Pendo, Bronto Software, Patheon, General Motors/OnStar, and Harris Interactive Inc., represent a diverse list of companies ranging from tech startups to pharma to an automotive industry giant. But they all have one important thing in common: Jennifer Fentress, a uniquely talented marketing leader who resides right here in the Triangle. This data-driven expert is recognized for her ability to develop teams of skilled individuals that deliver superior lead generation, nurture campaigns, and create customer lifecycle marketing initiatives that drive revenue.
Jennifer’s web strategy and customized retention program resulted in an additional $2M in annual revenue for OnStar. She spent four years at Bronto, which included its acquisition by NetSuite, and then moved on to develop and automate the marketing and sales B2B lead funnel for Patheon, also acquired (by Thermo Scientific for $7.2B in 2017). Today Jennifer is again part of an exciting, fast-growing, Triangle tech startup that everyone is watching.
Founded in 2013, in the heart of Raleigh, Pendo was named a Top 50 Startup by LinkedIn and in 2018, the company was named a Best Workplace by Inc. Magazine. These are accolades that Jennifer is proud to build upon as she leads a team that is responsible for digital demand generation, governance, and development of Pendo’s websites, their marketing tech stack, marketing automation, and reporting and analytics.
Q. What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of professionally?
A. I have had the opportunity to have many bright and talented people work for me over the years and I love to celebrate the successes they’ve continued to have in their own careers. Many have moved onto advanced roles and I am fortunate to be able to call them friends.
Q. How has Pendo changed since you joined?
A. Pendo has exploded in growth over the last 11 months. Since I have been a part of the company, every KPI [key performance indicator] a SaaS company would measure—employees, customers, revenue, etc.—has increased. The marketing team has more than doubled and I feel very fortunate to work amongst such a talented group of people.
Q. Given your experience with Bronto and now Pendo, what do you like most about the entrepreneurial environments?
A. There is never a dull moment in start-ups. Of course, that intensity and chaos vary by the maturity of the company, but there is never a shortage of fires to put out. You generally are exposed to numerous opportunities to work outside your regular day-to-day job which can lead to advancement in areas you might not have thought possible.
Q. Can you share any advice on navigating in today’s multigenerational workforce?
A. I like to come from a place of equality – everyone has a voice and I like to hear all those voices as people come together to solve problems. We all have different communication styles and I think that is where the root of the issues stem from and so you need to find a way for everyone to feel like they can contribute.
Q. What is an overrated piece of advice that people tried to give you?
A. Unfortunately, I began my career in an industry that very much required people to “do their time”, “stay in your lane”, have “butts in seats” and every other stodgy, corporate speak you can conjure. And then overnight when you entered a management position you were supposed to “speak up” and “lean in” after spending years “staying in your lane.” It was exhausting, and it’s surprising today how much of that still permeates many corporate cultures.
Q. If you had one piece of advice to someone just starting out, what would it be?
A. Respect your lane, but don’t stay in it. In fact, consistently look for ways to get out of it, but in a way that is not a detriment to your professional brand.
Q. Is there a mentor that stands out that contributed to your success and development?
A. Yes, and my only regret is that I didn’t have the opportunity to work for her earlier in my career. Many companies have formalized mentorship programs and I always encourage people to utilize that opportunity whenever they can, but I think the best mentors come into your life when you don’t even realize it and give you the support and guidance you need to grow personally and professionally. I have been lucky to have my career cross with that of Susan Wall’s, now the CMO of DZone. Susan inspires her employees every day to be their best selves and champions their success. [Editor’s Note: DZone just changed its corporate name to Devada.]
Q. What gets you most excited about the future?
A. From a personal standpoint, it is watching my 5-year-old son grow into the bright, energetic, sensitive, athletic adult he’s already shown himself to be. Professionally, I’d like to be even more involved than I am today giving back to the next generation of people entering the workforce in whatever capacity I can.
Q. What’s next for you?
A. For now, I’m excited to be on the Pendo rocket ship and to see where it lands in the next 1-2 years.
About The Author: Tricia Lucas has worked at nine technology startups, is Co-Founder of the recruiting firm, Lucas Select; Founder of The Alliance of Women in Tech Leadership, 2018 TBJ Women in Business Award recipient, Triangle AMA Board Member and VP of Employer Services, Co-Chair of AMA Marketing Transitions Group, and NC District Leader for The Humane Society of the United States.