From motherhood to mentorship, a mobile marketing maven does it all

October 8, 2019

Mobile marketing budgets are under assault, but this week’s guest is there to help. Our host Peggy Anne Salz catches up with Jennifer Burrington, SVP of Global Sales at Interceptd, to talk about everything from finding balance as a working mother to the importance of female mentorship. From marketing to sales, Jennifer has dedicated herself to the mobile industry. She began her career in marketing roles at Sprint and Electronic Arts, then developed the marketing and sales departments at Greystripe, a mobile advertising start-up. Now she works on the cutting edge mobile marketing fraud detection, helping protect marketing budgets from the fraudsters.

 

 

Peggy: Hey, hello and welcome to "Mobile Growth," the podcast series where frontline growth marketing experts share their insights and experiences so you can become a better mobile marketer. I'm your host, Peggy Anne Salz. And on my watch, this series will introduce you to people who know about the industry. But we're also starting off a very important sort of mini-series I'm personally very excited about here at Mobile Growth Summit, which is looking at women in tech. Because, as you may know, Mobile Growth Summit itself has the Women in Mobile Awards, we partner with Embolden. We work at this. I'm here. I'm obviously going to be flying the flag here for this cause of shining the light on women out there who are making an impact, who are standing out as women in tech.

 

So we're going to kick it off with Jennifer Burrington. She's senior VP as of today, which is so exciting. Now we got two reasons to be excited. Senior VP of Global Sales at Interceptd. Jennifer, first of all, great to have you here and I couldn't hope for a better timing. Congratulations on your new title.

 

Jennifer: Thank you so much. I'm happy to be here. This is an exciting opportunity for me to speak with you today and share some of my insights and experience.

 

Peggy: Well, absolutely. So Interceptd, I mean obviously we're going to have more about that later on. You're one of the sponsors in the Mobile Growth Summit, but that's not the reason to have you here. The reason to have you here is because we want to shine a light, as I said, on amazing women, but I would like a sort of high-level view of Interceptd before we dive into the real topic, which is you.

 

Jennifer: Sure, sure. No problem. Interceptd is a cutting edge fraud software detection company that's independent and our whole purpose is to identify and block fraud for our clients that have apps. And the entire ecosystem of the mobile app marketing world, unfortunately, there's a lot of software fraud that exists, so Interceptd came to birth to help detect that fraud as well as save our clients money.

 

Peggy: And a really hot topic because I've read tons about it. It's going to be huge. It's going to be even bigger because of course basically the amount of fraud is, well, depending on the report, some people say we've actually got it a little bit more under control if you look at White Ops, but I won't go there. It's just a big problem. It costs a great deal of money. So it's a great place for your company to be. Now let's talk about you. So you are senior VP of global sales there. I guess the question is, tell me a little bit about what you're doing there. How long have you been there actually for a start?

 

Jennifer: Yeah, so I've only been with the company for six months, which is a pretty short run so far. It was this beautiful serendipitous experience. We found one another and it just felt like a beautiful synergy. So yeah, it's been a great ride. Yeah, SVP global sales, big job. I would say I was doing the job for the past three, four months, just expanding our sales leadership and operations at a global scale.

 

So the mobile app industry, you know, is a global industry and it's a beautiful thing to see the way the world has become connected through, you know, Google and Facebook and software tools like LinkedIn. So it's actually a very exciting and fun opportunity to find people in Sao Paulo, Brazil that I can connect with and relate to because we share the same conversations about the growing pains of mobile app marketing and the issues surrounding, for example, fraud exposure inside their apps. So it's been a really fun experience so far.

 

Peggy: I'm looking up and down, you know, your profile on LinkedIn. We all do that. We look at that and then we sort of figure out, okay, here's where I am. Of course, we're going to get a little bit more personal than that but I do see an impressive track record here. I mean, Kochava, Verv, I used to love the people at Verv as well. Still do. A great company. Been on a little bit of both sides really. A little bit of operator experience industry, in app industry, you know, in-game advertising over at Electronic Arts. For you, what has been sort of like the thread throughout your career? I mean, is there one, is this sort of a path that you partially determined or is it really all just a wonderful string of happy coincidence and just, you know, good vibes, good fortune all the way?

