Transcript: Lessons Learned From 400+ Executive Briefings with Lisa Bregante

On this episode, I was joined by Lisa Bregante, Group Manager, Customer Marketing at PagerDuty. We covered a wide range of topics, including how her experience coordinating executive briefings helped prepare her for her current role, as well as what she’s learned moving from individual contributor to manager to team leader. Lisa has such a positive attitude and really embodies a growth mindset. For me personally, this episode was a great reminder that even though our work can be stressful, these challenges often yield the most personal and professional growth; we usually come out stronger and more resilient. Without further ado, here’s my conversation with Lisa. 

Margot Leong:   Hey, Lisa. Thank you so much for coming on the show. Really just so thrilled to have you with us. 

Lisa Bregante: Thank you so much for having me. I’m super, super excited to be here and talk a little bit more about customer marketing. 

Margot Leong: Absolutely. All right, so can you talk to me about yourself and your background? I’d love to hear about your journey to customer marketing and advocacy. 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, I’d love to. I’m the Group Marketing Manager of Customer Marketing at a company called PagerDuty. I’ll dive into kind of my background and how I got where I am right now. So I started my career in sales, which led me to work for one of the accounts I was actually selling to, a company called Citrix. And it was great gaining that sales experience, but I realized my favorite part of being in that role was the customer engagement and interaction part of it.

And so from there, I ended up becoming a sales and customer engagement analyst, working in the Citrix briefing center, which is where we hosted a lot of our customers and other executive engagement. And then from that role, actually, it led me to another role within Citrix, where I focused on enterprise product marketing and that role actually started to morph and focus on customer marketing, which I found was my sweet spot. And so from Citrix, I was hired by a former person I worked for to PagerDuty and here we are four and a half plus years later.

Margot Leong: It’s amazing how that can happen, right, where you’re doing something different. And then, you know, that customer engagement, customer marketing sort of sucks you in, right? You’re like, Oh, I have my radar on. I like this. Let’s keep going in this direction where I get to work with customers.

Lisa Bregante: Totally. I always give the advice to people because I’ve learned it myself is when you’re scrambling out of college, you think, Oh my God, I got to know what I need, what I want to do in life. And in reality, once you experience those different roles, you really find your sweet spot and what you love most. And a lot of rules can be created with what you love the most, just depending on where you’re working. 

Margot Leong: Yes, exactly. And, you know, also I find in talking to people in this role, the backgrounds are not one size fits all a lot of the time right. I think the unifying piece is the interest in customers, but people come from so many different backgrounds within marketing, or they came from PR or demand gen and all sort of end up in this space. But even that disparate background ends up informing all of the things you end up doing within customer advocacy and marketing. This is actually a perfect segue, into one of the first topics I wanted to talk about, you know, you spent time working in the executive briefing centers over at Citrix. I think it would just be really fascinating to understand how that has informed your approach in general.

But let’s back up first before I get too excited. Can you tell me a little bit more about what that meant, right? What was your role? What were the responsibilities and really what executive briefing centers are for the audience? 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, sure. So executive briefing centers are basically – well, at Citrix, they tore down the entire first floor and built this live customer experience for our customers to come on site and where our sales reps would host these meetings for our executives and product managers and product marketing directors and VPs of all different levels to engage with our customers and get an understanding of all the products we had to offer and kind of the sweet spot as to why they were there. So that was truly one of the most amazing experiences in my career. It taught me a lot and it was just a vital role to how I got where I am today. 

And so as a sales and customer marketing analyst, basically I was attending briefings with our customers, helping to facilitate meetings with our executives and other leaders. And so I worked closely with our sales team to become educated on the customer needs, the challenges they may have been having, and then briefed our team internally, so they were well prepared before the presentations took place. So I learned a lot from just observing, listening, and engaging during the, I think, 400 plus briefings I was involved in.

Margot Leong: Oh my gosh, 400 plus. That’s a lot.

Lisa Bregante: It was honestly amazing because it wasn’t just the different levels of customers that were there or the different industries. It was also different cultures. Because you know, everyone’s flying in from whether it be the United States or whether it be from the UK or whether it be from Asia or anywhere. And so I really got to understand not only what the customers or that company did, but just the cultural values that each of those customers brought. And so I thought that was a really unique and interesting function of my role. So it was really awesome to learn. 

