‘Your Team Is Everything’—Autodesk CMO Lisa Campbell on Leadership, Captain Marvel and Being First
December 3, 2020
Welcome to In CASEYou Missed It, where I take a brief break from my Weekly Walks to get to know some of the most interesting and innovative personalities behind the greatest startups in the world.
This time I met up with Lisa Campbell, Chief Marketing Officer at Autodesk, to talk about leadership, the most underrated superhero, and the thing that’s always in her pocket.
Listen to audio clips from the interview below, or keep scrolling to read the Q&A.
How do you explain what you do to parents, friends, kids and non-industry people?
It’s hard. I have a dear college friend of mine who always says, “Okay, what do you do again?” Sometimes I try to just shorthand it. I’ll say “strategy and marketing,” and they’ll say, “Well, what do you mean by that?” And I’ll say, “Well, strategy is basically, ‘what markets or customers are we going to pursue?’”
From a marketing perspective, I’ll talk to them about how we try to engage with customers in events or do demand generation. I try to just talk about things that I think will resonate with them, but the difficult thing is that when most people think of marketing, they think of their consumer experience—ads or commercials that you see on TV, or something that you see in a retail shop or in a grocery store. So it’s hard when you’re trying to talk about B2B marketing, which is different from that.
What’s the best part of your job?
There are two things that jump to mind for me. One is my team—I absolutely love my team. Early in my career, I had a mentor who always said, “Your team is everything.”
My other equally favorite part about my job is being able to meet and interact with customers. It’s just so great to be able to talk to them and hear about how we’ve helped them overcome huge challenges. For us, that’s a big deal because our customers use our software to basically design and make the world around us.
If there were an Autodesk movie, who would play you?
When I think about anybody who would do that, I have to think about people who have played strong, complicated characters or ones where they’re business women or scientists. The first name that pops in my head is Laura Dern—she played a business woman in Big Little Lies and a scientist in Jurassic Park.
Who is your favorite superhero?
Captain Marvel. I loved that it was the first female-led superhero movie, and the tagline of “the future is female.” I also love that some of her power is to think on her feet and predict danger, which is super helpful in the days that we’re in now.
What would you be doing if the internet didn’t exist?
I am an avid reader. So I would be reading and I would be exercising. I love to go for long walks, hiking—just being outside and exercising. So I would be a reader and a hiker.
What’s the last book you read?
I’m just wrapping up a book called Resilient. I actually saw the title and I thought, “Boy, if there’s ever a time in anybody’s life where we needed to be more resilient, it’s now.” The title really intrigued me.
Sometimes I read two books at the same time. The other one I’m reading is The Splendid and the Vile, which is about Winston Churchill during World War II.
How do you manage your inbox?
I’m probably not a good benchmark for how to manage it. Sometimes it’s like a document management tool for me, and I’m bad that way. I do not clean up my inbox, which I know I should because I never know when I’m going to need to find something.
I don’t like to go to bed at night with anything that hasn’t been at least scanned or read for the day. Even if they still say unread, I’ve at least scanned what it’s about. So I try never to go to bed at night with anything that I haven’t taken care of or at least scanned.
Related read: How the Busiest People in SaaS Manage Their Email
What does your morning routine look like?
I’m very predictable. The first thing I do when I get up is work out—I get on the treadmill. I feel like you’ve got to take care of yourself physically. So my morning routine is: work out, shower, and then I go downstairs to make myself a cappuccino.
Do you have a favorite song to listen to when you’re working out?
I tend to like to work out a little bit more in silence, but I’ll tell you there’s one song that just moves me: “Hallelujah.” I love that there are so many different renditions of it and so many different artists have sung it. It just speaks to my soul.
What are three items you always have with you?
Sadly, I always have my iPhone with me—I feel like I’m missing something without it, which is probably not good. Now I find I have reading glasses all over everywhere. I’ve got probably about 42 pairs because I always need them.
The other thing I always have is a tissue in my pocket because I have allergies and I just never know when it’s going to hit me. I’m always the one who somebody turns to and says, “Do you have any tissues?” Because I just always do.
Do you have any unusual skills?
I’m a really good distiller of information. If I’m in a meeting where everybody’s throwing out lots of information and brainstorming, I’m really good at distilling and creating a framework for it. I refer to myself as The Great Distiller.
Who is your role model?
I don’t think that I have just one, but I always like people who were the first at something. I think it’s because I like to be a problem solver when people say something can’t be done—it makes me wonder if I can be the first to get it done.
I’ve been reading about Elizabeth Garrett Anderson, who was the first British female physician. There’s also Margaret Thatcher, who was the first female Prime Minister in Europe. And Condoleezza Rice, who was the first Black woman to serve as the United States’ national security adviser and the first Black woman to serve as the U.S. Secretary of State.
People who were first are amazing to me—to have that level of confidence and skill and talent and belief that we can make this happen is just very inspiring.
What are the most important qualities of a leader?
Leaders have to be really, really good listeners. You also have to be a great communicator. And the third one: you must be good at inspiring and motivating people to do their best work and be their best selves. And I think you have to do that with empathy.
I always love it when people can figure out how to help you bring your best self to the table.