Pantheon Platform CMO: Christy Marble


Christy grew up on the San Juan Island, a very small community of people in a town that actually had no street lights!

After college, Christy got her first job at the wall street journal in advertising.  She knew she eventually wanted to go to graduate school, so she chose a company that would support that in the future.  During her time at the wall street journal, one male executive at the company discouraged her from attending graduate school.  Feeling unsure, Christy turned to her mentors and colleagues at work who were women.  That’s when she learned the importance of having peers at work who are eager to help you.

A few years into her career, Christy went on to work for Claritas, a marketing company that helps businesses make data-driven business decisions.  She was looking for a job, and heard about the company through one of her friends who referred her and invited her to interview.  She was there for 8 years and one of the biggest learning lessons she describes was a time she realized she didn’t' need to rely on anyone for validation.

After finishing her MBA in 1997, Christy when on to work for a several companies in marketing, then eventually landed at SAP Concur in 2013.  She would work her way up to becoming the Chief Marketing Officer there.

Today, Christy is the Chief Marketing Officer of Pantheon Platform, a website operations platform for Drupal and WordPress, backed by a $100 million venture investment.

Podcast Transcript

Note:  There may be errors to this transcript (some funny, some confusing - we used an automated transcription software!)

Ash Faraj  00:03

Hey guys, it's ash here. Today's guest is Christy marble current chief marketing officer at Pantheon platform and former chief marketing officer SAP concur. You'll want to stick around today to listen about Christy's experience being discouraged by an executive during her first job out of college, how the women around her made such a huge impact for her career success, and ultimately, what led her to having a wildly successful career as a marketer. So Christy grew up on the San Juan Island, a very small community of people in a town that actually had no streetlights.

Christy Marble  00:44

I grew up on San Juan Islands, which is the county sea it's not the biggest Island but it's the county Sea, San Juan Island is is in Washington state and the in the Puget Sound in between the mainland is what you call it if you live on an island. And so the mainland being being the main part of Washington State and Vancouver Island so Canada and it's a two out when I was growing up it's a two hour ferry ride and you sit in the ferry line for usually a couple hours waiting for the ferry and and you cross to the island. And so once you get on the island there's you know, there's stores, there's no lights, there's no streetlights it's it's a small town with a main street. And little literally farmers sell their food at a farmers market that's grown on the island. And it is really, I guess, small town Americana. My dad was a commercial fisherman and so we we lived on the island and clap my my high school graduating class have 35 people in it.

Ash Faraj  01:46

When you kind of reflect on your life. This is a kid that growing up maybe till you're 18 or so within within like the first 18 years of your life, what do you feel like played a big role in shaping your life principles? If there was one person,

Christy Marble  01:58

definitely my mom, when you say you're gonna do something, another thing too, when you say you're gonna do something, do it. Those are definitely two things that that my mom was even from the time we were little kids. That was that was something that was important to my mom. And and it's definitely important to me, as well.

Ash Faraj  02:21

So after college, Christy got her first job at the wall street journal in advertising. She eventually wanted to go to graduate school, so she chose a company that would support that in the future. Now, during her time at the Wall Street Journal, one male executive at the company discouraged her from attending graduate school, feeling a little unsure, Christy turned to her mentors and colleagues at work who are women. That's when she learned the importance of having peers at work or eager to help you.

