HERstory: Meghan Keaney Anderson, VP, Marketing, HubSpot
As vice president of marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson leads the content, product marketing, and academy teams for HubSpot. Together with her teams, she's responsible for the company's blogs, podcast, and overall content strategy as well as the company's product launch and customer education programs. Meghan also hosts the Growth Show Podcast and occasionally writes for both blog.hubspot.com and thinkgrowth.org.
How did you break into leadership?
It's funny to think of it now, because it wasn't all that deliberate or defined. Put simply, I followed the work. I chased after projects of increasing scope and as those were successful the team grew. As the team grew, and those people chased after projects themselves, the company grew. Add in more than a handful of points of reflection about how to do better, be better, enable better—and there you have it.
Except, of course, you don't, because leadership is not a steady state. There are some days when things are really clicking and I'm seeing clearly and unselfishly when I can say I'm truly leading. There are others that are total misses. I work to accumulate the good days.
What unique obstacles or challenges have you faced as a woman in a tech leadership role?
I've always worked at organizations in which women were valued. I mean, I've had my fair share of #MeToo moments. (I once went on a job interview that uncomfortably turned out to be a date, though that's a story for another time.) But, luckily, in the places I've worked and for the people who've mattered, my skills and dedication have always come first.
One thing that HAS stood in the way, at points, is the fact that my personality is on the quieter side. I think that's distinct from gender, but it has been something to overcome. People expect leaders to be loud. Everyone is looking for the most outspoken person in the room. Over the years, I've grown better at being a different kind of leader and making it work in any environment, but it takes adjustment.
How did you adapt as a new manager?
A few years ago, when I was promoted to VP at HubSpot and took on an expanded team, I got a great piece of advice from my colleague Brad Coffey, now Chief Strategy Officer at HubSpot. He told me that often, in new roles and with new teams, people have an instinct not to rock the boat too much. They want to ease into leadership. But, he said, those first 90 days matter. The first 90 days in a job are when the people around you are paying the closest attention. They're looking to see what kind of leader you'll be; what kind of vision you'll set. Take a few days, listen to as many people as you can, settle yourself—but then act. Don't wait to make a mark. Marry a strong long-term vision with some quick, early wins, he said. The advice meant a lot to me at the time and still informs my approach to new projects and teams.
If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
I would be less timid in places. I would own up to not knowing things more often, so that I could learn them earlier. I would demand more of myself and the people around me. I would write more and meeting less. But then, the day is young, as they say.
What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
I feel like my career is a never-ending conveyer belt of interesting moments. When I worked at United Way and the organization kicked off a new approach to ending homelessness in Massachusetts. When I took the leap to my first tech startup and saw it acquired in 2011 by HubSpot. When I led my first product launch. When I saw my first direct report lead his first product launch. When I saw our blog team break readership milestone after milestone. When we launched The Growth Show, our first podcast, and I started to get the hang of hosting it. All of the moments when someone on my team or a guest on the podcast made me look at something differently for the first time. I promise you, this article is not long enough for all the highlights I've been fortunate enough to experience.
Share something interesting or valuable with the community.
We're in production of a new season of The Growth Show, which will launch this winter. The season is all about turnaround stories: Companies and people who came back from the brink. One of my favorite stories so far is the story of Mark Hellendrung and Narragansett Beer. It's the story of a brand that lost its way – truly – and had to re-find the principles and identity that made it what it was. To me, Mark is one of the best examples out there of building a career (and a business) in a genuine and grounded way. It's not out yet, but you can subscribe and get a preview here: bit.ly/thegrowthshow.