“I am a total technology geek, and I’m very proud of that fact”
Position: Strategic marketing enablement at the data protection company Druva
Home: San Jose, Calif.
Education: Bachelor’s degree in marine biology from Texas A&M at Galveston
Family: Daughter, Sydney Noonan
Career: Served five years in the Navy. Has worked in numerous demand generation and marketing operations roles, including at SLI Systems, HKJ Wealth Management, Winshuttle and Bulldog Solutions.
Favorite movie: “It’s Wednesday, so I’ll say, ‘Mean Girls,’” Davies said. She has an obsession for pink and always wears the color on Wednesdays. “That’s a quote from the movie: ‘On Wednesdays, we wear pink,’” she added. “I use pink pens. Pink notebooks. My car even has pink racing stripes.”
Favorite books: “Digital Body Language” by Steven Woods, a co-founder at Eloqua. “It’s a great book about sales and marketing alignment,” Davies said. “It’s about the marketing automation space when marketing operations wasn’t even a term.”
Fun Fact: Her daughter is an active-duty Marine and the sixth generation of their family to serve in the military. Noonan is the first, and only, female mechanic on the F-35 jet — the military’s most sophisticated fighter aircraft.
Interests: Travel, hiking, reading, surfing, scuba diving
SUNNYVALE, Calif. — Melissa Davies was on a plane once when a fellow passenger asked what she did for a living. Instead of just saying she works in marketing technology, Davies decided to get creative.
“I’m a B2B stalker,” she replied.
Davies explained how if you were to click on a client’s website, she can tell how many pages you visited and what you downloaded. She can tell how many emails the company has sent you and how many of those you opened. Davies added that she can find the LinkedIn, Facebook and Google+ profiles for you, your boss and your co-workers. And while it might sound a little creepy, she might be able to make sure that you get a phone call even before you leave the site.
“Yep,” the seatmate responded, “I believe you are a stalker.”
Davies, who recounted that story in a humorous blog post, is very good at covert operations. She excels at tracking the digital fingerprints of business professionals and then helping figure out how best to turn them into customers. Her wide-ranging career has spanned every aspect of marketing operations and demand generation — including her current role of strategic marketing enablement at the data protection company, Druva.
Her role: helping business as a crafty sleuth.
“I always thought I would make a great spy,” said Davies. “Look at the NSA and CIA. All they’re doing is gathering knowledge, consolidating it and then making decisions based on that information. In a lot of ways, I’m doing the same exact thing. It’s gathering knowledge and then helping to make decisions about how we can interact with people to buy our product.”
That skill set has become increasingly important for a modern marketing team, said Tim Callan, who hired Davies in 2014 at SLI Systems. He said it took her only six months to build out a complete technology stack from virtually nothing — creating a high-performing marketing engine.
“I met a lot of candidates who either had hands-on knowledge of tools or were strategists who could tell us the direction that we needed to go,” said Callan, who was the chief marketing officer. “Melissa jumped out as someone unique who offered both. She could understand where we needed to go and then get us there. Marketing is such an interesting space now as a high-tech enterprise, and Melissa is at the forefront.”
She also marches to the distinct beat of her own drum. Davies has been known to dye her dark hair with a shade of pink. She doesn’t shy away from speaking her mind. For instance, when LeanData recently unveiled a reporting product called Clarity, she called it “the sexiest thing I’ve seen in marketing operations since Salesforce created the campaign.”
And when Davies describes her background as “eclectic,” she’s not kidding.
Growing up as a Southern California beach girl, she always had a brain for analytics. After high school, she even worked as a finance officer at a car dealership owned by her mother. But one day, Davies and some friends were surfing near the Huntington Beach Pier when they got the crazy idea that they could “see the world” if they joined the Navy.
“So we went to a recruiter’s office,” Davies recalled. “I’m in board shorts and a bikini top, barefoot, haired pulled into a ponytail and I’m covered with sand. They told me I had to take a test.”
She would turn 20 years old in boot camp.
While Davies enlisted on a whim, military service is a family tradition. But joining the Navy made Davies the black sheep because her mom’s side of the family all served in either the Army or Marine Corps — and as officers. Her grandfather even had been a general.
She originally was part of a pilot program for female divers, but eventually became an inspector on nuclear propulsion systems for aircraft carriers, destroyers and submarines. Then during The Gulf War, she was in Saudi Arabia working on Zodiacs — the small boats used by elite Navy SEALs on missions. It was there that she was suffered a gunshot wound to her thigh.
“It was friendly fire,” said Davies, who received a Purple Heart medal. “I tend to leave that part of the story out because it’s a little embarrassing. The guys were messing around and shooting. I don’t even know how I ended up in the line of fire, but I got shot in the back of my leg. So I’m a wounded war veteran.”
She rose to the rank of petty officer first class. When her daughter Sydney was born, though, Davies discovered that being a single mother in the military isn’t easy. The breaking point came when she was stationed in Guam and her daughter was 5 months old. While her ship was out to sea, the island was devastated by an 8.3-point earthquake. It was a week-and-a-half before Davies learned her daughter was safe.
After leaving the Navy, she earned a degree in marine biology from Texas A&M at Galveston. There wasn’t much demand for marine biologists. But she had worked her way through college setting up custom software bulletin-board systems. That experience proved to be invaluable when she got a job working for a print catalogue company, and the president had a special assignment for her.
“I’ll never forget how he called me into his office and his feet were on the desk,” Davies recalled. “He said, ‘Customers are mailing us orders and sending their credit card information. Can you just build us something so they can order online? But I don’t think this whole Internet thing will go anywhere. It’s only a small portion of the business.’ So I built that.”
News flash: her boss was wrong about that whole Internet thing. Davies had found her calling.
She embarked on a career in digital sales and marketing. One of the earliest adopters of marketing automation — Marketo customer No. 75 — Davies later specialized in enterprise-sized implementations of platforms such as Marketo, Eloqua, SilverPop and Pardot.
“I am a total technology geek, and I’m very proud of that fact,” Davies said. “I love that I can do something and then measure the results, usually instantaneously. It’s all about solutions rather than just the technology itself. I’ve always seen technology as a tool. I don’t just have one hammer. I also have a screw driver and other tools. If you’re building stuff like this, you need the full toolbox.”
Callan said it wasn’t until last year that he fully appreciated just how well-regarded Davies is within the MarTech community. It was an eye-opener for him when she was invited to speak both at the SiriusDecisions Summit and Marketo’s Marketing Nation Summit.
“She really understands that intersection of technology, direct marketing and sales enablement,” he added. “She can create cutting-edge implementations of these technologies. Then she can stand on stage at some of the best conferences on the planet and explain in English to the rest of us about how they all come together.”
Callan also remembers how Davies once answered a SLI Systems performance-evaluation question about having skills that the company wasn’t utilizing. She wrote: “I know how to inspect nuclear warheads.” Not many marketers can say that, Callan added with a laugh.
He also understands why Davies could envision herself working for an intelligence agency.
“Spying and marketing are two very different things,” he said. “But they do both rely on a mixture of technology and people. She probably would have been a great spook. But she’s also a great marketer.”
Still, Davies likes that image of being a B2B sleuth.
“It’s gotten to the point where I can say, ‘So, you downloaded that whitepaper. What did you think? I saw that you only got to Page 5. Was there something there you want to talk about, or did you just lose interest?’” she said. “So I’m even better at it now.”
Yeah, she’s a stalker.
About the Author
Mark Emmons is the staff writer at LeanData. He previously was a reporter at the San Jose Mercury News, Orange County Register and Detroit Free Press. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Follow on Twitter