Christy Marble  02:49

When I was when I was graduating high school there is there was a small, smallish company that my dad had a cousin or someone was working on. That turns out to be Microsoft. But I didn't want to work somewhere that you know when to come home and work kind of somewhere that my dad knew somewhere I wanted to kind of try to break make it out on my own. That's how I ended up at the, at the Wall Street Journal. I was I remember one of my girlfriends and would say that she came down to visit me and we drove down Wilshire Boulevard in LA and looked at this building from her memory. It was like we looked at the building, I was like, I want to work in a big building like that. And and that's what I ended up you can think coming from a really small town Island place that I want to work in a really big a big big skyscraper in in LA or, and that's what he did. I was fortunate to land at the Wall Street Journal, you know, Dow Jones, it doesn't get any more kind of big and stable than that. Especially back then. And I remember my first day going to work I I went in really early. So early. In fact, it's too early to kind of go upstairs the elevator. So I just kind of laid back in my car and took a little nap, so to speak. And ironically, the HR person I think saw me she parked near me. And so when I came up to start my job, she'd asked she asked me like I saw you in your car yet feeling okay. And I said no, I was just really early. So I decided just just to wait there. So on my first day that was my and honestly, I think I probably was feeling a little queasy because I was nervous. You know, it was my nerve nervous my first day going to work but but that was kind of the that was kind of the first thing of the small town girl going going to work in the biggest skyscraper, selling, selling advertising. It was actually an assistant working at the wall street journal for people who were selling advertising. That was really the start. It was back when the Wall Street Journal was all in black and white. If you've ever if you're a member, they there was no there wasn't online at that time. And the pictures in the Wall Street Journal with dots, they were drawn with dots. So I had the opportunity to work with some some great people. In fact, some that's where I first learned how important tribe is and how important it is for other women to really give you a leg up and Your career because that really, I'm so, so fortunate to have those amazing women that I worked with Wall Street Journal.

Ash Faraj  05:06

I'm not, I'm not gonna lie to you. I don't remember, I never lived in a world with no internet site when you say, Oh, I don't want to pretend like I know what that's like.

Christy Marble  05:17

You can go look back in the archives, The Wall Street Journal today.

Ash Faraj  05:22

Yeah, exactly.

Christy Marble  05:23

That's funny.

Ash Faraj  05:25

I guess what was like your, what were like your first, like, what was your first biggest learning lesson?

Christy Marble  05:31

One of the reasons I chose the Wall Street Journal was because I knew I wanted to go to graduate school at the time, I thought I might want to go to law school, I wasn't sure I wanted to figure out what I want to do. But I knew that that was something that I was, I was driven to do. So I was at the Wall Street Journal, I've been there for I think, maybe a year and a half. And I felt like I had my legs under me, I knew what I was doing, I could pick up extra thing, I could see things that need to be done, take them on. So I decided I want to go to graduate school, let me figure out how to do this. And it was one of their benefits. One of their advertised benefits was that they'll help pay for your, your education. And so so I went to my manager to find out how to go about getting my, my graduate degree. And he referred me to a vice president, which was a big deal. You know, I was I was in my early 20s, being the vice president who used to come into camp New York, you know, maybe once a year. So I remember meeting with him. And he gave me some books, a list of books that I should read. And he said, I didn't need to get my my graduate degree. Because here's some good business books that I could read. And that would be just as good. So I didn't understand why it was quite a disappointment. I knew it wasn't what I was going to do. And so I talked to some of these women who I was working with, and I shared with them, because they knew because I talked to me before I was meeting with a VP and said, Oh, I mean, he was a VP, how should I you know, I'm sure they all be, I'm sure they coached me on having that conversation. And they were horrified, horrified. That that basically, I've been told no, and patted on the head and sent on my way. So So thankfully to them, they they gave me the confidence that I didn't need to kind of accept that answer. They connected me with someone else who actually gave me an opportunity for a role in a different department here, a woman who was it was a leader, I think that was a really important step for me to know that you don't let those hurdles get in your way you find a way around them and do the right thing by everybody. In fact, I haven't even really talked about like at the top certainly haven't talked about this in a way that might be out in the world. So it helped me know how important it is to have those advocates and mentors at work. And really advocates like that's the difference between a mentor and advocate. That's that's the difference between someone who helps you find the next path. When when a door is being shut, and they can see your potential, and they believe in you. One of them's husband was the bureau chief, ands he sold advertising for instance. And and the they were successful women in the office and my not not so different at the time, but but the boss, the head of that office was a man. And and most of the people selling advertising were women in this particular department. So so they coached me I was Junior most person, right? I was I was junior and I said who I want to get my graduate degree. We talked to each other. We went to lunches and things. And I said, I want to go to get my degree. How do you think I go about you know, so I was asking them first and they said, Oh, well, you need to go approach, you know, the boss. And so I did that. And then he's the one that referred me to the vice president who held the budget.

