Building a MOPs Team that is a Strategic Business Partner w/ Nikki Luele


In this episode, we talk with Nikki Luele about her journey from a Marketing Ops team of one to 30! Nikki provides some insights on what she did early on to build momentum, what she learned along the way, and how she had to learn new skills.

We also get into a great conversation about the importance of diversity and the challenges she faced as a female leader in tech. 

Recorded live on September 9, 2021.

Hi, I’m Michael Hartmann, I’m Naomi Lou, and I’m Mike Rizzo. And this is ops cast, a podcast for marketing ops pros and rev ops pros created by the MO Pros. The number one community for marketing operations. As professionals tune into each episode as we chat with real professionals to help elevate you in your marketing operations career.

Hello, everyone. Welcome to ops cast episode 25. Razzi by the MO Pros. I am Michael Hartmann today. I’m joined with both. Co-hosts named me, Lou and Mike Rizzo. Say hello everyone. Hello, everyone. There you go. Following directions. I like that. All right. Today we are excited to have with us Nikki ULI, who is currently the senior marketing operations manager at Zillow group.

And we’re gonna be talking about, I think, a subject that all of us would like to hear about, um, about Billy and mops team. That is a strategic business partner. So Nicki has been with Zillow group for about three and a half years. And prior to that, she held various marketing ops demand, gen and marketing roles at several tech startups.

Nikki, thanks for joining us today.

Well, this is, we’ve got a ton to cover. I think this is going to be really interesting for our listeners to get a cure your story, because your story is one where you grew from a team of one to 30 and yes, people that was 33, 0, not three or 13. Um, so Frank, why don’t we just do this? Why don’t we start with you sort of walking through that journey from one to 30 and, and kind of how that went.

Yeah, that sounds great. Uh, back at the beginning. So a little over four years ago, um, I had been in marketing for quite a few years. I had been in marketing operations for the last couple of years, and I had this idea to start a marketing operations organization from the ground up. I really just wanted to grow big words and there was a couple of reasons for that.

So the first was that I was really excited to be part of that. Flipping the narrative of marketing operations as a cost center, marketing operations, as an essential value add for any business. And the other reason, I was just really ready for a personal challenge. And I knew that it was certainly going to be a, a very much uphill battle and a big challenge, but it was also really exciting.

Uh, Potentially creating some new jobs. And so I went out in search of a company where I could see myself building out a team and organization, but I was really looking for a company that was able to. Um, and so I ended up at Zillow as the first marketing operations hire within those groups. And the idea was that, um, I was piloting the marketing operations function within some of the smaller lines of business groups.

So essentially I was the pilot. I was so I’m really grateful for my first manager who was, um, uh, demand generation manager who really felt this gap and had the vision and brought me on to meet that pilot. Um, and so I started and I immediately began to see some really large areas of opportunities where the company benefits from having operations function.

This. Film’s marketing product alignment to lead management, process improvement and tooling. And as much as I really just wanted to jump in and solve it all myself, I knew that this time has to be different. So, um, I took the time to pause and really learn a lot more about the company and the situation more holistically before acting.

And to be honest, it took a lot of restraint for me. I really wanted to jump right in. But I, first of all, didn’t really want to get stuck in the tactics, in the weeds, right from the start. And I also wanted to set the tone for marketing operations at that strategic business partnering kind of get stuck in that tactical kind of hamster wheel or circle of team that you can potentially get stuck in.

And so I went and pursued, uh, three major pillars, but I wanted to learn everything I could about the business. But the other parts of the business as well. Um, second I wanted to build relationships, not just within marketing or within the business unit. I was in, I wanted to build relationships across the company.

Um, and then finally that led me to a gap analysis and a maturity assessment where I could really, um, put a stake in the ground as far as where we were at, as far as technology people and tools and start thinking about how can we move that? And so after I did that research, it led me to two really major projects that I used to get this going.

And the first one, a lead routing and management issue had implications on revenue, all those things that the business really cares about and to make a long story short on that one, I just built out a new leads, slowly manager process, working functionally with a lot of other people across the business.

