Where did you grow up and how would you describe yourself as a child?
I was born in Russia and grew up in Andover, Massachusetts. I moved to the United States with my family when I was six, and went straight into first grade without knowing any English. That experience definitely shaped me as a child. Instead of regular English classes, I went to ESL. I didn’t like being separated from my classmates and wanted to fit in, so I was really motivated to work hard and figure things out quickly. I think a lot of that drive came from my parents, and just seeing how hard they worked. They also really valued education, so grades were always super important.
What did you study in college and what was your first job out of school?
I majored in communications, with a minor in education. Growing up, I always wanted to be a teacher. I thought marketing was interesting too, but that was originally a backup plan. My first job out of school was in client services at Brown Brothers Harriman.
Can you share the details on your career path and what were the critical moments that got you to where you are today?
I had a great career trajectory at Brown Brothers, but just didn’t feel like I was on the right path. I decided to take a risk and join what was then a small startup, ZoomInfo.
I was quickly entrusted with a lot of different marketing channels. Resources were limited, so I had to prove everything, hold campaigns and channels accountable, and have positive ROI.
If I made a mistake, I had to fail fast. My team had to be nimble, get things done, and build processes and infrastructure so we could scale. I don’t think I would have really gotten to where I am if I didn’t have that experience.
I stayed at ZoomInfo for eight years, through two acquisitions and an IPO.
What is your current role and responsibilities?
I’m currently CMO at Spiff. My team’s responsibility is two-fold. We're responsible for generating the majority of the pipeline, whether through digital marketing, demand gen, or our SDR org. On the other side, we really focus on the customer experience with new product launches, and making sure our internal team is aware of the incredible solutions we're bringing to market.
Looking back, is this where you thought you’d be professionally? Was it always your goal to be in this position?
This is definitely not where I thought I’d be 20 years ago, but for the past five years or so, my career has been heading in this direction. I’m really excited for the journey ahead and the position I am in. We have the ability to build a great team and bring an incredible product to market. So grateful for the opportunity I have in front of me.
For people who are looking to be in a similar position, what advice would you give to others in terms of helping them achieve their career goals?
Be data-driven, and focus on initiatives you can measure and replicate. Then you can double down on what’s working, and stop doing the things that aren’t.
Also, focus on hiring. Find good people who care about and understand the end goal, so you’re aligned. Most importantly, treat them well. I don’t think any person in a senior position could have gotten to where they are or at least been impactful without their team behind them.
What are the most important skills that you need to do your job well?
I think being able to communicate clearly with both the internal team and other stakeholders is crucial— like making sure the sales org understands your goals and strategy. Another important skill is being able to identify the key criteria you should be measuring. Hiring and recruiting is also big, you can find the top talent you need for each individual role on your team.
What do you find most interesting/rewarding about your work? What’s the most challenging?
Our team sets pretty challenging goals— whether it’s generating new pipeline or launching new productions— so when we hit them, it’s just super rewarding.
Another thing I really love about my job is being able to promote other people— not just their title and salary, but also the work that they put forth. Focusing on the people is so important. How do we take care of one another? How do we support women on our team? How do we build a core culture of high performers, who are still kind and caring? That’s what I’m really excited to be doing.
As for challenges, we haven’t necessarily had the full headcount we’ve needed to achieve our goals. It takes time to lay the foundations in marketing orgs, and I’m always trying to hire the right people, but sometimes it can feel like refueling in the air.
What is your proudest professional accomplishment?
My team. I’m really grateful to have had so many people follow me when I joined Spiff. Everything we’ve accomplished so far would have taken longer and been harder if we didn’t have such an incredible core team, who put their trust in me before there were any major marketing initiatives here. At the same time, I think new perspectives are so important. I’m just so unbelievably proud of our team and excited to continue growing.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I love spending time with my family, and try to get everyone together at least one a month. I also really enjoy trying out new restaurants with my friends and traveling with my husband.
How do you manage stress?
I make lists, identify my biggest priorities, and then try to not to worry about the smaller things at first. Sometimes I have to reshuffle, but it helps keep my focus on what’s most important.
How many cups of coffee do you have in a day?
I try to limit myself to one Venti, and spread it throughout the day.
Any book or podcast recommendations?
I really enjoyed Essentialism by Greg McKeown. I think a lot of women say yes when they shouldn’t, because they have enough on their plate already. I try to focus on the most impactful things on any given day, and this book has some great guidance on how to do that.
What advice do you have for recent college graduates?
Don’t get hung up on what title you think you should have, or the salary you believe you deserve. Just get in there, do the work, and get your hands dirty. If you work hard, you’ll move up quickly. If you can find something you love, things won’t feel as tedious along the way. Also, learn from others. Being new is actually a great opportunity, because there are so many smart people willing to help if you ask.