June 23, 2016

TrueMotion's Rebecca Churt: Fearlessly Conquering Every Obstacle Across her Career

This post appears as part of our Driven profile series, spotlighting some of the hottest movers and shakers from all corners of the Boston tech and startup space. Know someone we ought to chat with? Let us know

Talk about marketing powerhouses in the Boston tech scene, and there are some obvious individuals who’ll come to mind first. Mike Volpe, former CMO at HubSpot, for example. And Jay Acunzo, VP of Platform at NextView Ventures. Dave Gerhardt, Marketing Lead at Drift.

Then there’s Rebecca Churt, Director of Marketing at TrueMotion. This no-nonsense marketing pro has a background steeped in B2B marketing: she’s owned SEO and demand generation functions at Hubspot. She helped the same company scale internationally. She’s a branding and messaging expert. She’s committed to helping pave the way for more female tech leaders in Boston.

Today, she’s leading the marketing charge at TrueMotion, where she’s dipping her toes into B2C marketing for the first time ever. In short, this woman does it all - without ever batting an eyelash when the next big challenge unveils itself.

I recently caught up with Churt to learn more about how she’s scaled her career, what she’s doing now, and her knack for fearlessly scaling every obstacle in her path. Read more in the interview below.

Kaite Rosa: You started your career in gift giving, working for the Human Rights Campaign (HRC). What prompted you to transition to marketing?

Rebecca Churt: Fundraising and development at a nonprofit is very much like marketing. You’re very closely tied to communications, and donor relations isn’t too far removed from account management. There’s a nice relationship between the different functions. You’re effectively marketing to grow reach and retention.

KR: You’ve grown your marketing career fairly quickly and you’ve worked for some impressive companies: HubSpot, OpenView, Boston Logic, to name a few. What can you tell me about your career progression?

RC: It’s been a great transition from one career point to the next, always with the thread of communications and software along the way.

When I joined HubSpot, I was one of the first 50 employees. The software itself was totally different back then, and we had the opportunity to make it into something. I was consultant number six. That ended up being an account management-type role. We all were really hands-on with every single one of our customers.

Then, an opportunity presented itself: to figure out how to tap into a larger market, one that wasn’t being touched by the company. A very large number of leads were coming to HubSpot from Europe. Myself and another woman were the ones to basically start HubSpot Europe and to figure out how to market abroad. There was a time where I was working basically 6 a.m. to 9 p.m. a number of days per week to make sure I could cover the span of the entire globe and provide  customers with consulting hours.

I had the opportunity to try on lots of different hats. I was part of monthly executive meeting that presented to an internal team on anything that was considered an experiment. I would present on HubSpot Europe’s success, how the personas were different.

It taught me a lot about what’s important to a business and how to sustainably grow it. I really got to see how things were happening behind the scenes.

KR: Wow! How did you maintain your sanity while working those crazy hours? What did you do to manage stress?

RC: The thing I’ve found at any startup is that things always go in stops and spurts. I knew an insane schedule wouldn’t be the norm. I knew there would be a lull and I could pull back a bit. It’s kind of what gets me through [busy times]. It’s like when you do a [road race]. There are mile markers. You know how much more is going to come.

KR: You’re a native German. Did your European roots come as an advantage while you were working to scale HubSpot abroad?

RC: It was an advantage, in terms of understanding cultural differences, different cultures’ conversation styles, and how to resolve problems without them escalating. It helped me on the customer experience side, for sure.

KR: How old were you when you moved here?

RC: I was 15. My mother is American, and we would spend summers in the Berkshires. So I could speak the language [when I moved here], and today I have no noticeable accent.

I didn’t know how to read or write English, though. They held me back a school year, even though I was in senior math, senior science, and senior french classes.

That, along with the culture shock, was disheartening. But I was heads down and spent all my days, and nights, and weekends in books, trying to catch up. I remember sitting in the library, going through encyclopedias, copying page by page down verbatim just so I could get the vernacular.

KR: That says a lot about your work ethic and how you process and handle challenges. What are some of the biggest obstacles you’ve faced in your career? How have you overcome those?

