April Consultant of the Month
An engineer early in her career, Cathy Won’s nature is to solve problems. Now as a marketing consultant, what fires her up is sizing up a market and helping clients win in it. After pouring 100% of her energy into consulting projects, she enjoys the flexibility of taking a breather or better yet, extended vacations.
What type of work do you do?
I do product marketing, but I've been responsible for an entire marketing department before, so I understand all the aspects of it, from strategy, go-to-market planning, branding, campaigns, demand generation to content writing.
Cathy's Keys to Success
- Engineer’s problem-solving mindset
- Broad product and marketing experience
- Strong desire to make a difference
- Ability to get up to speed quickly
- Rolls up sleeves and gets stuff done
What are you currently working on?
I'm working with two clients right now: with Bill.com to investigate and launch a pilot program and with HPE (Hewlett Packard Enterprise), helping define a new market category and a go-to-market strategy.
Why did you decide to become a consultant?
One big reason is that I like to make a difference within a relatively short period of time. Seeing the impact of a change gets me excited every day. I go into every consulting opportunity with the same vigor and the same passion. There’s stress when you’re responsible for moving hundreds of millions of dollars and you're looked upon by the numbers that you bring around. But it’s a balance when you're a consultant. Once the work is done, I’m able to take breaks and take longer vacations.
Seeing the impact of a change gets me excited every day.
I also like keeping up with newer technologies and learning about different markets and challenges that companies are seeing. That's the fun part — the engineer in me wants to help solve a problem or win the market.
What path did you take to become a consultant?
I started out in engineering for 10 years, including being a director of R&D. I transitioned to product management, then product marketing. I've done business development and alliance building throughout my career as well. My background is primarily in storage and networking, but EM has introduced me to markets that I wasn't as familiar with, such as FinTech. I have covered the gamut, and that's what helps me to come up to speed very quickly with whatever company I join. I'm not fearful of getting my hands dirty and doing whatever it takes to do what the client needs done.
In hindsight, would you have done anything differently?
I probably would have started consulting earlier, but there was a worry about consistency, longevity and stability. Having balance in life is important to me. You want to be in tune with the important things, such as your family. Work-life balance is what attracted me to working with EM, once I knew what the consulting world was like.
What do you love about consulting?
I like the freedom, in the sense that it doesn’t necessarily have to be a full 40 hours a week. I like the concept that it can be a set number of hours. Even though I try to adhere to that, I probably put in a little bit more, because consulting work often requires additional market research. I like knowing that an opportunity is set for a given time frame so you can enjoy longer vacations.
The fun part for me is learning about a new company, helping them to figure out what it is that I am being hired to do, and driving to make that difference. That's the excitement, and it's a changing dynamic. It keeps it fresh.
How do you market yourself?
Other than through EM, opportunities come from people who know me. I don’t seek to network deliberately, but it happens naturally because wherever I get placed, I like to talk to everybody — marketing, sales and product — to do my job. You find the holes or what might be needed in the future while you're working with people you know.
What are the things you like to do when the work slows down?
I definitely like to take longer vacations and opportunities to breathe a little bit.
What’s one tip you would give to new consultants?
Understanding your level of responsibility and expectations. You’d do the same thing in a regular job, but as a consultant you're there for a shorter amount of time, so you need clarity quickly. How much work needs to be reviewed, and how much will you really get to run with it? Make sure you know up front the dynamics of the role in terms of your ability to drive it to completion.