And so we also use. Building out each framework of new ways of cross-functionally working with these teams and building avenues of cross functional alignment through that particular project. And that eventually led to us hiring on a BDR team that would roll up into marketing and marketing operations.

And the second pain point or project that he went after was data analysis and reporting, which I’m sure is a pain point that so many of us can relate to. And the idea was to be able to build some table stakes. Those are multi-touch attribution models and important to you that might work in groundwork to make sure that the data was actually in a state where it could be used.

Did you also think, can I wait here for him? Did you say that you had, you, you do or did have BDRs rolling up into marketing operations? Oh, well, so I had that and I, I, I, you’re the only, the second person I’ve ever known to have had that. That’s an interesting scenario. Yeah. Yeah. That’s super, super interesting to me.

And as actually, what’s really interesting and it’s like strangely timely is that literally on Wednesday, August 23rd. Uh, we had someone in the community on our slack channel, specifically ask about where they have their BDRs and SDRs rolling up, um, as they are thinking about the way that they’re implementing new technology to support them.

Um, so. Very interesting. So at the, at the time they initially rolled up into marketing and marketing operations. And as that team grew, they actually then moved on to roll up under sales. So it was only for a period of time, but the team grew from about cute. Maybe it’s about 20 right now, just from that pilot program that we launched.

And there was kind of the push and pull with me. Does it belong here? Does it belong there? Who’s going to fund it. Are we going to jointly fund it and how do we work together? Um, so it started in marketing and operations and then it rolled over.

Yeah. So. I’m like, I’m like, I’m like co um, we’re, we’re doing this like live right now. And I’m writing back to the person who asked us, like, you need to talk to Nikki. She did this, this, this, this is like very real time community help. And it’s going to show up in the podcast recording. That’s awesome. So I, I, you know, I’m curious, um, Naomi, since you also have sort of a similar track of growing up, you know, from a team of one to many.

Is it, are you, are you feeling like, oh, we were like sisters in this now? Or was your cause your, your process a little different? Yeah. I mean a little bit. I think it’s something that it’s, it’s one thing to, and I think a lot of the folks who listen to this podcast can relate to how difficult it can be to even.

Get recognition for marketing operations as its own function. Right. That, you know, like people tend to know what dimension is, people know what sales ops does, but what does marketing ops do? Right. And it, the definition varies. So wildly that even trying to sometimes explain to SLT that, you know, we are, I like to say kind of like it for marketing personally.

That’s how I kind of describe things. Um, and that, you know, We may not necessarily be the ones coming up with the strategy or the, you know, the nurture programs or whatnot, but we’re definitely partnering with you to be able to help you do that. Right. Just like an architect, can’t build a house without, you know, contractors.

So, um, definitely a struggle in the beginning. Um, I’ve had the fortune, I’ve been fortunate enough to do this twice at two enterprise organizations where I was either the only, or if not the first like kind of marketing automation hire, um, Uh, and you know, and just over time, um, was able to really kind of make a business case for why it should become its own department and class center.

And, you know, at EFI, honestly, in the beginning. And I think I talked about this on someone had a question about it. I don’t remember who it was, but, um, yeah. You know, they were asking about how I managed to do that. And honestly, I just started referring to myself and the team as a marking operations team.

I just, we just, I just literally just started saying that. And then over time, people just were like, well, aren’t you your own department? I’m like, no, actually I roll up into north America field marketing, which is weird because I’m global and nothing to do with really like, You know, that kind of situation.

So it was, it was overtime. And then eventually the business case was, was, um, developed that we could pull out and become our own department with our own cost center. And, you know, every year after that was able to add, uh, another head count. I’d love 30 head count, but yeah. I’m at four or five right now, so you can get there.

So, so Nikki, I, I think, um, clearly like you caught us, you know, you really caught our attention when you talked about having BDRs roll up to you, but it sounds like that. Kind of part of the process and there’s what, you know, where there, like, um, where there significant stages or inflection points of kind of from, from kind of team of one to a team of 30 that are like major milestones that you kind of look back on, just like, this is a place where we could have either.