Margot Leong: A question that I had there is, if I understand correctly for EBCs , that’s both prospects and current customers, right?

Lisa Bregante: That’s correct. 

Margot Leong: And so you must have had some really interesting experience thinking about, okay, you know, what’s the difference in terms of how we set up these briefings when it’s a prospect, even versus like a current customer, right. 

Lisa Bregante: That’s absolutely right. You definitely have to pivot and change how you want to format their agenda and what they want to engage in during the briefing, all depending on if they’re a prospect or a customer. You have to basically mirror whoever’s going to be in that room. And because they’re also in that room for about six hours within the days, so you want to make sure that you deliver the right content in the right manner and the right style. 

Margot Leong: Yep. Absolutely. I’ve, you know, had the opportunity to sit in on some EBCs in the past. It’s a great learning experience because the account team is there and you kind of get to see how they’re taking care of the customer, essentially. So that must have been a really interesting experience, but an area that I really wanted to focus in and get some of your takeaways on are around the level/ title that you’ve got to work with. You know, this is typically at the executive level mostly. 

So you’ve got internal executives that are coming in and trying to showcase what the company is doing for the customer, really showing, Hey, like, this is why we are still a valuable investment. And then you also have the external side, which is of course the customers and on the executive level typically. I think that amount of exposure working with that persona is incredibly valuable, especially if you’re going to be doing things, you know, like running customer advisory boards or thinking about executive programs. I would just love to understand what it was like for you working with executives on both sides of the coin. 

Lisa Bregante: I’m glad you actually brought that up because I think that was a really valuable lesson in my career. So being able to work closely with both internal and external executives was an experience I was glad I even had as early on as I did in my career. It was definitely frightening in the beginning, you know, because I was kind of new to marketing. I was just kind of getting the flow of it and it was just such an awesome, cool experience and those engagements, I just really feel lucky to have had. 

And basically I had to build trust with each stakeholder internally that I was knowledgeable about all of our products so that I could deliver the right information to prepare them. And I wanted to come off well-prepared and professional to our top level customers, because we also had our CEO presenting in there, we had our CMO presenting in there. There’s a lot of C-level engagement that attended. And again, I feel really lucky that I got that exposure. 

And it also taught me early on that no matter what your title is, you have a voice at the table. You know, I typically was one of the only women in the room and probably the youngest at that. And I learned early on that it’s okay to have a voice. You are part of that meeting and you are part of that discussion. And I think Citrix and the customers did such a good job about making sure I was engaged in that and not making me feel a certain kind of way, being that I was the youngest female in the room.

So that was a really cool experience that I definitely wanted to call out because I think a lot of us face different things throughout our career. And that was luckily a positive reinforcement and experience for me. 

Margot Leong: Yep, absolutely. And it’s interesting too, like the experience that I’ve had working with executives, I think it can sometimes be easy to think about them as almost like non-human beings, because they have so many levels between you and them. Was that something that you were ever dealing with or felt like was a challenge? I’d love to hear a bit more about that. 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, that’s a really good question. And it brings me back into my past during those times there, but, you know, I guess I got taught too, early on from my dad that no matter what your title is, it shouldn’t matter. And you should always treat people the same and act the same. And I definitely took that piece of advice and took it with me during my time at Citrix and the briefing center especially, where I kind of removed that fear factor or that, Oh, I need to act a certain way with this executive because how I come off to everyone, I hope, is professional and that I’m well spoken and well-educated on whatever we’re discussing. 

I luckily had a good experience with it. And I definitely didn’t want to act a certain way if the CEO was in the room versus if someone else at my level was in the room. I definitely tried to keep it consistent and just lateral. So I had a really good experience with that, and I wouldn’t say I really ran into any bad situations. I mean, I think there’s always experience that you have throughout your career in general that makes you ponder and wonder. And, you know, you deal with different managers that you work either better with, or not as well with, but it’s always a learning experience and a learning curve that you can take with you to your future roles.

