Women in ABM: Corrina Owens on being authentic and not being afraid to be disruptive

Corrina Owens is the Senior ABM Manager at Gong. She is also a B2B marketing enthusiast, an aerial circus artist, a Terminus Rock Star, and a beacon of women’s empowerment, both in tech and out in the world. We recently sat down to chat about the importance of being authentic, supporting other women, and not being afraid to be disruptive.

Molly: You recently posted on LinkedIn asking people to fill in the blank on what would be the one thing that they refuse to compromise on in marketing. I’m curious how you would answer that question yourself. 

Corrina: Honestly, I had a lot of synergy around what I noticed was the consensus in the responses: integrity and empathy. Those two things have allowed me to build meaningful relationships and help brands build them, too. It’s really all about being authentic.

Speaking of being authentic, I think all of us have suffered from imposter syndrome at times in our careers. How has that presented itself in your career and how have you overcome it? 

It’s something that doesn’t ever really go away. When you care deeply about your performance, you’re always going to feel like there’s more to give. That’s where my imposter syndrome comes from: my constant drive to do my best work. I think that is something that has really plagued women for generations—the idea that we had to wait around until somebody else saw our value. Today, we know that we have to champion ourselves for different positions and opportunities. It’s why I absolutely love the younger generation… they don’t wait. They’re aware of their inherent value and they make no apologies for it. It’s something that inspires me to press down the gas a little harder in my career.

I’m also interested in how that kind of authenticity has followed you into your position as a leader.

In my career, nobody really championed anything for me. I found opportunities to get myself and my brand out there. That’s part of what I have taken with me in my positions and continue to focus on now: I challenge the conventional wisdom in every role that I step into. Just because things have always been done a certain way, it’s not something that we need to adhere to. I hope that I can encourage other women to do the same; to be disruptive.

I once had a mentor tell me that we, as women, need to end more sentences with periods and fewer with question marks. That’s really stuck with me. Your LinkedIn game is good. Like, really good. You’re fantastic at elevating your lane and using your personal presence to facilitate big conversations in the industry. Was that something that you intended to happen, or was it more organic? 

I didn’t adhere to a specific framework. I’ve always been active on LinkedIn, even pre-pandemic. I saw it as a way to connect and engage in lieu of waiting for the next trade show or webinar. Over time, I’ve made it much more personal and authentic (there’s that word again) to who I am, versus just being a voice for the brands I’ve represented.

Did you have any moments of hesitation when you started to get good traction?

Yes. It was intimidating to start to put my own thoughts out there. And those moments of insecurity would creep in where I would feel really fearful after posting. But what I learned to do was to take a step back and remind myself of who I am and that these moments of fear were small in comparison to some of the things that I’ve experienced in life. Comparing it to life experiences allowed me to really just be myself. And in the end, that’s what helps people stand out. 

I believe that your unique presence is really what ends up making a difference. I don’t focus on the algorithm. If I have something to say, I say it. It’s how I approach my in-person life as well. If I have something of value to add, I add it.

There’s a lot of talk in ABM right now about the alignment of the go-to-market strategy. From your perspective as a female leader, how are you seeing the alignment of sales, marketing and customer service in your business? How does that authenticity show itself in that endeavor?

It sounds so simple, but in reality it’s the opposite. It’s really challenging. One of the things that I always institute when I come into an organization is the charge to align on goals with different business units, particularly within the go-to-market function. I almost always find that the goals are siloed. In fact, they’re often so separate that they’re not even tied to company goals. Each quarter, I seek to reevaluate that. 

You have to make sure that everyone is aligned to business goals and constantly edit your team priorities and ask yourself, “What is this supporting?” If your tactics aren’t supporting the goals you’ve identified, things will be difficult.

I want to talk to you a little bit about balance and intentionality in your life. Especially as women, we don’t always show ourselves enough grace to calibrate what is (and what isn’t) working for us. As someone who is always grateful to have other women in similar life chapters as me, I admire those of us who are candid about our experiences.

I think that we don’t talk enough about burnout. It is something that I am aware of and constantly trying to manage. When I start to see that things are becoming overwhelming, I try to pay attention to the triggers that let me know that I’m vulnerable to burnout. When the fear of failure gets loud, or I start overly critiquing myself, I know that things are out of balance.

What do you find yourself doing to course correct that? 

I create intentional time away from work. I am an aerial circus artist and that works as a creative outlet that lets me recalibrate and step back into my job at 100%. As a woman in this industry, I try to encourage those around me to be mindful of the signals of burnout that show up in their worlds. I remind them that when those signals show up, it’s okay to make space for yourself and acknowledge that something has to give.

It’s hard to do that and not feel vulnerable. Do you agree?

Women aren’t always great about letting go of guilt and showing ourselves more grace. We need better internal talk tracks. We need to remind one another that we matter and intentional time for self care isn’t a weakness. It’s a strength. 

I think women, especially in our business, struggle because it’s sort of an always-on industry. The same is true for social media. It’s okay to take a break. I think that’s important for us as humans, but especially for women and all that we often have to juggle with society’s expectations.

Like we talked about before, we need to stop waiting for others to tell us that it’s okay to take a break. It’s important to have a culture that supports that. On that note, talk a little bit about mentorship. I assume that’s something that you’re passionate about as it resonates as part of your narrative. 

My background originated in education, so teaching is what I was trained to do. Helping others be their best self is something that gives real meaning to my work. I always seek it out.

How can I be an example or a mentor for someone else on my team? At my company? I’m dialed into that because it was largely absent in my career as I was coming up. There were just not a lot of people like me from a socio-economic and gender perspective. I felt alone on an island and I am grateful that during those times, I didn’t try to be anyone other than myself. That’s what got me to where I am today and where I’ll be tomorrow.

It’s not always easy to own your unique attributes and qualities when you’re not necessarily coming from an empowered place. Helping other people find their lane is so critical.

You’re right. I’ve been very intentional about seeking out mentors in my career, and I had to really go outside of my environment. I had to go outside of my company, outside of my industry. I was deliberate in my needs with my mentors, and that’s where I found that I got the most value. I was direct about where I wanted to go and what I expected out of the relationship.

How has that played out for you at Gong?

It’s something that I deliberately try to facilitate everywhere I go. I’m part of our women’s group here Gong, which is a mentorship program that has provided some of  the most meaningful experiences I’ve had in my career. I also help run our Women In Revenue group at Gong, which is a monthly meet-up that we do with woman in revenue. I’m honored we can amplify and learn from voices like Demetria Elmore, VP of Care at GoDaddy, who will be sharing her story with us in our next meetup on September 30th. We get together and create a safe space to talk about a lot of the things we’ve talked about here: work/life balance, career advancement, finding your voice, and advocating for yourself.

This has all been so fantastic. What has been your north star as you navigate this space? A piece of best advice? A favorite practitioner?

Nilofer Merchants’ book, The Power of Onlyness: Make Your Wild Ideas Mighty Enough to Dent the World, is something that I quote all the time. It’s really empowered me to own the experiences that I’ve had. My life experiences—good and bad—have really shaped how I interact with the world. It reminds me to show up for myself and own my truth. Being yourself in every facet of life is one of the most freeing things that we can do. It’s such a gift and that authenticity is applicable to everything. Remembering that has really stuck with me and it hasn’t served me wrong yet.

You can connect with Corrina on LinkedIn and learn more about Gong’s Women In Revenue event here.