When Brittany Hawkins first entered the world of martech, she wasn’t quite sure what exactly she had agreed to do. Now as VP of Email for Amobee, Brittany has developed the depth of experience that comes with a complex career journey from joining a start-up.
Immediately after graduating college, Brittany found a marketing position on Craigslist at a small startup called Frontline Direct. Although she knew little about the company, it provided her with an opportunity to build relationships with industry mentors who would ultimately shape her career path.
“Frontline Direct was a data management company, and while I walked in to apply to be an email analyst, they instead hired me to work with the sales team managing their partnerships,” said Brittany. “Even though I wasn’t 100% sure what role I had signed on for, I knew I wanted to learn everything I could from them.”
Brittany had interviewed with the company’s co-founders, Kim Perell and Amanda Currie, and was one of their first 20 hires.
“I was blown away by their tenacity, their confidence and their intelligence,” said Brittany who is still friends with Perell and Currie and credits them both with being her mentors over the years. In fact, Brittany's own career trajectory illustrates just how much she embraced the tenacity she saw in Perell and Currie -- a trait that has helped her earn a VP-level position at the mobile ad solution provider Amobee.
The Road To VP Was Paved With Many Hats: From Marketing Coordinator to Email Executive
“At a startup, you inevitably work, in some capacity, in all areas of the business. Through that exposure, I built a well-rounded skill set and in-depth understanding of Amobee’s business. I continued to grow as our business grew, starting as the first marketing coordinator, moving up in the company to my current role as VP of Email.”
Brittany says she has held many roles and worn many hats over the years. She believes that being part of a startup -- and embracing a startup mentality -- has served as a catalyst for her personal and professional growth.
“[Working at a startup] allows you not only to understand how your business fits into the industry, but, within the business itself, understand where you need more resources, where there are gaps in processes, and understand personnel needs across all levels.”
Brittany loves the fact that no two days are ever the same when it comes to her role: “No day is predictable.”
As VP of Email at Amobee, Brittany’ responsibilities are wide ranging, including business analysis, reporting efforts, team management duties, strategic initiative development and occasional fire drills.
“I love math, numbers, strategy, relationship building and seeing client success across all lines of business,” said Brittany. “I also enjoy seeing our team grow professionally. I focus every day on empowering my team to take risks, learn from them and ask for help or guidance when needed so that they may truly own their books of business.”
Going Abroad To Learn The Ropes
Brittany credits her career success to her ability to identify key professional opportunities and go after them, despite how intimidating or challenging they may seem.
“There are many variables that have contributed to my career success, and being in the right place at the right time to join what would become a successful startup led by supportive female leadership is certainly an important factor,” said Brittany. “However, within my own personal control, I would attribute my professional success to my unapologetic drive to take initiative.”
The biggest game changer for Brittany came early in her career, only six months into her tenure at Frontline Direct, when the company was acquired by a UK-based organization.
“I saw an opportunity to help expand our business internationally and pretty quickly asked our CEO if I could move to the London office and do business development there for a year,” said Brittany. “I was young, only one year into my career, and was so intimidated by Kim [Perell] because she was such a powerhouse.”
Instead of shying away from what she wanted, Brittany went to her CEO with a plan that involved her being able to continue to support the company’s U.S. and Canada business development efforts while launching the UK office.
“I identified people on our team who would be a great fit, who I could train, and extensively researched the opportunities within the UK business that I could grow while being on the ground.”
Brittany was the first employee to request an international relocation, and the CEO was instantly supportive.
“I was abroad within a few months. I learned cold sales, how to deliver a successful presentation and how to identify and grow the business. I also had to master how to manage an extensive workload of existing U.S. and Canada business while growing the UK business.”
She calls her move to the UK a crash course in business development. “It was sink or swim, but I can’t imagine another way to learn that much in such a short timeframe.”
Learning How To Hear Constructive Criticism
When asked about professional challenges, Brittany recalls having to learn a difficult lesson early on in her career.
“I was faced with feedback that my management style did not empower my team to make professional decisions or independently manage their books of business. My team was burnt out and I micromanaged too much.”
Brittany said it was really difficult for her to come to terms with the feedback she had received -- both personally and professionally -- but she knew she had to address the feedback head on if she wanted to grow professionally and evolve into the type of leader she wanted to become.
“I committed to empower rather than overpower and worked with an incredible coach to help me navigate through the tough time.”
Learn How To Be Your Greatest Advocate
For women in the martech industry, Brittany advises finding a mentor who believes in you and pushes you to succeed. She says women in our field must be a voice at the table and take initiative -- we must learn to be opportunistic and become our own best advocates.
“Be willing to say ‘yes’ to challenges and figure it out along the way. Demand fair compensation and be confident in your capabilities, verbal communications and body language,” said Brittany.
Books like Sheryl Sandberg’s Lean In and the Girlboss Radio podcasts, that tell the stories of women trailblazers, have resonated with Brittany as a woman balancing her career and a growing family, helping empower her as a professional. She also credits Amy Cuddy’s TED Talk on body language as being highly impactful.
“We have to speak up. We have to voice our successes and goals and set our own plans to reach those goals. No one will do for you what you can do for yourself -- only you can be your greatest advocate.”
Looking Ahead To What’s Next For The Martech Industry
In the next five years, Brittany believes the martech industry will see a major shift toward performance-based digital solutions as brands aim to do more with smaller budgets, putting a focus on efficient spending.
“We are at such an interesting time in history with a global pandemic, an economic recession and a concurrent great ethical and social-conscious awakening. Companies are being pulled in many directions, including supplementing spend from traditional branding-focused outlets to more performance-based outlets, leveraging ever-growing connected TV audiences, and even reevaluating their spend on mainstream social platforms,” said Brittany. As a result of COVID-19, Brittany predicts that many companies across a range of verticals will create and sustain the need for marketing solutions that are efficient, performance based and incredibly agile.