Emotional Management Vs. Tech Stack Management With Cloudera's Sara McNamara

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This is a podcast episode titled, Emotional Management Vs. Tech Stack Management With Cloudera's Sara McNamara. The summary for this episode is: If you spend any time on LinkedIn as an Operations person today, chances are you've come across a post or a piece of content from Sara McNamara, Sara has cultivated a unique and helpful voice in the world of Marketing Operations, not to mention she’s just really good at what she does. In our conversation with her, we dive into everything from getting lost in the sauce, managing the tech stack of a company that doubled overnight, and what Sara has dubbed Lamborghini problems. Check out Sara's new podcast, "Wizards of Ops": https://anchor.fm/sara-mcnamara Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Sara on Twitter @Seany_Biz @ifeellikemacmac @HYPERGROWTH_pod

Sean Lane: (music). Hey everyone. Welcome to Operations, the show where we look under the hood of companies in hypergrowth. My name is Sean Lane. In my two years at Drift, something I've received a crash course in is the value of learning from your peers at other companies. After all, that's literally what this podcast is all about, and one of the resources for me that has proven to be an awesome medium to learn from has been through LinkedIn, and don't get me wrong, there's plenty of noise to sift through, but there are a handful of really thoughtful and insightful voices that I'm always paying attention to, and I usually walk away having learned something new from them. One of those such voices is our guest today, Sarah McNamara. Sarah is the senior marketing operations manager at Cloudera, and she's also, hold on, let me take a deep breath here, Marketo's Fearless 50 Marketer of the Year, LeanData 2019 OpsStar of the Year, Drift's Top 50 Conversational Marketer of 2019, Marketing Game Changer, 2019 Game Changer, 2019 Ops Pro Shaping the Future of B2B Marketing, Influential Woman to Watch in MarTech, 2019 Marketing Superhero. The list goes on and those are all just from this year. To put it mildly, Sarah has cultivated a unique and helpful voice in the world of marketing operations. Not to mention, she's also just really good at what she does. So in my conversation with her, we dive into everything from what she calls," getting lost in the sauce," to managing the tech stack of a company that doubled overnight, and to something that Sarah has dubbed Lamborghini problems, but let's start with her company, Cloudera. Since Sarah arrived when the company had around 1, 300 employees, growth plus a merger with Hortonworks in January of 2019 have boosted that employee count to now 3000 people. This makes for a really interesting stage of growth for Sarah, her team, and the responsibilities they're carving out within the organization.

Sarah McNamara: So Cloudera's an interesting stage because we were a small enterprise when I joined, but we doubled in size pretty much overnight with the Hortonworks merger. So we're a smaller enterprise that's still in that stage where we had some, I would say startup processes that were still maturing and becoming more defined, and then when we merged with Hortonworks, it almost supercharged that, all of those processes being redefined and figuring out how certain things can scale and figuring out who owns what and all of those things, and so I feel like now, especially with most of the merger work behind us, I feel like we're at a point where we have laid the foundation and we have the data where we want it. We have it pretty clean, and now we're in that stage where we're trying to figure out how do we, we can do ABM, but how do we do it in the best way that's going to get us the best results, and I see that slight iterations in all different areas. There's the data management, there's account- based marketing, there's conversational marketing, email marketing, and so our team really focuses on... We have agency support to be able to execute on campaigns, but what we focus on is the infrastructure to make it scalable and to make it so that we can have clear insights into what we're doing and how it's performing.

Sean Lane: While her roles and responsibilities vary, Sarah has a key focus on the marketing tech stack, and that stack can change as rapidly as the business does. In fact, Sarah said she was just wrapping up a major marketing automation migration from Eloqua to Pardot at the time that the Hortonworks merger was announced.

Sarah McNamara: Well, what was especially interesting was right before the merger, I actually had joined and was working on an Eloqua to Pardot migration. So I was wrapping that up. In fact, it's actually ironic that the timing of this podcast because it's right around the same quarter where I was doing that migration last year. So that was already crazy enough. Any kind of marketing automation change is a major shock to all the marketers, all the sales folks, everyone who has to work with that platform in some way or view data from it, and so we rolled right from that into another enterprise migration from Marketo to Pardot for the Hortonworks database, and so, oh yeah. I would probably emotional.

