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HERstory: Almitra Karnik

Head of Marketing, CleverTap

Almitra Karnik heads marketing for CleverTap, a mobile marketing platform that empowers marketers to build powerful customer experiences. Almitra has over 10+ years of experience in marketing leadership across the globe. She has led marketing efforts for various Fortune 500 companies, such as Cisco and EMC, and startups, such as Twilio and Splunk. Almitra’s expertise is in building data-driven marketing functions that tie directly to customer acquisition and revenue growth. 

How did you break into leadership?

I believe leadership is not about having direct reports. It is about influence—the ability to achieve objectives without direct power or force.

As a product marketer, I had to work with many functions and show the mutual merits of certain initiatives using data. This helped me to accomplish goals and execute on strategies sooner—without contention. The ability to deliver positive outcomes with predictability would be one quality that I feel helps you create a leadership brand for yourself.

What unique obstacles or challenges have you faced as a woman in a tech leadership role?

Only 25 percent of executive- and senior-level officials and managers are women. And, as recently as 2016, 43 percent of the 150 highest-earning public companies in Silicon Valley had no female executive officers at all.

In leadership meetings, when you look around the room, there are hardly any women. It has been challenging to get more female representation at board-level or executive-level strategy discussions at various companies that I have worked at.

Especially in tech, there is a sharp drop from the number of women in engineering to the number of women in leadership roles. Also, hiring women at all levels has been a challenge, and I have always strived to build teams that don’t compromise on merit but, at the same time, make an additional effort to recruit and interview women.

What’s your opinion on making big career moves?

After working for over 12 years in San Francisco, I decided to use my knowledge and experience to help brands in emerging markets adopt advanced technology trends and learn from these fast-growing markets.

Change is always difficult but the excitement to learn something new can help you overcome any apprehensions that you might have.

The world is converging and opportunities are limitless. Either grasp an opportunity that you get, or create one for yourself. Life is too short! 🙂

If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?

I would get more involved in helping solve issues around the glass ceiling. I have been part of diversity and career advancement cells in various organizations that I have worked for, but I would like to invest more time and effort on these to help other women who might have taken a break from the workforce or cannot find a home when they come back from a sabbatical. If you are in a position of power and can make a difference, you should make the most use of it.

What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?

When I network with my peers and we chat about marketing, it is great to see that there is a niche that I carved out which blends in marketing and tech perfectly. I come from an engineering background and have an MBA. This combination enables me to better understand technology and articulate the value proposition to savvy customers easily. Also, since I have worked with brands that value tech, it gives you an advantage when you present at conferences or talk to engineering leadership, since now you can talk the same language and better communicate your needs.

Share something valuable or interesting with the community.

“One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted. Do it now.” –Paulo Coelho

Thanks to Jes Kirkwood who conducted this interview in February 2018.

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