New Strategies, Empowerment, and 32 Pages of Notes

A conversation with Melinda Joseph about her experience in The Emerging CMO: Strategic Marketing Leadership

February 27, 2023

Melinda Joseph

As CMO of Sterling Trade Tech, a small, but ambitious fintech firm, Melinda Joseph juggles numerous demands: marketing, brand management, business development, and more. Attending The Emerging CMO: Strategic Marketing Leadership (ECMO) helped Joseph to focus her decision-making and marketing skills on improving product messaging and renewed her determination to use her position to drive growth.

What about the ECMO program appealed to you?

Our company has aggressive growth plans and I thought it would be good to allow myself some time to have a “think” in terms of both theory and practical application. I was looking for a program that had both strategy and leadership elements.

What were your overall impressions of the program?

I was blown away by the faculty. They were so committed and dedicated to the program. You could tell from their enthusiasm how excited they were to be there. They were happy to come earlier, stay late, and talk to people one-on-one.
Melinda Joseph

It was phenomenal. It was great to have the opportunity to brainstorm and to generate ideas to apply. If we’re not thinking about the solutions that our clients may need one year, two years, five years, we’re already behind. … I took 32 pages of notes - old school!

You shared some of those notes with your company leadership. Can you elaborate?

I didn’t want to just say, “Stanford says this.” I needed them to have the context about these big ideas and [to consider], “How does this apply to us? How can we take these concepts and apply them to our specific industry or brand to continue to better ourselves?” For example, I shared some takeaways from a session on customer acquisition that I found impactful:

  • Clients are looking for solutions to their pain points (vs. looking to buy a product or service)
  • Don’t over complicate the decision / product offering
  • Be/stay top of mind – create many exposures across as many mediums as possible

What stood out to you in the program strategy session?
The importance of building trust and awareness. We get feedback from both prospects and clients that we are the most knowledgeable vendor in the space. Firms rely on us to understand their business and configuration needs. Knowing that this is one of our differentiators, I realized that we need to play this up in our messaging going forward. 

Did any program session influence your marketing thoughts?

In a session on decision making, we talked about making our differentiators easier to see and understand. For us, in the trading technology space, we have very complex deals, with firms and brokers each having certain regulations to abide by…I recognized there’s room for improving how we present and shape information to make it easier for clients to understand.

How did this program impact how you think about your work overall?

Working in a smaller firm can have pros and cons: on the pro side, it gives me the opportunity to create change and continue to help drive the growth of our firm. On the con side, however, we can sometimes struggle with a lack of resources and needing to wear many hats. This program has given me new ideas to implement that will create change for us. It has been empowering, and I think the takeaways will be impactful throughout my career.

What was networking with other marketing executives like?

I hadn’t thought about it much before the program, but a huge part of the experience was hearing from others who faced similar challenges to what I face. We have stayed connected through LinkedIn and WhatsApp. I think we all recognize how valuable having an executive marketing network is.

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