Heather Combs, CRO at 3Pillar | Women In Sales Leadership


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In this week’s episode we sit down with Heather, CRO at 3Pillar Global, Heather was named Member of the Year by the Institute for Excellence in Sales (IES) in 2019 and is on the IES Executive Leadership Advisory Board. She has been named among the Top 25 Women Leaders in Tech Services and Consulting of 2019 by The Software Report, and has been published in Fox Business News.

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The Success Story podcast is focused on speaking to incredible people who have achieved success through trials, tribulations, wins and losses. In each episode we sit down with leaders and mentors.  We document their life, career and stories to help pass those lessons onto others through insights, experiences and tactical strategy for business professionals, entrepreneurs and everyone in between.

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Heather Combs, Scott D Clary


Scott D Clary  00:04

The only podcast you need for your business. Let’s do this. Welcome to the sales versus Marketing podcast. I’m your host Scott. Join me as we explore and demystify the latest trends, technologies and strategies used to achieve massive growth in 10x businesses. I’ll be sitting down with sales, marketing and business leaders, the SEC what’s worked for them, dispel myths and deliver actionable insights that you can use to ensure repeatable, sustainable, predictable revenue in your business. Thank you for joining me your host Scott on the sales versus Marketing Podcast where we speak with sales, marketing and business leaders. Today I’m sitting down with Heather combs, who is the Chief Revenue Officer for three Pillar Global. Now three Pillar Global is a global software development firm. They’ve helped brands like National Geographic PBS Park mobile Equinox to name a few home really, really strong names that you would know to build more revenue generating digital products. So in her role as three pillar Heather sits at the intersection of sales and marketing, and she’s helped propel the company through a period of sustained growth. Right now she oversees marketing, business development, sales operations, and over 900 people globally. So she is integral in creating crafting and executing implementing revenue acceleration strategies that are currently driving three pillars continued year over year double digit growth. So very, very impressive with three pillars doing what Heather’s doing now to give you a little bit of background about Heather before I pass it over to her. Before joining three pillar Heather was the Chief Business Development Officer at the HR Certification Institute. She’s responsible for overall overall revenue strategy, lead product management, strategic partnerships and sales orgs. Prior to HRCI, she was a Chief Business Development Officer at Iron sun and Chief Sales Officer at Hanover research. She spent 13 years at CB Corporate Executive Board where she led project management sales strategic partnerships initiatives. She was named member of the Year by the Institute for excellence in sales in 2019. And is on the Institute for excellence in sales ies, executive leadership Advisory Board, she has been a top 25 women leaders in tech services and consulting the software report and she’s been published in Fox Business News, which is massively impressive. So she always speaks on stage about sales, leadership, tech, women and leadership positions in sales leadership positions. She’s a native of Texas, she has five daughters, which are currently at home with her. So she’s just taking a little bit of time, and I appreciate it to chat with me. She holds a Master’s of Public Service Administration, and a BS in political science and psychology from Texas a&m. She’s very passionate about obviously sales revenue, business operations, women in corporate leadership and a variety of other topics. So I’ll let you Heather like take it away, give us give us a little bit of background about how you have such an impressive resume across a ton of organizations. You’ve been senior for a while now. And various, like executives. Um, where did you where’d you come from? What was the what was your, you know, your starting point?


Heather Combs  03:18

Well, thanks, Scott. If somebody walks around reading that all of the time, I will understand why I don’t sleep very often. Make it sounds like so much when it when it’s all together. And really the the job in the office I’m much better at than the one at home with all these little girls who are out of school at the moment. So definitely, let’s talk about the career. The short story is I came up through politics, I landed in Washington, DC, working for Congressman. And then right after my master’s degree returned to the area with the Points of Light organization. So I thought it was going to do politics and the nonprofit space. And while I was in that, I quickly discovered that you can’t pay school loans and rent in Washington DC on a nonprofit salary. So it led me right to the the consulting track, which in the 90s was a big way for people out of graduate school to go into one of the big consulting organizations and I joined the Corporate Executive Board as they were going public from the advisory board. Who is this 400 People that were carved out and sent to launch CB into what became this mammoth organization that was acquired by Gartner. And by joining a growth company on that curve. I just had a tremendous set of like opportunities ahead of me. I was able to move through the organization in all kinds of different roles as they were rapidly growing that gave me a really well rounded background in business from all kinds of angles.


