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Diane Perlman: from Mass Communications & Business to Founder & CEO

Social media handle(s): LinkedIn, @diane_perlman

A few words about me:

This is a photograph of Diane Perlman against a bright blue backdrop. She has brown curly hair, she is smiling and wearing a black blouse.

I'm a Fractional CMO and Marketing Consultant. I spent the past 4.5 years as CMO at adtech company, Blis, helping establish its brand, grow its marketing team and scale to a Private Equity investment.

I'm a highly entrepreneurial, strategic and empathetic global marketing leader with extensive B2B and B2C experience across a 25+ year marketing career, with a unique background working in large companies (Microsoft), startups (built/ran the UK Microsoft Accelerator), scaleups (Unruly & Blis) and agency (Grey London, AKQA).

I'm an American living in London for 24 years, having come over on the original internet bubble. I love cycling and yoga and I'm a total foodie - both cooking and eating!

Are there any professional experiences you've had that are quite unexpected compared to what you do nowadays?

While I was at Microsoft, I had the privilege of creating a startup accelerator programme - basically a startup school. Unlike most of the marketing roles in my career, this role was highly operational. It was an incredible experience building something from the ground up, working with incredible and inspiring startups and getting embedded into the startup ecosystem.

In the early days, I signed Microsoft Ventures up to sponsor a charity bike ride called TechBikers, along with others from the London VC and entrepreneurial community - and with only 5 five weeks of cycling experience under my belt, I rode 200 miles from Paris to London! I never thought I'd do that. Now I'm hooked!

Is your background more STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) or non-STEM related?

My background is non-STEM related, though I've always worked in tech in non-technical roles. I studied Mass Communications and then went on to get my Masters in Business.

Where did your professional journey start?

I'd say my professional journey actually began in London where I did a study abroad programme during university. I had an internship with an entertainment PR agency, which was my first job marketing communications industry. It definitely gave me a taste for agency life - where I spent the early part of my career and then later on when I moved to London.

How did you get into tech and what motivated you?

I was working for a strategic comms agency back in America in the late 1990s when the Internet started to become a 'thing'. My boss sent me out to the 'tech corridor' in Northern Virginia, where companies like AOL (remember them?!) and many others were growing up, to network with the tech community and help to bring in business. I ended up meeting a tech startup that first retained my agency and then recruited me as their first marketing hire. Two years later, I moved to London with that company to help them get started in the UK/Europe and I never left!

I'm currently the Founder and CEO of my own marketing consultancy, Branding Matters, which delivers innovative and effective marketing communications that drive business growth, ranging from brand positioning and strategy, to integrated marketing and go-to-market plans, as well as team leadership and mentoring. With a deep understanding of 'what good looks like', Branding Matters can help tech scaleups unlock the marketing potential needed to scale further.

Have you experienced any 'career in tech' challenges / stereotypes?

From early on in my career, I became used to being one of the few women in the room, as tech has traditionally been heavily male dominated. And I've also twice been the only woman on the exec team - this is challenging, for sure, but it's also very rewarding. I've been able to bring in a different perspective, approach and skillset to my male colleagues, and I believe I enriched those teams and challenged them in new ways.

"Dive in! It's an amazing and dynamic experience."

What you wish you knew before getting started in tech...

I'm a big believer in just going for it. I've heard women say 'I didn't see anyone who looked like me in the room' and being held back by that. I think it's good to go places where you're unique and can bring your individual skills and experiences.

What has been your biggest 'wow!' moment related to working in tech so far?

I think working at Microsoft had some major wow moments. Each year, they held a big conference for their marketing and sales teams where they unveiled new tech coming out of R&D and all the 'bigwigs' got on stage to share the vision. It was incredible to see, first hand, the awesome power of the technology in the pipeline on the cusp of commercialisation.

What do you like / not like about working in tech?

I love the pace of change in tech and the pace overall. And as a marketer, I enjoy the challenge of simplifying the complex - translating complicated tech and ideas to make them simple and compelling is an exciting challenge that I still relish to this day!

"Immerse yourself in new technology and learn from the smart people around you."

What's been your favourite / most memorable / funniest 'career in tech' moment so far?

One of the funniest moments was when James Corden called me for help because his Windows Phone wasn't working properly! (He was the 'talent' in a Windows Phone campaign and I had met with him a few days prior to help get him setup with his new phone.)

And to wrap up, is there any advice you'd like to give to others interested in a career in tech?

Dive in! It's an amazing and dynamic experience. Immerse yourself in new technology and learn from the smart people around you.


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