You know, continued on the path of growth or, or kind of falling backwards a little bit or, or even if there were steps, steps backwards. What were those? Yeah, that’s a great question. And I is so much of what Naomi said resonates with me too. We also did originally start like rolling up into a field marketing team, um, and just the evolution of how we grow.

It changed so much. One of the first major inflection points was also around with ambulance. Talking about our small teams spend so much time, um, just educating and, um, working on our own vision, mission charter, who we are, what we do ourselves. So we have like an internal talk track and they were all aligned with that.

Um, and then spreading that out to the rest of the business. And we were going on these road shows. Um, we have very small audiences. Um, and then, um, after, uh, a lot of kind of pounding the pavement and Diener OPR machine about marketing operations, um, there was a point where people kept coming into the room and coming into the room and people were sitting on the floor and we ran out of.

Uh, room because people wanted to see what is this marketing operation thing. I pretty, really like other parts of the business. And I think that point, um, I kind of look at each other and thought, okay, I think it’s going to really take off. And I definitely don’t regret the amount of time and effort that we had to put into that foundational education, um, and, and piece where we were really doing our work to champion ourselves and, and nature that others knew the value of a weekday.

It’s very clear to us being in marketing operations, what the value of our team is and what we can do, but we can’t take for granted that it’s necessarily, um, that’s not top of mind for everybody else around. Even if you think you can help them a lot and you just need to kind of help educate them in that piece.

And so that was one of the turning points. When we realized we’re really onto something here and we started getting some traction within the business.

That kind of reminds me, Naomi were two recently telling us about, um, how you started doing kind of roadshow. It could be ours. Yeah. He was here yeah. This year and, and we just finished our, our, our Q2 QPRs and it’s yeah, it’s really been really good. And, you know, if I, we have about six different business units and, um, uh, we started doing this this year and it’s been really great, like, and, you know, we kind of structure it in a, in a way where we kind of do a business review top and bottom performing campaigns, like, um, things that are need to know as part of, you know, industry changes.

Um, both on email landing pages, um, our tech stack. Um, and then we do kind of a working session where we talk about, you know, the next quarter’s goals and the year end goals. And, you know, I think that it’s one of the meetings that, um, well, I mean, I like to think that it’s a meeting that our business partners, uh, really enjoy because, you know, just seeing it laid out for them and then they’re able to take that deck and then go and articulate it back to, you know, their senior men, their managers, and say, these are the things that we’re doing.

And, you know, if we have some investments, You know, potentially where we can go for this type of product or, you know, we should be doing less of this because this is really not moving the needle. So yeah, it’s been, I definitely is something that I wish I had done sooner, to be honest. So. Yeah, I agree. I feel like the MBRs and key barriers are really powerful and looking back and seeing how I was fighting for a spot in other teams or other businesses MBRs, just to have a voice there.

And then we went to having, um, you know, our own and barely anybody came. And then we went to having our own, and we have like a large group of participants, um, talking about it after and turning them into ideation sessions where other, see other people connect things in the business. Uh, thinking about how they could use tools and technology in a different way and the insights that they could gain from our team.

And really, really just great to see that evolve.

Yeah. Yeah. I think this is great advice. Something I’m going to be taking out of. As I met a new place, it sounds like something like in really take forward. So one of the things you mentioned was Nikki was. Kind of building out sort of a PR plan. I would, you know, selling your, you know, the team and what your capabilities are and damn, it’s kind of what you’re doing with your QPRs.

Right. Um, I would curious, you know, Nicki, you, and both you and Naomi have talked about having some good managers who saw the value that we’re kind of advocates for, you know, did you, how did you. Why did you go out and find other people to advocate for you? Did you, as part of that, or did you, did you have critics that you worked on to try to turn into advocates?

I know that’s something that I’ve done in the past with projects, but just curious what your, how you went about that other parts of the selling internally. Yeah, I think we try to, um, find champions through our roadshows and just having connections with other people in other parts of the business. But we found, we had one of our biggest critics turned one of our biggest advocates in the lead Benjamin project that we worked on their first, um, where he was very skeptical to let us step in and.