Sean Lane: It's been a busy year.

Sarah McNamara: It's been a busy year, and then I honestly, people ask me about the tech part of it, but I think that the emotional management is one of the most difficult aspects of it because with any kind of merger, any disruptive activity like that, people are already anxious about what is their job going to be like, what's any new management going to be like? So then you throw a bunch of different technologies in front of them and it's just a lot of trying to help people continue to execute while all this change is occurring under them.

Sean Lane: That's super interesting, and so that's where I really want to start and dig in with you first is around some of that tech stack stuff that you mentioned you own and I've also seen you write a lot about. Can you, I guess, to lay the foundation as this is something that you own at the company, what does it mean to you to add something to your tech stack? Where does that process actually begin for you?

Sarah McNamara: Honestly, a lot of it begins from a B2C perspective. I will, as a B2C customer, I'll interact with different brands, and even as a B2B customer too in some cases, and I will have a delightful experience and I'll go back to our marketers and say, Hey, this happened to me. It was awesome. Do you think this would resonate with our audience? Is this something that we should be trying to adopt ourselves, and I think that a lot of the marketers think that way too. They look at not only what are other people doing, but what are they experiencing and what resonates with them. So I really look at it from the customer experience perspective, where we want our customer and our lead to have the best experience from all the way from the website all the way through to hopefully close one opportunity. So any gaps where I feel like there's pain or inconvenience or it's just not pleasant, that's where we're losing out on and I try to see if we can fill that gap.

Sean Lane: And how do you know that technology is the right thing to solve that pain point, right? Do you have a process where, hey, I'm starting with what could be a scrappy manual process and then if that doesn't work, you have to evolve to technology. What is your default when you find those pain points?

Sarah McNamara: That's a great question. We try really hard to avoid scrappy manual processes, and the reason for that is because it tends to haunt you. My background's in consulting so in my consulting days, I worked with really small businesses all the way up to, I had done another double enterprise migration. So believe it or not, that was not a foreign activity to me, but yeah, I think that I've seen the worst case scenarios where someone takes a shortcut and then people forget about it or that person leaves and so no one remembers that that shortcut was taken until they want to do something new. Say our ABM at scale that we're trying to do. It's like, that's when you try to do a new activity like that, that's when any kind of technical debt or data debt is going to come back and make things much, much more difficult. So we try really hard to avoid manual things. That being said, we definitely do them. I mean, it's unavoidable in marketing. What I try really hard to do is if we need to do a band- aid process to get something out the door, then we'll do it, but I also immediately log a ticket and we start talking about how do we make it so we don't have to do this in the future?

Sean Lane: That's really interesting. We talk about that a lot on our team as well and the idea that, to your point, sometimes those band- aid processes are unavoidable, but what we talk about is trying to avoid building on top of a band- aid, and it seems like that logging process is your way of avoiding that in the future.

Sarah McNamara: Yes, definitely. Another question that I ask a lot of either people requesting certain things or even my internal team is, is this something that we're going to use in the future because if it is, then it's most likely worth the time to work out a process for it, whereas if it's something that's a one- off, then that's a little, that can be a waste of time if it's not going to happen again. That being said, a lot of things that are framed as one- offs tend to reoccur so I always keep that in mind. Even if folks think that it's not going to reoccur, I do start to at least put together some kind of framework on what that would look like so we have a plan if that does reemerge pretty quickly.

Sean Lane: Got it. So in your process here, okay, you've identified some sort of pain point, you're avoiding a manual or a scrappy process because you've identified a tool that can solve this pain point for you. What are your other considerations as you're either selecting that tool or getting to the point of actually implementing that tool that's going to set you and your team up for making sure that thing is going to work for 3000 people?

Sarah McNamara: What's funny is you used the word tool and certainly, sometimes we're able to use tools, but I think the biggest struggle that we have right now is that a lot of the tools are not as easily integrated as one would hope. So we spend a lot of time trying to develop custom integrations or finding work arounds, and that actually kind of loops into your question in terms of when we look at tools, we just need them to work. If it requires some kind of custom build, we can do that, but then it needs to be reliable. I think that when I see something that's like, we call a bunch of duct tape put together, then to me, that's a red flag that we either need to look at the process or look at the tool and figure out why it's so fragile. In some cases, that's just not avoidable, but I try really hard to have things that are scalable because it's just, it doesn't make sense to duct tape something together if it's something that's important enough that the company's revenue is going to depend upon it or marketing is going to depend upon.