 

Jennifer: Oh, I wish it was the latter, but no, definitely not. It's actually, I find a very interesting story. Of course, it's my personal story, but when I graduated from Kansas State University, very, you know, just kind of a local school in Kansas City, outside Kansas City where I grew up, I was looking for work. I had a resume that I had put together, just lots of marketing internships and temp jobs working at offices. And at that time it was 1999 and Sprint was just booming with consumer cell phone device sales and growth. And several of my friends had gone to work for the company and they reached out and they said, "Listen, we're hiring like crazy. We are drowning and we need help. Will you come work with us?" I said, "Okay, sure. I'm 22. I don't really know what I'm doing, but sure, why not?"

 

And that just really started my career path and I spent five and a half years there learning some really amazing business fundamentals that I've taken with me throughout the entirety of my career. There's a handbook they give all employees on their first day called the Sprint Quality Handbook, and it's about how they like to operate regarding interacting with internal employees, external customers, and just overall business conduct, and I've taken that with me everywhere I go. I also was really, really fortunate to have two very, very strong female mentors at Sprint and they really opened my eyes to what it means to have ambition and initiative. And I would say they fed me that and I ingested it with just such like zeal and I've had that with me ever since. So I always have to say thank you to Melanie Harrison and Kathy Miller. They really inspired me in the beginning of my career.

 

Peggy: And that is so important. It's great to have a mentor, but female mentorship, it's just helping you that bit more because let's face it, there is a certain politics or approach. I mean, you just don't sort of burst onto the scene because then, of course, you're going to fit into the stereotype of the woman who is just...yeah, how can I put it in a nice way?

 

Jennifer: Aggressive. We get labeled as too aggressive by default.

 

Peggy: I was going to say aggressive, something like that, you know, just really to die hard. But anyway, the fundamentals that you were handed at that point and that obviously have guided you through your career so far. I'd love to hear some of them. I mean, I'm almost wishing I had a copy of it myself, but what are they?

 

Jennifer: I mean it was really common sense. It was, you know, never be late to a meeting, always show up to a meeting with your agenda. If you're not running the meeting, always be prepared for the meeting to be an active listener. And if you have questions, be prepared to ask those questions when the time is appropriate. How to run a meeting, how to be respectful of your colleagues, how to essentially interact within the organization. They had a lot of acronyms so they would teach you a lot of their acronyms. So a lot of just basic, you know, things that we take for granted every day.

 

But I will tell you it was an amazing experience when I left Sprint after five and a half years and moved to the San Francisco Bay area and started working for Electronic Arts, a software gaming company, that juxtaposition couldn't have been any more opposing on some levels. Highly what was a wonderful experience for me because it just really taught me both sides of the spectrum and taking those fundamentals with me from Sprint to EA was also very powerful.

 

Peggy: I was going to say, I can just see it now. It's literally, you know, the other...it's almost like the upside down. It's a different world. You're like, yeah, we have to go to a meeting. Yeah, but you know, we're working on like world of whatever it is, you know, some sort of thing. And level five, we'll be with you shortly. I can see it. I can absolutely see it.

 

Well, how do you approach that because it is so important in a fast-paced industry like tech, you know, to be organized, to be on the ball, but at the same time you don't want to be the woman that's, you know, the finicky, picky, pedantic, whatever. I mean you always want to just be careful. You don't fit into whatever they want to pigeonhole you into anyway. So it's a tight rope. It's a balancing act. How did you do it?

 

Jennifer: Yeah, I would say I've never been 100% successful at it. And that's part of the experience is, you as a woman in business, you have to test those boundaries. You really have to learn where you can go and who you can interact with on certain levels. So I've gotten to be very good at reading people and understanding kind of signs and who they are. I can generally get a gist of what they're comfortable with fairly quickly. I have experienced, you know, several times in my career where, you know, I feel closed in by certain people at organizations and that does not suit me well. In those scenarios, I find that I will become combative and, you know, kind of put my elbows out and be, you know, very, very assertive because it's just very difficult for me.

 

I don't have a put my tail away and duck into a corner personality. So in those scenarios, you almost have to accept that it's maybe not a right fit for you. So you have to...it really is about, for me, it has been about finding people that I love to work with that it's a collaborative experience. I've learned so many things.

 

After I left EA, I worked for a company called Greystripe. I was the fifth employee hired by the two co-founders, Michael Chang and Andy Choi. And you know, it was such an honor to collaborate with them because they were very, very well educated and ambitious. And you know, I got the experiences essentially working with Michael Chang for six years and really looking at how to build a mobile ad network. And I think there's something about that collaboration where we want to learn together and we all benefit from listening to ideas and creating an ecosystem where every employee has a voice.