RC: At Hubspot, opening an international office was stricken from the project plan three times. Any other person would have taken the first or second no and said, “Thank you very much. I will try something else now.” But I stuck with it. It wasn’t until three years into [the project] that I decided to switch gears and get more hands-on.

You get told no a lot on your career. But no doesn’t always mean, “No”. Sometimes it means, “Not right now.” I’d go back into the trenches, double down, and trust that they [HubSpot leadership] would explore it when the time was right. Not every business is like that. But if you have a sense of who you’re working with - if they’re smart capable people - then trust that they’re making the right decisions.

KR: How did you deal with all those nos? That would leave the average person feeling very defeated.

RC: The first time was rough. By the second time, I took a little bit of time off. I had some really great managers and really great mentors who helped get me through it. My coworkers were phenomenal. I think people at HubSpot have a high EQ - emotional quotient.

After three years, the conversation I started having was, “Is there anything else I want to go into?” I decided I wanted to do marketing, and Volpe took me in right away.

If you know you have options and choices, you feel less cornered and more empowered to make a good decision for yourself. I knew that eventually it [opening an international office] was something we would have to do - even if it wasn’t happening at that point.

KR: What was it like to work with Volpe? Does he live up to his reputation?

RC: As his reputation says, he’s one of the most brilliant marketing minds. There’s no shortage of crazy ideas he has. He’s really encouraging to try really far out stuff, when a lot of companies would say, “No way. That’s too risky.”

Every time we did a project, it was in the same sprint cycle as it was for development and sales. It was really fun and interesting, and he was really tightly aligned with sales. He’s one of the [leaders] that made the relationship successful between sales and marketing at HubSpot. The communication between those departments set the course of how everyone else on those teams worked with each other.

KR: Can you tell me a bit about your time at OpenView?

RC: I took a little bit of time off after HubSpot to figure out what I wanted to do. A partner there reached out to see if I wanted to do marketing for the firm and its portfolio. It gave me the ability to do best of both things I did at HubSpot, but in one place.

A lot of my time was focused internally. I helped them revamp their content and social strategy, in terms of how they were positioning themselves. I put the plans into motion as to what that new brand identity was and helped them get crisp on their messaging and positioning.

While at OpenView, I started a conversation internally around what we could do to hire more women, and how to better support our portfolio in doing so.

We built great partnerships with Women in Tech and Startup institute. They did a training session and started working with the recruiting team. It’s something I’ve always been passionate about. That was my CTA [call-to-action] for the community, to figure out a more proactive plan for people to put women into management positions.

It was a really hard conversation for some people to have. I think they felt outside of their comfort zone. They didn’t know how to talk to it. I did a little bit of coaching with folks there about what it looks like to have that conversation. It’s quite alright to not have an answer. To express outwardly that you don’t know the answer is valid. It was about getting them comfortable about not knowing.

KR: How does that CTA fuel your day-to-day now?

RC: I practice what I preach. You have to help plow a pathway for rising stars and know how to pluck those people out of a crowd and give them opportunities. Not everyone stands up, but if you see potential, you can help them refine their skills and give them the opportunity to see what else they can do.

It’s really about figuring out how can you be more proactive as a manager - whether you’re male or female. You need to bring those people along with you, and that’s something I’ve always believed in doing.

KR: You joined TrueMotion in February. What attracted you to the company initially?

RC: The new CEO had come through as someone we had in a meet and greet at OpenView. He brought me over to TrueMotion and offered me Head of Marketing. Once I met with the founding team, I was completely sold. Joe and Brad are incredibly humble, passionate, and brilliant.

The entire organization is filled with so many smart people. The problem they’re trying to solve through tech is something that is personally part of my mission. It’s really cool. I now do B2B and B2C marketing. We’re launching an app for consumers, and on the B2B side, we market directly to insurers.

KR: You didn’t have prior B2C experience, did you?

RC: The B2C world is a little new to me, but I think any marketer needs to know how to reach an audience through mobile. Being able to market an app and draw in a large consumer base isn’t too different from the work I did with HubSpot Europe, for instance.

It’s a stretch for me personally. I like that. I like to push myself to try new things, learn areas that are otherwise completely foreign to me.      


Kaite Rosa is Director of Content & Marketing at VentureFizz. Follow her on Twitter: @KaiteRosa

Image via Unsplash

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