CMO Insights: Nnamdi Nwoke, Head of Demand Generation, GreenSky

March 29, 2019

This week’s guest on CMO Insights is Nnamdi Nwoke, Head of Demand Generation, GreenSky.

In this video, Nnamdi talks about:

  • The T-Shaped marketer.
  • Important attributes to look for when hiring and building a team.
  • Growing a marketing team and the necessity of mentoring and empathy.

Learn more about Nnamdi from his LinkedIn profile and follow GreenSky on Twitter. 

For more great CMO interviews like this one, please check out our other CMO Insights Videos or our YouTube channel.

Full Transcript

Jeff Pedowitz:

Hi, welcome to Revenue Marketing Television, the CMO Insights Channel. I’m your host, Jeff Pedowitz, President and CEO of The Pedowitz Group. So as our guest, we have Nnamdi Nwoke, who was Head of Demand Generation at Green Sky. Nnamdi, welcome to the show.

Nnamdi Nwoke:

Jeff, it’s a pleasure to be with you. Thank you for having me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I’ve been actually looking forward to this for a while. I saw you speak last month at a market or road show and certainly I’ve known about you and your team and you have a really a great story with how you’ve moved through your career. And I was interested when I saw you on the panel and you talking about how you actually got into marketing, what was start there, how did you find you find yourself on this path?

Nnamdi Nwoke:

Yeah, I’m flattered by the way. Thank you. Thank you so much. And it was a pleasure meeting you at a event as well. My story is my path to marketing is, is an interesting one. I think. I I grew up as an artist right? I loved comic books. So I drew a ton as, as a, as a young boy but didn’t really know what I wanted to do. I, you know, my undergrad is, is in neurobiology and physiology. So I was preparing to go to med school and after three and a half years of that, I realized something’s wrong. This isn’t my path. And I didn’t exactly know what I was getting into, but I knew how to get out of the premed path. And it’s funny there was, there was a huge event on campus and I went to the University of Maryland College Park, huge event on campus and a guest speaker was Nelson Mandela. And I mean, you can imagine just the opportunity to see such a monumental figure you know,

Jeff Pedowitz:

Oh, that’s like a once in a lifetime experience, like getting an audience with the Pope, right?

Nnamdi Nwoke:

Once in a lifetime. So of course, I mean, I, I’m, this isn’t VIP treatment or anything. I’m in the nosebleeds with the rest of my roommates. The impact his speech had on me was resounding. I, I remember leaving that, that event and thinking to myself, I want to one day have an impact on people the way Nelson Mandela just had on me. And I didn’t know what that meant. Right? I had no clue what that meant, but I immediately picked up books on coding and development. I taught myself to code, I went into digital marketing, I began building programs email programs and B to B marketing automation program for some really great companies here in Atlanta after moving here. And and the rest of the story is you know, sort of unfolded where I fell in love with B2B marketing, fell in love with the customer journey and ultimately ended up here at Green Sky.

Jeff Pedowitz:

There. There really is fascinating. So given your wealth of comic books, you, who’s your favorite character by the way?

Nnamdi Nwoke:

Oh, Wolverine. Wolverine of all time.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So so thinking about I guess the life of a superhero in the comics, how would you compare that with the role of the everyday marketer today and the battles that we have to fight?

Nnamdi Nwoke:

I, I think, I think what’s, what’s, what’s lost in in the stories I hear from some really incredible marketers, marketers that I’ve, I’ve looked up to, I’ve mirrored my career after the, after there’s for, for many years, is really the the human element of what it means to be a marketing leader specifically. I’m, I was honored to to be selected. It’s part of the inaugural class for Marketo is Fearless 50. And, and really my story in leading up to being nominated and then ultimately selected was just sort of, it was empathy, right? And I think, do you know, this isn’t, I don’t think when folks think about super hero quality, they think of empathy, but I, I’ve, I really I’m proud of what we’ve been able to build here, my current role and the talent that’s attracted to sort of the, the approach that we take to building great marketers expanding their skill sets, leveraging technology, developing accountability, and really pushing each other you know, pass the boundaries so that we’re achieving excellence.

Nnamdi Nwoke:

We’re keeping ourselves accountable to making sure where, you know doing what the business needs but ultimately doing that with a sense of comradery, a sense of empathy for one another. And for me really pulling, you know, the leaders who I see greatness and pulling them up to ultimately one day take into C of a senior leader and all the way up to CMOs. So for me I love the opportunity and, and that’s what sort of is my oxygen. It brings me to work every day to know that I’m developing marketers who will one day sit at the seat and pass on some of the lessons of leadership, humanism and empathy that that I’ve learned, you know, throughout my career, sitting under great marketers as well.

Jeff Pedowitz:

So I, I’ve got that the comic book, it’s Captain Empathy, right? So…

Nnamdi Nwoke:

That’s good, that’s good!

Jeff Pedowitz:

Marketing, baby. So as, as you’re, so obviously empathy, really important quality in a leader and, and certainly in, but with all of the technology, with all the challenges that marketing has to, what are some of the other important attributes you think or you look for anyway in your teeth?

Nnamdi Nwoke:

Yeah, so it’s interesting taking the role that green sky was and, and working here a green sky has been one of the most transformative career decisions I’ve ever made. And the best ways possible. And so when I took the role, I inherited a team of about six marketers and now we’re growing. We are just about 14 marketers now in the team. And looking to add several more positions in, in Q one 2019. And I think the guiding principle for me and looking for marketers is the, and there are a couple of schools of thoughts schools of thought on this. The school of thought that I love is one of Neil Patel’s and that’s called the T-shaped marketer where they have a breadth of knowledge across multiple disciplines in marketing, but really sort of are focused right depth through you know, in, in one or, you know, just a couple of areas.