Scott D Clary  05:05

That’s really so that that was like, that wasn’t really defined and moved in gave your career momentum like that, that aligning was CB while they were on such a high growth. So after after CB went through several different several different roles, like you sort of dabbled in product management sales, BD, what, what made you fall in love with sales?


Heather Combs  05:29

Well, in all of those roles, I think the truth is, I think of myself as bit building businesses, we, whether you’re just determining the pricing strategy, or the contracting methodology, or putting into place a new market, for your business, you can you can put those all under the umbrella of revenue or sales and marketing, but really, it’s about building the organization and generating the profitability that it needs to grow. There all kinds of ways that you can help organizations in that. And of course, the the actual sales of the organization and the brand building that is in marketing is just happens, it happens to be where my passion is like, I love that aspect of it.



And then so is that what is that what led you to to what you’re doing now like just like the passion for building your brand, aligning that and basically driving revenue through that brand and like that higher level strategy. That’s because I know you had a few different, a few different roles in between CB I think and three pillar.


Heather Combs  06:36

That’s right. So in those years between CB and now at three pillar where I’ve been for the last three and a half or so years, I was helping organizations either as a W two or as a 1099. To really achieve their goals. So it was going in and out of organizations that had a large goal ahead of them. And they were trying to find their path forward. Whether that was at Hanover launching into the commercial space, or at  HRCI, which had just split and gone their own way from Sherm and needed to really build a brand in the market separate from their Sherm affiliation. Those were the kinds of projects I was taking on, I was asked into three pillar initially, as they were going through an inflection point of really having been a startup and needing to build into a corporate entity. So they were nine ish years older. So when I joined, and that they were kind of going on as rocket ships to the right of needing to make sure that the they had their place carved out in the market, we now have, you know, strong industry strategy, a strong brand in the market, and that needed to be built. And I fell in love with the organization, it’s a just a great place to work.


Scott D Clary  07:55

And, and when you when you started with three pillar, did you go, like immediately into that into that CRO role? Or did you did you start somewhere else and then move into that?


Heather Combs  08:03

I did I I started with them as a consultant for the first several months, helping them think through building out this industry strategy. And as I fell in love with the organization, and they asked if I would stay on in the full time role as CRO, I said, Yes. And I’ve been here ever since we have just actually exited our initial private equity company and taken on major capital. We closed earlier this week. And so I think you’ll see even more in the years ahead.


Scott D Clary  08:35

And can you give me a little bit of just a background? We were chatting a little bit before, before we started this, but I want people to understand the context of what three pillar does like what problem are they solving? Why do you why do you love working there?


Heather Combs  08:49

Well, three pillar builds breakthrough software products that power digital businesses. So it’s some of the most exciting space to be in. We are helping companies figure out what their voice strategy is. So if you ask Alexa, a question for several of our clients, you’ll get an answer that we helped them program. If you are buying furniture or building a room onto your house, you might use our 3d modeling capability. Or if you’re paying to park as you run those errands and you hit one button on your phone to do so you’re touching the kinds of things we make. So you’re just we’re in that space that is really changing the way people live, work and play through their digital application. In some cases, they’re doing so in such a ubiquitous space, you don’t even realize you’re using a product. The technology just surround you in that way. So I think it’s just it’s exciting. There’s something always interesting coming through in a project. The client base that we work with is unbelievable. So it’s a lot of fun for me.


