Our #WomenInMartech community is constantly growing and evolving and we are honored to celebrate them every chance we get. The game changer for this month is Munchbach, VP of Marketing at BlueConic. Cory is truly paving the pathway for successful women in business!
In the interview we discuss how the martech industry is shifting, leadership style and philosophy, being a woman in the workplace, and more. Check out our interview with Cory below:
Cory Munchbach is the vice president of marketing at BlueConic, the world’s simplest and most accessible customer data platform. Inbound, outbound, and all other marketing and associated activities fall under Cory to evangelize BlueConic and blow the marketing world’s collective mind. Prior to joining BlueConic, Cory was an analyst on the customer insights practice at Forrester Research, covering the intersection of marketing strategy and technology and an expert in the marketing technology landscape. She worked with user and vendor clients globally and was quoted frequently in industry-leading publications such as Forbes, AdAge, MediaPost, MarketingWeek, and AdExchanger. Cory is a Boston College alum and proud Boston native.
What does a typical day look like for you?
It can definitely run the gambit. Like most heads of marketing at smaller startups, I wear a number of hats, as the cliche goes. For example, I manage the connections and partnerships side of the business while also providing a lot of support for the sales team. A large part of my day is spent in demos helping evangelize BlueConic. A lot of my time is also dedicated to internal matters. I naturally fit between our product, sales, marketing and customer success teams, so whatever requires facilitation among those teams, I’m there. I spend a lot of time with different folks in each of those groups, relaying information, etc. Also, focusing on all of the other core marketing functions as well. Such as working with my team on building out our thought leaderships, our content, and how to distribute all of that information. The rest of my time is, hopefully, spent on the fun content and blog posts. I also spend a lot of time thinking more broadly as to where we need to go.
How did you first get interested in martech and find your way to where you are now at BlueConic?
Well, I took a bit of an unusual path I suppose. I was a political science major in college and honestly did not take a single marketing or business class. When I graduated, I was focused on the research aspect of what I was and am still interested in – reading, writing, and thinking deeply about different topics is the stuff I really really love to do. So I ended up at Forrester Research in the CMO research practice as a research associate. I was there to support the analysts and thought leaders in the industry. It was a very research support and operations role, more junior. I just worked my way up at Forrester becoming a researcher later an analyst, covering marketing very broadly. CMOs are obviously very strategic; how you think about or rethink marketing organizations, digital disruption, adding digital channels, etc. I wanted to go deeper into that subject matter. Technology was an obvious enabling factor for accomplishing a CMO’s goals. So as an analyst, I started covering the martech space. I worked on that for a while until I realized what I’m most passionate about, which is the hands-on, role up your sleeves work for which marketers are responsible, non-analyst work. Blueconic happened to be a new company moving over here from Europe, defining a brand and a category. This seemed like a perfect way to apply my knowledge of the martech space and bring it to life in the context of a company that is doing new and exciting things.
Especially with working at Forrester Research prior to BlueConic you have a lot of insight on martech. So what are your thoughts on the next transformation in the martech industry?
I think we’re at a point where marketers are still making due with a lot of older tools. I wrote a blog post last week about the definition of “real time.” Vendors often say, “we’ll do this and that in real time.” If you define real time as hours or even minutes, that’s not actually real time, it’s much slower. Vendors can get away with this because marketers don’t have the institutional benefit to take advantage of anything speedier than that. However, as speed increasingly becomes an area of influence for marketers, there will be more demand for actual real-time and intelligence driven machines. It’s gonna put many vendors on their heels to meet up with the expectations they’ve set for their platforms. However, the industry is somewhat at a point of stasis regarding what marketers are ready to run fast with. Once there is more saturation and readiness on their part, I think we’re gonna see an amazing acceleration on what marketers can do. There’s gonna be a growing demand for the marketers who want the ability to go faster. I think we’re building up the pressure for the release of that in the next year or two.
“There’s gonna be a growing demand for the marketers who want the ability to go faster. I think we’re building up the pressure for the release of that in the next year or two.”
Going back to the beginning of your career in the Martech space to now, is there something that you wish you would have known or done?
Hmmm. I think what I wish I had known or internalized is that the road between what is promised and what a marketer wants to do, can do, and proves the value of doing are not necessarily one in the same. There’s really nothing more valuable than hearing what marketers are actually doing. Not just what they say they’re doing or what they’d like to be doing. Surveys that say, “consumers all say they want personalization” do not actually mean anything. What does that personalization mean to them? What does it mean if you don’t provide it? What are the consequences? What are the upsides? What are the obstacles? When I think about martech, there’s so much that can be done theoretically, for the lack of a better word. But I think there’s a big gap between those visions and actually fulfilling those visions. There are always eighty different steps marketers need to take in order to achieve nirvana. We often get caught up in how explosive and dynamic and exciting everything is without tying it down to figuring out what to do on Monday morning.
