Corporate Event Expert Profile: Michelle Radlowski, Head of Americas Field Marketing, Zscaler
The Corporate Event News Event Expert Profile series features interviews with some of the many talented corporate event professionals who make this industry thrive.
Throughout her 12-year career, Michelle Radlowski has held roles that have spanned a wide variety of marketing responsibilities. She believes in the importance of marketing working closely together with sales, and loves seeing the impact of her work on business growth.
I met Radlowski when we both worked at Dell Software, where she was responsible for managing corporate events and the organization’s Customer Advisory Board. Even then, she had a strong reputation as an excellent communicator who cared about building relationships with the sales team and making sure that the events she managed were contributing to their overall success.
In 2016, a few months before Dell sold the software division, Radlowski left to work for Zscaler, a company that enables the world’s leading organizations to securely transform their networks and applications for a mobile and cloud-first world. She has rapidly risen through the ranks to become Head of Americas Field Marketing. In her current role, she is responsible for leading a team of regional field marketing managers and developing strategically focused marketing activities and programs designed to support the sales process from prospecting to close and upsell. This includes customer advisory board meetings, regional events, campaigns and joint partner initiatives.
Danalynne Wheeler Menegus: What are your current responsibilities?
Michelle Radlowski: Events are a part of my responsibilities — I execute corporate events, regional events, and our Customer Advisory Board meetings — but as a field marketer I’m also responsible for much more. My team needs to have a deep understanding of our assigned territories’ target accounts and strategize with the sales reps on how we can help them build their business and meet their quota.
There are field marketing managers in each region (Americas, EMEA and APJ/APAC) and multiple territories across the country. We drive the go-to-market strategy in our territory, working alongside the sales reps to target specific accounts and help drive new business and build the pipeline.
That might entail a field event, an email campaign, doing something jointly with a partner that takes a corporate marketing campaign and brings it to the territory, or an account-based marketing (ABM) initiative where we are doing something at a micro level with one specific customer. It's all about trying to build a relationship within those accounts.
In addition to operating as an extension of the sales team, we also manage channel marketing, helping to engage partners on a marketing level within our region and territory.
DWM: How do you define the difference between a corporate event and a field event?
MR: A corporate event is a large trade show with a significant amount of money being invested at the corporate level, so a 20 x 20 exhibit booth or similar. They are usually multiple days and may encompass various initiatives – product launch, press release, corporate theme, social outreach, speaking sessions, ancillary events, and more. There are a lot of pieces that go into building out a corporate event. They can be either national or global, but they impact more than a single territory.
A field event is region specific focusing on only a certain city or state. The strategy is on targeting specific accounts, titles, and engagement in the pipeline or lead funnel.
DWM: What was your career path to get to where you are today – and what prompted you to make the decisions to change/expand your role?
MR: After college I started working at the corporate office for an office supply company which primarily marketed via print and web. I then transitioned into the IT industry working for a smaller startup, wearing many hats within the marketing team — social, email, events, webcasts, campaigns, telemarketing, and vendor management — then we were acquired by a larger organization. My responsibilities shifted to managing corporate events, and not too long after that we were acquired by Dell and became the Dell Software division of the organization.
At Dell, in addition to managing corporate events, I had the amazing opportunity to help launch the Dell Software President’s Advisory. This took me down the path of expanding my knowledge of advisory boards, including becoming CAB Program Manager certified through Ignite Advisory Group and speaking at several CAB training events.
Being a close part of this intimate forum of executives made me really miss working for a smaller organization. I missed working alongside the sales teams and helping them strategize and be successful. That is what brought me to Zscaler, a smaller organization that was growing fast, and where I can wear many hats and see the direct impact of my work every day.
DWM: Has having a background in events helped you with other areas of marketing?
MR: Absolutely! In the end it’s all in the details but you need to also take a step back and see the big picture. How is what you are doing impacting the business? If you are an event marketer or a corporate events manager, always remember to engage the field marketing team. They are your front line for sales and as a team you will drive success together.
DWM: What are your favorite parts of your job?
MR: There are two parts of my job that I particularly love:
Working with sales - Being able to put plans together to impact their individual business, helping open doors and drive pipeline. Even the little things like getting a response to an email or direct mail campaign, we celebrate!
Building a world-class field marketing team - We are evolving as a field marketing team, and one of my responsibilities is making sure that the relationship between sales and marketing is stronger than ever. This includes five key things:
- Being a full stack marketer - knowing what is in your marketing toolkit outside of only doing events, and incorporating all aspects of marketing in your territory plans.
- Treating your territory like your business, be data-driven
- Campaign thinking (not just one-off events) and planning several quarters out
- Owning the pitch - knowing the key company message
- Understanding the channel - knowing the partner ecosystem, engaging and enabling them through area marketing efforts
DWM: What have you learned along the way that’s made your job easier?
MR: Overcommunicate and don’t be afraid to ask questions. If you stay organized then it will make everything easier! Also, I truly believe that event marketing is not the same today as it was 5-10 years ago: it’s no longer all about logistics and execution, it’s about how you will drive the bottom line for the organization you are representing. Tracking and communications can really improve the impact of what corporate event managers are doing for the business.
In part two of this profile, Radlowski shares insights on metrics, technology and managing a remote team, plus advice for event managers who are looking to become more strategic members of the marketing organization.
Want to recommend a friend or colleague to be featured in an upcoming event industry expert profile? Send me your suggestions: firstname.lastname@example.org.