And if there’s someone particularly on the field team and someone from the product team, we’re very skeptical to let us step in and try for this problem that they hadn’t thought maybe would be more in their wheelhouse. But we were trying to convince them that this is something we can work together to solve.

And in, through that whole cross functional project, we really were faced with a lot of skepticism, a lot of nay-saying efforts and maybe, um, I guess not a lot of support from those teams. And as we just worked through everything together and we found, I think some synergies and working with each other, and we really like came to the realization that.

Well, and support each other. That, that is one of the major advocates that we got from, from working through that project and having them see it firsthand. And there was other avenues where we found, um, really strong women in leadership. Um, as advocates, we have a strong. I think leadership, networking that we work through, and that’s a great place for other women in women in leadership to be able to talk about when they have struggled to find mentors and also like champions and advocates for your work.

Yeah. That’s great. So yeah, you brought up, um, the, uh, The part of being a female. So yeah. What, were there any specific challenges or that you felt that you’ve, you know, along the way, because you’re a woman in leadership or in tech? Yeah. So, um, unfortunately, yes, um, that happens and I think one is one of the hardest parts is being, um, being an only one in the room.

Um, it’s tough being the only person advocating for marketing operations, then it’s even tougher being the only female voice in the room. And sometime when you’re in a thought of being the only one, there’s some kind of like out-group dynamic where everyone else in the room might be. Um, um, and you may be on the outside facing more scrutiny.

And then if there had been like more representation, um,

interesting. Um, and that happens, that happens a lot in the only place in the room. And that can be a little bit tough. I think the other part is just being held a little bit of a different standard and feeling like you just have to go above and beyond to prove yourself, which in my case, I think works to my advantage, but should I have to work that hard?

I feel like I have to work more. Um, I was a woman. I have to prove something, but who knows. It’s just something difficult that, that we have to deal with. But, um, those are some of the biggest struggles.

So I’m curious, digging a little bit, you know what, you know. Clearly like working hard is probably a good thing. Everybody could do that, but I mean, are there other sort of lessons you learned from that, dealing with that, that you could share with our other, uh, women who are in marketing ops or other roles and, you know, want to be leaders that you could share that might help them along their journey?

I think don’t, don’t be afraid to be the only voice in the room and to be speaking out, they’ll make that change your opinion or change your mind on anything. Um, keep going on your path that you noticed. Right. Um, and also if you have the ability to help them through your company or directly with hiring, um, hiring for diversity and inclusion, I think that’s a really great way that you can get involved with changing ultra dynamic.

Um, it’s an issue that, that you’re continuously facing, find out how you can get involved, whether it’s on your own through, and we’re going to patient that’s already there. So, um, we have a lot of ways that we can, um, work on this, um, at the company within Zillow and also someone who does a lot of interviewing and hiring.

Um, there’s a lot of ways that you can make sure that you have a diverse entity and that you’re really making sure that you’re equitable across. I think that’s really important because diversity of thought is critical to a creative, vibrant and thriving workplace, right? When decisions are made by people who all think the same act, the same and behave the same, there is no creative out of the box thinking they’re just carbon copies of each other.

You know, and I just, I’m a strong advocate for things like that. And, you know, it’s a reminder to myself too, that, you know, you don’t always have to be, um, perfect. Right. You can always be more empathetic, more patient, more productive, more collaborative, more of a team player. Um, but we can’t be all things to all people at the same time.

Right. And I think that part of having a really well-rounded thriving team is admitting that we’re not all always nailing it. You know, and sometimes it’s like, okay, let’s take a step back. Let’s audit things. And that’s why I really liked the QPRs as well. Um, because it allows us to kind of take that constructive criticism from, um, our business partners as well.

That’s kind of two thoughts. I’ve kind of like have two thoughts just like meshing together right now. One being like the diversity and female empowerment and then the other part being, you know, just, yeah. I just, just a lot of thoughts going on. It’s I think this has been a really great conversation so far, so.

