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Women In Tech: Cheryl Chavez, Chief Product Officer

September 15, 2020 | Sarah McCay Tams, Director of Content, EMEA

Cheryl Chavez joined Duetto as Chief Product Officer in March 2020 – just four days before we closed our offices due to the COVID-19 lockdown.

An experienced techie, who has spent most of her career advocating controlled automation in marketing, she has big plans for Duetto’s product development. And then there’s her love of wine, entertaining, travel and hospitality in general – she’s the perfect fit for Team Duetto!

We caught up with her to find out more about her experience, managing through a crisis, and who her top five dinner guests of all time would be.

153118033Tell us about your experience before joining Duetto?

My experience is mostly in automation and marketing technology firms. The most notable was Marketo. I was there for eight years. We were the leading marketing automation platform. Much like Duetto, we were built during the economic downturn of 2008, and we were able to build that company up to over $450 million in revenue.

I started as their first product manager. It was an amazing career trajectory – I grew tremendously while I was there. And when I left, I had a team of about 45 people and I was leading all of Product Management and user experience.

After Marketo I joined Engagio – which had a bigger vision to become a next generation marketing automation platform as B2B marketing shifted from being entirely lead focused to be more account focused. I was there for two years.

You joined Marketo during the economic crisis. And it’s almost like history is repeating itself with you joining Duetto in the middle of a pandemic. What did you learn from the previous crisis that can transfer to managing through this one?

At Marketo, the biggest, most important thing that we were able to provide to our marketers during that time was automation. It became really important for them to be able to focus on more strategic items and not have to spend their day doing tactical things that a machine could do for them.

The technology allowed them to think about other important things because they were doing more with less. I mean, the messaging is almost the same!

My experience has been that Revenue Managers are like marketers, they don't want to turn over full control to the machine. But to allow the machine to help them see things they might not otherwise have seen, or to recommend different things that they should potentially say ‘yes’ to, that's where we have a ton of opportunity.

What attracted you to Duetto?

What was exciting to me about Duetto was the vision of where the company wanted to go and, although I come from mar-tech, I see some really strong synergies in how marketing and revenue teams come together to drive growth for a business. I saw a really strong connection to what I'm passionate about and what I can help this business do.

And then the other thing that really attracted me was the culture. I loved all the people that I met. It felt like old friends.

What does the role of Chief Product Officer entail?

Number one is to help scale the organization; building out the product management team and the user experience team, making sure that we have the right people doing the jobs that we need done.

And then second is how do we grow the product? And that’s about taking our core competency and then moving outward in a very prescriptive way.

The other big piece is really understanding the market and our customer pain points. A lot of the strategy and the roadmap will be informed by those learnings. What makes a good product organization is that we're able to listen and assimilate and synthesize all of the customer data and come up with these innovative ideas.

For example, a lot of a lot of hoteliers are thinking about profit right now because they are coming out of COVID and they need to understand operational costs against revenue and commissions.

How has joining Duetto lived up to your expectations?

I was looking for a challenge, and I believe that I would still feel challenged, even if we weren't in a pandemic. But I think the pandemic has added new dimensions to what I mean by a challenge!

Learning a new company, a new culture and a new market in a work-from-home environment that you're not used to is challenging! But I mean that in a positive way.

I was excited about Duetto because it was a growing business. And although this year we're probably not going to grow a ton, I still see that the pandemic has opened up a lot of opportunity for the company as well and that sometimes you have to be a little patient in order to see that growth.

Duetto has met my expectations but maybe not in the exact way I had envisioned. And I'm so thankful that people have been so welcoming and willing to help me learn in this situation as well. So that's been great.

What did you most enjoy doing in your spare time pre-COVID and how has that changed?

I'm an avid wine collector. And so we would spend time up in Napa Sonoma and down in Paso Robles. And that, of course, has changed.

I love to entertain. I really enjoyed having people over, that's a big part of wine, which is sharing wine with friends that also enjoy it and I love to cook also. I'm still able to do it, but it's in a much more limited capacity.

If you could invite any five people (living or from history) to dinner who would they be and why?

Both of my parents are deceased and I would love to be able to have them to dinner, just to see who I've become. I lost my dad when I was 16 and my mom died 10 years ago. So, you know, a lot has happened since then. They would be number one.

Number two would be Lucille Ball. She has always made me laugh, made me feel good and I think she had a tremendous impact on women in entertainment. She was not only an actress and a comedian, she was also a businesswoman. She started Desilu Productions, which I think is pretty cool.

Then there would be Bill Walsh - probably one of the greatest NFL coaches ever, and I'm a 49ers fan! What was interesting about him is that he looked at coaching not just as run drills and being your best, but also he thought about it more as a business and he cared a lot about the people.

I'm a science geek, and so Stephen Hawking is another one because I’m just fascinated by the universe and black holes and all that kind of stuff, too. So just to meet him and dig into his mind would just be amazing.

And I'd love my husband to be there. He's my best friend and I think we would just have so much fun talking to all of these different people.

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