How 2B Fearless with Fearless 50 Member, Emily Poulton

Marketo Employee
Marketo Employee

In this edition of the How 2B Fearless series, we sat down with Emily Poulton‌, who is a Marketo Champion Alumni, London MUG Leader, and Fearless 50 2018 member. Emily shares what being a fearless marketer means for her and what it has meant for her career.

What does fearless marketing mean to you?

Fearless marketing means always doing what is right for the customer and for your team, however hard the battles may be. It is all about resilience and doing the right thing. When you know that a certain direction will not succeed in the long run due to an oversight in planning, catch it there and then find solutions I had a recent experience where a campaign was not planned for measuring success in Marketo. During the campaign building, I had to explain why this would not work to record campaign attribution. For me, it was tough to speak up at that point in time as everyone was excited to launch the campaign. It may seem hard to speak up in the moment, but in the long run it’s the right thing to do for the business and the customer.

Who is a fearless marketer you look up to and why?

Jamie Kirmess, Principal at LeadMD, is my fearless marketer. She was my first boss in the world of Marketo and her career has rocketed since we last worked together, so much so that I cannot keep up. She has so many ideas and will take the time and patience to explain the reasons behind a campaign or logic, from senior stakeholders to the people executing. She is smart and savvy and she doesn’t know this, but when I am stuck, I think, WWJD – what would Jamie do? Jamie was never afraid to push back on projects. She always explained her reasoning and offered solutions and alternatives to ensure all needs were met by having one campaign built smarter. This goes back a few years now since we worked together in 2014, but Jamie would always ask why I was building a campaign for someone, and if I couldn’t answer that, the project would not be done. As simple as that!

How did your career start out in marketing?

My first marketing job was actually during a placement year at University back in 2007, where I did a year-long internship producing marketing collateral and supporting events. I then had a series of generalist roles working for start-ups where I discovered my passion for automation and inbound marketing, I just didn’t know it at the time. I discovered the world of Marketo in 2014 and loved how it brought together creativity, logic and customer journeys. Marketo has opened many doors for me professionally, and it is one of the reasons I am in my Senior Marketing Operations role today. Marketo touches all parts of the business: sales, marketing, legal, operations, IT, technology and communications; It’s a great way to encourage cross-collaboration in the workplace, and can put you in front of key people within your organization as you start having those strategic conversations.

How did you get to the point you are at in your career today?

Back in 2018, I shared one of my biggest fearless moments on stage with the Marketing Nation. This was the moment when I walked into a senior meeting between my CMO, my CIO and Marketo’s CEO, CPO and EMEA VP because I wanted to meet them. That moment made me a Fearless 50 member and gave me the courage to keep striving for more. Since then, continuing my fearless journey, I took the leap of taking a career break to fulfill my personal ambitions: traveling Central and South America.

It was scary because I was leaving everything and everyone I knew behind (apart from the boyfriend as I dragged him with me) and I didn’t know if the employment market would change, or if I would find a great job on the other side. I planned the break 1 year in advance and it was very important to me to able to go and experience different cultures and explore the world. I was very honest about my intentions when I accepted the contract role at The Adecco Group, since integrity and trust are very important to me.

In the end, believing in my own abilities (not losing all my knowledge at the top of Machu Picchu) and being honest to employers about the break (I have a gap in my CV as I have just come back from a sabbatical) opened so many more doors than expected. At the time, it was scary, but luckily the world of Marketo and Operations has plenty of work opportunities across London.

Leaving full time employment to go explore the world could be seen as a dumb move, but in the long run, it was worth it, both personally and professionally because a great new challenging role found me on the other side.

What have you learned from other members of the Fearless 50?

The Fearless 50 members that I have met so far are all successful in their careers, humble and friendly. I learned from them that picking your battles is the key to being fearless. I find that focusing your efforts on the causes you believe in most at work means that you are able to achieve your goals, where you feel it matters most. Oh, and lots of passion.

What are three pieces of advice you would give to the next generation of fearless marketers?

1. Be honest and respectful of others around you.

It can be easy to want to hide the truth if it makes you look bad or go against others’ opinions. However, in my experience, admitting you don’t know or owning up to your errors makes you brave, which creates an environment of trust and respect around you.

For example, I found out that some of our records were being deleted in Marketo (oh no!) and in the end, it was because I set up a dodgy flow. I owned up to the marketing manager it was affecting and our CMO. Luckily, we ended up restoring the records, but it was worth explaining the reasons and the situation to everyone involved before they heard the news from someone else.

2. Trust yourself and explain why you believe a certain route is the right way to go.

When colleagues who shout the loudest are the ones being heard, taking a passive approach in meetings can seem like the easiest option. It can be difficult to be fearless and ensure your voice is heard, even when you truly believe that you have the solution, but people will appreciate you taking the initiative to explain your reasons – especially when you have data and examples. 

For example, I had a situation recently where I had two competitive and passionate colleagues who were trying to convince me that Marketo was broken, when I knew very well that it was the way they had chosen to setup our website reporting tool. It was very hard to go against what two people were saying but I had to be brave and explain the rationale, get some advice from other sources to prove my theory, and find the articles and data to back it up. In the end, my voice was heard and we’re now working on a collaborative solution.

3. Always be yourself.

Don’t go against who you are as a person and the values you believe in, it’s not sustainable long term. Your work will always be a reflection of you, so do the best you can, and if you think it will make a bigger impact, do it your way.

I always like to perform a task in my time and my way as I know that I will be able to explain it in future, especially when it comes to reporting and spreadsheets!

About Emily Poulton



Community Profile: Emily Poulton

Level 6 - Champion Alumni

Being honest and owning up to mistakes is so important to gain the respect of your colleagues. In owning up to these things, some of the best conversations and improvement can happen. 

Level 10 - Champion Alumni

Great tips, Emily.

Level 7

"It is all about resilience and doing the right thing." - I think this is really key to the concept of being fearless, doing the right thing and making sure processes are followed, speaking up when required, and putting the customer first.

Level 7 - Champion Alumni

Emily Poulton‌ - lovely to hear about your Marketo Fearless 50 journey!

Level 4


Level 3

Really great tips. I especially liked that you took time to mention explain your reasons. It's really easy to become passionate about a project you're working on but I agree when you have data and examples to back you up its much easier to explain your reasoning and win the support of your colleagues. 

Level 10

Totally agree on the be honest point - especially when it comes to owning your mistakes!

Level 6 - Champion Alumni

Great point Emily. Have to agree 100% that honesty is the best policy. Everyone has made a mistake or two (ask any Champion) and being open about it earns you more respect amongst your peers.

Level 9

> 3. Always be yourself.

Couldn't agree more. I love the saying, Always be a first-rate version of yourself, instead of a second-rate version of somebody else."

Level 7 - Champion Alumni

Great advice Emily!