Yeah, I absolutely agree with all of that. And, um, one of the things we actually talked about, I talked about right at the beginning of, um, just kind of welcoming everybody to summer camp, the in-person events that we did, um, uh, just a couple weeks back or so maybe a month ago, um, was. Was the idea that like, we want this room to be filled with people that have diverse opinions of what it means to be in marketing operations and what it means to be successful in that.

And, and a lot of that frame of mind for me has been influenced by, by this community at large, um, Namely some of my mentors like MH lines, who’s the CEO at Stack Moxie. She’s, she’s been shaping a lot of the way that I think about engaging with this community as well as Naomi and Michael here and our guests on the show.

And that’s one of her big, her big messages too, is, um, diversity of thought. Okay. And really just trying to make sure that we are all comfortable with sharing, you know, the way that we approach things and you know, it’s not all equal and that’s great. And it should be celebrated. I, I think I even talked about that in the, uh, You know, what, what are we doing next kind of blog post.

And, um, I don’t know. I don’t know how else to refer to that thing other than like a manifesto, but it’s like the wrong word for it. But, uh, but yeah, I think that’s tremendously important for this community to keep like rallying around that same, you know, that same cry together. Yeah, I think, I think we’re all on the same page here.

The diversity of thought diversity in general and being open to different thoughts and ideas. And I think most, most of us here have either hired or been in a position to help with hiring. And I think it’s important for us to make sure that as part of that, that we’re. Kind of setting an example as well.

Right. That we’re, we’re being open about that. So I’m glad that this came up. I mean, I don’t know that it was necessarily intended to be a part of it, but it’s an important topic. I think we all need to talk. I mean, I think if you’re building teams, right, it’s, it should be, if it’s not floating around in the back of your mind, then it definitely should be in this episode should serve as evidence as such, but, um, at a bear like I do, uh, I do have a question just generally, Nikki, about like how you and your team, um, Kind of nurture new skills development and just like, think about career growth or, or, you know, where do you go next?

Um, do you have programs in place within your organization and your team for that? That’s an excellent question. And, um, so I think just going back really quickly to the previous comment about diversity, um, The way that I thought about marketing operations, or even before I started this role is really different than the way that I think about it now because of the diverse scope that we’ve brought onto the team and the way that the business has evolved and we’ve changed with it.

And that kind of letter to my question about skills and roots. So there’s a lot of different skills that we have on a team or that we need to grow with a team. And so one of the things that we do. Um, we carve out time and budget for professional development and education in specific skillsets that we want to grow.

Um, that’s one thing. Um, we also have. We have loan programs and internal transfer programs, um, which is also something that’s great in terms of, if you want to structure for your goals, or if you even want to be in UFA, a product role for awhile or a wrong sales operations team. For a while, there are opportunities that we encourage people to take.

Let’s say like 25, 50% of their time, whatever that might be and going to a loan program and learn new things, learning how this. I learned how these skills work. Um, and as far as career development within, within our team, um, we try to make sure that everyone has a path. And so we have, we have biannual and annual goals and regular reviews where people have their regular goals that they need to work for.

And then they also have goals that are more like. We try to get them to that next level and to have an organization. We also have programs that help develop leadership. There’s a new leadership program. That’s actually. Uh, being launched the end of this year for people, whether they’re at the beginning of their career or they’re later in their career and they want to make a move into people, management or leadership, um, they can be a part of this program and.

Really great that within our team, we encourage people to take that time help. And as we do capacity planning and planning for the quarter, we make sure that if anyone needs to take specific amounts of these things, that they use that, but we also always plan at least a 10% buffer for people to be doing broadly, any kind of career development.

That’s awesome for the skills development piece. Like, um, would you say that some of that is influenced by the individual or are you kind of setting up like, Hey, here’s. Uh, here’s the things that we would like you all to improve on in order to better service the business’s goals and this team’s goals, as well as take, take advantage of this additional budget to then go learn something else on your own, uh, is a kind of a blend of those two things or how.

Yeah. How do they decide on how to you as an organization and the people decide on like, what skills need to be developed? Yeah, ultimately it’s a decision between, um, the individual and their manager. Um, and we’re going to try and focus on the skills that we want for the team. Um, and if they already have them go and they want to branch out, or it’s not critical for them to learn, then they can go and pursue pretty much anything that they want to do.

