Adobe Head of Experiential Marketing
Brigham Young University MBA, Marketing / Strategy / Management
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
I actually did a career change during the recession back in 2008. I had a design bill business and at the time, Social Media was starting to break through mainstream so I went back and did an MBA and was intrigued by the explosion in tech marketing and social media and through exiting my MBA program, I took a position at Adobe running content strategy. So that's how I did quite a career change into tech marketing space. In adobe, every couple of years, I've been reinventing what I'm doing, reinventing myself and my path. Then about four years ago, I've been experimenting with a lot of experiential marketing things and saw an opportunity to really start building that out and what does customer experience management really looks like.

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Head of Experiential Marketing, Adobe
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
The main responsibility is how do I understand our customers at a very intimate level, understanding their psychology, their motivators, How do they make decisions? What influences them? What their pains are? Their aspirations and the jobs that they're hiring to be done, meaning, what problems are they trying to hire a solution for and then taking those insights and the data and creating relevant journey paths and how we can help the customer with their needs and their aspirations and then curating different touchpoints to help them along that journey and working cross functioning, cross-marketing and sales, and partner and helping them understand how to better connect, engage and motivate the customer according to who they are and their needs. Weekly hours here, I mean, unfortunately, most companies will take as much time as you're willing to give. My recommendation is, and I've been a victim of this as well, where I've not set proper boundaries and I've allowed myself to have to work 80 hour weeks and that's not my recommendation. I also think just learning how to be smarter about your work and also setting boundaries with teams, the teams that I engage with and eliminating unnecessary meetings or wasted time, unnecessary email threads or even a lot of other channels and tools. I think slack can be an official, but also I think it could be a total time suck so the point is, everybody needs to kind of set their boundaries and also identify where can they spend their time most efficiently and on the items that matter most. Work travel, last year and in the previous years, I had quite an extensive work travel schedule. I was doing a lot of work globally. This year just with some changes and some different focuses and where the different kinds of accounts are focusing are primarily local but due to recent Coronavirus outbreak, travel now for the next couple of months is restricted. So now how can you still engage and accomplish business remotely?.

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Head of Experiential Marketing, Adobe
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
I engage with a very broad range of job titles from practitioners up to decision-makers influencers senior executives. Internally in Adobe as well most of the customers I engage with are at a senior level, so they tend to be VP and higher, they're the ones that are making decisions for their firms and also the investments in their technology and they're the ones that are looking at the strategic challenges that they're trying to solve for their company so that's where I engaged a lot with them. On my team, I have amazing people that I work with they help me to deliver, they help me to create different kinds of engagements for experiences from the creative to events to conceptualization. I engage with different marketing teams from demand generation to content as well as on our business operation side who are creating the overall messaging and what is Adobe's go-to-market message. I also engage with partners, agencies from the creative agencies to the service implementation. I also do a lot of engagement now with sales, because I'm really trying to take and evolve how marketing interacts with sales and helping sales take some of these learnings, these amazing customer insights and helping share that knowledge and some new tools and new ways of thinking with the sales team.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Head of Experiential Marketing, Adobe
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
One of the biggest challenge is just helping people expand their thinking and vision. We are in a very dynamic time especially in digital marketing for the past 15 years, there have been certain kind of tactics and channels that have worked, and people have become very comfortable that using those, however, as the consumers behaviors are changing and we're experiencing this very dynamic shift as more millennials are rising to leadership positions now their behavior trends are very different, the current generation and really understanding what are those new expectations and those behavior trends and how do we evolve and how do we meet those needs? How do we talk about those needs? So that means that we have to evolve how do we think and how we act internally as well the need for being able to innovate with more agility. Innovation and creativity are not just relegated to the studio or the creative teams, it's not just about pushing paint or pixels, it's really about problem-solving and looking at something with a whole new perspective or getting inspired in one area and taking that insight and applying it and associating it with a new opportunity. So the accomplishments, I've innovated on some really powerful ways to engage with our customers that have differentiated our company, our brand from others but also has provided a whole lot more meaning as well as making those moments more memorable and sticky with the customers. It's built considerably at deeper levels of trust and respect with them and so we're able to get their attention when they have an inbox that gets 1000 emails a day, I can still get their attention.