Scott D Clary  09:56

No, I appreciate that. And I think that my biggest eye opener was was a really great, really great talking point that we were discussing, it was the fact that these companies that I sort of want to frame it up, because I don’t know, maybe I’m just naive. So I don’t know. But a lot of these companies don’t have all these staff on hand, and they don’t have the different components of a software development team, they do have some, but what three pillars really offering and providing and the pain point they’re solving is they can sort of backfill those different those different spots, as a company tries to develop this thing or that thing for their customer base. So I thought that was very interesting. And I like the names that I mentioned before, like National Geo, PBS, Park mobile Equinox, and I’m sure there’s many, many more. Those are, those are large household names. So like, what you’re doing right now is very impressive. I didn’t realize it exists, to this extent for that level of customer.


Heather Combs  10:49

Right, I think that there’s a term in the technology, space, that’s product engineering, is what you can think of it as the shortcut might be outsourced engineering, but it is when companies reach out to a professional services firm like ours to help them really bring to life a vision that they have of something they can bring to the market, but that in house, they might not have the capability to do so. So one of our largest clients is it is an insurance company. And so you imagine that no one there probably has the skills to build some kind of technology product that you or I might use everyday on our phones, but they might have a fairly wide team that helps them keep their website running their mobile app running there. So they bring in these specialized skills in order to really take it to the next level on the customer interfacing side of their products.


Scott D Clary  11:46

Yeah, no, that’s, it’s very valuable. I’m very impressed that that you found yourself in this position, like through this massive growth curve. So it seems like I don’t know if you find the growth or you facilitate the growth. But it seems like you’re always in a really good spot, which is a career lesson. So I think that’s an important takeaway just at a high level, you do want to make sure that you’re aligning with the right company, I think you’re doing that now. And you’ve done it before. I want to, I want to speak, unless you want to go a little bit more into three pillar, it’s, it’s your choice, but I do want to speak about something that you’re very passionate about. And that I think, I would love to cover just because I don’t have enough expertise in it personally. Because unfortunately, I am not a woman. And although I’m in sales leadership, I can’t speak to it. So I want to I want to hear your thoughts, on on women in leadership, women in sales leadership, I think that there’s obviously I think, in leadership in general, we’re not seeing the same variation or lack of strong female leaders, as we see in sales leadership. I don’t know, too many female, really strong sales leaders, not even strong, like at all, I don’t see a lot of female sales leaders. I don’t see a lot of females in sales. I don’t see a lot of women, as you know, as Account Executives as SDRs. I don’t, I don’t see that. And maybe it’s just the environment that I’m in because I work for very legacy type of industry. But let me like maybe you can fill me in like, am I am I totally off base? Like, you know, is the sales world changing? Are we are we seeing more? You know, I guess, across the board, and maybe in San Francisco and emerging tech that we’re seeing more women getting into sales, which has been an amazing thing? Or are we still sort of, are we still sort of struggling in that?


Heather Combs  13:34

I hope it’s improving. And I certainly encourage women to lean into all of the great benefits there are in the sales career field. I think that women have moved quite a bit from the place where they, they didn’t feel seen and heard to the place where they were mostly seen and heard and what in what I think of is like female audiences. So you saw women leading companies that were based in fashion or food production. But now women are really executives at all types of companies across all industries. And so I hope women are making progress here and they’re seeing the opportunity and they’re feeling it regardless of what type of company or industry that they’re in.


Scott D Clary  14:23

I so I think that I think that in general, I have seen more women in leadership positions outside of like the types of industries you just mentioned, like fashion and in food and whatnot. But I still think we have a long ways to go I remember reading an article Forbes named so it was like the Forbes top 100 tech sales, tech leaders or something like that. I think there was like one woman on the list and there was a big you know, outcry like like you You screwed up like you you left up Forbes for I think it was Forbes and if it wasn’t I apologize, but they’re like that is still unfortunately, I find very, very symbolic of what a what a tech leader is. And it’s and unfortunately, I think that women are permeating a little bit more. And they’re having more of these really, really strong roles, which is a good thing because, you know, we can speak about, we can speak about what women bring to the table that men lack. And there’s a certain amount of empathy and communication. And and just strategy that I’ve found personally working with women, that I find is a really strong driver for successful business that I don’t think men bring to the table to the same extent, in general. And these are all obviously, all generalities. But I really, do you believe that women stepping into leadership roles is an amazing thing, regardless of industry, obviously, but why? Why is sales? Such a hot topic? Why? Why have I not seen a ton of like women, female sales leaders, even when I’m looking for guests for this podcast, like I, you know, I get 100 I get 100, VP sales, you know, directors, CROs CMOS, all coming at me, they’re mostly guys, like, I don’t know, if it’s just who wants to put themselves out there and jump on a podcast, or if that’s just sort of like an indicator of the of the industry. But maybe, you know,