One of the last training that we did for our team with, um, agile methodology training, um, that’s something that we’ve adopted as a team that has really, really helped us get crystal clear on capacity in sprint planning and. What we can expect per head count as far as resources, which is also really helped us with headcount requests.

And so a lot of people on our team had not worked with agile methodology. And so we have suggested for anyone who’s like, we have some budget people to go get some formal training in that area so that they weren’t hearing about it from. Uh, our team, but they have really the fundamental skills that they needed to hit the ground running and adopted way at working and help us improve and make it work for a team.

And ultimately we did end up hiring as we struck out in different pieces of, you know, the marketing operations team. But I think that was a particular training that we really did want people to focus on if they have the time with you, because it would just help them so much. And potentially anywhere else and they may go, those could definitely transfer over into different roles in different organizations.

That’s awesome. This has been tremendously insightful for me. So thank you for sharing some of the inside track of how, how some of that stuff works. Yeah. I’d like to continue a little bit further on this and kind of, um, have you put the mirror on yourself a little bit and say like, as you were going from to where you are now with, you know, I assume you have people who are reporting to you who are managers of other people now at this point.

Um, but like what’s what have you had? What kind of skills and things have you had to develop yourself as a leader and then what. We talked about kind of the importance of diversity in hiring. So, but what like did over, like during the course of this change, did you change also kind of the types of things that you were looking for in people, in terms of skills and experience or other sort of attributes.

Yeah. Um, so as far as my own skills, I think the first thing that was the hardest for me to do with like, let go of being tactical and learning really how to, how to delegate. Cause being like a team of one or. I have certifications, which are still great and really important, but I needed to reshift my energy to being able to develop that in others and also

the tactical piece. And so I’m honing more of like leadership skills, communication skills, and really like learning. How does the business work? How do you get head counter? Um, who do you go to for resourcing? What are the planning cycles? Um, and, and reshifting, uh, All of that energy on to, from like marketing operations, uh, you all with these new way.

Um, I think the hardest part about that balance is still trying to stay close enough to the world of marketing operations technology, um, while also trying to, um, you know, be a leader and, and lead the team and step away from some of that. So that’s, um, that’s, uh, the balance there and then. I’m sorry, my book.

Repeat your second half of the question. Sure I’m bad about throwing multiple questions that people, so, um, the other part was really more about, um, how did your, you know, how did you think about the kinds of things you look for when you’re hiring people over the course of the time? Yeah. Um, I think, you know, starting to get to coach others, to be leaders is an important one and not just looking so hard on the technical scope.

And I think going back to marketing operations as a really strategic business partner is one of the important decisions that we made as an, as an organization was we actually separated out of business strategy. Um, from a former role. And so we have a marketing operations business strategy, almost like a product owner where we work with different parts of the business to understand their strategic needs.

We’re both in very early, uh, steering committees and working groups to kind of assess their needs. Um, so we can be more proactive in that. Um, and so as we started branching out, like if the skillset became very interesting to hire for that, Uh, understands marketing technology, marketing operations, but also has a deep understanding of generally like the business and strategic lens that they can put on that.

Um, and. Also as we branched out and our team started expanding on the platform side, we started hiring more technical program managers and even data engineers and some hands-on keyboard roles in these new tools that I had never worked in before. And so having to understand, um, if someone were to do this particular job that they would need and what kind of skills would be transferable, um, in these roles and some of these roles way back when I never would have imagined when I was working on work like lead management type stuff, I never imagined, um, the vast marketing technology landscape that we would be putting our arms around and all different kinds of engineering groups that we would be working with, which is something that.

That’s interesting. Now me, I’d be curious, like, has your experience been similar in that, like the hiring, you know, what you look for for team members of all overtime? And it’s funny you say that because it was someone, um, I saw this on LinkedIn this morning, someone had posted something. What is the one thing you look for when you are hiring a marketing ops professional?

