Estimated Reading Time: 5 minutes

BLUFF (Bottom Line Up Front): Armed with a history degree and a foot in the door at Yahoo!, Beth Pyne discovered her passion for marketing through exposure to cross-functional departments. Eighteen years – and five companies – later, Beth is now VP of Marketing at Salient. Her advice to people starting on their career journey? You never know where you will be in five, 10, or even 15+ years into your career.

When I tell people that I fell into tech, I really mean it.  I attended a liberal arts college that didn’t offer communications, business, or other career specific majors. There I was, armed with a degree in history and unsure what I was going to do after I graduated.

Living in Boston, a staffing company helped me secure two interviews for a temp-to-hire position at Yahoo! Luckily, I got the position and started in a lead qualifier role. While completing inbound requests for Yahoo! advertising sales, I learned sales wasn’t for me.  As it turned out, Yahoo! needed an executive assistant (EA) for the head of the department/office in Boston. When they offered me the position, I accepted.  

Finding My Passion for Marketing

The EA position tends to have a bad connotation; I don’t know where this comes from or why.  At the time, I didn’t tell friends or family my title. I wasn’t embarrassed by it, but more afraid of what they might think. We need to totally erase the stigma around what people think about EAs; often, they are chiefs of staff, event managers, facilitators, or organizers. An EA is somebody’s right hand person that they rely on. As for me, if it wasn’t for my time as an EA, I may have never found my love for marketing.  

Getting Cross-Department Exposure

The great part about being an EA is that I got exposure to many cross-functional departments. Other teams brought me into their inner circle and leaned on me to help when they needed additional support. Like many in my position, I worked in human relations, project management, and supported regional and national events. With this varied exposure, I could see where I could best utilize my skills for my next career move. That’s where I found a passion for event marketing. By being part of the larger initiatives and working with both internal stakeholders, trade associations and customer/prospects, I knew I could help impact market awareness and consideration. Luckily, I had bosses who believed in me and helped me get to the next level.

One boss in particular left Yahoo!, and offered me the opportunity of joining her team as an event marketing manager at Demand Media (now Leaf Group). In July of 2010, I sold my Boston condo, packed up my bags, and moved to NYC. My time at Demand Media provided me the experience I needed to further my knowledge in event marketing such as:

  • How to work with sales to identify which events drive ROI
  • Identify the right partnerships and associations for our business
  • Where I should focus my time and energy

After a few years at Demand Media, I was ready for my next challenge. A close friend recommended me for a job as the global events senior manager at a personalization software company. Excited to try something new, I happily accepted the role. 

Goodbye, Advertising. Hello, Software.

Software was eye opening to me. I now attended trade shows both big and small, client and user summits, roundtable dinners, and more. We were selling to the top 1,000 global retailers. I was traveling a lot, going to the UK, Las Vegas, LA, San Francisco, Seattle and more, and loved every minute of it.

With my transition into tech, I sharpened my skills and learned a wealth of knowledge about:

  • Our buyers and partners
  • The events where we wanted to show up
  • Measuring ROI
  • How to activate the marketing funnel
  • Working with creatives, SDRs, sales leadership, and more to drive brand awareness and prominence
  • Testing  new events and programs to see if they’re drive results

Moving from Events to VP of Marketing

Notably, I got to work closely with leadership to ensure everyone was aligned on what we were aiming to achieve and how we planned to get there. The team size ebbed over the years, and I took on additional responsibility until I became the director of marketing for North America with a global events focus. With my new role came a great new mentor. While infuriating at times (and he will admit this), this CMO challenged me and allowed me to truly grow as a marketer.

After more than six years at RichRelevance, sadly my time was complete. The market was shifting. They had to make some tough decisions and I was laid off. This was an upsetting and scary experience for me as I never was laid off before. That said, it was a huge personal and professional lesson. Layoffs are scary, but you can make it to the other side, and I did. I ended up joining an amazing team Verve where I could explore something new: mobile ad-tech.

Taking on Programmatic Advertising

What drove me to Verve, outside of the team, was its ties to personalization. Instead of e-commerce personalization and shopping journeys, they used what they call “Movement Science” to deliver personalized advertising to consumers. While I was only at Verve a short time, I grew my skill set and experience by supporting marketing and sales leadership as well as the individual sales teams to help them market through an acquisition while maintaining business as usual. I learned so much about programmatic advertising, which had changed a lot since I had been away from the advertising space. I also learned about mobile location platforms, white labeled solutions, and much more and my former Verve boss thankfully introduced me to Mack McKelvey, SalientMG, where I gladly work as VP of Marketing.

So five companies, including SMG, in 18 years…That’s not a bad run.  The bosses from my days at Yahoo!, Verve, and beyond are the same bosses who still believe in me today.

My advice to people starting on their journey? You never know where you will be in five, 10, or even 15+ years into your career. I am not ashamed that I started as an executive assistant because I would have never discovered my passion for marketing.  On my career journey, I thank all the smart people who pushed me, taught me something new, and gave me opportunities. Without you, I would never be where I am today.

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