Heather Combs  16:14

Well remind me to send you a list because I know a lot of fantastic women in these roles. So I’ll introduce you to a few.


Scott D Clary  16:20

I would like I would love.


Heather Combs  16:22

But I do think you’re right. I think that sales and marketing and frankly, lots of leadership roles, but certainly in sales and marketing, it requires a certain level of confidence, and willingness to throw your own hat in the ring, you have to take that opportunity you see in front of you and jump in even when you don’t feel ready. So the research is fantastic that no one is ever ready for the job the next job they take. But men will put themselves out there if they are just fractionally prepared that they that they’re experienced in a field where women will wait until they have all of the skill sets listed, experienced in each of them and feel like they have mastery. And so they won’t jump into career fields or positions or try to have work. They’re the path to promotion until they feel more than adequately prepared, whereas men will jump forward. And so I really encourage women, throw your hat in the ring, raise your hand, say you’re willing to take it and accept that nobody is ready on day one.


Scott D Clary  17:30

That’s really that’s interesting. I wonder why that is? I have no idea why. But I you know, even like thinking about like when I’ve applied for jobs in the past, I’ve always with 100% Certainty knowing that I can eventually do that job. But yeah, for sure there’s things on that list of you know, requirements that God forbid, most of those, most of those job postings are just like boilerplate copied over and the hiring manager doesn’t even know what’s on that job rack. But like, I’d say there’s a large majority of things like yeah, okay, well, like I’ve never done it before, but I’m sure I could figure it out, find the mentality when you’re going into apply for a job. And it’s funny that that’s sort of the that’s what’s limiting women from like, actually stepping into those next levels in their career.


Heather Combs  18:13

I think women sometimes also hold themselves back artificially imagining forward, the obstacles they might hit. And so one in the industry that you hear a lot is sales and marketing both require a significant amount of travel, it can be less or more depending on the industry and what you’re selling or marketing. But for most of them, they’re not office jobs. And so women will say, well, someday want to have kids. So I’m not going to take that job. And one I would say to women don’t plan for a tomorrow that hasn’t happened yet. You can take the job change careers at any point. So if you were in your 20s, thinking about sales, but thinking someday I don’t want to travel, take the job now, someday you don’t have to travel. And then for the women who who are looking down the path of still needing to travel. It’s really possible. I mean, I have five girls and I make it work. I have a fantastic partner, he doesn’t have to travel with his job. And so he’s there we have 11. Au Pair. One of my biggest pieces of advice is to outsource anything you can. So if you have the means, find the things you don’t love and have someone else do them. I don’t. You know, I have people who cut the grass in the summer, for example, but find those ways that you have time and capacity to continue doing what you love. There, it’s really doesn’t have to be the self fulfilling prophecy that you that you might think early on of saying, Well, I’m not going to be able to do X, so I’m not going to do it now.


Scott D Clary  19:38

And I guess that if there isn’t that thought in a man’s head of, you know, he’s not thinking like, I’m going to stay home with the kids. And this is again a generality, but when I jump into jobs, especially before you know I also have an amazing partner I’m now and we’re and we’re settling down and planning a life together. So maybe that is more of a consideration the lack of traveling so we consider sort of shared duties as we, as we grow our family. But, you know, when I was jumping the jobs, it was never like, I was never thinking, Oh, I’m gonna stay home with the kids one day. And it when it’s not, it’s not something I consciously thought of. It’s just it just wasn’t on my mind at all. Like, it just wasn’t, you know. So that could be another inhibitor. For someone who’s looking step into that kind of, you know, role that could be international travel, a lot of responsibility, those high level executive sales roles.


