‘Believe in yourself ‘- a simple mantra to be successful in today’s tech world

Paige O’Neill, Chief Marketing Officer at Sitecore, shares her success mantra and elaborates on her career journey and love for technology

Tell us about your leadership style and philosophy.
My leadership style blossomed when I stopped trying to follow others – mainly the masculine role models that surrounded me. This enhanced my confidence as I was able to use my own authentic style and voice. I know confidence is something a lot of people, especially women, struggle with – and in my view, confidence starts with self-belief. We may all fall prey to imposter syndrome from time to time, but remember you’re in your role because you have the skills and experience your company needs – own it and you can make big things happen.

What prompted you to consider a career in technology?
I studied political science degrees, and then spent a year in New York University’s Media Ecology Ph.D. program studying how technology impacts culture. During this period I got a part-time job working for a PR agency – and ended up dropping out of the Ph.D. program, abandoning my idea of professorship and embarking on a career in PR and marketing, always in the tech space. It’s been a fascinating trajectory!

What do you think is the best part of being a woman in the tech industry?
I’ve always been fascinated by innovation in the tech industry. I got hooked in my early career days when paying with a credit card over the internet was a new thing. It truly changed the world. However, as we know, being a woman in the tech industry can be a bit lonely. We need more women in our field – particularly in development or C-level roles. So to me, having the opportunity to lead and develop young women to be future leaders in such an exciting industry is the best part of the job.

Do you feel you have had to work harder than male colleagues to advance your career?
I definitely used to feel that way earlier in my career. I think one key issue is that women used to put their heads down and do the work and hope they’d get noticed and it would lead to advancement. I know from my experiences as a manager, men would ask for what they wanted much more vocally than women. I tell all the women I talk to who are looking for ways to advance to ask for what you want, let your boss and co-workers know. Ask for a new project or a promotion. You just might hear a yes. I think this is changing rapidly with younger generations coming into the workforce. It gives me hope.

What motivates you every day?
Variety and unpredictability. The fast pace of tech. I really enjoy how varied my role is, and the fact that every day brings something new to explore. Seizing these opportunities, and achieving something new is incredibly satisfying.

What is the best professional advice you have ever received?
Believe that you can do it! I used to worry that I could never be a CMO, could never speak on stage in front of large audiences, could never lead an entire marketing team…I had a mentor tell me to believe in myself that she knew I could do it. And so I did.

What’s next for you in terms of your career in the tech industry?
I believe in helping our customers achieve their digital experience goals. These are difficult problems to solve that Sitecore – and marketing – is on the front lines of helping solve. My job is to help our customers understand how to deliver optimized customer experiences. Since I’ve joined, Sitecore has been on an exciting growth trajectory. We’re launching new products, we’re acquiring companies, we’re growing, we’re solving critical business needs. My goal is to tell our story with fluency so that ambitious, innovative companies around the globe can understand how they can better connect with their customers, and build unforgettable experiences. That’s it!

What are your thoughts on the next transformation in the tech industry?
From my perspective, I’m most interested in what happens next in digital commerce and the digital experience. We actually asked our partners to discuss just this topic at the start of this year – unpredictable disruption was the overriding assumption! But beyond that, 4 themes emerged:

a. Consumers will expect omnichannel personalization.
b. B2B commerce will become “B2Me” commerce.
c. Commerce experiences will go far beyond the simple shopping cart.
d. Modern e-commerce architecture will become the default, with composable commerce helping brands keep pace with ever-changing consumer expectations.

What advice would you give to women looking to break into the field of digital technology?
Go for it! All companies are looking at how they can use digital these days. It’s a fascinating place to be. There are lots of courses you can now study to help develop digital skills – but you can also learn on the job. I think an important point is to really study what’s going on in tech, and find out what interests you. You don’t have to code – you can be a marketer, work in finance, or legal – but tech companies offer lots of opportunities, and are really pushing the boundaries of business.

Can you offer a few tips on achieving work-life balance in today’s scenario?
The best tip I can offer is to give yourself permission to take a break. Life will never be perfect, no matter how hard you try! But you can do things to help yourself. I live by my calendar, which contains my professional and personal appointments and tasks, as well as those of my family. But I also always make sure I build a short period into each day for me. Having time to think, to stretch, to walk, to move, is vital.