Margot Leong: Got it. What are some of those sort of takeaways or what are some things that you wish someone had told you when it came to working with customer executives at a certain level? 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, that’s another great question. You know, what I kind of learned from it and again, I do this, I think with any role or whoever it may be, but always come educated to a meeting. Always do your research beforehand. If a certain customer is coming in, make sure you read up on the latest with them. I’m kind of derailing here, but I’m thinking about like COVID situation right now, and before I follow up with a customer, whether that be an executive or not, I’m doing research to make sure the company is doing okay right now, before I come with an ask that maybe it really isn’t important to them or the organization at the moment – it can kind of sound tone deaf.

So I would always say, especially with that executive level engagement, always be educated, always know exactly their pain points, their challenges, how they’re leveraging your product and your solution. And sometimes it’s even nice to kind of figure out any personal things that they love to do, like do they love watching the Niners play during the NFL? Do they love hockey? Do they love hanging out with their kids? Do they like wildlife and doing hikes? I think just educating yourself as much as possible; it’s kind of your first impression with that customer or with that executive. And that’s always you know, advice that I received early on in my career and I definitely followed up on, and I think the reason why I did it is because I’ve had so much customer interactions and I’ve learned that that relationship building and that first impression means everything.

Margot Leong: As you alluded to, right, I mean, the whole point of the first impression is that it comes across easy on the surface, but it’s really the underlying prep work that is involved, which is a ton. That was something I wanted to hear more about is you have a rep coming in, and they say, we want to set this up for potentially this date with this customer. If you can walk me through. Okay. What was the approach that you had to figure out how do I get to know this customer, what the pain points are and then second, how do I then figure out who are the best people to bring in internally to address that? 

Lisa Bregante: So this was definitely a team effort. I was the one that facilitated and sat in on the meetings, but then we had other people that were coordinating and making sure that the agenda looked good and making sure the time worked out. And then I’d hop on a call with the account manager to first get an understanding of their use case. But then also see if I can get a joint meeting with the customer so I can really understand their background too and relay to my team internally, okay, I think we need A, B and C for this specific speaker position. Because they want to learn a little bit more about the pain points in this area and how they can solve this and how the ROI would be addressed within this meeting. 

So it was definitely, definitely a collaboration and a team effort, but the more and more I started to sit on those briefings and the more I started to listen on all those presentations, which, you know, I sat in on the same ones over and over again. I learned the certain personalities of those internally and those that I think they would match up with externally. So I always thought that was interesting. Or for example, if there was a female CEO that was coming in from a customer’s perspective, I always want to make sure that we showed diversity from a stance of Citrix too at that time. To make sure that, you know, they know that we’re in line with them and we’re in the same arena, we’re thinking the same structure.

So it’s little things like that, but it was a hundred percent a team effort. And it wasn’t just me thinking the strategy. It was, you know, hearing from the account manager, hearing from the executive briefing managers who were setting up these agendas and these scheduled times with the customers and then engaging with our executives too to think, who do you think would be best for this and how can we make it work with their time?

Margot Leong: I really like that you mentioned it’s some of these little things, outside of, okay, like, what are some of the insider tips that we have about this customer? It’s also the patterns that you noticed over lots of time spent attending these sessions is that it’s also understanding, okay, what’s the personality? How would the personalities match up even? I think that is sort of taking it to the next level. And that sounds like it’s really something that you almost can’t do from the outset. It has to come from just that experience of listening and learning and observing, right? 

Lisa Bregante: Absolutely. Absolutely. You nailed it. 

Margot Leong: Were you ever in a situation in which the rep came to you and said, I wanted to let you know in advance that the customer had something come up recently that maybe they weren’t so happy about. Did you ever experience that situation and if so, how did you address that? How did you sort of mitigate that? 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, that definitely happened. I mean, Citrix had about 15 products when I worked there, you know, years and years back. So that definitely happened, but if you kind of spin that into a positive, that’s not the worst situation to be in. Because let’s say a customer is experiencing a problem. Well, the first thing I’d want to do as an account manager is to get them in a briefing center so that they can hear from our highest level executives, you know, how to address those problems and how we can help fix it and how that partnership is so critical and important during that exact moment.

So we definitely had times where that happened and sometimes you have to scramble and you have to let those executives know before they were about to give their presentations, like heads up – during the meeting, they called out this. This needs to be addressed, so make sure you can change your presentation to tweak it a little bit so that you can come in there knowing before they even call it out that you’re already going to address it. 