Heather Combs  20:29

Absolutely. And I think women will hold themselves back from giving it a shot and figuring out how they can make it succeed, rather than saying that they just aren’t going to go there. I


Scott D Clary  20:41

really got no, no, I had I had, I had one more point that I wanted to bring up that is really important for me, because I don’t think it gets discussed enough. And, you know, I’m, whenever whenever I speak about women leadership, I’m very, very conscious of what I’m saying, because I don’t want I don’t want to offend somebody by speaking in terms of what I’ve seen the landscape of sales, leadership to be, because I am a firm believer that more women should be in this. And you know, you mentioned you had a list. And I think that would be great to like go through and sort of speak some of the success stories. And I’ve I’ve also worked with other female leaders, but what I don’t think is the answer is when women feel they need to act like men. I think that I think that that’s the wrong message. And I have seen not seen that message broadcasted. But I’ve seen that kind of personality, sort of the need to replace a man as a woman. But I don’t think that’s the answer. And I think that’s the wrong message. And I think that, I think that as a strong female leader, you have to double down on what you do best. And I don’t think that’s, you know, acting all all all, like, you know, like the what’s the word toxic masculinity, you don’t have to emulate that to step into a sales role. And I think that, unfortunately, that’s something that a lot of people feel if they’re going to sort of hold that position.


Heather Combs  22:04

I, you know, I love that you brought this up, I couldn’t agree with you more, that the answer to having more women in leadership roles is not to have women act like men so that now we have all the same again, I think whether it’s men and women, or diversity of all other kinds, whether that’s age, or socio economic or cultural background, or international experiences, every time we bring different thinking to the table, the end result gets better. And so rather than having everyone strive to act like the, the male counterparts, the individual they see ahead of them has been successful, let’s each bring our unique experiences and our unique abilities to the table to make the end goal more accessible from all kinds of angles. And women in particular, I mean, we represent half of the population, that we’re we are more than half of the buying power in the economy. And so having those voices in the purchasing decisions and the way products are built, only will make the outcome better. So I think you’re absolutely right, I encourage women not to feel like they have to not be themselves. The flip side of that discussion is that men in particular have to come to respect the differences and the capability at the table as well. So the biggest place I see the problem there is usually on communication style, men will be very forward very aggressive, they will cut people off in conversations in order to make their point. And women by either social training or nature, or whatever it is, will tend to wait until someone completes a thought and then therefore look either less passionate, or less confident in their answer. So those are kinds of things like that the women have to to own what they’re good at and do more of it. And then the men need to really accept the differences. Okay.


Scott D Clary  24:06

So, how do you how do you change that perception and, and I think that as sales and revenue evolves, from less of an art, to more of a science, because I do believe in, like activity based management. I believe that coaching is coaching to behaviors and pain points in the rep not just pipeline review all these things that are sort of bringing people up as individuals and require a little bit more than just an aggressive, like do more, but they’re telling the person how to do it, approach to sales management. I think that those all lend credence to somebody who can be a little bit more thoughtful, empathetic, self aware. I think that traditional sales like the concept of traditional sales people is broken. And I think that broken concept is, is associated with a more aggressive management style. And that’s why I think that as we see some, hopefully, we see some companies that are more forward thinking and how they look at sales. And they look at what drives successful sales organizations and marketing as well. But I think sales is a little bit more broken than marketing. I would hope that that that opens up more of an intellectual sales leader as opposed to like a spreadsheet, taskmaster type sales leader that unfortunately did exist, and still exists some in some places. But I think we’re seeing that less and less so.