Ash Faraj  08:31

I guess the moral of the story is what you're trying to say is like, it's important to have those advocates around like the people that you know, the people that were like you were junior to they were, they were always there and supportive of you and advocating for you in general. And you think that was a huge impact, a huge impact on your career success?

Christy Marble  08:49

Definitely, definitely. I still keep in touch with one of them.

Ash Faraj  08:54

I mean, it's so powerful, like the seeds you planted early in your careers like because they never that relationship never goes away. Like you never forget somebody who helped you or who like you worked with or so that's that's very powerful. So after a few years, you decided to leave and then you joined Claritas at the time. Do you remember why you made that decision?

Christy Marble  09:12

Yes, I was actually starting to look, Wall Street Journal was a union company. And I was it wasn't, wasn't common at the time for people to stay late after work or to put it up people kind of did their job and it was you know, maybe kind of a lifestyle type of job you did your job and did the things you'd like to do after work. And I was early my career driven, you know, wanting to get my graduate degree. So I'd done all sorts of kind of extra work. I would I stay a little bit longer than five not like lately, but I might stay a little bit longer because I was working on something outside of my job. Like I remember I did a new employee handbook, because that didn't exist. And I was learning so I felt like might as well document all that so that the next person coming in Could have kind of a handbook for it. And so he did stuff like that. And that was unusual that was kind of abnormal, there was kind of no incentive to do that. And, and in fact, they did, like I was incented, because I like to thinking that I made a difference for people. And I did here for someone I worked with afterward that they were that they still used it, like, a couple years later, when I was I ended up talking to my friends at lunch, I think we still use that, in fact, someone's taken it and made it into a more print, you know, ready thing. So, so I was rewarded in that way. But I was looking at it, it was gonna be you know, someone had to leave before you had your next opportunity. And then when that person left, you go into their, their, you know, you might get promoted into their role. And so I was ready to kind of try some new things. And I started talking to, to, to my friends and to to actually one of these women who had helped me actually find my way into that role. And she had gone to that company. And so I was talking to two companies, and she said, Oh, come talk to us. We've got this way. I thought I wanted to go into hospitality. And she said, she said, Oh, no, we've got this really cool, role open at our company, come talk to us. And so I went and talked to them. And I really loved it. And I loved the team. And it was in more marketing, you know, more of our user demographic, information systems. And so really, at the time cutting edge still before the internet, so, so it was exciting. And that's how I ended up coming in. So pretty much every single job that I've taken. I've been referred in by somebody, there's been maybe a few exceptions. But of course, even the ones that maybe a recruiter reached out to me, it was because the recruiter was referred to me by by someone who had worked. who had worked just before.

Ash Faraj  11:43

Yeah, well, I just want to pause this moment in the story and ask you I mean, because that's fascinating, like, you pretty much never had to like really apply is what you're saying, like an online application or something for a job, right?

Christy Marble  11:57

I don't think I have ever submitted an online application for job, I think that would be correct.

Ash Faraj  12:04

What do you feel like? The reason for that is

Christy Marble  12:07

definitely I asked for help. I do ask for help. And I definitely learned that sometimes I felt like I really need to be able to do it on my own. Right. Like that example of I don't want to go this kind of startish upish company in the Seattle area, I want to go there, if my dad has to reach out to someone and a distant family member and say, don't forget this, you know, if for whatever reason, there's that insecurity or that imposter syndrome, or whatever it might be, I don't know, I do know, one of my, one of the women who was my boss at one point in time, who is definitely in my tribe, and one of my very favorite friends. I remember her telling me once, let people help you. People want to help you, people like to help you. And that's something that has stuck with me. humans want to help humans, it's more rare for humans not to want to help other humans than it is for humans to want to help humans. And there's a lot of people who just can't not help if you ask. So there's magic in that. There really is. So when you can be humble enough maybe to ask for help. And maybe for me, sometimes I can think of I'll talk to my friends and they'll say How's work? And you know, there's that like, oh, everything's great. And then there's that is everything great? Because you want people to feel like everything's great. And everything isn't really great. Or, or is there something that you're kind of wondering, gosh, this doesn't feel right. And I think there's definitely been times where I've gone to lunch with some of my good friends who who will say How are things going at work? And I said, Oh, yeah, there's this thing. And then we'll talk through what it is. And they've helped me assess how big of a deal that thing is, to me and to who I am and to what's important to me. And when someone's participated in that. And they help you get to the point where you're like, oh, maybe it's time for you to start looking for something else, then they help right? And then they start to reach out to their network. And I'd say I've done that quite a bit, where I'm kind of brainstorm this thing. And how do I, how do you think I tackle this with someone in my tribe in my, in my, you know, pods of professional friends, and I have quite a few of them that I'll talk to, then they start to think of you when when things come in. I like to do that too. When recruiters call me, I'd like to have a couple of people on my list that I refer them to. I don't like to just like say no or not respond. I like to when when I get that LinkedIn thing I'd like to know the person like oh, no, I'm not really looking right now, but you should call this person.