Sean Lane: Sarah is incredibly thoughtful here about the challenges and pain points presented to her team. She's asking questions like, is this something that we're going to use in the future versus being a one- off? How can we avoid manual scrappy processes, and she's just trying to avoid duct taping integrations together, which begs the question, how does she tell the difference between a good integration set up and a bad one?

Sarah McNamara: To me, a duct tape integration is something where we haven't really planned it out and thought through all the different possibilities, especially when it comes to data. Data tends to be the trickiest thing to work around. So in a good custom build, I've thought through what are the different situations that we can encounter with this tool and have we accounted for them and found a way to facilitate them, or if we can't facilitate them in a technological way, do we have that expectation set and a process that for, hey, if this does happen, here's what do about it, or is it something that's kind of haphazardly put together? It appears to be working, but it's hanging by a string that anything coming out of the woodwork that could be different could break it because I always say humans are really weird. I feel like technologists run into this a lot. We'll think, oh, well, no one's going to do that, but humans are very strange and we'll just put random things together, submit very bizarre information, have different interpretations of directions. So I try to account for that and I think anything that doesn't at least make a solid attempt to account for that is more of a duct tape solution.

Sean Lane: I feel like that's also one of your super powers and this is something that you've written about a lot. It's like, I feel like you're looking around corners in more unique ways than, let's say, a typical integration, right? So you might, in a typical integration, look for common points of failure or where handoffs could fail or where information between two different tools might fail. I feel like you're looking in the real nooks and crannies to identify where things can go wrong.

Sarah McNamara: Definitely. I mean, when you think about something like contents indication, I mean, our marketing team is spending, in some cases, especially in the enterprise, a decent chunk of money to get leads or to have ads shown where leads opt in or whatever the case may be. We don't want to lose those people and to me, if we lose people over something that could have been avoided, then that's really sad and then I'm not doing my job well. So yeah, I really look to see, I try to expect the unexpected, which I mean, no one's perfect. That never is a hundred percent the case. We always run into bizarre stuff, but I think what helps me is because I was thrown into the world of consulting and I saw so many different situations, instances, business processes, ut has helped program me to almost have my own internal test process around how I look at things that I'm building.

Sean Lane: I feel like anyone I've talked to who has either gone from practitioner to consultant or consultant to practitioner says something similar to that, and it feels like it's not so much, hey, I have this very specific knowledge set where I can solve this very specific problem. It's more about the approach you bring to a problem. Can you talk a little bit about that? Does that ring true to you in terms of what you took away from your consulting days, that you feel like how to approach a problem in a specific way?

Sarah McNamara: Yeah, I think it's almost a masterclass in not only the emotional management, kind of like the bedside manner of how to educate people and help them understand why things are a certain way or why we should approach things a certain way, and I actually posted about this recently, that really good consultants know that there are questions to be asked about a project or a want and know to ask them before giving a solution. It's almost like being a doctor. It's like, you don't want a doctor that runs into the room frantically and is like, oh, you want this medication? Let me just throw it at you. I think we view it from more of a holistic point of view of, okay, here's the pain point or here's the opportunity and how do I... Here it is at face value. So when someone initially describes it, but that's pretty much never the entire picture of what's really going on. So we go back to square one and ask questions to gain a better understanding of what really is the problem so that we can create the best longterm solution. A lot of non- technologists, just marketers or sales folks who don't know the technology side of it, they just feel this pain, and so maybe the data isn't where they want it. They will oftentimes try to work with technologists and if they feel, if they've been burned by someone in the past or they feel like it's not fast enough and they're in too much pain, they'll just try to solution it themselves, and where I see the biggest damage done is when business folks try to solution and dictate to marketing or sales ops or revenue ops what the solution should be because it's almost never... The solvent that they're looking for is almost never what they're trying to prescribe. There's something behind the curtain that they're not aware of that is the real source of the problem.

