Inspirational Woman: Cory Munchbach | President & COO, BlueConic

Meet Cory Munchbach, President & Chief Operating Officer at BlueConic

Cory Munchbach

Cory is President & COO at BlueConic. In this piece, we talk about her career, her biggest achievement and the challenges she has faced as a woman working in the technology industry.

Cory has spent her career on the cutting edge of marketing technology and brings years working with Fortune 500 clients from various industries to BlueConic.

Before joining the BlueCrew, she was an analyst at Forrester Research where she covered business and consumer technology trends and the fast-moving marketing tech landscape. A life-long Bostonian, Cory has a bachelor’s degree in political science from Boston College and spends a considerable amount of her non-work hours on various volunteer and philanthropic initiatives in the greater Boston community.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I am the President and COO at customer data platform BlueConic, where I oversee the company’s business operations and establish policies that promote the company’s culture and vision. I also work directly with BlueConic’s customers on their own technology strategies and how to become more fluent in data, digital, and customer-first in their operations, which is a passion of mine. Analyst firms have been calling it ‘the age of the customer’ for almost a decade now, but the reality is that very few companies have figured out how to execute ‘customer centricity’ at scale. I have this amazing job where I get to support customers like HEINEKEN USA and VF Corporation with their digital transformation strategies so they can better meet customer expectations while improving operational efficiency at the same time. And I get to build a company that consists of the most ridiculously awesome humans on the planet. Every day I am the luckiest

Before joining BlueConic, I was an analyst at Forrester Research on the CMO and marketing leadership team. At the time, I had no formal business background, but I had the opportunity to interact with some of the senior most marketers at some of the most notable brands. I got so much concentrated exposure to the marketing strategy side of things, but it was the technology enablement piece that I kept coming back to, which is how I ended up covering marketing tech and ultimately writing the first-ever Forrester Wave on the marketing cloud category in 2013. That was really the most formative step for me in terms of how I ended up in marketing technology specifically.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Totally – and then nothing went remotely according to that plan! On the contrary: to be honest, I would never have imagined my career path looking like this. I was a political science major in college and had grand ambitions of returning to graduate school to get a PhD in public policy and perhaps teaching. What’s interesting is that, even though I clearly have not taken that path, the common thread of most of my career has been adjacent to teaching — I spend the majority of my time, whether externally with customers or internally with my colleagues, finding different ways to introduce new ideas and get them to stick. I love getting other people energized about something and working toward making it happen.

After learning so much as an analyst at Forrester, I knew I wanted to get my hands dirty building a company instead of just writing about and consulting for them. Getting this fledgling technology off the ground was a huge opportunity, which compelled me to seek employment with then early-stage start-up BlueConic. When I accepted a role with the company in 2015, I received a text message from CEO Bart Heilbron that said, “Hurry up and get here, we’ve got a dream to build.” And I’ve never looked back.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

I’d love to meet anyone who can answer “no” to this question! So many – from blatant sexism to general misalignment with a leader or team – I’ve confronted any number of challenges big and small throughout. While each was a bit different, I could overcome them because I feel incredibly supported by some core people who make up my squad and give me the tools I need to work through things: the clarity, confidence, perspective, and esteem to make the right choice for me.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

For a few reasons, it’s solidifying our partnership with Vista Equity Partners earlier this year. Securing the investment not only validates the grit and persistence from the whole team so far, but also ensures that BlueConic is able to continue to affect real change in the world of marketing, media, and advertising by helping companies unlock the power of consented first-party data. It’s also a recognition of the way the company has been built – the approach, the team, the commitment – which is incredibly gratifying after so many years of collective effort.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

LUCK. And I reject anyone who says that I shouldn’t attribute my success to it because I would rather be lucky than good. Luck includes a lot of things, but mostly people and the opportunities to meet and learn from people who are different from me, whether due to diverse life experiences or who know more about a particular subject than I do. I’m an extremely curious person; I love to learn and I’ve been lucky to be exposed to new ideas and concepts through new people throughout my career – and then be able to use that knowledge to propel my own growth.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

I think the most important thing is to trust your gut and use your voice – especially to ask questions. You’re going to be right so much more than you’re wrong and your willingness to be “wrong” actually creates space for other people to learn as well, which is invaluable for a whole group. And as you rise through the ranks, don’t pull the ladder up behind you. Your success and achievements will be so much more rewarding because you brought a lot of people along than they would be celebrated solo. The opinions of people who work for you matter so much more — generally and over the long-term — than those above.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

There are oh so many. See next answer about overcoming them because the reality is that women have done all the “right” things to earn overcoming these barriers – going to college, starting companies, making it to the C Suite – but the barriers are deeply embedded at so many levels of society that to overcome them is much more than a tech industry challenge and more broadly a cultural challenge.

What do you think companies can do to support to progress the careers of women working in technology?

Vocally support women’s reproductive rights. Provide excellent benefits for all parents. Ensure that you have representation at all levels of the organization. To be clear: women know how to advance our careers; what we can’t always do is overcome the barriers in our way.

There are currently only 21 percent of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Is “eradicate structural misogyny” an answer? Because tech’s issues for women are a byproduct of a much larger set of systemic issues and until we address a range of underlying problems, “tech” won’t be able to outrun them.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

I end almost every conversation I have with book recommendations – it’s a bad habit so I’ll try to keep it relatively short! Unleashed by Frances Frei and Anne Morriss is a core guide of mine; I also am a fan of Just Work by Kim Scott. Everyone in startups should subscribe to First Round Review’s newsletter and podcast. Harvard Business Review’s Women at Work is a fantastic podcast; more generally, “The Best One Yet” (formerly Robinhood Snacks) and Pivot podcasts for business and tech news; also, Reid Hoffman’s Masters of Scale. My actual advice, though, is to read/listen/consume broadly and apply what you learn to your day-to-day. I subscribe to so many newsletters and podcasts outside any of my focus areas and I think that helps me draw new ideas and thinking to my work.