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HERstory: Saranya Babu

VP, Marketing, Instapage

Saranya Babu, VP of Marketing at Instapage, is a marketing and technology thought leader that has helped multiple small and mid-sized companies achieve aggressive growth goals. Her 16 years of experience in the Silicon Valley tech industry spans companies like NetApp, Dell, and BDNA. With both an engineering and business background, she is a technology savvy marketer who specializes in B2B enterprise marketing.

How did you break into leadership?

I always performed my job at a level that was higher than my role. I’ve found that to be an effective strategy to position myself for the next level.

I’d start doing the things I would do if I were at the next level. For example, even when I was not managing people, I would demonstrate leadership and offer guidance to those around me.

I took initiatives that were beyond my pay grade, and that helped me gain the confidence to seek opportunities at the next level.

This strategy helped me break into a leadership position.

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

Sometimes the expectations are different because of your gender. So, it took extra initiative and effort from my side to set the expectations right and reframe perceptions.

How can marketers secure buy-in for their ideas?

  1. Always set the right expectations
  2. Communicate, communicate, and communicate more
  3. Do thorough research, gather all the data, and make the business case. Multiple times. To multiple people. There should not be any question for which you don’t have an answer.
  4. If there are questions you cannot answer, that is fine. Just let them know you’ll follow up on it. Don’t panic. And keep your word.
  5. Show passion but not desperation
  6. Listen to dissenting views and give them a fair chance before you counter. You need to convince people that you have the company’s interest in mind (versus your own) and your objective stance will help with that.  

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

Nothing. I don’t think about what I could have done differently. I fall, pick myself back up, collect my learnings, move on, and never look back. 

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

Working at Instapage in a leadership role. Listen to this podcast I did on enterprise marketing.          

What’s your advice for up-and-coming marketers?

Often others’ opinion of you is anchored to your opinion of yourself. Don’t set your bar low.

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

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