Ash Faraj  14:51

So after a few years, Christina went on to work for Claritas, a marketing company that helps businesses make data driven business decisions. So she was looking for a job She heard about the company through one of her friends who referred her and invited her to interview. She was there for about eight years. And one of the biggest learning lessons she described was a time that she had realized she didn't really need to rely on anyone for validation. She felt confident in what she was doing.

Christy Marble  15:20

One of the hardest things that happened for me at Claritas, I didn't realize at the time, but I've been working with a really amazing leader under a really amazing leader, when I was in Los Angeles to Claritas, and when she left, she really relocated to the east coast to headquarters. And when I didn't realize how much I'd been leaning on her. She was my boss, she left she she was no longer my boss after she left and took on and a different position. And so I was reporting to the person who headed the office there. He's fantastic, really brilliant. In fact, maybe a little bit intimidatingly brilliant, but his approach Wasn't he was always approachable. He'd never like, he would never be like, Oh my gosh, that you're, you know, you're so stupid for asking that. That was never, he never made you feel that way. But I remember at one point in time, I had to do something for a client, when we were doing a lot of work for him to independently be working with a big bank, you know, like Bank of America, and I'd run into a challenge that they had with their marketing strategy, and would have to it'd be something that was never solved before. Maybe like, should their branches be in these locations? Or, you know, what's the customer data say about that? And I remember I got into one that was really particularly tough, I think there was some modeling involved, which was a little bit insecure, about, about my ability to, to do that kind of work. And I remember thinking, Oh, this person is on here, what am I gonna do? How am I gonna solve that? And I remember thinking that I wanted to call her and, and have her have her, like, explained to me, and I had that moment where, where I are. And this was a self realization, where I was like, wait a minute, you can do this. Why do you feel like you and he was, I was, like, I needed that validation, that that the approach that I thought was, was solid, and that I somehow felt like I could do it without her. And, and so that moment of like, gosh, she's not anymore but but you can do it you bright you can do it yourself. And you know, what, if I would have called her she would have said exactly that. Like, are you calling me you know your stuff, do this. And so I remember I remember thinking that and I thought that about myself as a leader after that, like making sure that I'm not also feeling that within within my my teams, where they feel like they have to come to me to get permission or trying to make sure that that they also have that that confidence to know that. You can you can do this, you got this?

Ash Faraj  17:37

Yeah, in a way. She was like your she was like the training wheels on your bike. And then when the training wheels were gone, you were like, Oh, my God, Can I ride a bike? And then you actually tried it and it worked.

Christy Marble  17:46

That's right. That's absolutely right. Like, wow, I've got this I'm surprising myself. Um, yeah.

