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Alan Gellman - Chief Marketing Officer at Credible
Credible is a lending marketplace that brings simplicity, choice, and unbiased support to all of life's important financial decisions.
Alan was named by Business Insider as one of “The 50 Most Innovative CMOs in the World.” Prior to his work in the Fintech Industry with Credible, Alan was CMO of Esurance, a leader in the self-directed insurance market. He led marketing, communications, product strategy and ecommerce / yield optimization for the $1.7 billion company.
Getting Into Marketing (02:49)
While I was at the college, I was really clueless about the things that I wanted to do in the future. I’ve majored in International Relations but after visiting a session on brand management done by the Procter and Gamble, I knew that this is something I wanted to do.
Marketing had the intersection of consumers and humanity, with analytics and building a business. I’ve realized that I had a business orientation and all of these three pieces came together.
I wanted to be a brand manager at a consumer packaged goods company and the top three companies at the time were Procter and Gamble, General Foods, and General Mills. For the most part, they really wanted you to have an MBA and work experience. Sales and advertising were a great basis.
Working In Advertising (06:24)
I went into media planning and this was a deeply analytic function. This role was useful because I have learned that you can combine analytics, creativity, and media to reach people in meaningful ways.
I’ve spent a year and a half in the media sphere because I was getting work experience. I was told to get a couple of years of work experience and then go for an MBA. I applied and got nearly a full scholarship at the University of Rochester.
Early Career (09:00)
After doing an MBA, I got a Marketing Assistant role at General Foods. I got a really good experience on the analytics, design side, and product development. Media buying experience shaped me a lot as a marketer. How we grow up as marketers early in our career shapes us as leaders. For me, marketing was always consumer-centric.
Hard Lessons Learned From The First Director Role (15:11)
I was a very effective individual contributor. I needed to let other people flying and let them make decisions even if they were gonna be different from mine. My boss at the time gave me a chance to grow, learn, and present.
There is no right answer and your answer may not be the best. I had to learn those lessons as a director.
A Transition To The Healthcare Industry (18:15)
Sometimes in your career, you are better doing lateral moves in order to grow and learn new things. After 10 years into packaged goods, it was time for a change and I’ve realized that there are industries where I could have a greater impact and that mattered more to people’s lives such as healthcare or financial services.
I was deeply working with the operations team, IT team, medical management, and provider relations team. All this at the VP level.
Advice For People Who Are Changing Industries (20:40)
I thought I knew what it meant to be a marketer and what it meant to be successful in business, but then I walked into an industry where I didn’t know the language or how things operated. So the starting point is deep humility. During my time in Blue Shield, CMO didn’t mean chief marketing officer, it meant chief medical officer!
Healthcare industry is built around the care management and operations. Understanding that you need to bring what you know, but also educate those inside is very important.
Wells Fargo And Esurance Experience (25:57)
Wells Fargo experience was very different from the healthcare industry. It’s a complex, heavily regulated service business that confuses a lot of people. It was a bridge to learning a new industry. During the first five years I was heavily focused on the customer experience, but after that, I got back into more operational marketing.
Time Management (35:42)
First of all, it’s about being purposeful and how you spend your time. Staying internally focused is critical within an organization, but you actually serve your organization way better by having an external focus too. I learned a lot from external organizations as well. You learn from their successes and their failures.
How Can People Evaluate If Marketing Is The Right Career For Them (37:39)
This is gonna sound too simple but follow your heart and follow your passion. Once something stops being joyful, figure out what is next.
What gives me the greatest joy is coaching and developing people. This is why I am working with coaches to do that on a full-time basis from now on because I really enjoy supporting and developing people.
Being The CMO At a Large Company vs. A Startup (43:19)
The reason why I went to Credible is that I thought I could come in and have an impact on actually building a company that had already been started, but take it to the next level. I have only been there for a year and a half, but I am leaving shortly to pursue coaching full time.
Values That You Hope To Pass On From Your Career (46:18)
First and foremost, it’s the passion and care about humanity. Creating value at the center and doing it from a place of humanity.
I would also add - be purposeful. Be clear about what you are trying to accomplish.