How do you inspire and motivate your team members? How do you foster creative thinking? How are ideas shared and implemented?

Based on experience at: Head of Experiential Marketing, Adobe
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
I think one of the biggest gaps in a lot of teams is that teams typically get stuck in just in the day-to-day routines of ticking boxes of their task and they don't allow themselves the space for the time to be inspired, to look outside their immediate tasks for inspiration as well as motivation and as well as additional learning raising both their IQ as well as their EQ. For myself, I have the practice of dedicating a certain amount of time every day to reading relevant content and expanding where I'm getting that content from. I think there are several sources that are amazing medium, the great platform, HBR, 'A Son' Review, McKinsey, PCW lot of the consulting companies all have some newsletters that are providing fantastic content but allowing yourself that space and time and setting that and dedicating that to it. Fostering creativity and what the data the neuroscience has shown us is that a wide range of experiences is one of the most valuable tools for innovation and creativity because your brain and your body have those moments of experiences and it files them away and then when you come across something, those memories and those emotions and those insights are triggered, and you're able to then kind of connect them in a new way. You're able to rematch them and that's where new ideas and creativity happen so allowing yourself to have those diverse experiences and diverse conversations is essential. I frequently send out to my teams or the students that I teach at Brigham Young University, an article that I come across or an interesting book and just sharing it and posing discussion and asking probably conversation-starting questions, sparking conversation.

How do you set targets for your team members? How do you measure their progress? How do you incentivize them to meet their targets?

Based on experience at: Head of Experiential Marketing, Adobe
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
Targets are kind of approach from both the ends, from both where I'm kind of thinking where we should care but also first, I want to understand the vision of that team member and what are they trying to accomplish and then we jointly identify what is the right intention that they should be driving for and then what are the relevant metrics to measure that and also what are the targets. Targets should be something that we stretch for but should not be obscenely out of reach. They need to force us to stretch because that's where the growth and innovation and creativity happens. Measuring progress is again it's identifying those relevant metrics, also part of that process is asking the question of Are these traditional metrics still the relevant ones? Are these the ones that we need to be using or do we need to re-imagine? What metrics make more sense? Do we need to evolve them because the project, or where we're going has evolved? Adobe has corporate incentives, incentives as the company succeed then we benefit but monetary incentives are not always the right motivators. There's no shortage of case studies showing, Wells Fargo is one of the recent ones where the wrong motivator is based on just financial incentives drove the wrong behaviors so it's identifying what are the right motivators because every person is also motivated by different things and so is working with that employee, that team member, and we identify what things really motivate them and that's what we workaround.

What qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Based on experience at: Head of Experiential Marketing, Adobe
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
The qualities that I think are essential are more of the critical thinking and things centered around curiosity because technical skills can easily be taught and I know there's this fixation that marketers and everybody needs to have an analytical skillset but you're running a content analysis, an excel you can pull up that how to do that on YouTube so having that skill set is not as essential, but how to think critically is much harder to teach somebody. Those are the things that I really try to understand and that fall underneath this topic of curiosity, Is someone genuinely curious about things and because if they're looking at data, are they curious to ask the interesting questions like what to do with that data and then how do they come up with the wicked idea of what to do with the insights in the data and how do they make that actionable? Are they able to handle an ambiguous challenge and not require a lot of micromanagement? Do they have the self adventurous spirit to take on that challenge? A lot of the questions, I ask are around trying to uncover that and also, What do people get excited about? When they wake up or they go to bed, what are they constantly thinking about? Try to understand what are the things that really excites, moves and motivates them. I also firmly do believe that cultural fit is essential and because it's essential for both as a team leader and as a company as well it's for the individual. We want to create an environment and put someone in the right position where they're going to grow and we have the conditions that will help them learn to spread their wings.