 

Those situations obviously are where I blossom and where I love to help other women and young professionals in the same capacity, which has kind of led to my sales leadership roles, right? Because it's kind of in the vein of yes, we have sales targets, we have revenue goals, we are at a company where we need to have growth, but you really can't have growth without inspiration. You really can't have growth without a sales team that's excited, motivated, energized, and feels empowered. So for me, it's this interesting combination that sales comes from really fostering and mentoring people and giving people voices and then the revenue really falls like right next to that. So it just kind of falls in line.

 

Peggy: I love that, you know, unleashing, unlocking, and that ultimately also, you know, powers growth. It makes perfect sense. We do have to go to break right now, but listeners, as you can see, we are going to be talking about everything you need to know yourself to grow your company, grow your personal relationships and career as well. A lot of that, lots of reasons to come back right after the break. So don't go away. We'll be right back.

 

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Peggy: And we are back to mobile growth and our very special mini-series, Women in Tech. We have Jennifer Burrington and we talked about your background, what inspires you, some of the challenges. I'd like to take it to a different level. In a nutshell, if you had to tell me your biggest personal achievement or your biggest personal failure, you know, one that ultimately you learned from to maybe achieve something else, what would it be, Jennifer?

 

Jennifer: It's such a great and difficult question. So many different things come to mind, but I'm going to take it to a personal level. So I'm at the age of 36, the company that I had helped built for about 6 years, 7 years, was acquired in 2011. And in 2012 I had my first daughter Iris, and that was such a mind-blowing experience when the entirety of my life had been pretty much my career since the age of 22. So I would call it my biggest achievement having children and my biggest challenge getting back into the workforce after choosing to take two to three years off.

 

So, having to crawl back into the workforce, refinding my confidence, refinding my bearings after being a mother, refinding my identity. That for me personally took about two, three years to kind of recoup. So it was quite an experience. I had left San Francisco, I had moved to the greater Denver area. That was a challenge just because I was so networked in the Bay area. And then, you know, again, refinding my voice and my ability to balance work and motherhood.

 

Peggy: I'm here, I'm like speechless. Like, yeah, yeah. No, tell me how you did it, Jennifer. You've built it up. It's like, yeah, I can see how this was the biggest achievement and also overcoming that. I mean, pulling it all together. So, yeah, let's continue. Don't leave me on a cliff here.

 

Jennifer: It was such an interesting time of my life because, you know, I had dedicated my life to building Greystripe and that meant, you know, pretty much 24/7. I just was so focused on our success and it was such a wonderful feeling. Probably almost like a drug. When you build a startup and it gets acquired, you know, that's what you've been working for, for so long. You just want that validation from the industry that what you've built is meaningful and valuable. And when you get that validation, it is almost mind-blowing.

 

I remember I had been so focused on our success that when the actual acquisition occurred, I was like just, I was almost dizzy with energy and excitement, and almost, it was a very hard to explain feeling. And then to just leap into deciding to, you know, just get married to the love of my life and have a child. All of that was just such high momentum time in my life where I felt like I let go of some control.

 

And we all know that sometimes in order to be successful you have to be a control freak, right? So yielding, yielding that control of my life and then the learning, learning the lesson of having children, which really, really makes you yield control. Really teaches you how you have to just let go because you just can't control them and you can't control everything and you don't want to.

 

So yeah, it was a wild ride. And getting back into the workforce was emotionally challenging because, you know, my self-esteem probably wasn't as high. I had just been so focused on raising children for a couple years and just getting them from infancy to toddler-hood so that they were stable, but I was ready. I mentally was ready to get back there.

 

And I would say a great piece of advice and wisdom that I would love to share with other women that are listening to this podcast today is that if you choose to have children and take some time off, that's a wonderful thing. Enjoy that moment in your life. You deserve that. You create the child, you should enjoy the child. And if you want to go back to work, don't feel guilty and, you know, have the courage and the strength to believe in yourself.

 

I was so fortunate. I leveraged my network, I reached out to everybody I had made connections with the past six, seven years and I just said, "Hey, can we talk, do you have 20 minutes for a call?" I would reach out to them on LinkedIn, send them an email, send them a message. And I was so overwhelmed by the amazing response I got. And again, it's almost like my little seeds that I planted all those years before had become beautiful flowers and they wanted to interact with me again.

