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Phonexa reaffirmed its dedication to fostering the growth of Glendale’s thriving tech ecosystem by serving as the Title Sponsor for Glendale Tech Week 2023.
Phonexa once again made its presence felt at Glendale Tech Week, an annual initiative led by the City of Glendale’s Economic Development Division, by proudly hosting its second annual “Women in Tech” event on September 13. The event was sponsored by Bank of America.
“Women in Tech” was highlighted by an enlightening panel that delved into women’s experiences in the tech sector, shared insights on effectively engaging consumers in marketing efforts, strategies for tackling competition, and much more.
The esteemed panel included Talar Malakian, Chief Marketing Officer at Phonexa, Iris Yen, Head of Marketing and Community at Nike Virtual Studios, and Talin Koutnouyan, Principal of Marketing at Modern Animal. The “Shaping the Next Generation of Women Leaders” discussion was moderated by Manouk Akopyan, Phonexa’s Director of Content and Communications.
The event took place at Phonexa’s United States headquarters situated on the lively Brand Boulevard, right in the heart of Glendale.
Building an Authentic Brand
The Q&A portion of the panel started with a discussion centered around effective approaches for building a strong brand to fuel demand.
Malakian: “When you start creating interconnectivity with your unique selling value proposition and start looking at that as multitudes of content that your community can co-create with you, I think then you’ve created a vehicle to give a mutual value exchange. But it only starts when you understand that end user.”
Yen: “Authenticity in the space is super important. So, the question you have to ask is ‘do we have permission to play in this space? What is our contribution to this space that is not just taking, but also giving?’ And when you can answer that question, that’s when you know you have an entrance into that space.”
Koutnouyan: “If you can unearth the nonobvious insight, the thing that [consumers] always miss … that is normally the [way to] unlock [an] understanding [of] what they know. And then you can bridge the gap to what they need to know. The way you get to that is through content. Most marketers focus on the distribution — they don’t really focus much on the audience and the content.”
The discussion then shifted to the key challenges each panelist faced when working with emerging technologies to scale business.
Malakian: “The main thing to focus on is the demand creation side, but it’s also the speed at which you can deliver the insights. If you’re going to spend six months building something only to ship it and then get your data six months after that, you’re missing out on the early signals. Sometimes you have to just deploy and learn — ship, learn, reapply.”
Yen: “[Leaders] often want to go with the gut feeling, but when you start from a gut decision, and you continue on that path because you think you know best, that’s when you fail. As a woman in the space, women tend to seek out more validation in their decision-making because, societally, we aren’t given much support. So, if you form a community around you and operate from a position of decision-making, you’re more likely to succeed.”
Koutnouyan: “You need to find early-on signals of what’s working [instead of] looking back six months later and [assessing what works] … those early-on signals [allow me] to talk to the customers and pull the data — the pieces that are missing — and act on it … your customer is the No. 1 source of truth versus any other data point that’s out there.”
Impactful Emerging Tech
The trio then discussed emerging tech with the potential to impact their marketing efforts.
Malakian: “For emerging technology that will impact marketing, I think the state of data is one of them — how to use consent-based data effectively to deliver more personalized experiences that feel natural. I think the state of data and what you have at your disposal, now more than ever, you can leverage that more effectively to draw the through lines and uncover the insights and personalize your campaigns to the individual person.”
Yen: “What’s happened with technology is that as we’ve moved through phases of Web 1.0 to Web 2.0 to Web 3.0, you start to leave people behind. We didn’t talk about [what those changes meant] as we begin to evolve from Web 2.0 to Web 3.0. The benefits of Web 3.0 can really help your business because it tracks your consumer’s behavioral and psychographic data.”
Koutnouyan: “I’m absolutely bullish on psychographic data — how do you resonate with people, with what they want and need, and what motivates them — and if you understand that, you can leverage it in a marketing capacity to be able to speak to those needs directly. Technology like that allows you to get content straight from what consumers are telling you and you’re actually listening to it, and then you’re putting it into practice in your marketing.”
The triad then shared some of their significant learning experiences.
Malakian: “When you look at competitive data, you’re looking behind you instead of in front of you because they’ve already executed on the thing I’m thinking about executing. When you’re looking at competitive data, just think of it as good, helpful information. Their current data is telling you their past actions, not their future actions.”
Yen: “Knowing yourself is very important before you even know your audience. It’s something that we learned at all of the companies that I’ve been with because it helps you pivot your career to what you’re seeking to do. There’s a great book out there called ‘StrengthsFinder 2.0’ — it gives you your five biggest strength finders. It also allowed me to not measure myself against my competitors or peers, but instead, think about something new.”
Koutnouyan: “When looking at the competition, the turning point for me was [asking myself] is this all they got? And that changed my entire perspective on competition, which was if we’re busy looking around at what our competition is doing, then we’re missing out on the most important things in front of us which is the customer. If I have to look at the competition, it means I set my limit to what they’re best at, and I don’t want that. I want to create my own benchmark.”
Personal Experiences as a Mentor
Akopyan then transitioned the panel to a conversation centered around each panelist’s professional growth and personal experiences as mentors.
Malakian: “The people I work with every day, I like to think that each knows a lot more than me. I’ve had numerous mentors, all of whom have been peers, people I met at events, and people I’ve gotten to work with who have taken a facet of my life and improved it and given value in return. I encourage you to seek out the people who surround you today, and figure out how you can be mentored in an area that you couldn’t even imagine.”
Yen: “For me, the human experience is about discovery at every point. You can’t ever believe that you know best because you’re always going to learn something new from whoever you encounter. I’ve been very lucky in my life to have leaders that championed my growth. It’s important to find those individuals who will champion your growth. If you have the privilege of being in a decision-making role, you’ve got to do the work.”
Koutnouyan: “The most valuable relationship is essentially someone who is just starting in their career because they stop and ask questions that I’ve built subconscious competence around. Sometimes it’s those really obvious questions where I [assess] how I moved through life without stopping to reflect upon this one thing. Focusing on those types of relationships are really important because it [reminds me to] pause and reflect on my own journey.”
Advice for Aspiring Women Leaders
The event concluded with each panelist sharing advice for the next generation of women leaders.
Malakian: “One of the biggest pieces of advice I have is, as you’re making your journey, you will have an immense amount of imposter syndrome. I’ve been in rooms that were predominantly male, where I was maybe one of two women out of 12. Today, I’m a part of a senior leadership team that is more balanced with men and women of diverse cultural backgrounds. Remind yourself that you’re moving up and bringing value to each stage, and you need to believe in that.”
Yen: “Don’t have a monolithic definition of success. Oftentimes, society tells us what success looks like, but that may not be your definition. One of the things I fight against every day is the definition of leadership. Women often occupy a space called quiet leadership. In America it’s not quite as adopted, but that quiet leadership brings respect. So, you have to do your part too and recognize quiet leadership when you see it and champion that too.”
Koutnouyan: “You’re going to hear a lot of advice throughout your career — do this, do that, etc. — and typically, the advice comes in extremes. If you think about how most advice is worded, it’s very much to capture your attention and make you stop what you’re doing and act on what that advice is. Flip it. Start [by becoming] really picky about what you take as advice and what you do in terms of action.”
To continue the conversation and learn more about Phonexa, connect with Malakian on LinkedIn.