What is a typical hiring process for a job like yours? What are the titles of people who interview? What questions usually get asked and how to handle them?

Based on experience at: Head of Experiential Marketing, Adobe
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
Experiential marketing is still a very emerging category, and there are not a lot of jobs out there with the explicit job title, experiential marketing or experienced design management, there are some but the majority of the jobs fall in marketing or even strategy and it's more of being able to use those skills that are relevant and I think like that the skillset of really understanding and caring about a customer and truly not building out persona decks based of internal assumptions but really spending time with a customer, observing them, asking questions and truly understanding how they think and then taking those insights that skill set is relevant to any team in an organization, because, at the end of the day, you're having to look at an overall journey and where did those skill sets fit and where's that team touching that customer at that moment. So having those insights are essential to understand how you can help influence the customer at that moment in their journey and then help. I think that students need to learn how to tell a story and how their skill sets are going to be relevant in a myriad of different role opportunities and not just limit and consider or limit to only experiential marketing or experience design management because I think that again, a lot of these firms are still trying to figure out what does that mean so students can speak more to the skillset and the values that they bring to the firm. then they're going to have more success with different titles and the application process as well.

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Head of Experiential Marketing, Adobe
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
There are a lot of different pathways like UX design, marketing, customer insights even sales because all of those things interface with customers and the whole point of experiential. Right now if you Google experiential mostly what's going to pop up are results around events, event management and that is such a very narrow perspective of what experiential or customer experience really is. Customer experience is not just an event, it's not just a touchpoint, it really is a strategy, it's a cultural mindset as well as it has practical implications. So when you start to look at CX, customer experience, experiential management in that perspective then how you view things in the different roles are different. So entry-level jobs are like I mentioned anything around you know UX or design or marketing. I came in through content strategy, and at the time, eight years ago, experiential wasn't really relevant, that topic was not a buzzword, an industry buzzword what it is now but I started doing experiential and I was experimenting with stuff because I was asking the curious questions like how can we engage with these core executives who are our target audience? How can we engage with them in a much more meaningful and memorable way than the typical marketing tactics that we were running? Because I was seeing a shift in those behaviors from those executives and so I was trying to tap into their behavior changes and their psychology to align with those needs and that's where I was experimenting with stuff that was connecting and resonating at more of an experiential level and also experimenting with how to give them more tools rather than just a sales pitch about our product in technology but truly understanding what are their needs, and then using different ways to engage with them what brought a lot more value. I think that there are myriad of ways into it but it's necessarily not just the roles with a title you go after but more how you approach that role.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? What major challenges did you face in your job?

