Each marketer takes their own path to their chosen career, but there is one trait that all successful marketers share: Adaptability. Top marketers must constantly evolve and grow to meet new and unexpected challenges.
Here, Todd Bransford, VP & General Manager of Human and Social Services at Mediware Information Systems, offers counsel to marketers seeking to expand to executive management and operational opportunities.
Tell us a little about your marketing background, your experience handling corporate, product and demand generation requirements and your role at Mediware.
I have spent my career working in software companies, initially in product management and product marketing roles and later as the top marketing executive for several SaaS companies. I have worked at companies in a number of market categories, including healthcare IT, cybersecurity, and ERP. Operationally, my experience has been in growth-oriented businesses that sell to large and mid-size companies, nonprofits, and state and local governments. I’ve helped a number of companies productize their business model, which has offered a launch pad for repeatable sales and growth.
I am now in a general management role with P&L responsibility for the human and social services software division of Mediware, leading a team of about 200 people, including sales, product development, professional services, and customer support. I took the job when Mediware acquired Harmony, the company for which I was leading marketing prior to the acquisition.
You made the transition to a business management/operational role at your current company. What was your motivation? Was it a smooth switch?
After heading marketing in the company for six years, I felt confident that there were many untapped opportunities to drive growth. Being able to take on the ultimate responsibility for how we expanded into new markets and to set a new vision for the business was exciting. And, after many years in the marketing seat, the chance to challenge myself in a broader role was compelling on both a personal and professional level.
The transition in roles really wasn’t the hard part. Like most marketers, I had previously led internal efforts to reposition businesses based upon new strategies and product introductions. I was used to working cross-functionally to ensure we were differentiating the customer experience and building strong relationships. Managing the P&L was something I had some experience in, too. That said, there were bumps in the road. The amount of time dealing with “people issues” that arise from having a much larger organization, and the challenges related to onboarding lots of people to support growth, have taken a lot more time than I expected. But these organizational challenges are mostly good problems to have.
What advice would you give to marketers who are interested in following a similar path in their career development?
I think there are lots of paths that marketers can take to advance their careers. I don’t know that I can be very insightful here besides making some obvious points. For starters, I was very fortunate to have worked with some great CEOs who were mentors and very transparent in their decision making. You learn a ton when you have a true seat at the table where the tough decisions are made.
While partnering with the sales executive is a no-brainer for a marketing professional, the more you can learn about the details of sales operations the better if you are ever going to be signing your name in ink on bookings projections and managing EBITDA expectations. Similarly, spending time with the finance team to truly understand all the levers in the business is invaluable.
One last thought is to take any opportunity you can to be part of fundraising efforts, acquisitions, or divestitures. These are sales cycles of a different sort and they provide the opportunity to speak with a new audience and see the business through an alternate lens.
What are your thoughts on the changing dynamic of sales and marketing for B2B and public sector focused companies like Mediware?
Reputations and relationships are critical in our markets. There are many more channels to engage prospective buyers and customers these days. But ultimately, the expectations that are set by sales and marketing during the sales process need to align with the actual customer experience or the reputation suffers.