Margot Leong: It’s all about how you frame it. And you said, it’s actually not technically a bad thing, right? The fact that we can even get them in a room potentially can save that relationship. And I found that with customer advisory boards, we’ve been given the heads up ahead of time that there’s a certain few customers that might be a bit grumpy about something that is unfortunately out of our control when it comes to the products sometimes. And so then it’s just a matter of shifting the strategy, making sure that they get more face time with certain executives that can really be there to reassure them. And what I’ve found is that the goodwill that can come from something like a really well run EBC or a really well run or thoughtful customer advisory board, that goodwill can last you like a year at least.

Lisa Bregante: One hundred percent. 

Margot Leong: Which is amazing, right? It’s like the power of personal relationships, the power of experience, the power of that intentionality and that thoughtfulness, right. 

Lisa Bregante: It’s definitely the trust and the partnership that I think at the end of the day should be a part of every single role because that’s what really helps you in not just your work life, but your personal life too. So it’s a really important value to hold close to you with regard to anything throughout your life. 

And also another thing I just kind of want to call out is when I was coming into this role at Citrix and the briefing center, I had zero marketing experience. I only had sales experience and my manager at the time, who is still an idol and mentor of mine, he took a chance on me. And I think that that’s something that I take with me throughout my career, because I always want to remember that someone took a chance on me. Someone believed in me and from there, you know, it helped me to get where I am today. And so that itself led me to advice to keep within myself and to share with others too, because they think it’s so important. 

But, you know, I’ve used the word trust a lot already throughout, throughout this interview because it’s a part of my personal values, which also veers into your work values that I kind of just mentioned. And I approached this customer marketing role at first with fear that I was going to fail because my goal was to, or I was being brought in to build it from the ground up. We had zero there. And it was all on me on whether I can build it from the ground up. 

And so then I remember having those same thoughts when I started at Citrix, someone took a chance on me. I didn’t have marketing experience. And those fears are almost like an adrenaline rush and push to really think strategically about how you envision any program that you’re launching or involved with and then how to bring that vision to life. So Citrix was kind of like that stepping stone of an experience for me to take into how I wanted to promote this customer marketing efforts that I got myself into at PagerDuty. And it’s a really valuable lesson that I learned from anyone that touched the role I was involved in or partnered with me to make it a success. Because it definitely wasn’t just me. It was a team effort across the organization. 

Margot Leong: Yeah. And I can imagine that it even extends to someone took a chance on you, right, at Citrix, you’ve now built out the function over at PagerDuty, and I’m sure that extends to even how you think about how you hire, right. I mean, this is going into a whole other sort of tangent, but it’s almost like paying it forward. You can also have that ability to make them feel as you felt back then, right? 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, it’s something that I really do focus on when I’m interviewing or hiring for people on my team and just in the company in general, because I really think that you can’t judge someone just off of their resume or what they’ve done in the past, because in reality, you also can’t change someone’s personality. And so depending on the role and the position, if they have that personal touch and understanding and empathy, I think empathy is huge, especially in customer marketing, but really within every role. 

When I think about my career , all those roles, I ended up being able to even hear about through people I worked for prior. So networking is critical and key. It’s another life lesson my dad taught me, but it really is critical and key when trying to figure out a) what you want to do in life and you know, places that you want to trust that you can work and that you’d be happy at because you know, those people will be honest with you on their experience there. And I think I feel very lucky for it, and I take it with me everywhere I go.

Margot Leong: Yeah. It cannot be overstated is finding the right culture with the right people where you feel like there’s that chemistry because that is a massive factor and what keeps you at that company is feeling like you’re in that safe space to be challenged, but also fail and keep learning, right? I think that’s the most important thing, you know, we’ve both had a chance to manage teams and what I care about the most is, I want to create that safe space for my team, but I also want to make sure that they’re learning from their mistakes. That’s all I really care about. I don’t care that you make mistakes. Right. But are you internalizing what are the lessons going forward? 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, you pulled the words out of my mouth. That’s exactly how I think of it too. It’s definitely an important factor and something that I think, again, any role you’re in, you can take that advice because building a team, feeling like you’re part of a safe culture, is critical. And I think that says dividends as to why I stayed at Citrix for over four years and I’ve stayed at PagerDuty for over four years. It’s exactly because of those things. 

