By Christina Luconi, Chief People Officer, Rapid7
Chief marketing officer at Rapid7, Carol Meyers is a local legend in the Boston entrepreneurial community. She has played senior leadership roles at LogMeIn, Unica, Shiva, Lotus and GE, and she serves on the board of directors for Emarsys and MineralTree, as well as plays an advisor role to SocialRep and WordStream. Still, she feels she has not done enough.
“I want to keep learning. I want to try new things,” Meyers says. “I have always been driven by a desire to create something, to drive growth, to make things happen. This has not diminished over time, though I have developed a tad more patience.”
She has also gained invaluable insights and wisdom about work and the choices women face. Here, she reflects back on her career and shares her career advice.
Two pivotal decisions made early in her career
“First, after working for four years at GE and graduating from their financial management program, I decided to leap into a smaller, high growth software company. I was sure that a great career path at GE would require me to move frequently around the country. I had moved around a ton as a child and decided I didn’t want that for my family. The tech scene in Massachusetts was heating up and joining a technology company seemed very exciting. I joined Lotus development as the financial analyst for the global sales and services team.
“As it turned out, this set me up for the second pivotal move. At Lotus, where I gained a ton of experience, I set my mind to better understand the strategy and role of sales and marketing in a company’s success. I was lucky enough to create some mentors at the executive level who then asked me to move with them as their careers took off. One of those executives became the VP of marketing and he brought me to his new team as a strategic analyst to help the marketing team plan, measure and adapt. That was great—but the pivotal move was when I told my boss that I didn’t want to ‘just be an analyst.’ I wanted to learn marketing and have a chance to not only analyze but plan and execute campaigns.
“Suddenly, I was part of the go-to-market team, and learning what it is really like to be ‘on the line’ for delivering results. It was a winding road from there, but ultimately my career to took me to the role of VP of sales for the Americas at a publicly-traded company, where I led a large team of enterprise sales reps, channel managers and technical engineers.”
On evaluating a recruiting company’s potential
“Marketplace opportunity, the people I would work with, the company’s financial backers and my own assessment of the likelihood that we would succeed together are all important considerations for me. That said, passion is very key. I was thrilled when I got the chance to work at Lotus—having worked in finance before there were spreadsheets, I was sure that PC software was going to revolutionize the workplace. Similarly, I chose Rapid7 because the work we do in cybersecurity and IT is incredibly impactful. We have a meaningful mission to ensure that humanity can continue to safely use all of the connected technology we so deeply depend on. Our leadership team and culture are phenomenal and getting better every day.”
Her top career advice
“I am still learning every day, but as I reflect now, my key four tips are: first, be open-minded. Opportunities will be all around you, and while it’s great to have a career plan, don’t be afraid to step off your defined path to take on unexpected challenges.
“Second, your network is your future. Building and maintaining great relationships is not only personally rewarding, it is what will create new opportunities for you and support when you fail.
“Third, feedback is your best friend. You can’t improve if you don’t get critical feedback. We all have blind spots and we need other people to help us see them.”
“Finally, give back. Give feedback to others—it is critical for their growth, too. Be a mentor, be a connector, be an advocate for the next generation.”
On work-life balance
“In complete candor, I am not sure I have been a wonderful example of this. I have always been very career driven, and there are things I missed because of it. Though I did always try to be at the important events—and with my children on the weekends as much as possible.
“Now that my children are older, it is certainly easier. But I wouldn’t change a moment of the stress or juggling of raising children while chasing a career. What I have learned is that life is full of trade-offs and each person must make them according to her own desires. Today, I realize that being present in whatever it is that I am doing is most important. I have three words I try to live by: Open, Present, Growing.”