Sean Lane: And I think the inverse of that is true too, right? If a sales or marketing ops person tries to prescribe something without understanding that pain point that you're talking about and are just thinking about it from a technology perspective, you get the same result.

Sarah McNamara: Oh yeah. I definitely advocate for the operations folks because I do think we get a hell of a lot of pushback and flack and just random stuff thrown at us, but I also really don't like when ops people try to dictate something that isn't, I guess what I would call an empathetic solution. If they're like, well, this'll be better for us and so this is what we're going to give them, and I'm like, well, I think there is a way that we can address some of their pain without screwing ourselves over too. In fact, my manager calls it the yes, no, yes method where basically we can say, yes, we see your pain point or the opportunity here. No, we can't do exactly what you're asking for and here's why, but yes, we will find some kind of way to address this pain now and then create a better solution for the future.

Sean Lane: I think Sarah's mantra to expect the unexpected resonates well with operations folks, and I couldn't help but notice how she had mentioned this emotional management part of her job a couple of times now, things that have nothing to do with managing the technical part of the tech stack and yet still crucial to managing the tech stack, nonetheless. As Sarah and her team are making decisions inside the tech stack at Cloudera, I was curious how she practiced this emotional management.

Sarah McNamara: Honestly, empathy and emotional intelligence are the biggest things. When I look for someone to add to the team that's going to be working directly with the different marketing groups, I can teach them a tool and I can teach them how to ask questions and a lot of these other things we've talked about, but what I can't teach them very well is, or I can't instill in their personality is a curiosity about how other people are feeling about things and really listening closely and giving people that good feeling, or I would say that warm and fuzzy feeling of yes, you're heard and we're going to do something about this, and I really care about you and the situation that you're in. I think that those tend to be a personality traits, and so it's really hard to train someone on that, but it's a huge deal because especially in ops, I feel like because we're such a new department in a lot of companies, we're looked at with a skeptical eye already and we're kind of trying to prove our value and prove what we can do and show off what we can do, and so it's really important that we don't burn the bridge between any of the different departments. People are people and people can be frustrating, but we can't be a wall of no and be very self- focused. Our customers are the company and the different stakeholders and employees within the company. So we have to find a way to make that connection with them, even if we have to tell them no on something.

Sean Lane: In addition to the empathy that an ops teams shows for its internal customers, Sarah pointed out that it's also important to think about the operators themselves, the people behind the technologies. The company may make a collective decision to buy a new car, but it's just the ops folks then who have to actually assemble and drive the car and keep it on the road, and not just anybody can do that.

Sarah McNamara: I always say Lamborghini problems is my term. I need to make it into the hatchback somehow, but when I use that term, what I'm talking about is a lot of businesses will purchase really fancy software. So they'll get an enterprise solution. And then they hire someone straight out of college or someone who doesn't have the background to run it well, and I'm not shading the people who are new in the industry. Those people need to learn and need to be given the opportunity and the support to get there. So it's not them that's the problem. It's the, there's a mismatch between what is the project and who is the person fulfilling the project, and so it's almost like if you had someone off the street trying to fulfill your prescription. For some reason, I'm on a medical rant today apparently. I don't know why, but yeah. It's like you want a pharmacist that sees that and understands all the different aspects of the medication or whatever they're trying to give you. So I think that it's important if you want something that's really fancy, you need to have a fancy driver for it, or vice versa. If you don't want something that fancy and you want something that's more of a smaller solution for a smaller business or something like that, then that's a better fit for someone who might have some experience, but still kind of learning some of the ropes. Ultimately, the success of a platform is 100%, I would say maybe 99% dependent upon the person running it. You can get a wonderful solution, but if no one knows what to do with it or how to actually run it, it's just going to sit there in the garage and do nothing except look pretty, I guess.

