How does one establish the foundation of a career, so that each step leads you to the next level in terms of roles and responsibilities?
Lindsey Christensen might have it down to a science, as she is a textbook example of someone who has thought strategically about how each position should accelerate the growth of her career.
Christensen was born in Long Island, New York to a financial executive father and a speech pathologist mother. Her family moved to to Massachusetts when she was 7 years old for her Dad’s new job at TJX in Framingham.
Christensen started playing tennis at an early age, which was influenced by her parents who always played the game. She took tennis lessons and attended camps as she was growing up and started to compete against some of the best players in the state. As the captain of her high school team during both her Junior and Senior year, she knew that she wanted to play tennis at the Division I college level, which she did later while studying Marketing and Spanish at Providence College.
Marketing and advertising has always been a passion for Christensen. In high school, she was a member of DECA, a club which prepares emerging leaders and entrepreneurs in high school for careers in different fields. She was a member its marketing club.
After graduating, Christensen’s career in marketing started out in the retail industry for a local tuxedo chain in the Boston area, where she immediately hit the first inflection point in her career. Shortly after joining, the person who was running marketing for the company resigned and Christensen immediately stepped into the role. The position exposed her to a broad set of marketing initiatives from digital marketing, SEO / SEM, guerilla marketing in the form of ambassador programs, and even… cold calling. Yes, the job required her to spend time cold calling brides-to-be from registry lists, which is not the norm for a position in marketing. “It was amazing when you made a sale and deflating when some of the people asked you to never call again,” said Christensen.
From there, she entered the tech industry by joining a business intelligence software company called Symtrax Corporation. “The idea of communicating the value of a software solution was compelling,” said Christensen. “I realized that I had found the right industry for me.”
She recognized that she needed to join a larger company to round out her marketing experience and learn from others with more experience. She joined PTC in Needham, MA, a company with 5,000 employees globally and over 100 people in its marketing function.
She started out as a Marketing Communications Specialist and eventually worked her way up the ranks to a Marketing Program Manager position where she built the marketing programs for one of PTC’s core products, Mathcad.
The job gave her the relevant exposure to marketing tools which are ubiquitous today like social media, content marketing, and video.
After five years, Christensen reached a point where she was ready for a new set of challenges and wanted to join a smaller company, which brought her to GrabCAD as the company’s Content Marketing Manager.
Joining GrabCAD wasn’t an easy decision because of her concern of becoming too specialized in the CAD software industry. She took the leap of faith and after her first two days, she knew that she had made the right decision.
“I was blown away by the speed and agility which the teams at GrabCAD operated,” said Christensen. “Everyone was driven and passionate. There wasn’t any politics and they operated in a highly collaborative culture. It was refreshing and exciting.” At that point, she knew that she was hooked on startups.
Reporting to Rob Stevens (GrabCAD’s VP of Sales & Marketing), Christensen was hired to implement the content marketing strategy for GrabCAD’s first paid product called Workbench. She was also tasked with building out a high-performing demand generation engine to feed the sales team. From the get go, she launched at least one new campaign experiment per month and the team saw a 5x increase in monthly MQLs (marketing qualified leads) despite continuously more rigorous MQL definition.
A year after she joined, GrabCAD was acquired by Stratasys, which was another inflection point in her career. Stevens transitioned out of the company and she was tapped to lead marketing for the software division of Stratasys. It was an opportunity to take the next step in her career and run the full marketing team, where her team supported many products including the launch of GradCAD Print, which was software designed for 3D printers.
A year and a half into that role, she started to get the startup itch again, and missed working with smaller teams. Following that road, led her to the current role of running marketing at TetraScience.
“I met with Alok Tayi, TetraScience’s CEO & Co-Founder, and instantly fell in the love with the company’s mission, team, and market opportunity,” said Christensen. “Everything fell in place very quickly.”
TetraScience is an IoT startup modernizing research by bringing cloud software to scientific labs. Their mission is to accelerate the path to scientific discovery by connecting the lab ecosystem of instrumentation, software, and people. The company was part of Y Combinator’s 2015 spring cohort and it is also backed by Founder Collective, First Round Capital, Floodgate, and Rough Draft Ventures amongst others.
Christensen is excited about the opportunity to join a company where she can build out the marketing function and team from scratch. “I’m in the process of hiring a Demand Generation Marketing Manager, who is going to help us build a high performing marketing engine to support our sales efforts,” she said. “We have the foundation in place and now it's a situation where someone can come in and help shape and own the playbook, plus execute on it. For the right person, I believe this will be a huge career opportunity.”
Not only has Christensen found her passion in startups, but the recognition of her success is also following. She was selected as one of the top 20 female VPs and Directors in Boston tech for Rev Boston’s second class. “It was an honor to be selected and the retreat opened my eyes to other things I should be thinking about like angel investing, mentoring, or joining boards,” said Christensen.
Rapid Fire Q&A
Keith Cline: What time do you wake up in the morning and what’s your morning routine?
Lindsey Christensen: I wake up around 6:30 and head straight to the gym to jump start my day.
KC: Coffee or tea? How many cups per day?
LC: Coffee, and I try to keep it to 3 cups. 3 giant cups.
KC: Once you get to the office, what do you tackle first?
LC: When I get to the office, I check in on my weekly marketing sprint to see where things stand and what needs to be moved along. Then I take a look at the meetings I have for the day. Between the two I come up with a To Do list of what I need to get done by priority.
KC: Where are you most productive?
LC: I’m most productive in the office. I also find it very helpful as a marketer to be surrounded by, and absorbing, what’s going on in the other departments. I get a better understanding of the big picture through the unique conversations and vantage points my teammates have within the market. These snippets influence clearer, more targeted messaging and campaigns.
KC: How do you deal with stress?
LC: On a day to day basis, listening to music while exercising and totally zone out is my form of meditation. But I also look at my year as a whole and make sure to schedule big, exciting vacations. Not only is it something to look forward to, it helps me unplug and be present with the people I care about. Last year’s adventures were Bulgaria and Burning Man.
KC: Best habit and/or worst habit?
LC: Best habit: my nightly routine.
Worst habit: not disconnecting from my phone (further amplified by my apple watch)
KC: Nightly routine?
LC: I make sure everything is packed for my next day - gym clothes, work clothes, toiletries, laptop etc. If I’m not packed for the morning, it’s that much harder to go to the gym. Then right before I go to bed I do my “exercises” which only takes about 5 minutes, and has a big impact:
1) Write down a few things that went well or that I made progress on today
2) Write a few things I want to accomplish tomorrow
3) Write a couple of self-affirmations.
The science behind these exercises are fascinating, and it really works. I keep meaning to write a blog about this….
*** Connect with Lindsey on Twitter: @Lindsey3D