Kathy Schneider

Inspirational Woman: Kathy Schneider | Chief Marketing Officer, KX

Meet Kathy Schneider, Chief Marketing Officer at KX

Kathy Schneider

Kathy was appointed as CMO of KX in March 2020. Kathy brings extensive marketing leadership experience in the global technology sector, including senior marketing roles at privately-held as well as publicly-traded companies. Prior to joining FD, Kathy was Global CMO at Sungard Availability Services.

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

I have lived over half my life outside the US. My early childhood was spent in Italy, where my father attended medical school. I also lived in Mexico City for four years after getting my undergraduate degree in International Politics and Economics from Georgetown’s School of Foreign Service. Having studied Spanish and minored in Latin America there, I wanted to get work experience in the region. Most recently, I lived in London for over 16 years. While I started my career in consumer goods marketing as a brand manager at Kraft Foods Mexico, I switched to the tech sector in 1999 when I joined Dell. From then, I grew my experience and responsibilities in various marketing leadership roles in tech companies across the AdTech, Telecoms, Disaster Recovery and Hosting sectors.

I am currently the CMO at KX which specializes in ultra-high-performance data analytics. There, I have been building out the global marketing function in terms of both the organisation and its martech systems and processes. I have also been leading our branding refresh, which has been an exciting project. KX and our kdb+ time series database has a strong heritage in the financial services sector, which has been at the cutting edge of using real-time data analytics for critical areas such as trading, quant research and anomaly detection and reporting. This sector contends with enormous volumes of streaming real-time data, extensive stores of historic data, volatility, and incredible time-sensitivity for making decisions – think buying or selling the right stock at the right price in microseconds.  As other industry sectors see their real-time data exploding, they too are looking to modernise their data analytics architecture to pace and are embracing KX. We have key programs to drive awareness in these other sectors and expand our footprint.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Funnily enough, I did when I was applying to Georgetown since my initial career goal was to work in the US Foreign Service and become an ambassador. I decided I didn’t want to work in politics and took international businesses classes. As I learned more about Marketing from friends who worked in these roles, I decided it looked interesting and tried it. I found I loved the blend of creative and analytic thinking I had to do. The next decision was whether to stay in FMCG (I started at Kraft Foods Mexico) or to try the tech sector. In the late 90s, the tech sector was booming and hiring people with traditional brand experience to help balance the strong engineering and technical talent they had. This was particularly important as selling to business buyers requires clarity about the business benefits that technology products and solutions will deliver – not just the technical features. I learned a lot in each role which also helped me gain larger scopes to advance my career.

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

I was once required to take a role during a re-organization that was outside of marketing and not the fit for me at the company. I was clear with my manager what I could achieve in the role and that I would do my best; but also, was clear that I wanted their help to move back into a marketing role at that company. The role required building an operational team and I hired strong people and a manager with expertise I didn’t have. This helped get the function set up and we made progress despite me being quite out of my comfort zone. Demonstrating I could deliver results in a new challenge and have a positive attitude helped and I eventually was moved into a great marketing role which I loved there.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date? 

Leading all the marketing in support of Criteo’s IPO was exciting and I learned so much. We had no assets and on the date of the IPO we had refreshed messaging and a video running on the Nasdaq building that the team loved – in record time. I’m also proud of where we are today with KX after refreshing the brand in March a year and a half ago and building out our marketing functions. While we still have work to do, we consistently have top three Share of Voice amongst our competitive set and are driving pipeline growth quarter after quarter.

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

A positive, hard-working attitude. People underestimate how much that matters in addition to experience or expertise.

Level Up Summit 2022

Don’t miss our Level Up Summit on 06 December, where we’re tackling the barriers for women in tech head on. Join us for keynotes, panels, Q&A’s & breakout sessions on finance, people management, negotiation, influencing skills, confidence building, building internal networks, maximising the power of mentorship, and much more. 

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

Be open to lateral roles where you learn something new and challenge your comfort zone.  Showing you can solve new problems or help the business address new challenges shows breadth in applying your skills and expertise. Also demonstrate an understanding of the big picture of your company’s strategy and the competitive landscape. If you work hard buried in your own area but don’t show you understand how your work connects with the big picture, you may not be considered for bigger, more strategic roles. For example, read your company’s and competitor’s financial results and press announcements. Also, keep focused on the business problem the market is dealing with, not just the technology itself. Finally, building your network in your company and outside is important as well. Taking advantage of online and offline communities, conferences and social media platforms can help you do this.

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

In my experience, I have seen women advance their careers in the tech space in both technical and non-technical roles. Working in certain technical roles can require some level of technical experience or skills and if women don’t have that, they may not be considered for such roles. If that’s the case, one can invest time and energy in getting the necessary training. Also, in development conversations with their managers, women can be clear and specific about what roles they would like to advance to and determine what support they need to achieve this. For example, take advantage of online training and certifications. Mentoring programs can also help.

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

Offer support for training and development including courses, certifications, and secondments.  Also, ensure a diverse set of candidates is considered for internal promotions. When recruiting externally, push the recruiting team to have a broad candidate pool for roles. Also, when hiring for roles, include people with a solid track-record of delivering results and transferable skills in addition to the precise, narrow experience that might be obvious for the role. People with ancillary experience and transferable skills who can learn can be great for bringing fresh perspective to a team.

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? 

Have more girls fall in love with science and technology and make it their educational focus. As more and more young women opt to study and pursue technical degrees, they would increase the candidate pool entering the tech sector. There’s a lot of focus on the number of women at the top of tech sector jobs. However, having more women pursue studies in tech will naturally help increase their representation in these roles at companies over time. We need to look at many levels of the career ladder.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Conferences are an excellent way to learn and build one’s network. There is a range of technical conferences and with many now offering virtual attendance as well as in person, this should be at the top of the list. Bizzabo has a nice blog listing a wide range of tech conferences for 2022 – this type of resource is a great way to find out what’s out there. Build your network by not only connecting with people but keeping in touch regularly.

Podcasts are another great resource for learning and keeping up with the fast pace of change in the tech industry. Rocket is an interesting tech podcast with three female hosts talking about tech on one of the first and most popular all-female tech podcasts. One of my favorite books is The Innovators: How a Group of Hackers, Geniuses, and Geeks Created the Digital Revolution, by Walter Isaacson. The book begins with an account of Ada Lovelace, Lord Byron’s daughter, who pioneered computer programming in the 1840s. It then covers with amazing detail a range of key people that created our current digital revolution, such as Vannevar Bush, Alan Turing, John von Neumann, J.C.R. Licklider, Doug Engelbart, Robert Noyce, Bill Gates, Steve Wozniak, Steve Jobs, Tim Berners-Lee, and Larry Page.