Margot Leong: That’s amazing. And you know, especially when it comes to tech, not common to stay in a role for basically four years plus, do you feel like a little bit of a, like, a unicorn yourself in that.

Lisa Bregante: It’s so funny because people are like, wow, that’s dinosaur years. I’m like, Oh my gosh. If I could be a part of a company, like my dad was part of a company for 35 years. I’m like, if I could have that, I would have loved that. You know, as long as you have that cultural values that align with yours and you have that trust factor with everybody, especially the executive leadership, that’s the most critical thing. And having that growth too, right. And making sure that people are investing in your individual career to make it so that the company does well as well. So it feels like a long time, but it also doesn’t. And I just love the tenure at companies, especially again, when I’m seeing that growth and that the cultural values aren’t being changed and they’re still in a positive light. I got lucky with a couple of companies. I can’t say that for every company that I’ve worked for, but I will highlight Citrix and PagerDuty where they just will always be special throughout my career. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, I love that. I think this is a perfect segue into the evolution at PagerDuty. You’ve been there for over five years and even sort of tracking over time how your role has evolved? You went from more of an IC-type role as the first customer advocacy marketing manager, right. Really coming on board to build this out, to then senior customer marketing manager, to group manager, managing a team. This is a topic that I’ve not yet had a chance actually to talk about with anyone on the podcast. Because there’s so many people that are new to this role, I think it’d be really interesting to hear from you about that evolution for you. And if you had to cultivate sort of different skills in order to move from level to level, there. 

Lisa Bregante: So yeah, I’ve been with PagerDuty for about four and a half years now. I was very, very nervous and feared of failing when they said, Hey, we need you to build this program from the ground up. I had never done something like that before. So I thought, can I do it? Is this possible? Will I let them down? Can I be successful? Will I have the right partnerships? 

And so I started from building the program from the ground up as an individual contributor and really just focused on getting any story I could on the website, because we didn’t really have anything. And then from there, building that programming to not just those testimonials, but also helping deal with press and media and analyst engagements and summit speakers for our PagerDuty summit conferences and other conferences and having customers speak through their presentations on the behalf of PagerDuty. 

And so there’s been a lot of different angles that I was able to take, but so from being a customer marketing manager, I got promoted into being a senior customer marketing manager, after really identifying what the program would be and trying to just launch it in general, which was a good success. And then when it got into the senior role, I really had to focus on the strategy and being strategic while also doing everything an individual contributor does. I had some people working on my team as interns and then I ended up being promoted into a group manager role within customer marketing, which is just overseeing the whole aspect of customer marketing. 

And so it’s been an awesome experience, but I think being a people manager is something I always had passion about  and I love doing, because I feel like I’ve learned so many life lessons. You know, when I’m on my team calls or when I’m just delivering advice or feedback to my team, I always let them know like what I had done in the past. And where maybe I did fail, but I was able to overcome, or maybe, you know, I didn’t do something the right way. And so now that I’ve gotten to this point in my career, I’ve learned how to do things the right way. 

And I’m still learning today. I’m not perfect by any means, but I always try to be transparent with my team and honest on even the political state, right. And so that’s something that I hold near and dear to me, just so I can educate those on my team on not making the mistakes I made, and if they do make mistakes, it’s okay. That’s actually how you learn from them. And like you said earlier, as long as you learn from them, that’s all that really matters. 

So I had a lot of challenges that I had to face that I will always be grateful for. And then I also kind of realized later on, throughout the years I was at PagerDuty, how many teams and people relied on customer marketing. So it kind of like flipped where I was first trying to sell customer marketing, like why I was here, why I got brought on, why it’s important and how it can be valuable. 

And then, you know, to where I am today, it’s pivoted where everyone wants a piece of customer marketing in some way, shape or form, because they realize the importance of delivering customer stories throughout the various channels that we have in marketing. It’s not just testimonials. It’s earnings calls. You know, like I said, the speaker engagements, it’s analyst interviews, it’s really a whole slew of things that’s just becoming more and more as the years go by, which is good because it means we’re needed. And you know, the only con is, all you want to do is help build a team so that you can make sure you stay successful and don’t become burnt out or overwhelmed. 