 

And one of my dear friends who also was an industry colleague said, "Hey, I've got the perfect position for you with Verv. We just acquired a startup in Denver, we definitely need somebody to come in and build sales like in Colorado, in the Midwest. And I know you can do it." And he offered me a position. And the irony is, is that he had been my client like seven years prior in Chicago and I gave him his first sales role at Greystripe when he wanted to get into tech sales.

 

So he was like, "Hey, I'm happy to pay you back. I know it's a risk-free decision for me. So it's a win-win." And you know, those relationships are the best. And if you have a positive mentality in the workforce and you adopt a mentality where your colleagues and your business partners and your friends are your friends, you know, that they're more than just a partnership or a contract. They're actually people that you can learn and grow from and it's a collaborative relationship, it will just take you places so much further years later as it did for me.

 

Peggy: I hear that so much though because it really is that way. I mean, particularly in tech, if you think about it is an ecosystem, right? We're all orchestrating each other's capabilities. The platform people are really happy when the ad network people are doing their bit and then everyone's really happy of the attribution and, you know, it all works together is my point, right?

 

Jennifer: Yes.

 

Peggy: We're happy when ASO is working. We're happy... All these different pieces have to be aligned in order for there to even be a mobile business, let alone real mobile growth, particularly for an app company. So, you know, it makes a lot of sense that you need to cultivate relationships, not only because the ecosystem demands it. No one company is out there on its own. Even the majors, you know, even what they call them now GAFA, even they depend.

 

I was just at an event where some people from GAFA were saying, you know, we're so happy off the record, you know, that agencies do their bit because we have the platforms but we're not going to handhold people through like all the time testing their creatives and things. I mean, there's a lot of stuff that goes on. So everyone is happy that everyone else is there because all together we make an industry, and it's just an inspiring story to hear how you let networking work for you.

 

I'd be interested to know what other traits you let work for yourself because, you know, there has to be sort of a couple of rules of thumb or parts of your personality that you use or leverage more than others to, you know, not just to get through the day, but to actually make a mark to have impact to succeed. But success being not always monetary, it's also about being satisfied in your job and in your career. So what do you draw from?

 

Jennifer: Right. It's such a great question and it's something I've thought about many times. And you know, part of it is just personality and who I am. But I go back to those early days in Sprint and Melanie and Kathy and I remember sitting in my cubicle watching them just going, "My goodness, they just work through their lunch. My goodness, they're staying until 7:00 at night. Who has this kind of dedication and why? What motivates them, what drives them?" And it was just mind opening to me.

 

So for me, they passed that down to me. And it is really focus and drive to not just be successful, but to be building something meaningful. I mean, let's be fully transparent here. We're in the mobile growth industry. This is not non-for-profit. I'm not saving lives, I am helping companies make their apps be more successful, which is great, but purpose really drives me, right? So I do want to leave a legacy, you know, even if it's a mobile technology legacy. I really believe in excellence and really driving some type of story that inspires other people. I love inspiring other women. That has been a mission for me for a very long time.

 

And I was just in Sao Paulo a couple weeks ago and I met a young woman in the digital industry and, you know, we had dinner and she was teasing. She was calling me Oprah and I was laughing. And it was like, you know, she was like, I really desire to learn from you and to grow from you and your experience. And my response is, thank you so much and I desire to learn from you too. So let's have a dinner and share our lives with each other because I can learn from her and I can share information with her that will hopefully empower her in her career.

 

So this focus and drive being a part of something a little bit more meaningful, helping mentor other women has really motivated me. And I also, for some reason, and I don't know where this comes from, have a kind of a never give up mentality. I don't know where it comes from. I never played competitive sports very well. Like I was not...I played soccer and basketball, but I wasn't very good at it. You know what I mean? But I just have this never give up mentality, which is semi-competitive but in a healthy way. And if I'm given the right opportunity, I'm just going to run with it to the best of my ability. And so I love that tying those two together, opportunity and a never give up mentality. Those two really work well for me.

 

And then lastly, you know, for me it's just really surrounding myself with the right people personally and professionally. So I'm fortunate I have a wonderful husband who's incredibly supportive of my career. So much so that he recently resigned from his position with the city of Denver to stay home and watch our children full time so that I can focus more on Interceptd and travel around the world as needed to build our sales organization. And then also just loving who I work for and work with. And this resonates back to Interceptd as well.

