Jessica Gilmartin is the Head of Global Campaigns and Demand Generation for Asana. We caught up with her to find out how Covid-19 has changed her daily working life.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
As the global head of regional marketing for Asana, I lead an amazing team of marketers who run global campaigns, demand generation, and regional marketing serving over 82,000 paying organisations and millions of customers worldwide.
How has your typical day been impacted in the short term by the pandemic
I only joined Asana a handful of months ago, so I’ve not only been adjusting to working from home, but my entire onboarding experience has been remote.
I thought starting out as a remote team lead was going to be the most challenging onboarding experience of my life, but it wasn’t. The Asana team did a great job at fostering connectedness and communication throughout the process, most recently with the launch of our new brand campaign which was created in a 100% remote work environment — even though my team operates across five time zones.
Sometimes it can also be tough to figure out your responsibilities and goals, particularly as a senior leader coming into a newly created position. But my manager – Asana’s CMO, Dave King – made sure I had a clear North Star for my role in the form of AORs (areas of responsibility), and I was never relying on ‘watercooler’ or trickle-down info to figure out what I needed to do. That way, I had a real sense of purpose and clarity from day one.
Now that I’m immersed in my role, I spend my days supporting and leading regional and demand-generation teams globally, helping them build high-impact, locally relevant programs that deliver amazing results. I spend most of my day connecting the dots between the regional and headquarter teams and helping define new processes and structures as the teams grow in size and complexity.
Which companies have impressed you during the pandemic?
I really appreciate companies that are fundamentally re-thinking the way they approach their community to support our new reality. Unilever is a great example. They pledged £89 million globally to fight the pandemic and they’ve adapted manufacturing lines to produce sanitiser for use in hospitals. They’ve also pledged to pay their small and medium-sized suppliers early to help their cashflow.
What trends have you seen in the last few months in your sector?
The work management space has been growing rapidly for years, but COVID-19 has accelerated its growth even more. We’re seeing many more managers searching for work management solutions to support remote work, and we’re increasingly seeing C-level executives look to work management solutions to provide increased communication and clarity around company goals and targets. In fact, according to findings from our Anatomy of Work: Remote Teams study, nearly two-thirds (62%) of full-time knowledge workers have increased their use of collaboration tools since working from home.
Of course, this increased demand also drives more competition, which motivates all of us at Asana to continue innovating on our product, creating world-class brand experiences and providing excellent support to our customers.
What are your favourite tools and techniques to help you get your work done at the moment?
Unsurprisingly, our team runs on Asana — it’s the single source of truth for all our work, and it’s where we collaborate, plan, delegate, track, deliver and celebrate every project. My friends don’t believe me when I say that 99% of my communication is done through Asana, and that the whole organisation doesn’t use email internally. It was strange at first to no longer rely on email to communicate, but I’ve come to love the structure, transparency and accountability that Asana provides, particularly when I can’t poke my neighbour about an upcoming deadline.
Other digital collaboration tools like Google (for document sharing), Slack (when we want to send a quick heads-up) and Zoom (one-to-ones and meetings) are also a key part of our toolkit, but we try to keep meetings and notifications to a minimum. We want everyone to be able to focus on the fulfilling deep, skilled work they were hired for – not lose hours to admin or unnecessary diary-fillers.
What changes are you making to help your brand connect with how people are feeling and experiencing the pandemic?
It’s been a challenging year, but we’ve consistently seen teams and organisations finding resiliency in new ways to work. Asana’s mission is suited for this moment. To help organisations around the world achieve their goals, we doubled down on empathy, support and compassion for our customers.
Because we build all of our plans with our customers in mind, I think Asana has done some of its best marketing over the last few months. We have an incredible engagement team that quickly transitioned their community in-person events all over the world – some planned for over 200 people – to completely virtual experiences. We wanted to ensure that we could still bring our community together, even if it’s not in-person.
Our team came together to launch the “Where There’s Asana, There’s a Way” brand campaign, which really showcases our customers’ successes and how with Asana, there is a way for teams to collaborate and achieve the very best no matter how great the physical distance.
What advice would you give a marketer right now?
In order to take care of our customers we need to take care of ourselves first. I encourage my team members to take holidays (even if they’re not leaving their house), spend time with their loved ones and focus on their mental health. Asana has been incredibly supportive as well, providing free mental health support and company-wide holidays to avoid burnout.
As marketers we understand the importance of customer connection, particularly in the current state of our world. So, in my day-to-day, I try to show compassion and empathy for my teams and customers. In turn, I believe it is so important to show that same compassion for myself. I now spend 10 to 12 hours per day in my room working and supporting my team, interrupted dozens of times a day by my children who also need my support. It’s gruelling, so I take short walks during the day, block out time for lunch, and (try to) set boundaries to give myself the mental and physical space I need to be present for the people that rely on me.
What does long term planning and strategy look like now at your brand?
Asana has always taken a long-term view on how to grow our company and recent events haven’t changed that. This starts with our customers. Understanding what challenges our customers may be grappling with informs everything from our product roadmap to the resources we provide on navigating distributed work.
Most recently, we launched Asana Goals, a flexible goal-tracking system which helps to bridge the gap between employees’ daily tasks and the organisational impact they make for the company. Thanks to this feature our customers are able to align teams around clear objectives, making prioritising the right work easier than ever.
Internally, Asana is an extremely flat, cross-functional organisation, with sales, marketing, product, finance and support all working together to co-create our priorities for the year. Asana creates its plans based on a “Pyramid of Clarity”, which means that we start with our company goals, then build our Objectives and Key Results (OKRs) that ladder up to each of those goals, then create individual projects and tasks that enable us to achieve our OKRs. This is all fully transparent and documented in Asana, so everyone at the company knows our goals and objectives, and who’s accountable to them.