities since March, and with events holding the largest low-funnel lead gen delivery, we’ve had to make significant innovative shifts in 2020. Our team started partnering with a new vendor back in March, technically before Covid hit, to look at relationship building and meeting setting, leveraging the existing relationships this vendor has cultivated. We work with our AEs to find accounts where they need to penetrate but are struggling with lack of in-person opportunity.  Where those match our vendor’s cultivated relationships, we call a match and begin the ‘thru-vendor’ relationship building process.

We quickly hosted virtual events, as well, from virtual wine tasting and networking, to virtual cooking experiences, to virtual roundtables.

We wanted to “power the good;” part of the broacher Hitachi vision and mission, and as such, sent work-from-home care packages to prospects and customers — something to bring warmth and a smile for everyone forced to stay home and endure stressful home-life/work balancing acts.

In the midst of Covid-19, what are some lessons you’ve learned that will impact or influence the future of your work?  

Covid-19 has forced innovative thinking, agility and creativity.  I’ve learned to pivot on a dime, and be ok with new approaches, knowing there are still expected lead gen KPIs. I’ve always been a “think-outside-the-box” marketer, but the significant impacts of this Covid paradigm made me stretch to a new level of what could be possible. I led a virtual wine tasting and networking event; signing the event contract as soon as Covid hit. I did so with hesitance, thinking, “what if no one shows…we’ve never done anything like this.”  I learned that I must try new things and be OK to fail fast. In this situation, we sold out the event and had one more attendee than promised!

I am a people person, by nature, and definitely an extrovert. I’ve been reminded to embrace the uniqueness of my audience and remember the key to persona-based marketing, finding the right message for the right person at the right time. Bingo! What works for one audience might not work for another — another beauty of persona-based marketing.

The Covid-19 environment has also been a nod to get back to basics; working with sales more intimately to determine why a program is flat. Spending the time on the backside of execution, to ensure that there is time and room to optimize and pivot.

What sources for inspiration help you stay excited and invigorated in your work?   

I believe in strategic alignment with your client. In field marketing at Hitachi, my client is the sales organization. I feed off their ideas, challenges and successes. I carve out time for 1:1 open feedback sessions, and those fuel new ideas about marketing tactics and ensure aligned expectations. When a sales leader gets excited about an opportunity, I take that fuel and find the right marketing tactics to formulate a plan that is then, in turn, exciting for sales follow-up.

I attend industry events; online in nature, these days, but with the goal of listening and learning and taking what’s working for others and sharing back with my team.  Social media allows me to feed off wins and tips and tricks from marketing professionals across the globe.  I carve out time weekly, to tune into some of my personal favs on LinkedIn.

I’m lucky to have peers and a boss on the Hitachi marketing team who inspire and challenge me. I have that saft space to vet strategy and creative; formulate plans and ask for insight and guidance. Without the team around me, I would not be making it through this extra challenging Covid time.

I would be remiss if I didn’t give a huge shout to my family; husband and two girls, for all they do, without knowing, to keep me motivated. This Covid-19 era has seen many, many days of all four of us in the same space. The comments, chatter, singing and even tap dancing (yes, virtual dance class, folks!) have reminded me why I do what I do.  Their creative minds motivate me to think outside the box and continue to strive for innovation in all I do!

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