Based on experience at: Owner / CEO, Fuse Development
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
At Fuse, I built a firm where I was building out commercial development projects and the major responsibilities were identifying investment opportunities and looking for the highest and best use of whether it's the raw real estate or an existing building and then what would be the right product that we could put in there that would align with the market needs. So a lot of it was looking at the market needs and which was again, that was just basic customer insights and customer discovery of looking for, Where is the pain point? Where is an opportunity to solve a problem and understanding those consumers needs and aspirations and then creating a vision of what would best align with those needs. Major challenges were just being open to really uncover customer discoveries but then with development one of the challenges was that a lot of traditional investors and investment firms and banks they revert back to very traditional approaches and so helping them learn to expand their vision and to be more agile of customers changing needs to just where they investor dollars and the types of products that they're invested into.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: MBA, Marketing / Strategy / Management, Brigham Young University
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
One of the most beneficial aspects of my MBA experience was participating in as many case studies as possible. I did the full-time MBA and some of my peers, their perspective of the MBA program was they were just trying to get through the two years. My perspective was, I only have two years to maximize everything that's here, to maximize the insights from these professors and I invested into very personal relationships with most of my professors and when I had questions, all the time, any time they were willing to share outside the classroom, I was taking them up on that offer and trying to again learn as much as I could from them. The case studies were fantastic because most of the time they were with companies that had real problems trying to solve and it was a way to take the learnings, the frameworks, the insights that we were exploring inside the classroom to put them to practice on your projects plus it was a way to extend my innovation and these wild and crazy ideas into testament. Case studies are like amazing experiments because if you use your insights and the data and the things you've learned and then you come up with a great idea, you get to then throw it out there and build an experiment, test it and see what happens and those are the most powerful learnings.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: B.A, English, Brigham Young University
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
I took a similar approach with my Bachelors, I took a bit of a wide range of types of classes for my electives, my required elective courses because they started exposing me to new ideas or things that were outside of my specific area. The reason I did an English major when I started at the university, my intention was always to do an MBA program. I went to meet with the MBA counselors and asked them their advice on what undergrad major I should focus on and they actually encouraged me not to do a business major because they said in the first semester of MBA, you're going to cover everything that you would cover in entire undergrad business degree so they encouraged me to do something around critical thinking, which was communications or English and I thought, Well, I enjoy good books so I chose the English major and that's why I ended up there. Looking back, if I had that choice again, I probably would have focused on the communications because it just would have given me a bit more exposure to things like advertising, I got exposed to those but those were through my own kind of self-discovery so having a bit more of a structure or just earlier awareness to those things would have helped. I took my English degree, I'm aging myself but back in 1998, my first year of undergrad, there was a visual literacy course that was being taught, and it fulfilled one of my elective credits that was the first time and what attracted me to it was in the description they said that you'll learn how to use photoshop, Adobe illustrator and critical thinking around these things and what is visual literacy. I had no idea what any of those things, but they sounded interesting so I talked with the professor and she told me a little bit more about what they were, and I thought, Wow, this could really interesting and it blew my mind because, in that class, I learned some basic design skills and some of the skills with the software and I started applying those things in all my other classes. Any time I had to give a presentation, I was designing a presentation that was much more engaging, and that could communicate my ideas and a better way. I use these skills when I graduated with my undergrad degree, I started my own business, furniture design, and production business. I didn't have any resources to hire, a design firm to build out a portfolio or any of my marketing collateral but I had learned those basic skills and so I was able to do it myself, I created my own collateral and communications and pieces because of those skills that I had learned.

Would you like to share something that is not on your resume? This may include your passions, facing setbacks or adversities, a unique experience, or an unexpected help.

Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
For me, one of the unexpected experiences have been the most profound things that have helped me and just being open to different experiences and also being genuinely interested in people and their stories. Several years ago, I came across the moth radio and that was a very powerful moment for me because I started hearing these and it was almost a weekly episode and these stories that people share and it got me thinking in a different perspective around how I approached business and how I view customers rather than just viewing them as a transaction, it's more of a transformation and a journey and really trying to empathize with their struggles and their needs and then how can I help them solve their things? Those moments have been really powerful for me and have shaped my career and also they have shaped the way how I look at what matters to me in the career, the companies that I want to work for and also shifting on where I'm putting my priorities in my life and what I want. It's not just about a constant career ladder growth, constantly focus on raising my role title, but more of really focusing on, Am I having an impact? What is that impact? What's the intention behind my work?.

Do you have any parting advice for students hoping to get to a position such as yours? What 3 dos and 3 don'ts would you suggest?

Based on experience at: Head of Experiential Marketing, Adobe
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Wed Mar 11 2020
Let's start with do's, number one is to stay curious. Number two, make a list of dare to, what are the things that you are daring to do, daring to be empathetic, daring to expose yourself to diverse experiences and diverse conversations. Number three is truly understanding who you are and why you do what you do. The three don'ts are don't be afraid of being uncomfortable because in today's market things are constantly changing and you have to learn to be comfortable being uncomfortable. Don't be afraid to reimagine and reinvent yourself as again your interests evolve or the markets change, don't be afraid to evolve from what you had become very good at and try something completely different. Then the third one is don't ever forget to be empathetic and to appreciate and to accentuate humanity.