Brittany Benson: Thank you for joining and sharing a few minutes of your day with me, Hannah! To get us started, can you please chat a little bit about your role at Sage?
Hannah Wright: I’m the Product Marketing Director for Sage People, our flagship HR and people management solution for mid-size organizations. My team is global, so we work across the regions where we sell Sage People: the US, Canada, the UK, and Australia. We manage and lead the go-to market strategies and activities for our product releases, new partnerships and any new product features that come along. We work closely with product management, on things like strategy and the product roadmap, and with customers, ensuring we have a deep understanding of their needs and challenges. We develop and own the messaging for the product, and we create content, deliver webinars, and conduct research to build on this. It's broad and really varied, and obviously very rewarding as well.
Brittany: I couldn't agree more. You mentioned leading the go-to-market strategy and really being hands-on. With that in mind, what are some key traits that you feel that you possess or that others should possess in order to be successful in this kind of leadership role?
Hannah: I would say a good leader encourages thinking space and creativity. I think that is super important because you get the most out of people when they're not rushing from one thing to the next and feeling overloaded. I think when you have so much to do, you're not necessarily thinking about the impact and the value that you're able to bring to the table because you're not stopping to reflect on things. Whereas if you are afforded the time and the space to slow down, that's when you can be creative. That's when positive change happens. I know I'm in a marketing role but being creative is not restricted to marketing at all. You can be creative around things like processes. You can be creative around improving the way that things work, or while speaking to customers; being creative about what you then do with that information. I think those things have such potential for high impact, but you need that thinking space and time to figure out what to do next. A good leader should understand the importance of doing that, and to allow their teams to have that space. The second, is to take the time to say thank you, and to recognise what your team has done, and their individual achievements. It doesn't take long, it seems really simple, but the impact is massive, and it goes a long way.
Brittany: Are there any obstacles or challenges that you encountered in your career, and how did you overcome that and what were some key learnings?
Hannah: If you don't have any challenges in your career, then you're either very lucky or you're probably not growing as much as you could be. The one that stands out for me is COVID, and the circumstances in the last year that we've had to work under. The role that I'm currently in, I started at the very beginning of the first lockdown. As a mother of two young children, that was quite a task for me to take on. I remember thinking at the beginning, "How am I going to do this? How am I going to get my head around a new job?” There's a ton of new people to meet; I've got to manage my workload and a new team, and I've got two young kids at home that are quite demanding, and not only do I have to tend to their needs, but I have to educate them as well. I could not have done this without working for a company like Sage. They have been fantastic throughout the whole pandemic. They've been so accommodating to everybody's individual needs and everybody's personal circumstances. The second thing is I've had to be really disciplined with myself throughout this whole period. I don't just mean discipline as in how to manage my workload. It's discipline around switching off at night because it's so easy to not switch off, because I don't have an office to leave. Those were the biggest obstacles but having discipline and that support network and encouragement from Sage and our leaders made it all possible.
Brittany: I love the tangible advice there. I think that's so important to be reflective on what's working and what's not, and then come out of that with action items. At the end of the day, what type of impact do you want to continue to have in this role?
Hannah: I think it's so important to believe, "I am making a real impact. I am adding a lot of value here." One of the things where I hope I have an impact is around bringing people and teams together, and making things happen, even when we're faced with challenging circumstances. I'm a big believer that everything is possible where there's enough determination within a team, as long as people are working together, pulling in the same direction, and dealing with challenges head on. I think that's one of the great things about product marketing as well, because the nature of the role is such that you interact with people across different functions within the business, you get to learn about lots of different areas, and who does what. You have visibility into how those areas work together, that you almost act by default as a common thread. That's something I know I can bring to the table, and I hope that has a big impact in terms of what my team and I are able to deliver to the business.
Read the other colleague profiles who are part of Sage’s Women in Technology interview series.