How to develop your martech leadership
Ahead of her presentation at Get Stacked on 19 March, Payal Raina tells Kavita Singh how her B2C tech experience helped her become a martech leader in the B2B industry.
Growing up, Payal Raina had a fascination with how consumers were influenced. She would see adverts in books,magazines, TV and billboards and was curious by the impact their marketing had on the consumer buying decision. That curiosity led her to become the martech leader she is today.
In the early part of her career, Payal decided to move from India, where she was born and raised, to pursue her degree in marketing management at the Sheridan College in Toronto. With her move, she began to see some subtle differences between the take on marketing in North America and Asia. In the US and Canada, she noticed America had a constant ‘on the go’ work culture compared to India. In contrast, Asian firms emphasised order through a cooperative, respectful and rule-abiding culture. As she worked on the other side of the pond, Payal observed firsthand how the US and Canadian markets were more technically and digitally advanced.
Payal says: “Differences varied from buying behaviours to the way they would consume content, but that's something important for a marketer to understand. Those subtle differences allow people to recognise the optimum level and channels for decision makers in the buying process.”
After graduating, Payal was able to use her global perspective to score her first marketing role as a marketing specialist with Microsoft in 2004. Her role was to educate students and businesses to use Microsoft One Note software instead of manually taking notes. This was a challenge, because at that time note-taking was done purely by pen and paper. However, it was challenges like these that helped Payal master the customer mindset.
She says: “All of the sudden, you’re asking customers to do something different that’s outside their normal behaviour. We’re always adverse to change in the beginning, so it was more important for me to do product demonstrations and show buyers the benefits. It was an interesting opportunity because you have to understand the functionality of the product, and you have to communicate it simply.”
Championing martech leadership
After her role with Microsoft, Payal pursued more marketing leadership roles, including her job with General Electric as an associate marketing manager, which helped strengthen her transition from B2C to more B2B roles. During her time, she developed a strong set of analytical skills by linking marketing KPIs with business metrics, which was critical for GE’s growth and revenue.
She says: “GE’s approach to marketing was always customer-focused, data-driven, and aimed at delivering on its brand promise. These values became embedded in my professional DNA. As a marketer, it’s important to be out there, engaging with clients and partners to better understand their challenges and to identify gaps where our business can offer additional services to stay ahead of the curve.”
Now, she works as the global head of marketing for Torstone Technology, a post-trade software provider to investment banks and institutional brokers. She oversees planning, development and the execution of Torstone’s marketing, PR and branding initiatives. Reporting directly to the CEO, Payal’s primary responsibilities are to drive business revenue, new client acquisition and existing client retention, while differentiating Torstone in its market.
Payal says: “A couple of years ago when I joined the business, I met with the board and I challenged the hierarchy in terms of how we were marketing our business. I shook things up. It was about change, not just strong leadership. Driving change management is extremely hard but critical to the success of the business, especially when you are pitching ‘the future’ to the board members and they cannot see and feel the change ‘today.’ I adopted an agile, lean approach that helped win the hearts and minds of Torstone’s CEO and the board members. We’ve grown by over 50% in revenue year-on-year over the last two years and moved our business forward in terms of sales and strong pipeline. Marketing ROI is up 150%.”
It required challenging the hierarchy of the business at board level, something Payal explains as a marketer we shouldn’t be afraid to do. Being bold in creating new opportunities was the right move and ultimately led to Payal being highly commended for ‘Best Leader in Marketing’ by the prestigious Global Women in Marketing Awards 2019. “The nominations helped validate my journey and show that it was appreciated,” she says.
Synthesising how her roles have shaped her leadership, she shares four key pieces of advice.
Payal’s top 4 tips for successful leaders
- Have a clear vision, and always believe in yourself – It’s important to remove those mental barriers so that you can reach out and grab what you’ve been pursuing for so long.
- Go and dare – Be the agent of change. Step out of your comfort zone. Challenge yourself. Stretch the amount of work you do, stretch your knowledge, stretch your expectations, stretch your imagination. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Your personal growth both professionally and personally will benefit exponentially.
- Prioritise people over tasks – We all work with humans, and as humans we have emotions. Having the emotional intelligence to prioritise people over process will help you connect and understand your teams and organisation.
- Stay on top of martech trends – Never wait for someone else to train you. Make sure you’re always upgrading your skills through research, networking and staying up to date with the latest advancements in martech. It will pay dividends in the long term.
Recognising martech trends
With her current role being so immersive in B2B, Payal has been particularly passionate about trending technologies, including APIs, cloud, AI and machine learning. When integrated, these innovations provide a flexible martech strategy aligned with the processes that firms need.
“Today, businesses need informational data flows built accurately, with technology that is fast to deploy, easier to maintain and more adaptable. Automation, which can create great efficiencies in processing speed and efficiency can only be enabled when systems are able to speak to one another easily. For highly repetitive areas such as reporting, automation is vital in managing the cost and operational efficiency.”
Using customer insight can really elevate CX, but martech often presents a challenge. Without an optimised martech stack, companies fail to deliver a consistent CX, leaving marketers feeling stranded. In Payal’s Get Stacked session, she’ll be discussing how companies can create personal, one-on-one long-lasting relationships using martech without losing the human element. She’ll also be talking about how businesses can use emerging technologies like AI and machine learning to deliver personalised buyer experiences.