Margot Leong: There’s so much good stuff I want to dig into your here. I want to go back a little bit earlier to when you first started, you know, you were nervous and is this possible? Will I let them down? I mean, I know this feeling, imposter syndrome extremely well, I think most people have probably experienced this and I was actually curious, does it ever go away? I guess my own personal theory on it is that like, it ebbs and flows, I suppose. Like when you develop more confidence, you’re like, all right, all right. Like, nothing has burned down yet. Like it’s okay. And then did you find that when you got promoted into the senior customer marketing manager role, did that impostor syndrome rear its head again for you? 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, that feeling a hundred percent never goes away. And I think that’s a good thing because I think that once that fear goes away, you’re not challenging yourself as much. And so every role that I was able to develop myself into, I always had that fear factor and I always had that factor on, okay. We were successful this year, but how can we be more successful? So that’s kinda my own personal problem. I don’t think you can ever cap out on success. I think you can always do better. So no matter how well you do in a quarter or a year, then you gotta do better the next year. 

And so that fear factor, but almost, it changes. It’s not necessarily a frightening fear. It’s more of that adrenaline rush. Like how can we make this better? What can I do to challenge myself even more? I never want to be in a situation where I’m not challenged. I’m too hyper and too involved to be bored at a computer. So I always think to myself like, okay, what else can we do to move the needle? And again, it’s not just me. It’s a hundred percent a group effort that I have with my team and the organization in general. 

And I think kind of going back to our executive engagement conversation that we had earlier, that’s another part of it, right? That your executive leadership members are there to push you and push you to do greater and better things. Not to be hard on you, but to really just say, okay, well, how can you pivot even more and make this program even more successful than any other company that’s doing customer marketing? I mean, that’s hard to do in general because I think a lot of customer marketing people out there are doing an awesome job and I’m learning even from those people.

So I think that that fear turns into an adrenaline rush, kind of like when you’re presenting, right. I’m used to presenting to multiple people over and over again. So I’m not a nervous presenter, but you still get those butterfly feelings, like, okay, I want to deliver a great presentation today and I want to make sure the goals that I want to get across, get across and that they understand it. And then I want to see execution. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. And I think that would be really interesting to delve into a little bit more as, you know, there’s not necessarily a lot of training when it comes to like, what does it actually mean to be strategic? And so, yeah, I just wanted to know, how you thought about this, what did that mean to you and, and how did you harness that, I suppose. 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, again, this kind of falls back, even on my manager today and my VP and my CEO, I mean, it really falls on hearing from them about their experience on how they got where they were and how they changed throughout the various roles they had, whether they were in an individual contributor, moving into a leadership role or a manager role. And so it was definitely that, because now, you know, in my group manager role, I’m spending more time on strategy and building out a team so that the program can continue to scale and improve, while I think about the future and where we need to progress and add more of our efforts too. 

But I also learned that from external information. Even with you today, right, and hearing your different podcasts that you’ve done with amazing customer marketers out there and gathering their mindset of what they do and how they structure their goals and what the highest priority and getting that understanding –  learning externally through other organizations I think is critical, right? Because if you’re just honed in on just what you do and you know what I’m doing at PagerDuty and how we can make it better at PagerDuty, you’re just so focused on like a siloed movement. When really, if you think about the bigger picture and how other companies are doing it, that’s super helpful. So I definitely think it’s, you know, attending conferences and just having those one on one conversations with other customer marketers out there and other executive mentors I have that I used to work for. Getting an outside perspective is always key as much as getting internal perspective is critical also.

Margot Leong: Yeah. And I can imagine too is, you’re also building that ability to really set priorities, right? Because you have gotten to the point where you’ve sold customer marketing, which is great so effectively, internally that everybody wants a piece. So this is something that everybody is dealing with, which is how are you prioritizing, right? How are you thinking about your P1s versus your P3s and how do you then deliver that information back to the people that would like their P3 to be a P1?

