Interview with Mika Yamamoto, President, Marketo

Mika Yamamoto
Mika Yamamoto

“Small companies will never have the same resources as large companies, but now there is functionality that allows them to operate similarly to how enterprises operate.”

Tell us about your role and how you got here. What inspired you to be part of a Marketing Technology company- Marketo?

My move from SAP to Marketo was less of moving away from something, than moving to something. The opportunity to join Marketo is one that I believe comes very infrequently in someone’s career — it’s the perfect combination of product set and an industry where I’ve spent so much time. I’ve also been focused on taking my leadership to the next level, while I had a longer runway in mind in terms of getting there, this opportunity presented itself and I couldn’t pass it up. Aside from the products and industry, the biggest clincher was Marketo’s culture and team. CEO Steve Lucas is an amazing, respected leader, and the team is unparalleled across the board. It is the convergence of all these elements that brought me to where I am today.

As a woman in a tech-heavy ecosystem, what message would you give to other women, especially in the Marketing and Sales functions?

For anyone — woman or man — my loudest message is to always be yourself; be authentic to you. You hear a lot of voices in your head about how you should be, but you can only listen to your value system. Don’t think of who you should be in terms of behavior, action, or words. Understand the values you stand for, and stand for them. Also, ask for what you want. There are a lot of instances where you might wonder if anyone knew what you wanted, by way of position, or responsibility, or salary. Have enough wherewithal to understand what you’ve earned and ask for it.

How is your role at Marketo different from the one you had as Chief Digital Marketing Officer at SAP?

It is very similar, although I’d describe it as being breadth versus depth. At SAP, I had responsibility for a $29-billion portfolio, with the depth being the demand for SAP’s tech stack. Marketo is more about breadth — my responsibilities span every interaction, from marketing and sales, to support and professional services.

How do you see the evolution of marketing technologies impacting the SMB ecosystem?

I’ve been deep in this space since I was an analyst at Gartner, but now more than ever there are solutions, and there is access to solutions that were previously only available to huge companies. Small companies will never have the same resources as large companies, but now there is functionality that allows them to operate similarly to how enterprises operate. For example, as an SMB, having chatbots means you don’t need as large a staff of customer service representatives responding to chats. In short, you no longer need really complex IT tech stacks to get business done.

Which leaders in the industry do you work closely with? How do they help you stay close to business action?

I have a lot of mentors, including from each company I’ve ever worked – dating back to my Accenture days. It has been important to me to maintain relationships with the influential leaders I’ve come across in my career. I consider these people my “counsel,” and go to them with questions about which path to take, how to make it through a tough crossroad, etc. These mentor figures range from CEOs and founders to IT and HR professionals. They’re who I turn to, to guide major decisions.

How do you prepare for an AI-centric world as a business leader?

Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning is not something to be feared but to be embraced. AI can help to sort through data in a split second instead of taking hundreds of hours for you or me to do it. It’s designed to work with our teams to help them be more efficient and creative.

One word that best describes how you work.

Passionate

What apps/software/tools can’t you live without?

Nest, WhatsApp, Strava, MyFitnessPal, AllTrails, Amazon Fresh and Weather.com.

What’s the smartest work-related shortcut or productivity hack?

Keep a bag packed and stocked for travel at all times so I’m ready to go, and color code my calendar so that I can check at a glance if the priorities in my world are getting focus — family, friends, health, philanthropy, work…

What are you currently reading?

Shantaram by Gregory David Roberts. I consume a mix of current events that reflect worldviews as reported by international reporters, I seek perspectives from alternative points of view. I hate to admit it but I love consuming via the printed word.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

Always show up as the best version of yourself. Don’t try to be someone you aren’t. It’s awkward, exhausting and unnatural.

Tag the one person in the industry whose answers to these questions you would love to read.

Sheryl Sandberg, COO Facebook, and Steve Lucas, our CEO.

Thank you, Mika! That was fun and hope to see you back on MarTech Series soon.

Mika joined Marketo in 2018 as Global President. She focuses on driving growth at scale by delivering a world-class, end-to-end customer experience, overseeing the management of strategy, operations, and execution at Marketo, with accountability for the entire organization. Before joining, Mika was the first Chief Digital Marketing Officer for SAP, driving their digital transformation by leading the strategy and execution of SAP’s demand generation, marketing tools and technology, and field marketing disciplines. Mika holds a bachelor of commerce (Honors) degree from Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada.

Marketo, Inc., offers the leading Engagement Platform that empowers marketers to create lasting relationships and grow revenue. Consistently recognized as the industry’s innovation pioneer, Marketo is the trusted platform for thousands of CMOs thanks to its scalability, reliability, and openness. Marketo is headquartered in San Mateo, CA, with offices around the world, and serves as a strategic partner to large enterprise and fast-growing organizations across a wide variety of industries. To learn more about the Marketo Engagement Platform, LaunchPoint® partner ecosystem, and the vast community that is the Marketing Nation®, visit www.marketo.com.

The MTS Martech Interview Series is a fun Q&A style chat which we really enjoy doing with martech leaders. With inspiration from Lifehacker’s How I work interviews, the MarTech Series Interviews follows a two part format On Marketing Technology, and This Is How I Work. The format was chosen because when we decided to start an interview series with the biggest and brightest minds in martech – we wanted to get insight into two areas … one – their ideas on marketing tech and two – insights into the philosophy and methods that make these leaders tick.

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