January 31, 2018

Lead(H)er - Jane Price, Senior VP of Marketing at Interactions

“One of my very first jobs was working as a design engineer at Ford. At the time, my team looked at different technologies and consumer buying patterns to figure out how to build an electric vehicle. The project got me really interested in the business world—consumer behavior and what makes a good product. It took me out of my engineering bubble and I decided to become more business-focused in order to have a larger scale impact,” said Jane Price, Senior VP of Marketing at Interactions.

With her love of cars and problem solving, Jane gravitated towards Michigan’s main trade. Armed with a degree in electrical engineering, Jane left the University of Michigan ready to tackle the automotive industry.

“Being in the Michigan environment, it’s all about cars. I also had a love of cars and would often putter around with little simple things on cars that I had. I had this really strong desire, as I think many folks did out there, to go into the automotive industry. That was my plan.”

Jane’s first job out of school was working at Ford Motor Company as a Design Engineer. She was part of their concept electrical vehicle program, an offshoot startup with a mission to develop something a lot like Tesla is today.

“For the time, it would have been a very progressive electric vehicle that was able to go the distance and provide all the creature comforts of every other vehicle out there. It was an amazing and fun project to work on early in my career. Unfortunately, it was ahead of its time. Back in ‘93/’94, Ford was selling SUVs and there wasn’t a huge demand for electric vehicles. Everybody was beginning to worry about fuel economy and trying to invest in something but no consumers were actually buying it and the government wasn’t really pushing it,” Jane explained.

Although the project didn’t end up working out, the experience helped Jane realize that she was also interested in the business side of things. When she moved to Boston with her husband, she used the move as an opportunity to transition into a more business-centric role.

With Jane’s background in engineering, she decided consulting would be a great fit. Taking what she learned at Ford, she stepped into a role evaluating technical projects for other companies.  

“I went to work for a consulting company for a few years that was actually consulting back into the automotive industry. We were doing forecasting and custom projects for different companies. Working with many different automotive companies and suppliers, I helped figure out business plans and go to market strategies for things they were considering doing.”

A few years into consulting, Jane decided it was time for a change. Although she found it fun and exciting, she wanted more ownership and the ability to see a project all the way through.

This led her to her first product marketing role at MathWorks in Natick, MA. Brought into a blend of product marketing and product management, she started out working with math and analysis products and later started a business unit focused on test and measurement.

“I have this theme of choosing companies that are doing cool stuff with tech and starting with them when they’re small. It’s funny, I joined MathWorks there was like 400 and now they’re like 3,600 people. It’s amazing to see the growth in these companies and watch them expand from there,” Jane smiled.

After several years at MathWorks, Jane switched things up and went on to TripAdvisor, a B2C company in the travel space. When she entered the company, TripAdvisor was small at the time and still in early-stage growth.

Jane joined the team as Senior Product Manager where she was responsible for growing the user base and getting more reviews.

”Through the projects that my teams and I put in place, we were able to double the member base. It was an amazing experience and completely different for me. Fundamentally, consumer marketing is a different beast. With B2B marketing, you’re targeting certain companies and your world is a little bit smaller. Suddenly, I was at TripAdvisor and I had the test set of millions of eyeballs every day and large demographic base to target.”

Staying in the consumer realm, Jane accepted the Director of Project Marketing role at a few years later. They were another small company looking to build rapidly.

“While at, I focused on building out the product marketing team and bringing in more families that were looking for caregivers and household help to get things done. It’s a subscription-based model so that changed things up completely from TripAdvisor and all the tech I’d worked with previously. was really a chance at growing another company, growing my skills and making an impact again.”

Today, Jane is at Interactions, the intelligent customer care company headquartered in Franklin. She’s been the with the company for about five years, transitioning from the Senior Director of Product Marketing to the Senior Vice President of Marketing.

“Interactions is in the B2B space, but all of the companies I’ve worked for were doing something innovative in their space and in technology. I’ve worked for companies that were really groundbreaking and trying to do something that was disruptive and new. That’s what brought me to want to join Interactions, move back into the B2B space and focus on all the great stuff that’s happening now in AI, speech and customer care.”

Interactions builds Intelligent Virtual Assistants for customer care. They create applications that communicate with people through the channel of their choice, whether that be voice, text, or digital, to help people complete tasks like making a reservation at a hotel, paying their utility bills, or inquiring about a late order. “What’s really appealed to me about Interactions is that they flipped the view on customer care -- rather than saying ‘How can I teach consumers to interact with technology’ we ask ‘How can the technology respond to consumers?’ That’s important when every consumer interaction can impact brand perception and customer retention.”

“There were only two of us in the marketing department when I started at Interactions, so my job’s been to build the team along with the core messaging and the Interactions brand. We’d been kind of the best-kept secret in the Massachusetts tech market, so we started with the basics of building the brand and awareness, then putting in place a high-performing demand generation and customer retention strategy. I always end up having a diverse and busy day where I’m constantly going from deep tech to some more creative types of tasks. I’m constantly using both sides of the brain and I wouldn’t have it any other way,” Jane said with a smile.

Rapid Fire Questions

BS: How do you manage stress?

JP: I need my thirty minutes to an hour of working out before dawn—that’s how I do it. That’s my ritual and the period of time that’s all to myself. I can push myself as hard or as little as I want during that time. It’s my way of dealing with stress and keeping it at bay.

BS: How many cups of coffee do you drink a day?

JP: Zero. I’m a tea drinker. I usually have a giant mug in the morning and a smaller green tea in the afternoon.

BS: What do you like to do in your free time?

JP: I have two kids so I like to be with them. I also love to bake and cook, which is also part of what relieves stress for me in the evening and on weekends. I have a box of my grandmother’s old recipes from way back when and it’s sort of been my hobby to take all her recipes and convert them to the healthier versions of today.

BS: Where is your favorite spot in Boston?

JP: I love the Common. I always tend to gravitate to the green space. I love the hustle and bustle around me. Outside of Boston, I like running the loop around Fresh Pond in Cambridge. Those are the places I just go to unwind to still feel like I’m in the middle of it all and in nature.

BS: If you had to choose one thing, what would you say is your greatest accomplishment other than family?

JP: Right now, I’m sitting here and thinking of my team. Bringing this great group together composed of both people I met in the past and people I’ve never met before, I feel so fortunate. Each one of them has added amazingly to what we’re doing as a company and how we get things done. Not only that, but I just have so much fun working with the group that we have here. To me, half of the work is the people that you’re with every day. Having this amazingly talented group of folks work at Interactions is just fabulous and I do feel really proud of that.

BS: Ten years ago, is this where you would have seen yourself?

JP: (laughs) No. I can’t imagine that I would have known ten years ago that this is where I would end up. I don’t know what the answer would have been. I probably still would have been doing consumer marketing. I honestly have to say, I would have imagined that I would have been less work-focused and a little more kid-focused, ten years ago when I was really in the thick of things. I really think that work is so interesting and so engaging and such an important part of my life that having a strong focus there and being a role model for my daughter (hopefully she thinks that) as somebody who’s taken on a lot of things is really important. I think it would have been a different picture back then but I’m completely happy with where life has taken me.

BS: What one piece of advice would you give to a recent college graduate?

JP: When you’re in college, study what you’re really interested in and expect that you’ll never really do that when you get out. Starting out as an engineer, I would have never figured I’d end up in marketing. I think you have to take what you’ve learned, use that and decide how you can apply that in the ways that give you the most professional satisfaction.

Brianne Shelley is a Contributor to VentureFizz and an Account Executive at ezCater. Follow Brianne on Twitter: @MuddleandMix.

Images courtesy of Jane Price.

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