An incubator of women leaders

Member Spotlight -  Padmini Murthy

Name: Padmini Murthy

Job / Title: Tech Marketing Leader, Founder

Company: Content Sense

Industry: Technology, Marketing, Social Entrepreneurship

Q: From your perspective, what are the most important trends that will take place in your industry in the next 10 years?

Padmini: I had recently written a response to this question in a blog post titled – 2020, the year of the hyper-digital economy. The first part of this blog covered a lot of ground describing the technology trends that made significant inroads in the past decade - cloud computing, data management, and artificial intelligence-centric tech.

In the next part of that blog, I took a more forward-looking approach to build out the digital tech future for 2020 and beyond. The tech landscape would follow the D.A.R.E. principle. Starting with data and A.I. to extended/virtual reality and edge computing. Data security and connectivity (think IoT-centric devices) will be big on the horizon. A.I. with explainable, secure, and cognitive automation will either cross the chasm or be very close to that. V.R., A.R. will be the next big thing that people will become comfortable experimenting with, especially in the context of web experiences like shopping and gaming. Edge computing will hit it out of the ballpark with a 50% more significant leap to start with in 2020. Read the blog if you can to get a more detailed lowdown.

What does this mean for technology marketers? First, it would mean that every technology marketer would need to continuously learn and become comfortable with these new and emerging technology areas. I best learn from reading and listening (a lot) and talking to domain experts at events and forums. There are various other avenues to increase your domain depth in a subject, through doing a quick learning tour on Coursera or Udemy, for example.

Second, and a more significant piece is to converge the understanding of these technology topics with the standard marketing principles to build those succinct narratives. Narratives have been around, but in the age of instant gratification, it will be all about creating terse but power-packed content that can be easily consumed.

These will give a quick face-lift to game-changing products and will influence the audience in a snap to adopt and embark on the tech journey. They will make the entire ecosystem around this product – its customers, analysts, partners thrive speedily as a result of increased confidence in the potential of the product. More on this topic coming up in other thought leadership articles I am in the process of drafting.

Career Management

Q: What tips do you have for other women just starting out in your profession?

Padmini: I'll make my first few tips 'gender agnostic' as I believe that everyone can benefit from this learning experience.

  • Try not to look for short-cuts, no matter how hard the road is – there's richness in fumbling and finding the solution that works along the way. The relationships you make with people through that process are deeper and long lasting. It gives what I call the 'rooting' which helps you to hold that backbone through adversity. On this path, you might be slow, but you will be sure to achieve your goal.
  • Network, but authentically – I am not asking you not to go to the wine socials or the bocce ball hangouts. Please do, but don't just do it to get connected on LinkedIn or for that selfie. Hanging out with like-minded people to learn something new or sharing and discussing ideas is a priceless experience. Who knows, maybe you'll stumble on a big product idea. And if not, you've come out of that networking session people rich.
  • Never stop experimenting – Marketing is a vast field, and tech marketing at that is expansive. When you start out in a marketing profession, which is both an art and a science, it would be beneficial to dabble as a generalist. Learning how to ideate marketing taglines is as enjoyable as learning to analyze the campaign dashboard. Writing copy for web pages will be as important as learning to create a marketing budget program – so you get the drift. After you've spent a few years at this, you would intuitively know how your skills align, and what you enjoy the most.

Please note that all of these apply to women. I don't have exclusive tips for women, specifically in marketing and technology. In general, though, I would say that if there's anything deterring you from going towards your goal – it is very important to build an ecosystem of like-minded women who have been there and done that. They could be your sounding board and can suggest solutions. It would also be useful to have a mentor who you can trust, and who you think understands you and your background personally and professionally to give the right sort of guidance.


Q: What is your recommendation for choosing a good mentor?


