In Her Own Words
An Interview with Megan Brooks
Q: Can you briefly describe the career journey that led you to become the Chief Operating Officer?
Megan: My background is in marketing and I am a classic marketing generalist. I’ve led and been hands-on with all facets of B2B marketing from branding, events, operations, lead generation, and everything you can think of in between. Marketing is a great entry point into a business because you have to understand the business as a whole in order to position it effectively. You need to know the market, the competitors, your customers, your products, your sales cycle, your data… and countless other company vitals.
My focus on revenue-generating marketing functions led me to the role of Chief Revenue Officer, where I was responsible for sales, marketing, and product management. From there, I moved into the role of Chief Operating Officer where I lead the entire organization towards growth. Coupled with my marketing experience, I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have the opportunity to work on cross-organization projects like culture change, system implementations, and business transformation as a whole.
Before moving to the technology industry in 2013, I worked in a female dominated industry, and had incredible women role models. I never really questioned the role of women in the workplace, until I made the switch to technology and felt that change greatly. While it was a bit of a culture shock, my formative years in marketing for the training industry gave me a solid foundation to pull from. Those experiences, along with learning from incredibly talented and diverse leaders during my career, made me feel prepared to take on an organization-wide leadership role.
Q: As a woman in the sales/marketing and revenue industry, can you share some unique challenges you’ve faced? How did you overcome these challenges?
Megan: In my 20’s and 30’s I second-guessed myself a lot. I am not sure if that’s because I’m a woman, but I do know that it’s common when you feel different in a group. If you have fewer common experiences and less outward similarities with your peers it can look like “Am I doing it right?” “Am I being too emotional?” “Do they like me?” “Am I being authentic?” — I think it just breeds insecurity. I’ve grown past that now and try not to pay much attention to what other people think about me. Instead, I focus on my own values and moral compass. And yes, as a woman, I think I am probably better at tuning in and listening to how something makes me FEEL. I listen to my gut a lot, and I think that’s an advantage. I don’t think that’s a unique ability for a woman to possess, but I do feel lucky to be equipped with that perspective and understanding.
Q: How have you handled setbacks in your career, and what lessons have you learned from them? What strategies have you found most effective for mentoring and developing new talent in the sales and revenue teams?
Megan: I am pretty comfortable with risk and have a very low fear of failure. That’s not to say I don’t fail — I do, often — but I don’t fear it and I move on really quickly. I think the adversity I have experienced in my personal life really helped me to build a high degree of resilience, which has set me apart from others in my field. My fearlessness allows me to encourage others to take reasonable risks without consequence. I think that’s an exciting environment, especially for the young professionals I have led and mentored along the way.
Q: In a typically male-dominated field like sales and revenue, how have you used your position to foster diversity and inclusion?
Megan: Diversity, equity, and inclusion are important to me, so I talk about it openly with my managers. When we hire, particularly on teams that are more homogeneous in nature, I ask what we are doing to broaden our pool of talent. Where are we looking? Who is referring our candidates to us? What does the hiring committee look like? While equality is deeply important to me as a human being, it matters from a business perspective too. Diverse groups make better decisions — that is a fact. They are more empathetic, they have broader context, and are better at hiring diverse talent too which gives you a cycle of better teams. Great managers hire great people. Mediocre managers hire mediocre people. The broader your talent pool, the better the chance of hiring those great managers.