And I was going to respond to it, but I got, I had another call I had to join, but, um, the first thing that comes to my mind is. Curiosity to be honest, like you have to be inherently curious. I don’t want somebody who is just going to take everything at face value and, you know, someone tells them to do something or says, Hey, can you do this?

And you know, not question it, if it doesn’t necessarily make sense to, to them, right? Like, Or even just provide the ability or just even have the ability to provide like an alternate, like, Hey, yes, I know this is your end goal, but have you thought about doing it this way? Because if we’re going to scale it, it’s, you know, we don’t have to rip it down and completely rebuild it from scratch.

Let’s do something in this manner so that we can, you know, scale for growth. Right. So. And inherent curiosity is something that I always look for as a baseline. Um, and of course there’s some technical skills and hard skills that need to be there. Right. But, um, I would say that’s the biggest. Soft skill for me and a team player, of course.

Right. Ability to mesh really well with the team, just because we’re constantly talking every day and we just need to, you know, off my, like I run my teams, like it’s like a family, right. Because, you know, we just go through some crazy things together and some really high stress situations and we have to be able to lean on each other.

But yeah, I would say curiosity. Absolutely. Oh, here we go. We’ve got healthier. Um, yeah, so that’s.

Yeah, I love it. You’re running them like a family, Naomi, and I think, um, I think that resonates really with me and, and just the teams that I’ve tend to, you know, have most success with. Um, tend to feel as though, you know, they’re, they’re a little bit more family oriented. It doesn’t mean that like you’re doing, you’re hanging out every single day together.

Right. But I think that like one of the elements of a family that comes to life for me and my teams is. Feeling comfortable. Um, when you want to be vulnerable about like the challenges that you’re facing and being able to feel comfortable in and asking the right questions and those kinds of things, um, cause then you can lean on your leadership or your peers, even if they’re your equal to say like, Hey, that thing that someone just asked me to do really doesn’t make sense, but like, I don’t really know how to broach that.

Uh, how should I tackle this problem? And so I think. It’s tremendously important. And, and I saw that same question come through on LinkedIn too. And I wanted to respond, but I was like, I don’t, gosh, he’s a really good one, but I don’t know. Carrie, like, Nikki, what do you think? One of the, one of the things like the number one skill might be yeah.

I feel like you both took the basket.

I think it would be a lifelong learner. I’m someone who’s always looking for new skills because is there’s not a day that goes by where something doesn’t change.

And, um, it’s really important that that person has the ability to really just take on the human ideas and think about things in a different way and push themselves to always be expanding in a way that they think about things in the way.

I would almost say that being the life, someone who is a lifelong learner is also going to by default be curious, right. Because they always want to learn. Things are constantly trying to, you know, evolve their own personal growth and are just curious about the information that’s out there that they don’t know yet.

So yeah. I’m with you on that. I. I would, yeah, I would say, although I have to admit at this stage, um, I’m not overly thrilled to like learn a whole new MarTech solution and like become a deep expert in it. But I am curious about it. So I guess to some extent, uh, I would still be learning, right. If somebody was asking me to do something well, I think, I think, you know, I I’m glad you didn’t ask me what my was.

Cause you all took the top three already. So, um, But I, but I think, you know, it’s funny. I was thinking just the other day I was, my son was my youngest son was going through, he had to do some research on. Scientists and DaVinci was one of them. And I was like, we need people who are Davincis right. They’re curious.

And want to know a lot about lots of different things. You know, he was a true Renaissance man, and Nick. And the one thing I think none of you talked about, but Nicki had brought up earlier was that business acumen. I think so much of being effective in marketing ops is not only knowing the tech and the marketing pieces, but also being able to have those conversations with the other sort of peripheral groups.

Sales and, and other ops teams and finance and legal, and to me, that’s always been a part of it. Um, okay. So Nikki, um, w you know, it has been a really interesting journey that you’ve gone through. What, like, what are the top two or three or maybe one, right. Even like lessons that you learned along the way that I wish I had known this before I did it, or I wish I had done this differently kind of stuff that you could share with our listeners.

