Juliana Casale is President of the Quick Wins Department, a website optimization company. She is also a freelance marketing consultant to online businesses. Formerly, she was the Head of Marketing Services at Clearbanc (a fintech startup investing in online brands) and the Head of Marketing at Crazy Egg, a conversion rate tool used by brands and agencies.
How did you break into leadership?
At the start of my marketing career, I held several roles that were more “behind the scenes” – they involved proofreading and copyediting. When I took on my first content marketing role at an adtech startup and proved myself as a writer and a strategist, the Marketing VP offered me the opportunity to hire an intern. I had never managed anyone before, but I had also never worked in adtech. I figured I’d learn on the fly, and it worked—the internship went well enough that I made a full-time hire. When I left for a tiny, early-stage startup, they needed much more leadership from me, so I was in charge of a sales person, customer acquisition specialist, and customer success manager. When I got an offer at a much bigger real estate CRM company, they needed me to specialize, so I had a team of three content associates. Basically, I took a few risks (in terms of agreeing to things I didn’t know how to do) and the startups also took a chance on me. It paid off.
What unique obstacles or challenges have you faced as a woman in a tech leadership role?
During my ten-year marketing career, I’ve only had one female boss who was in the c-suite. As a woman in a tech leadership role, making the leap from director/head to VP or CMO has been extremely difficult. It’s not enough to take on increased responsibility and exceed expectations—without a clear roadmap to promotion or formal professional training, it’s an uphill battle.
How do you adapt as a new manager?
Adapting as a new manager is a common struggle you will face as you become a leader in your profession.
When I first began managing a team, I thought back to my former bosses and what traits I wanted to emulate. I researched ways to have effective meetings and 1:1s. I asked my direct reports what they enjoyed doing and what they wanted to learn from me so they could maximize their time working at the company. I adjusted my hands-off management style if they said they needed more structure. And I did my best to remove any roadblocks that were standing in their way so they could be successful.
As a first-time manager, building trust through actions—not just words—is extremely important. Don’t forget that as a boss, team wins are your wins! Make sure you celebrate achievements to keep people motivated.
If you could do it all again, what would you do differently?
I would have asked more questions during the interview process about business model, employee retention, promotion tracks, and customer focus. I would have negotiated my salary earlier in my career. I would have worried less about how job-hopping would look to recruiters. And I may have tried to level up as an individual contributor rather than a team lead (you don’t have to manage people to be a leader!).
What’s been the highlight of your career thus far?
Figuring things out as I go along has been a major theme in my career. One of my proudest moments was producing a video ad for Clearbanc. I worked on the script and storyboard, was there for multiple scene shoots, helped cut the 2-day footage down into 60 seconds, and signed off on the voiceover. It was an intense, multi-step process, and I was so proud of the final result! You can see it here (I make a cameo in the “waiting in line” scene).
Share something interesting or valuable with the community.
One of my favorite marketing books is Obviously Awesome: How To Nail Product Positioning so Customers Get It, Buy It, Love It. Author April Dunford supplies extremely valuable information while entertaining you along the way.
Thanks to Jes Kirkwood who conducted this interview in July 2020.