  • I did talk a little bit about the need for a mentor early on. Lots of stars need to align to find a good mentor. Most times, it becomes a direct function of the number of years you have spent in your career. The more you have been around, the more people you know, and hence, higher the chances of connecting with someone who can guide you professionally for a long haul.
  • For the ones who have not been lucky enough to find a mentor that way, volunteering at non-profits or becoming a member of various cubs like this one – the Silicon Valley Club would help immensely. These clubs meet frequently, and your participation in club-centric activities would naturally connect you to the other members.
  • Your company might also have a mentor-mentee program. I know that most large companies provide that opportunity, no matter which level you are at. Make sure to become a part of that soon enough.
  • From my experience, you might also stumble upon a mentor in a non-professional setting sometimes. I know of incidents where sometimes a parent or a close relative can and has become a very good mentor and adviser. The parent or the concerned adult is usually very heavily invested in their child's growth, and if the child has spent a good chunk of their growing life with that person, then the trust and the mutual-respect is automatic. And of course, if the person is accomplished professionally in a similar field, it is a fringe benefit. There's also work on your part to 'stay open'.

Q: What does leadership mean to you?

Padmini: There are several books on this, so need I say more. Leadership takes different dimensions and complexions based on the situation. You've heard that too. So, I'll try to summarize what it means to me, and this will be a summary of leadership lessons that I have learned over the years.

  • Thinking Beyond the I - leadership is about growing others. But magically, in the process, you grow multi-fold. It is about making sure that you work with your crew to remove the roadblocks that might be decelerating their progress. It is about providing enough bandwidth and time on your calendar to hear them out in a non-judgmental way. It is also about staying curious to learn about their ambitions, and to be genuinely interested in their progress – which might sometimes mean helping them to transition and grow out of you.
  • Tenacity and Grit - leadership is to have a backbone, and steer the ship on calm waters of course, but also ensure progress in those stormy times. In the latter situation, you might lose your navigation map and the crew, but you got to hold the wheel steady until you anchor.
  • Empathy - good leaders somehow always perceive, understand, and empathize. They have the ability to distill complex emotions, situations and experience and extend a human response. Some of it comes from just sheer experience, but I have also seen that great leaders work on this consciously and deliberately.
  • Thinking Ahead and 360 - Good leaders never compromise on the long-term value for short term benefits. Whether it's people or business opportunities – good leaders are not myopic in their decision-making process. Their framework of how they arrive at an actionable opinion is backed by lots of data and facts. And, they use several trusted confidants as sounding boards.
  • Fun is a Priority – good leaders never compromise on this very important part of life. Whether it's going dancing with their wife, or going to their kids' baseball game to cheer, they are present at that fun moment. This also helps them to bring more zing and productivity to their workplace because they connect with people deeply, beyond business.

Balancing Work and Other Interest and Priorities

Q: What advice would you give to someone looking to grow in her career while making time for her family?

Padmini: Great question and the response depends on the cultural context. For example, I moved to the United States about 20 years ago when I was starting my career. Although initially, I was unable to navigate through the seemingly complex maze of expectations from various quarters, the arrival of our son changed things. I was able to quickly distill priorities to identify that spending quality time with family was very important to me.

  • Set the right expectations - Just knowing that you are not a robot and setting the right stage at work and the home goes a long way. It means shuffling around those night meetings to ensure that they don't intrude into the family dinner and entertainment time. Distributing the cooking turns between the husband and you to keep the physical workload balance in check.
  • Outsource a little - It also led to delegating tasks that were time-consuming and did not improve the quality of life for us as a family. It doesn't mean going all out to get help, but just getting assistance with the small tasks – those go a long way.
  • Essential work from home days - If you live in Silicon Valley and commute long distances, you know what I am talking about. These days give you a drive-free day or two, which you can use for longer and more meetings, the ones you couldn't take on your ordinary weekday.
  • Think of creative solutions - finally, there have been days when my son has hung out with me at work, at a conference, and at a meeting with a customer. This is especially the case when there is limited coverage for the kids, and they are on their spring, ski, or fall breaks. Most times, my clients and the community has been very accommodating of this, and it has worked out just fine.
Fun Facts

Q: What do you like to do to unwind?


  • Please don't get me in front of a bottle of good wine. There are wine lovers, and then there are wine lovers:-).
  • In the summer, you can count on me to be your farmer's market. I pretty much grow all exotic veggies and fruits in my backyard.
  • And you'll quickly know I am at that party from those loud laughs.
  • I have always been cooking, but most recently, I decided to give some shape and direction to this passion by completing some food certification courses and start cooking for people outside the family. We'll see how that goes.

Q: In what areas can you give advice to other CLUB members as part of the CLUB mentoring program?

Padmini: marketing careers, leadership, entrepreneurship, work-life balance, managing teenagers.

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