Heather Combs  25:28

Well, here at three pillar, we we do a lot of work on empowering women in leadership and in technology in particular. So I happen to get to stand in front of a parade of an amazing group of women who have built a market force called empower her where we take professional skill building to our women, and to the community in order to help empower women to especially women engineers to join the technology and stay in the STEM fields. So I really have this like awesome spot to sit in with it. But I in that women in leadership element, I think that you see that women can accomplish all kinds of things in other methodologies, we have an had, at times an all female engineering team, so led by the Engagement Manager all the way through the engineering talent, who was then purchased, that team was put together and worked with a female buyer at a major media company. So it was a female buyer buying an all female team of engineers working together to produce a product. And it’s sort of legend around here that they came together and what they produced. But I think that those are the instances that even organization should think about that I think our female buyers, even get excited about seeing all of the women that we have in technology. So it just differentiates us in the market. And, and it really helps attract amazing talent to the organization.


Scott D Clary  27:02

I like that a lot. It’s smart. Because what like if you think about all the other all the other groups that we use to sell to like, we we, we sell, if we’re trying to target a certain culture, we usually bring somebody in who is closely associated with that culture that we’re trying to sell to a safe, it’s on a global level, because there is already a level of trust that is built between those two individuals. So why would that not also carry over to if you’re working with a female buyer, right, you’re not going to, you’re not if there’s language barriers between two between a sales rep and a customer, you’re going to have a very hard time trying to close that deal. So that’s why you’re going to send somebody who can speak to speak a native language are all these little nuances of sales that we already do when we’re when we’re selling globally, right. But I think that that to build an organization that’s understands that power is important, but not a lot of organizations, I think, have such an emphasis on this. So you know, as a as somebody who’s young in their career, a woman who’s trying to navigate the Salesforce or just her future career, say she says she knows that she has to sort of put herself out there, she has to apply for those jobs. She’s going to learn a lot, a lot of the skills she has sort of lean in. But she doesn’t have that support, where would she go, if she doesn’t have it in her own organization.


Heather Combs  28:22

I There are all kinds of wonderful organizations out there that will help mentor and encourage and support women to grow in those successes. So I always encourage women have a great set of mentors. And as you have the opportunity to be a mentor to others. I think there are benefits on both sides. I participate in all types of like I’m on the advisory council of an organization called stem for her. And the goal of the organization is to help middle school and high school girls stay excited about and ready for careers in technology and in the STEM fields. And in that I meet all kinds of amazing, successful, powerful women from their career fields, and they make me better, and they provide opportunity. And I encourage other women to find those outlets. So find organizations that are full of women. If you’re in the greater DC area, reach out to me and I’ll plug you in with our empower her movement. If you are in a couple of other major cities have great Wonder Women dinners, Fortune runs most powerful women, which has got an amazing newsletter that comes with it that sort of tells you all about what’s going on. But there are lots of tips and tricks that women can do to find their people and feel encouraged, supported and trained up in in their career fields.


Scott D Clary  29:48

I think that that’s very important because like I’ve done that for myself for my own career for just looking for mentor groups and whatnot. But to understand that, that there is this there is this sort of gap this gender gap in Tech leadership sales leadership, I think it’s important to align that people that conservatives get your foot in the door or give you the give you the right mentorship that can sort of help your career forward. So that’s something like I always advise, I always advise aligning with mentors, regardless, but I’ve never really thought of it from that lens, that you that you have to go on to these specific groups that will really drive your career, understanding your situation, more than agnostic of, you know, industry, right agnostic of, of what you’re actually doing, you’re in your nine to five, like they understand like, the struggles that you’re dealing with, from like an actual gender perspective, like, that’s huge. And that’s, that can probably be so empowering for people that are really like go getters trying to get to the next level in their career. And they just feel like, they don’t have anybody. So I don’t know if a lot of women who are in sales or in tech or just looking to grow their career, know that these groups exist. But if they don’t, I would, I would definitely suggest you go seek these out. Maybe even like, at the end of this, I’m going to get I’m going to get the best contact info for you. So people can can understand where or how to reach out to you maybe just reach out to you to get an idea of what to look for in a mentorship group so that they’re pointed in the right direction to


Heather Combs  31:16

Absolutely, we’d be happy to help that way. And I’m, you know, encourage women who have made it through the trail Dave Blaze to the place that they are to turn around and help others so that our daughters don’t experience any headwinds that we did coming up through this. So I think that for those women that are coming up, seek support and encouragement and connections and networking and mentorship from women who’ve been there before. And women, if you are in the position of being a hiring manager, or a mentor yourself, turn around and help out those that are seeking our support.