Sean Lane: I'm trying to think of the opposite of a Lamborghini in a way that's not going to offend the person who probably is listening who has that other opposite car, and so I'm just not going to say the name of any car just to avoid any sort of problem. The other thing that I think is interesting about the Lamborghini problem is when that person who drives the car inevitably leaves. So if I'm hearing you give this advice, I'm thinking, okay, I know who on my team can be the Lamborghini driver for this particular part of our business, but I also need to think longer term about my company and my business. And also for that Lamborghini driver, that person doesn't want to drive that same Lamborghini forever. They want to graduate and we're going to go to jets now or something, I don't know, 747. How do I plan ahead because just because you're saying that person is the most important piece behind the Lamborghini, that also is not going to be a steady state forever. How do I plan for when that person isn't there anymore?

Sarah McNamara: Documentation, a lot of documentation. We spend a lot of time and agency hours on just documenting things that we built, the why, the how, the when, the who because I don't want... I mean, even say if something were to happen to me and I had to go to Timbuktu or something, I don't know. I got hit by a car. I don't want my team to be screwed over. So it's really important that we have that brain dump somewhere where people can find it, and it's interesting because sometimes you see this where, especially it seems like in my experience, in the consulting world, people will try to hold on to information in their brains and it's almost like they view it as job security, but I think that we need to move away from that because it's not helpful to the business. I mean, let's be real. It's not helpful to you either. A lot of those same people will be like, oh man, I feel like everyone in the world is writing me an email asking me about how to do this or how to do that, and I'm repeating myself and it's like, well, yeah, because you don't have documentation where people can help themselves understand something. So I think that documentation is huge and it's a shame that it's not something that's more focused upon. I mean, I get it. I mean, we try to keep documentation up during the merger and it was a nightmare because every time we'd write something down, it would be changed within a day or two, but once things stabilize a little bit, it gave us more room and runway to really make sure that everything was documented. I think that's huge, and then what I see oftentimes too is that people will leave companies because they feel frustrated about a platform switch, and I think that's something that's important too on the human side is working alongside marketing operations as not only a stakeholder, but a partner. I think that where I see really rockstar people leave is where they feel like upper management made a decision without them and just try to dictate it down to them. Here, you just do all this work after my decision, and I mean, you can't blame them, right? They feel deflated. They feel like they aren't really a partner at the business table and they get handed this platform that they might not know. And so they feel a little bit insecure about their experience and aren't clear on the expectation around are they going to be expected to know this platform as well as a prior platform overnight, or is there an expected ramp up time? So I think that communicating with marketing ops is a major key on that side of it, communicating why something might be happening, asking them their opinions, and then communicating what your expectations are around, we're going to get this new platform or we're going to hook you up with some of this training, but we don't expect you to be a super expert overnight, and that's okay. I think that's huge.

Sean Lane: In case you haven't figured it out yet, Sarah looks at all of these problems and thinks about how they might impact the people who are working on them. She knows what it's like in the trenches, and from the experience she has gained and the expertise she has cultivated, has emerged this unique growing voice in operations. We've talked on this show before about how there isn't a whole lot of content out there specifically tailored for operations folks, but if you are in marketing ops or ops in general, look no further than Sarah because she is one of the people to helping fill that void. Whether it's LinkedIn, Twitter, her own blog posts, interacting with brands on social media, Sarah has evolved into this go- to resource for operators, and unlike in sales or marketing, this is relatively rare in ops. So I was curious how she had done it.

Sarah McNamara: Really started with just sharing articles I liked. So I would share, I remember back in the day, I would just share an article and be like, I think this is really interesting and here's why, and it's be maybe two or three sentences, very simple, and it started to really pick up because I would find I would actually set Google searches to try to find some of the more, I guess, less visible resources that wouldn't be as widely shared, and so I think people were starting to pick up on that and be like, wow, where are these things coming from, and then I started talking more and more about Pardot and Salesforce and putting tips out there and things that I had learned, and it just seemed to pick up from there, and I do, I'm really lucky to have great relationships with the vendors. And it's an organic relationship too. I had talked about Drift a lot, but it's because I really liked the product and I liked the people there. So I started just posting as a customer, I really love this or I love this blog post or whatever, and it kind of has built from there. So I think that I didn't really set out with a specific goal other than, I guess really just putting my voice out there and hopefully finding the people that it resonates with and who are similar to me and then it's transformed now. Now, it's more about trying to help people who were like me a few years ago, who were just starting out, feel really lost, maybe a team of one at a company and don't really feel like they... They feel what I call as lost in the sauce. They don't know what to do, where to go. If I had to define my audience, it would be them, and I do throw things out that are a little more, I don't know if I'd say advanced, but a little more enterprise focused, I guess, but that's my audience and it's really fascinating to see the different types of people who come out to view the content anyways and to interact. I get a lot of marketing leadership will comment and interact with me, sales of the marketing technology. Salespeople love to just tell me that they love to hear the perspective because of course, they're trying to sell to people like me and I think that it's a new industry for them too. So I think it's helpful for everyone to hear a voice and I hope that there are more voices out there and more people join in on that.