Lisa Bregante: Right, right. And I got to say, being able to prioritize within work will always be a challenge for me. Because when I first got brought on, I was like, yeah, I’ll take on that. I will take on that. I will take on that. I will do everything I need to do, because my goal is to prove the value of this. And I want to make sure that I have that relationship with people that they know I have their back and I’m willing to help. As I grew within that role and within my career, especially at PagerDuty, I learned that you realize how much your manager covers for you and helps you, right? 

And so you take those life lessons and you pivot those into your situation today. And like protecting my team is critical for me. I want to make sure that they feel secure. They feel safe. They feel like they have the right resources in front of them. And they feel like their workload is bearable. I don’t want anyone to ever feel burnt out. And you know, I think all of us have been there because you want to just make sure you can do what you can to help make the company successful and you don’t want to let anyone down. 

And so what I actually learned, and I’m still learning today, is, we probably have a hundred priorities on the table, right? Well, I always think to myself, what’s really going to move the needle? What’s really going to help us out in the long term, not just short term, not just a short term win. 

And I learned that saying no is not a bad thing. It is absolutely not a bad thing. Saying no is just kind of telling another team or another person at the company, depending on what the ask is, I can’t focus on that right now, because I need to focus on this that I think is going to have – that’s going to be way more valuable for the whole organization, both internally and externally. And then just explain your reasons as to why you can’t get to that project as of right now. Not that you’re going to drop it completely, but why you have to put these other things first. 

And so, you know, whenever I have my team meetings, I always ask my team, what are your priorities for this week? And why are those your priorities? And how can I help you if you feel like everything’s a priority? How can I make sure that you have the right ones in point 1, two, three, and four, like what you need to get you first versus what you need to get to last.

And another thing that I think is really important and I’ve learned this a lot from the mentors I have, is when you’re getting asked to do a specific project and you don’t quite understand why that would drive value, it’s okay to ask questions. It’s okay to push back and say, well, I just don’t understand how that’s going to help us in the long-term. So pushing back doesn’t necessarily just say, Hey, no, I’m not going to do that. It’s like, why do you think that’s important? How do you think it’s going to really help move the needle for the company? You know, you want people to sell and explain those priorities to you and why they should be a priority. Just as much as you’re explaining to other people why you have certain priorities listed the way you have them. 

Margot Leong: I really like that actually.  You know, you talked about when you first started, right, you were selling people on the value of what you were doing. And you know, at the same time, like we are also critical stakeholders in a lot of ways. So we should also be sold to as well, right? And I think that also allows you to level up, right. And also be like, you know what? I lift my head up high and my team does important work here. And I will not just do anything that other teams ask me to do. I think that is really important. 

And I think sometimes it can be hard because if you are in this role, you like people usually, and you want to make people happy. I think that you can’t compromise on that because you have to make sure that your team is being protected, that at the end of the day, what do you have to show for all of the sort of busy-ness and running around and a million priorities? As you said, moving the needle, is really important. 

 PagerDuty is a public company, is that correct? You talked about earnings calls. 

Lisa Bregante: That is right. So I started when we were like, I think I was  employee number 120 or 125 or something. You know, now we’re at 800 plus people.

So we went from private to public, which was definitely a huge change, not from a cultural perspective. What I love about PagerDuty is that we kept our culture values and nothing changed when we went public. The only thing that changes from a customer marketing standpoint is like from a legal perspective, you want to make sure that with this publicity, when you’re working with a customer and the company, you’re protecting both sides of the house. And so that can make things more challenging, but also it was important to do even when we’re a private company, but now that you’re public, there’s just a little bit more pressure on that stance. 

Margot Leong: Yeah, absolutely. No more, I mean, I don’t know if you guys ever did this, but I’ve definitely been at startups where it’s like, you sort of just throw logos onto that logo wall. And, you know, ask for forgiveness later, and yeah. When legal comes in, like there will be none of that, especially if you’re a public company. I mean, as you said, there’s auditing, you have to make sure you’re really protecting, as you said, both sides of the house. 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah, absolutely. It’s definitely different from the beginning days of when you were trying to start the program versus now and how much sign off you need. And always thinking about the customer first and also the sales team and making sure you’re not bombarding them too much because, end of the day, their goal is to meet a number. And that’s the most critical of it all. And then, you know, show them the importance of why customer story sharing is so critical also to help meet those specific goals.