Scott D Clary  31:56

Do you you mentioned something and we sort of spoke about this a little bit outside of just from you know, this sort of like internally motivated, feeling comfortable going into careers and going to new jobs and not something that’s already going to help your own career as somebody who wants to increase or go to the next level in the workforce. As a woman, obviously, you find other major challenges that you’ve experienced in your career that you would say people should be on the lookout for or how to navigate those challenges. Maybe just like a couple, like a couple examples of things that you sort of had to work through.


Heather Combs  32:37

Um, I think that a couple of them that are probably too obvious, maybe overly cliche is that early on in my career, of course, we were we as women were spoken to in a different way. You know, you might be in I sold initially to lawyers, for example. And so you might be in a legal office, and you might be getting called honey or sweetie or, and those things don’t happen anymore. Certainly the world has changed a great deal. Luckily, I certainly think also, as you climb through your career, perhaps people are less condescending as they might have been in that moment. But I even said in the moment that it was happening, it’s like use that for good if you can sort of turn or turn away. Just let them set low expectations for you, and then exceed all of it in the moment, just jump over that hurdle, and then impress the audience so that the person who called you sweetie, as you walked in, is the one that looks foolish afterwards. Yeah. I think that the the other place to make sure that you’re just pressing through whatever discomfort you have is that there are lots of meeting rooms, you’re going to be the only woman in. And so accepting that accepting that you look different, that you’re probably a different height of most of the people in the room, that you, you might be wearing something different than most of the people in the room. And sit in that discomfort as not something that holds you back, but rather that that you find exciting and empowering, you say I’m not the last that will be here. I just happen to be the first or today I’m the only, but next time I have the opportunity to bring someone into the room, I’m going to make sure that it doesn’t look like this.


Scott D Clary  34:23

I love that perspective. That’s really, really powerful. And it’s really it’s a really healthy perspective to look at it that way. I think that like when you’re when you’re when you’re in that position. I think that one more point that I would like to add on to that is that, prepare yourself for that. Understand the reality that in maybe in sales and tech, and in certain industries, there probably won’t be as many women as other industries. So if you sort of prepare yourself mentally, don’t let that sidetrack how incredible you are in the moment. And that’s only something that will ever happen if you aren’t prepared mentally for that situation that you Short of stepping into. Absolutely. Yeah. One thing. So I wanted to I wanted to just ask a couple more, they’re a little bit more vanilla questions just about like lessons you’ve learned over your career. But I kind of just want to give you the floor for anything that that we haven’t discussed or that I haven’t sort of brought up in terms of leadership, tech leadership, women in tech or sales leadership. Is there anything else that that you wanted to discuss?


Heather Combs  35:28

You know, I was thinking about the question I get around, like the best advice I would give. So you asked earlier in the conversation about how did I wind up in leadership early on, and then how have I had leadership roles, and differentiating, just heading sales and marketing to really leading a business and growing a business, I would encourage those folks who are interested in going to the executive ranks to make sure the thing they are investing in is understanding the business as a whole, I call it business acumen. But making sure they can read a balance sheet, making sure they understand what the other departments are doing, and what their important element that they provide to the organization is, there can’t be someone in an executive room who doesn’t understand the larger part of the organization that is about profitability, or about the cost structure, or about how our talent is recruited and cultivated. You really need to do every part of the business and to be able to understand a conversation all the way down to its most technical financial aspects to really sit there. And so that’s what I would encourage people to don’t if you want into the leadership roles don’t get so siloed that you can’t see the big picture.