And that’s been, that’s been my approach to looking for the right marketers. It’s first of all, did you know your skills or your knowledge and experience does it spend a breadth of marketing that we look for? And I think the reason why that’s important, especially for a company, a green sky that’s still sort of developing its business case for a modern, competent and strong marketing organization is we get to wear many hats and we have to wear many hats working at a rocket ship, right? Going at our pace. So first I look for marketers who have a breadth of knowledge and experience. But then in building out sort of the pillars of my marketing team, I look for folks who have a depth in certain areas. And that’s how I start to pair them with the, the groups that they work, they work in today. And that’s content programs and campaigns marketing operations design. And now most recently, new to green sky at least is building out a channel and field marketing organization. So so again, that T-shaped is, is a school of thought that I really are really sort of you know, it resonated with me and it’s it served me well over the almost two years I’ve been here.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I mean, it makes a lot of sense. So there’s been so much change in, in marketing over the last 10 or 15 years and almost takes your breath away. But if you look out on the horizon, even two to three years out, what do you think the next big wave is going to be that’s going to impact us?

Nnamdi Nwoke:

Yeah. demand generation has been my bread and butter for my career. I think what’s happening for me and for most marketers, especially in B2B B2B agencies or companies rather, is there’s, there’s a shift back to some of the novelty marketing ideas, right? That, that’s sort of the bedrock for modern marketing. And there’s two that, that stick out to me as making their comeback, right? The first is brand. The first is brand. And I’ll tell you why I think, I think some of the ideas or the techniques and technology that served as major differentiators, right? For certain marketing departments who were, you know, leading the change in blazing the trail you know, using the most advanced techniques with email marketing companies like silver pop come to mind with, you know send time optimization, et cetera.

You know, sort of that breakthrough, groundbreaking you know, technology. Now all of those features you can really find across multiple different platforms, right? And some of the best practices that are proliferated by the great consulting groups most folks are, are catching on to how this stuff works in a, in a, in a modern 21st century you know, organization. So I think shifting back, and this is certainly been my experience at green skies, making a shift back to how we tell our story as marketers. So how we positioned the brand to how we and I’ll go back to storytelling. Tell that story uniquely, especially in a competitive space where most of our features and products and things are, are commonplace, right? So I think brand really, when I say brand, it goes beyond aesthetics. It’s the story, it’s the customer experience. It’s how folks interface with your company well beyond their you know, when they make a decision to partner with you or to buy your products, et cetera. So I think brand is making a huge comeback. A market is really have to double down on storytelling. But, but most importantly, customer experience.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You know, it’s interesting that you say that. Because I think we’ve gotten very caught up in the numbers and the science of marketing and the machine. And then along the way, that emotional connection, that human element that connects the company and the brand promise to your target audience. I mean that’s really the heart and soul of marketing. So I agree. I think we are seeing that kind of that whole round Robin and now though, you have to be both, right? You can’t just be a brand marketer or a demand marketer. You have to be a complete market cap so that he can stand for empathy, can stand for everything, right?

 Nnamdi Nwoke:

We’re going to, we’re going to do it. It’s all the way asked to do that.

Jeff Pedowitz:

We totally have to do that, I love that.

Nnamdi Nwoke:

Yeah, let’s do it.

Jeff Pedowitz:

And then like we’re going to have to come up with like a vehicle and let’s just do the whole thing and…

Nnamdi Nwoke:

I’ve already got it.

Jeff Pedowitz:

I bet you do. So you know, your, your individual story’s unique and then it was quite a change, especially growing up as an artist and as a doctor. What are some of the lessons you’ve learned along the way though? You know, if you were going to kind of go back and tap yourself on the shoulder when you were a freshman in college, what would you go back and tell yourself?

Nnamdi Nwoke:

I would tell myself that life is long. So be patient. Find the right mentors who are doing exactly what you want to do and learn from them. There are incredible CMOs that I would kill for the opportunity to sit under their tutelage and learn you know, not just how they got to where they are, but the life lessons that have helped them to sort of stay in the game. So I would say to my younger self, listen life as long. So so be patient. Take your time to learn. You know don’t expect any handouts. A, and I say that because my story is, it’s interesting the years that I spent sort of picking up books and, and IM of the skills I needed to land at first a digital marketing role those years aren’t lost upon me, right?

I, I still take that experience and those lessons and I use them every day with my, with my growing team here at green sky. And I tell them, in order to sit, when you finally get an opportunity to sit in the seat of leadership your team is going to look to you for a number of things. But one thing that I, if I can pass onto my team and the lesson that I’ve learned over the years is they’re looking to you to leave from experience, right?

And I, I may not be the absolute best designer there is. But I’ve touched enough of the practice areas, right in marketing that I can call myself a practitioner and speak and be respected or my, my opinion be respected by everyone in my department, from the channel leaders to the campaigns folks because I’ve gotten my hands dirty with the work. I think, I think I would tell myself to you know, do as much as possible, get as much experience as possible, but really double down again and become that that everything marketer, right. That T-shaped marketer. And yeah, that’s, that pretty much sums it up for me.

Jeff Pedowitz:

Well, captain E M D thank you. It was a, it was an honor interviewing you today. We’re gonna have to have you back for the SQL, especially along that we launched this series and we’ll do a deal with the CW right. We’ll get, we’ll get like a whole channel.

Nnamdi Nwoke:

I’m on board, Jeff. Listen, it was a pleasure. Thank you so much for having me. It’s been really an honor to speak to you.

Jeff Pedowitz:

You bet. Thanks, Nnamdi.

Nnamdi Nwoke:

Thank you.

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