“We often get caught up in how explosive and dynamic and exciting everything is without tying it down to figuring out what to do on Monday morning.”
The reality of that should not be ignored just because it’s less exciting to talk about.
You recently wrote an article for Entrepreneur.com about how to survive being the only woman in the workplace. Do you find it challenging to push forward your ideas to your team and company?
I’m very fortunate to work alongside coworkers who understand me, respect me, and appreciate my ideas. However, what continues to be a challenge are the smaller things. For example, if we have a disagreement or a conversation goes awry, I spend a lot of time wondering if I handled it appropriately, how it will be perceived, etc. Essentially I over think what it means to be a woman and how it impacts getting my job done. There are definitely cases where the classic archetypes happen. Whether they’re intentional or not it still happens.
“There are definitely cases where the classic archetypes happen. Whether they’re intentional or not it still happens.”
What’s hard is how to address that constructively. It can be frustrating if the ball is in your court all the time in terms of making someone aware of something. And addressing it in a way that doesn’t harm the relationship or offend anyone.
You’re asked to do a lot and it’s hard to balance the day in and day out kind of things. It’s an ongoing challenge, but it is important. I do genuinely have the respect of my coworkers. There’s just a broader and deeper underlying dynamic that doesn’t go away just because you’ve achieved a certain point. I’m not a full-time “crusader” though. One, because I would burn myself out. Two, because you wouldn’t make much progress if it seems like you’re constantly on the lookout for offenses and triggers that may or may not be there.
What is your leadership focus and philosophy?
I’m a huge believer in the idea that we are relationship-based people. Whether it’s at work or otherwise, in some respect we have to build a community in order to soar to great heights. I think there’s a very real reason why the large number of employees in my company played a team sport at one point. They understand that one person can aspire to be a superstar but it’s unlikely that they will be a superstar if they leave everyone else behind.
I was listening to a podcast that Malcolm Gladwell put out called Revisionist History in the context of soccer. The whole idea of the podcast was the strong link vs. weak link philosophy. Most of the time, in order for one person to score an amazing goal eight people need to have completed really good passes beforehand.
“Most of the time, in order for one person to score an amazing goal eight people need to have completed really good passes beforehand.”
On the other hand, eight amazing passes could have happened and the ninth pass could miss the goal, which is the idea of a weak link philosophy. This is so related to my view of leadership in a startup context. Build an environment where you can identify those star individuals as well as ensure that they thrive, but that they do so collectively rather than individually.
Another influential source of these thoughts is Smarter, Faster, Better by Charles Duhigg. In the book, he talks about Google’s research on what makes a great team. Part of what makes a great team is the idea of psychological safety, being your authentic self, not your “corporate self.” From there you can be a better team member and work more collaboratively. I really focus on helping people see the value in the fact that it’s never about just about one person.
“I really focus on helping people see the value in the fact that it’s never about just about one person.”
What advice would you give to our Women in Tech Community?
On an individual basis, it’s important to really spend a lot of time in self-reflection on what you are really extraordinary at doing. Know yourself and all the things that you offer, then find a way to showcase your skills in a constructive and useful way, as often as possible.
“Know yourself and all the things that you offer, then find a way to showcase your skills in a constructive and useful way, as often as possible.”
What I mean by that is find a way to get into a meeting and don’t be afraid to voice an opinion. You don’t need to be an expert or know-it-all in every subject. It’s okay not to be a jack of all trades. But be confident, prepare for those opportunities, and seek them out deliberately.
Also, if you’re a woman in leadership, you have a truly unique opportunity to pave a path for other people. Don’t make it just as hard for them as it was for you to walk down that path.
“Also, if you’re a woman in leadership, you have a truly unique opportunity to pave a path for other people. Don’t make it just as hard for them as it was for you to walk down that path.”
I recently had a conversation with a very senior woman in our U.S. government who got in an argument with another senior women in government. One of the women said, “What was the point in getting rid of all these hurdles if you’re only going to set new ones for me to jump over just to prove that I’m worthy of what you carved out.” That really resonated with me. Just because you survived the boys club, does not mean you should create another obstacle course for someone else just to prove they’re worthy of you. This applies to all women in business, not just martech leaders or martech women. That’s what I try and stick to and be confident in as often as I can.
Thanks for tuning in for May’s #WomenInMartech interview. We can’t wait to come together again to educate one another, learn from each other, and celebrate every one of our marketing ladies!
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