Scott D Clary  36:48

Very good advice is that actually, that sort of dovetails into some of the into the some of the closing questions, because I always asked like, what is like the one piece of advice you’d tell you tell, you know, your 16 year old self 15 year old self? That that’s very, very technical business advice, and I appreciate it. And I agree with you. Is there more high level like learning or career advice that you give to your younger self that was sort of help accelerate to where you are today?


Heather Combs  37:11

And say, yes, they say, when you get asked to do crazy things, is you get offered to do a two year stent in the London office say yes, you get asked to lead an initiative to launch the conference strategy for an organization. Say, Yes, you get asked on to a different team and a different department or you get asked to lead an advisory council say yes. Find all of the places that you can say yes, the people you’ll meet, the experiences you’ll get, the rounding of your skill set will be invaluable no matter how low, you know, timid, you are on the front end.


Scott D Clary  37:56

Yeah. That’s great advice. So, you know, I’ve always found that people that are, you know, high achievers, they have mentors, they have books, podcasts, audibles. And I’m sure there’s more than one but what is like what is one mentor, one person or one learning source that you could recommend people go and check out maybe something that you’re you’re into now.


Heather Combs  38:19

So I’m a voracious reader, although that’s a little bit of a cheat, I really listen now to almost all of my books on audiobook so that I can move at the same time, whether it’s driving or on the train up to New York, or standing in an airport waiting on my flight, I can consume another book. And so I encourage people to read and to learn and to expand themselves. I am currently in a little bit of a place where I’m reading and listening to a bunch of books and podcasts on the concept of there being too much noise. So how do you slow down to go fast. And I can all kinds of once called noise when is called. Stillness is key. There is a great book called rest. There is a Dan Pink book called win. That’s all about the timing, the importance of timing, that are all super interesting, and really help us think through how distracted we are. And so that’s that’s what I personally am studying at the moment. But I have a long list of books I love if if anybody wants to reach out on LinkedIn.


Scott D Clary  39:31

Yeah, so that’s, so that’s a great again, a great set you must have you must have a sixth sense because you’re you’re basically helping me go into my next questions. So how do you how do somebody reach out to you? Would it be LinkedIn email? What’s that? What’s the best way?


Heather Combs  39:47

Yes, I like to think of myself as super approachable and accessible. So if you see me out in the in the market, come say hi. And if you want to reach out before then LinkedIn is the best And I’m Heather D combs on


Scott D Clary  40:03

LinkedIn. linkedin.com/in/heather D combs. Yes, perfect. Awesome. Okay, so thank you. I appreciate that. That was a really, really good chat. Is there anything else you want to close up with? Because that was, that’s exactly what I wanted to get out of this. I just wanted to really dive into into woman and leadership. And I think that we really, really did a good job of covering that and gave, hopefully, people that were listening, some great ideas, and a little bit of inspiration to sort of take your career to the next level.


Heather Combs  40:30

Yeah, I would just say thanks for having me. Thanks for leaning into and really pressing on the conversation and helping women achieve their career goals and us working on some gender balance. I love sales and marketing, happy to come back and talk anytime on a more specific topic or to join the cause. However, you’re fighting it. But thank you so much for for being on the frontlines.


Scott D Clary  40:52

No, my pleasure. It’s I’m glad that I’m glad that you were able to speak to it because I don’t I don’t know as much about you on this topic at all, obviously. And and I love the I love the topic. I know it’s an issue. But I hate speaking about something when I’m not educated enough on it myself. So I appreciate you coming on and sort of giving us a little bit of insight and context as to like, you know, your background, but thank you. 


Heather Combs  41:14

Wonderful, thank you.


Scott D Clary  41:18

So as always, this has been another episode of the sales versus marketing podcast. Thank you for joining. If you haven’t already, please like, subscribe, comment and share. You can rate our podcasts any rating as long as it includes five stars. You can download this podcast wherever you can download podcasts and you can also watch it on YouTube. As always, have a great day have a productive week, and we will speak again soon. Bye now.



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