Yeah. Oh my goodness. That is an excellent question. So I think, um, one of the things that I wish I had done differently.

The more, um, I guess more proactive earlier when I started talking about reviewing, uh, road shows and QPRs, I was a little hesitant to start doing those at first because I thought who is going to be interested in something like that. Um, you know, I was just having more one-on-one conversations and building relationships and.

The response was great. And I really, should’ve just been confident in knowing that that’s something that would have worked out earlier. And I think, um, how you done that earlier? Would it mean a couple of things that came later a little bit easier? Um, I wished I had more self-confidence in the foresight start doing what I thought was right earlier, instead of being concerned about how others might receive it, that’s one of them and the other is.

I think being more steadfast in my opinions about how we get healthy organization, because there are certain times when, you know, I felt like our team could really take on a project or somebody else wanted to take it on and, and I kind of stepped back and let the other teams take that. Um, and anything that that’s okay.

That’s certainly fine sometimes, but, but there’s other times when I think, wow, like have these really. Yep. Step in and, um, taking a hold of this particular project or venture out into this new part of the business. I just sometimes wonder what could that have opened up as far as opportunities for our team?

I mean, everything has been turning out great so far, but taking more of a chance. I think I did, even though we made quite a journey. Relatively safe a lot of the time. And quite honestly, a lot of it has to do with timing. I think too is certainly most certainly was not all me and the people around me.

There were certainly times when I have gone out taking a bigger chance, uh, when it needed, you know what, it’s okay to fail. Sometimes they could have made some more failure.

I love that. I think here, your first point about. Not, not feeling confident about taking out and trying that thing or not knowing what the right timing was for stuff. It reminds me of some other conversations we had with other guests about different things. Like what was the right time to start doing Margie attribution?

Or what time was the right time to start doing reporting that the right time is now. Right? So I think that was, that’s been a consistent theme with our guests of if you’re not sure about doing something, but you believe it’s the right thing to do. Now as the time to start making progress towards it. I mean, I think that’s, that’s been a consistent theme.

Okay. One last question. And we may have touched on this a little bit through the conversation, but if there was such a thing as a certified marketing operations professional kind of thing out there, if you got to pick and choose on, you know, what would be a number one or two kind of thing that we should be focusing on to help people.

Yeah, achieve that. What would you like? What would you focus on? Yeah. Now this is my turn to say business acumen, I think, and for almost the same reasons that we were talking about earlier, I think it’s first and foremost, you’re a marketer. I think we’ve been moving operations with my opinion. You have to have that business acumen to be able to be turning into that strategic business partner who can look at the business holistically and understand how does this connect the dots from marketing?

How does it connect the dots for the other teams? How do we put ourself in a position where we can use your teachers about anything that we’re building or the results that we’re driving, and also be able to convey that to the business. Um, that makes them for them in a way that they can understand. Um, and so I think that that is extremely important.

I think the technical parts are really important, but I would definitely advocate for the,

I knew I was going to like Nikki, be in here. I love that answer. And I, it really, it all started right at the beginning. Like, we’ve come full circle. You talked about working cross-functionally and growing your team and yourself and using that as kind of a stepping stone to kick off some important projects.

And, um, really that all touches back to this idea of like having strong business acumen and, and, you know, making your. An important part of the process, but a part of it, right. It’s uh, connecting the dots between all those things is really the key there. So thank you, Nikki. That was a really insightful, I learned a lot.

Fantastic. All right. So Nikki, thank you again for your time has been great if people, uh, if people want to kind of keep up with you or, or see you at an event or, or whatever, what’s the best way for them to do that? I think the best way is just to find me on LinkedIn. Um, send me a message, um, connect with me.

And I, I like to put my opinions out there and hopefully, um, I will be. Um, avoiding having some more podcasts and more marketing operations forum soon. Fantastic. Well, it’s been great. Uh, Naomi, thanks again. Uh, thanks Mike and Naomi for your participation as well. It’s always good to have our different perspectives and thank you to all of our listeners out there.

Um, continue to, uh, subscribe, rate, review, send us your feedback, um, and, uh, with that. And until next time, bye everyone.