Women in Leadership is a blog series dedicated to highlighting influential women behind Dude Solutions. In it, we'll explore topics like how they came to the tech space, what they're working on and where they see the industry going.
This month, meet Katy Burgwyn, Brand Engagement Manager.
Q: What was your experience like leading up to Dude Solutions? Had you worked in a tech environment before?
I did not work in tech prior to Dude Solutions, and my background is unique in this environment. My career prior to joining The Dude was in nonprofits, on both national and local levels. While technology and nonprofits are drastically different in many ways, to me The Dude is a mission-driven organization at its core. I was drawn to our commitment to serving the unsung heroes we all depend on every day, and I quickly realized our impact at my first Dude University just six weeks after joining The Dude.
Specific to marketing, my past experience was as a generalist, with heavy influence on brand, creative services and marketing campaign strategy. I was a one-person mar-comm team for many years early in my career, and I was forced to stretch way outside my comfort zone. I learned by doing, trying new things and failing fast.
While new to tech, I have been able to leverage my past successes to lead meaningful Dude projects, such as the brand and employer value proposition activation, environmental branding in our offices and at Dude University, and strategy and execution of integrated marketing campaigns. I leverage my nonprofit experience to bring a human nature to a technology company.
Q: What is your official title at Dude Solutions? What are the responsibilities of your role? Have you had any other titles or responsibilities at Dude Solutions?
I was hired at The Dude as Marketing Project Manager and promoted to Brand Engagement Manager in summer 2019. I manage our brand standards and guidelines and develop horizontal marketing campaigns. While I stay mostly behind the scenes, I touch almost every output of Marketing. I connect Product Marketing and Revenue Marketing with content writing, creative and design, ensuring projects are delivered on-brand and on time.
Q: Do you consider yourself a leader at this company? What do you feel you bring to your role that inspires others to see you as a leader?
I have always considered myself to be a servant leader. This hit home during my Certified ScrumMaster training and learning the five Scrum values – openness, respect, commitment, courage and focus. It’s not about my success but the success of the team surrounding me. I respect my co-workers’ needs to be fully human and commend The Dude for creating a safe place for us to be human.
Q: What projects or goals are you working on or leading currently?
There are two projects I’m really excited about: redesigning and launching our new corporate website later in the year while leading ongoing optimization on the current site to improve high-value pages, and working on the next evolution of our brand messaging that truly differentiates the value we provide to our clients.
Q: What do you consider to be your biggest accomplishments or wins while at The Dude or in other tech-related ventures?
I am most proud of the launch of the Dude Solutions brand followed by employer value proposition in 2018. It was a career highlight to see months of behind-the-scenes work come to life with the new identity of Dude Solutions, one that showcases The Dude as human, knowledgeable and optimistic. I lead the activation of more than 200 touchpoints, from content collateral to videos and office signage to email signatures.
In 2019, I joined a group of committed and passionate Dudes on the planning committee for our inaugural Dude Day, a one-day offsite conference to motivate, educate and celebrate all employees. I was able to bring experience in event planning, branding and logistics to the committee and the day.
Q: What, if any, have been your challenges navigating being a leader in this industry?
There was a learning curve coming to technology from nonprofits. I had to learn a new set of lingo and transition from a local to a global mindset. In a small nonprofit, my contributions were felt far and wide – feature story on the local news, successful fundraisers, sold-out events – whereas I initially was challenged to see my impact to the organization. I began by earning trust of the marketing team and leading through a series of process improvements. Overtime, these small wins have led to meaningful impact. By meeting and talking to Dudes from all teams, I soon realized that we all contribute to our mission and make an impact on the company’s goals.
Q: What do you think makes for a good leader?
We come from diverse backgrounds and have varying experiences.
Good leaders assume positive intent, trust the team, and respect each individual’s expertise and past experience.
Q: Who has been a leader you’ve learned from?
I worked with a chief executive early in my career who came to the nonprofit from one of the Triangle’s biggest technology companies. She transformed the way we operated, and I gained a lot of business acumen from her. She rallied the team, gave us her trust, and walked beside us as we successfully completed and merger and adjusted to major organizational shifts. It was a pivotal point in my career, and I grew a lot under her mentorship.
Q: What lessons have you learned being a leader?
It’s okay to ask for help. It’s okay to make a mistake, admit defeat and even fail. We should reflect on our mistakes and failures and learn from them. I have developed my skills and character much more through working on challenging projects and teams than I have from seamless and successful projects and teams working in harmony. The magic happens when a team is invested in shared goals and aligned on individual responsibilities.