Sean Lane: Well, I think that's one of the main reasons in addition to just the content being great. I think another reason why what you're doing really sticks out is because I think it's pretty rare, and sales and marketing folks that you're talking about, everywhere they turn, there's a different sales or marketing guru that's trying to tell them the next best way to do their job, but I actually do think it's pretty rare in ops and we've found that as we've been making this show. Why do you think that that is for ops in particular?

Sarah McNamara: What I see the most with marketing ops is I think that people feel insecure in their role because it is a new industry and a lot of companies look at it with skepticism. I think that a lot of folks have really tight relationships with different vendors so they feel a little bit afraid of putting out their real opinions because it might upset people. I certainly have felt the brunt of that. Hey, I've had some vendors write me emails that they don't like my posts that I said about them, but ultimately, I think that it's clear that I'm trying to put out my experience, whether it's positive or negative. And I do try to offset some of the, I would say more negative posts with positive ones of here's a great success I've had with a vendor or something like that. So I try to make it really fair. I think about that sometimes. I'll go to an event and I'll run into a bunch of marketing ops folks and marketers and stuff and get all this great feedback, but I do wonder if it could be burning bridges too. I don't know, something that's yet to be seen, I guess, but I mean, my overall experience has been super positive. So I think that I recommend it as long as it's something that's natural and not forced.

Sean Lane: Yeah. And I think that's the biggest thing. I think that's probably also why it's been largely successful is that it feels authentic and you're not necessarily doing it just for the sake of building your own personal audience. It's to your point from before. It's for those people who are lost in the sauce and it's clearly resonating with them. I'm curious, have you found a particular theme or a topic that people are finding to be the most useful or that you're getting the most feedback on outside of the vendor stuff you're talking about?

Sarah McNamara: Sean, people love the rant. At work, they laugh. They joke with me all the time. They're like, I read your rant the other day and I want to talk about this thing. So people love the rant. I think it's because, and I wouldn't even say it's a rant in the sense where it's angry. It's just more of like, here's something I feel passionately about and here's what I think. People find it to be therapeutic in a way because maybe they do feel too afraid to say it out loud or to say it to management at their own companies, and then also some folks do feel isolated within their own world.

Sean Lane: I think this is pretty common for ops folks, particularly at smaller companies where you might be the only sales ops person or the only marketing ops person at the company. It's not like, let's say a sales team where you have a team of people to your left and to your right who are all doing the same job that you can turn to for learnings and motivation and some competition, and Sarah, in addition to joining us on this week's episode of our podcast, is doing even more to bring resources to the operations community by launching a podcast of her own. The podcast is aptly named the Wizards of Ops. You all should go check it out please. I'll put a link in the show notes, and I asked Sarah directly why she wanted to add her voice to the mix and start this show.

Sarah McNamara: So I started The Wizards of Ops podcast to give the general public a look at the conversations going on behind the curtain of B2B organizations and to really help the folks who are just starting out and feel like they're a team of one. When I started sharing my thoughts and findings on LinkedIn, it really resonated with people, but I'm limited to a certain amount of characters proposed. So I couldn't really expand and have a huge conversation other than what we could fit in the comments, whereas a podcast can allow me to really expand upon my thoughts and invite other people into the conversation, even people from sales and sales ops, customer ops. I really want to have the conversation all the way across ops because I feel like that's where the best ideas come to the table and are elevated. If any of that resonates with your folks listening, they can tune in at anchor. fm/ sarah- mcnamara.

Sean Lane: Before we go, at the end of each episode, we're going to ask each guest the same lightning round of questions. Ready? Here we go. Best book you've read in the last six months.

