Katy KeimKaty Keim is the Chief Marketing Officer and GM of Lithium Reach and Response, Katy is responsible for all strategic marketing activities for the company including branding, positioning, communications, go-to-market strategy and customer acquisition programs. She also leads Lithium’s overall product marketing group and product strategy for Lithium’s Reach and Response business.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not when I was younger. I started out in high-tech finance and then learned that I loved the entrepreneurship and nurturing that goes with building tech companies. I knew I was more creative than linear and that’s when marketing started to make more intuitive sense as a career.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I’ve faced challenges communicating a concise, assertive way that’s going to ensure I have the most impact. I’m a passionate person and get easily excited about my point-of-view. I’ve needed to learn how to articulate it in the context of the business. Working with a lot of men, I’ve also had to adjust my communication to be more pointed and brief. Less noise, more signal.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

Be very clear about what you stand for. Employees can easily spot discrepancies between what you say and what you do. Know what is important to you because there are many tricky situations in business that aren’t always cut and try—so having a consistent true north on your values is key.

Be decisive at the right times. New leaders often have trouble communicating what is a decision and what is collaboration. Sometimes you need a lot of input, sometimes you have to make the call. Just be clear on context with your team.

Ask for feedback. There’s always room for improvement and the more you move into a leadership position, people are more fearful about sharing feedback—especially constructive comments. You have to hunt for it.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

Potential typically trumps experience. Some leaders want a proven track record of doing that exact role. I am looking for people who are motivated to tackle new challenges and people that continue to grow rather than just mastering the same tasks. Smarts, hunger and hustle can’t be taught.

How do you manage your own boss?

My job isn’t to manage my boss, but to work together to drive the direction of the company. I am trying not to die on every mountain. There are always challenges in a business, but picking the ones to solve—that will have the most impact—is my focus. This sometimes means tackling big issues one-on-one. I want to continue to be more effective on picking a few strategic issues and influencing direction with my point-of-view.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I review my calendar, figure out my must-dos, lay out what needs to happen the next day, and always clean out my inbox at the end of each day. I have official opening and closing “ceremony” of my day.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

Invest in public speaking and be a 10x communicator. Regardless of the audience, having complete command of your message always delivers better results. Also, don’t shy away from your successes. Women often downplay their accomplishments. Own it. Say thank you. Don’t always defer your successes to others.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I’m a big believer in coaching. Role playing is especially important when you’re in a high stakes situation because an objective observer can help you practice and tackle a tough situation before you handle it in real life. Everything is better with practice, and good results don’t come without hard work. We tend to have a distorted view of ourselves and need another perspective from someone else.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker?

It’s totally important – what goes around comes around. Naturally, it feels good to help people. But people often think of networking in terms of how it’s going to help in their next job. Why not think of it in terms of how it helps in your current job? Some of my best ideas as CMO were from networking with my peers. People outside your organisation can be inherently creative about your situation. I also use networking to find talent.

What does the future hold for you?

I want to evolve to lead a more meaningful role in the culture of the company. My leadership principles are definitely grounded in the belief that there is a certain X-factor in people. People can accomplish so much more when you set a clear, empower them to act and create an environment of joy (yes, joy—humor, satisfaction, price). I want to build a company where the culture is its primary competitive advantage.