Ash Faraj  17:53

So Christy finally decided she would go get her MBA. And after finishing her MBA in 1997, Christine went on to work for several companies in marketing, then eventually landed at SAP concur in 2013. So after you got your MBA, in 2013, you landed at concur. At the time, obviously, they weren't as big as they, they are now, what's the story behind how you actually even land in their company,

Christy Marble  18:17

I was working, I had changed hands different private equity. I was that when I was looking kind of for my next thing, and I had some specific things I wanted. And it was about the culture, and about how people were work together and valued and having fun, as well at work and trusted. And so I had read about concur. I was interviewing within the numbers, working with some recruiters and interviewing with a number of different people. And I had someone who had worked for me who had gone to concur. And I had someone who I had worked for who had actually hired me, who had gone to concur. So I ended up reaching out to them. And they introduced me to concur. And the first job that I applied for it concur and interviewed for I didn't get but they did keep me in mind, you know, do you think that happens? And they say, Oh, yeah, we'll keep you in mind if something comes up? Well, they did. They did keep me in mind. And one of the leaders who interviewed me for executives who had interviewed me for that first role, referred me to this next role. And they ended up I just ended up I really like the the person that had hired me and that second role. And so I ended up taking that second role and ended up being the head of of enterprise marketing for North America for concur, then just in fact, that first rule ended up reporting up and enter me for a while after that. So it ended up kind of growing and having tons of fun and, and yeah, that's how it came about. I was referred by both someone who worked for me and someone that that I had worked for.

Ash Faraj  19:51

Hey, guys, thank you for sticking around and listening to Christy's story. We're now at the last segment of our show called connection section questions where we ask questions that allow you to get To know our guests on a much deeper level. If you were to meet the 25 year old Christy, what advice would you give to her?

Christy Marble  20:13

Yeah, I would say, um, you're enough like you. Go for it. Don't be afraid. Don't Don't, don't hold back. Don't wait. Don't think that you're not gonna have time for your kids.

Ash Faraj  20:30

What in your life? Do you feel like has given you the greatest sense of fulfillment?

Christy Marble  20:34

My family just overall, just that, that I just have a good family all the way back? You know, every, every not not just my immediate my kids like, gosh, yeah. But my dad, like we just were tight.

Ash Faraj  20:49

Obviously, you still have like a long career and life ahead of you. You're kind of foreseeing the future. If you could be remembered for just one thing, what would what would you want that to be?

Christy Marble  20:57

It would be that I've made a difference for people. Just individually, just the people who knew me could think and say, Oh, yeah, I remember that thing. Even if it's one little thing. Remember that thing that Christy did for me? I remember her for that.

Ash Faraj  21:16

In your opinion, what do you feel like the most important life skill is...

Christy Marble  21:20

listening to really hear listening to hear? Are you listening so that you have your next answer? Or are you listening because you really want to hear and understand and learn? And I was gonna say empathy. And I was like, that's not really a skill, is it? I don't know. But then I think when I mean empathy, I when I was thinking of empathy, I was like, No, with empathy only comes if you really listen,

Ash Faraj  21:45

what's the best advice that someone has ever given you?

Christy Marble  21:49

I'm going to name the person Steve Kinzler, because I let him know this. I let him know this recently. And I thanked him for it. And I actually used it. I think, you know, the article. I don't know if it got published or anything. But Steve Kinsler, who I worked with the Wall Street Journal, and we're still connected on LinkedIn. And he at one point, I was struggling with something and he said to me, you're sounding like a victim. And he said, I know you don't want to be a victim. You're not a victim, are you? And I said, No, I'm not. He said, so. So take charge on this. When this is yours, what's holding you back? And I see that a lot. Now. When when people come to me with things and they'll say, I really want to do this, or I can't do that. I'll say what's holding you back. What's holding you back?

Ash Faraj  22:37

And the last one is my personal favorite is if you're stranded on an island and you had access to one meal, what would that meal before you?

Christy Marble  22:45

That's so true. That's so true to my life now. Well, and and, gosh, you'll you'll know how Pacific Northwest that my dad's a commercial fisherman. It would be wild salmon barbecued wild salmon. Yes

Ash Faraj  23:01

I knew, how did I know!

Christy Marble  23:03

And an apple pie.

Ash Faraj  23:08

Thank you so so much for listening. If you enjoyed the episode, please please leave us a rating and review. on Apple podcasts. It means so much to us. It only takes a few seconds but it means the world to us if you just leave us a quick rating and review. I hope to see you again next week and I wish you a wonderful exciting 2021 full of amazing opportunities.

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