Sarah McNamara: That's a great question. I would say I'm late to the game, but I read that negotiation book, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss. An amazing book. I also really like, I'm going to give you a second one because this one's really good too. Indistractible, by Nir Eyal. It's really awesome, I think, especially for the ops audience because it talks about being able to focus in a world of so many distractions like slack and all that stuff. So I've been reading that and it's been really awesome to just implement some of those practices and see how it's helpful in getting stuff done.

Sean Lane: Awesome. Favorite part about working in ops?

Sarah McNamara: I would say every day is something different and there's always some kind of new news or new technology. So it's exciting.

Sean Lane: Least favorite part about working in ops?

Sarah McNamara: Politics. I don't think I have to expand upon that one. Just politics.

Sean Lane: Deal. Someone who impacted you getting the job you have today.

Sarah McNamara: I would say Jill Rowley. I have to give Jill Rowley of I would say Eloqua, Salesforce, and Marketo fame a lot of credit because I think I was known within the Pardot space at that point, but I think that she introduced me to a lot of the Marketo space and a lot of other folks and she's just an amazing person in general. I would highly recommend checking out her content too.

Sean Lane: Yeah, she's amazing. We've had her at Drift a couple of times and I do feel like just to go on that for just a second, that I look at trailblazer content or Marketo content and you are there, you are front and center. How did that come about? How did that relationship come and lead to that?

Sarah McNamara: In terms of Salesforce, honestly, I think it's just because I'm a vocal customer and I try to put a lot of helpful content out there. I think I remember they really loved my blog and a lot of the tips I would put out there because it helps everyone, the entire community, and so I think that's where that relationship started forming, and then with Marketo, I mean, that really was Jill. In fact, it's funny, the way that that started was someone on Twitter asked me what I would recommend between Pardot and Marketo, and at that time, I think that was right after the equity acquisition of Marketo, and so I gave my opinion on Pardot and Marketo, but I was like, Marketo is really awesome. Highly recommend that as well, but I've heard that their support, they're still kind of reorganizing after that acquisition. And Jill, this speaks a lot about her, I love her, tweeted to me and said, I think you're under the wrong impression about that. Would love to have you at marketing nation, would love to comp your paths. Yeah. And unfortunately, I couldn't make it that year, but I reached out to her back and said, Hey, I'm down to learn more about Marketo so any resources that you can send over or any folks, I would love to learn more about what you're talking about because that was a great outreach. So I mean, it really shows the power of, I feel like what she preaches, which is getting to know people and the whole hug your haters methodology of just because someone says something negative doesn't mean that their intention is negative or that their mind can't be changed by more information.

Sean Lane: One more for you, one piece of advice for someone who wants to have your job someday.

Sarah McNamara: One piece of advice is tricky. I can think of a bunch. I would say honestly, build as large of a network as you can. I am a hundred times the marketing ops person that I am by myself because of all the other awesome people that I know who have experience in different areas that I'm not familiar with. We all get different experience and different tools and scenarios at different companies, but when we all band together and we have different Slack channels and relationships and friendships where we can clash with each other about issues that we're running into, that's super valuable, especially as you're starting out and learning more.

Sean Lane: Thank you so much to Sarah McNamara for joining us on this week's episode of Operations. Again, we will put a link to her new podcast, Wizards of Ops in the show notes. Check it out. It's amazing. Thank you to everyone for listening. Hope you enjoyed it. If you like what you heard, please leave us a six star review on Apple Podcasts, six star reviews only. That's going to do it for me. We'll see you next time.( music).


If you spend any time on LinkedIn as an Operations person today, chances are you've come across a post or a piece of content from Sara McNamara, Sara has cultivated a unique and helpful voice in the world of Marketing Operations, not to mention she’s just really good at what she does. In our conversation with her, we dive into everything from getting lost in the sauce, managing the tech stack of a company that doubled overnight, and what Sara has dubbed Lamborghini problems. Check out Sara's new podcast, "Wizards of Ops": https://anchor.fm/sara-mcnamara Like this episode? Be sure to leave a ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ review and share the pod with your friends! You can connect with Sean and Sara on Twitter @Seany_Biz @ifeellikemacmac @HYPERGROWTH_pod