 

We are a team of five, there's five co-founders and I've gotten to know all of them and they all bring unique special gifts to the table and they all work very well together. And I highly respect our executive team and the people that I get to work with every day, they teach me, we have a collaborative relationship. So that really helps me feel empowered and motivated every day when I wake up in the morning. And so it's just surrounding myself with the people that I love and I want to, you know, do well for that just helps propel me. If I don't have that, I really have a hard time being successful.

 

Peggy: What I love here, Jennifer, is that this is steps that aren't rocket science, but are I find a very welcome confirmation of what maybe some women feel internally, like common sense is telling them this, but you sort of put it aside. But no, now you've turned them into like proper rules of engagement or rules for building your career so it's not just warm fuzzy stuff, right? It's actually got a purpose. So I really have enjoyed that part of it. It's very simple, you have to have drive and you need to be ambitious and you should stay away from toxic people. Absolutely.

 

But now we know it's not just like warm, fuzzy advice for me as a person. It's also going to help me build a career. And I think that's what's inspiring here is that there's not some sort of other step or steps that are like outside of our reach or outside of what we can conceive or perceive or imagine. It is all doable within the realm of what we know right now.

 

Jennifer: That's correct. It's completely attainable. So much of it is about mindset and surrounding yourself in the right place with the right people at the right organization and listening to your inner voice and believing in yourself. And they are very simplistic, but they have gotten me through 20 years in mobile technology and through adversity. There have been people and companies in places where I felt that I wasn't being treated with the opportunities that others were. I wasn't being given the voice or the leadership that others were. So in those scenarios, you have two choices, to try to educate and change the organization and the way that people are thinking and let them know that in your opinion, that's not working or move on. And both those choices are okay. And sometimes moving on is just what you need to do.

 

And recently I was in an event in San Francisco for women in mobile and I stood up in the audience and I said, it's never failure if you move on to protect yourself and find a better opportunity elsewhere. Don't be afraid to do that. That just means you're taking care of yourself. And it's, you know, always you can always leverage your network, your friends, your relationships, your colleagues. People find being reached out to, "Hey, can we talk? I have some questions." They find that as flattery. Generally speaking, humanity wants to help humanity. So I find, I've experienced in my career, you know, reaching out never hurts. People do want to have a collaborative relationship. People do want to help you. People do want to be mentors. So, you know, don't hesitate.

 

Peggy: I think those are excellent rules to live by. I would love to have you back. Heck, Jennifer, I'd have you back once a week if I could.

 

Jennifer: Thank you.

 

Peggy: It would just be a show where you're just, you know, telling it as it is from the real world. This has been an absolute delight to have you, particularly on the first in the series. Now I'm thinking this is not just going to be any series. This is going to probably be impactful, meaningful, and who knows, maybe even change a few lives out there.

 

And speaking of which you did say, you know, you are talking, you are sort of mentoring, you're open, you're obviously sharing, how can our listeners stay in touch with you and say, hey, you know what Jennifer? Great idea. I have a real question. I'm coming back in after having a baby, or, I just want to understand how do I deal with whatever it is that they're dealing with in their professional lives? How would they stay in touch with you?

 

Jennifer: Oh, that's wonderful. I highly welcome that. Please do reach out. LinkedIn is a great channel. I'm very responsive on that channel so you can send me an email, an InMail. My email at Interceptd is jb@interceptd.com. So you can reach out to me there as well and I would love to connect. Don't hesitate to reach out. I'd be happy to provide any advice or listening that you need.

 

Peggy: Well, I have to say I'm excited. I may do that myself.

 

Jennifer: Thank you so much for this opportunity. It's been absolutely wonderful talking with you. You asked wonderful questions and I do hope that we change a few lives with this podcast.

 

Peggy: I do too. I think we can. I think just by being open, that's the start of everything. So listeners, obviously you can see this is a mini-series you don't want to miss, so thanks again for listening to this episode of mobile growth, which is also Women in Tech.

 

A quick reminder to visit mobilegrowthsummit.com for a complete list of our upcoming events. And don't forget to use the very special promo code MGSPODCAST30 for 30% off of your offer. We hope to see you there. And in the meantime of course check out this and every other episode of our series over at mobilegrowthsummit.com and also on SoundCloud and coming soon to more channels, providing you more ways to listen in every week. So watch for that. We'll watch for you and we'll see you soon.

 



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