Margot Leong: What would be really interesting is to talk a little bit more about moving from sort of that scrappy startup mentality to being a public company –  if there were any challenges there or anything that you find surprising? That would be really interesting. 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah. So, you know, when I was at Citrix, it was already a public company. I mean, I worked at private companies before, but I had so much experience there in the public eye , that I guess even the earnings calls at that time, I listened to, but I didn’t really focus that much on, but now being part of a PagerDuty that was private and, you know, going through the motions of going public and actually seeing how important those customer stories were when we were on that road to going public. And you know, our CEO going on a road show and sharing certain customer stories – you realize the importance of customer marketing right then and there. Not that you didn’t already know that it was important, but you really understood even more so why sharing those, those stories through our customer’s voice and eyes is so critical.

And so when we pivoted to a public company, I feel like there’s even more eyes on you, right? Because now, you have different investors that are invested in PagerDuty, the earnings calls are situations where you want to share the right customer stories , and get those across to just every different person that’s on that call because they all come from different backgrounds, whether they’re in tech companies, they’re just listening in from a personal perspective, or they’re investors.

In general, I don’t know if I favor one over the other. I do like being a part of a public company, but I also think it’s really rare this early on in my career also that I was able to be a part of a company and see it from before it was a public company to it going public. That is something I will forever remember. Much of the late nights that were happening at that time, you just are so rewarded when that happens with seeing your company’s name on the IPO billboard or whatnot. So it was a really cool experience just going from a private to public company. And I think I may never get that again. It’s very rare. 

Margot Leong: Yeah. I mean, that is really interesting. And you know, when I’ve listened to earning calls  for other companies, it is really cool. It’s really darn cool that the stories that the executives talk about, those come from customer marketing most of the time. That must be such a surreal experience to know like my team was often responsible for sourcing and then defining the narrative and then that bubbles up and I mean, this affects things. I mean, the narrative can affect the stock price, right. So that’s super interesting. 

Lisa Bregante: Yeah. And I’m so thankful. It’s actually funny too, because I partner really closely with our VP of Investor Relations, who’s really helping orchestrate this script and obviously our CEO and CFO and the whole ELT engagement level, but it was a different stance for customer marketing cause then I was partnering with, you know, our VP of Investor Relations on tag teaming these customer stories and understanding them and then seeing what ones we would be able to share.

 So I think what’s really cool about this role is I get to see how many different teams you’re working with cross-functionally and how much each of them help each other to make sure that whatever project or deliverable we have is successful, because it’s never just a one person show. It’s a collaborative effort in order to see a successful outcome. 

Margot Leong: That speaks to the culture that it sounds like has been built at that company because that effort of collaboration, that spirit of collaboration, a lot of companies talk about it, but it’s not the reality I think for a lot of companies. A lot of times it becomes extremely siloed, especially the larger that you grow. And so it is, from a cultural standpoint, you have to be so intentional that it is a team effort, because sometimes it can get derailed by sort of individual interests, right? 

Lisa Bregante: Exactly. That’s how I think of it too. It’s very important. 

Margot Leong: Lisa, I mean, this was such a fun conversation. I know we touched upon all of these different areas, but for me, one of my favorite takeaways is just what you talked about from a prioritization standpoint. I mean, I think that that’s something that I’m definitely going to utilize. Thank you so much for coming on. 

Lisa Bregante: Oh my God. Thank you so much for having me. And I think what you’re doing with these podcasts and promoting customer marketing, because, I think years back, it wasn’t really a noticeable role and now it’s becoming even bigger and bigger in the best of ways So thank you for having me. I feel honored to be interviewing with you and I love the work that you’re doing. 

Margot Leong: That’s really kind of you. I really appreciate it. I’m just happy that – honestly, like I am the lucky one, because I am absorbing so much knowledge. But I’m happy this can be like another resource for people. So thank you again for coming on.

Thanks for tuning into this episode of Beating The Drum. For more interviews with advocacy leaders and tips on creating customers that will sing your praises, head on over to our website, beatingthedrum.com. If you enjoyed today’s show, please subscribe on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts and don’t forget to rate and review us. If you know someone that would be a great fit for the show, I would love to hear about it. You can reach out at beatingthedrum.com. Take care, everybody.

 

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