As the Global Field Marketing Lead at Codat—an API provider for SaaS and financial-service providers—Kseniya Norkina is charged with ideating and executing on event and experiential-marketing deliverables. Her number one KPI is to bring the organization’s brand to life. Whether it’s a virtual or an in-person campaign or program, Kseniya owns all elements throughout the marketing funnel.
Day in and day out, she’s managing and leading a cross-functional team—from sales to content marketing—who are sprawled across the globe, including locations in Sydney, London and her new hometown of New York City (a branch of the company where she was the first hire). And every day, this 2019 marketing certificate graduate draws upon practical lessons learned in her Managing Product and Go-to-Market Strategies course that she took three years ago.
“I keep going back to that course and how my instructor brought in different use cases and taught us about how personas are built,” Kseniya explains. “In my line of work of field marketing, I primarily focus on building out conferences and exhibits and working with the sales team. But having that knowledge of how a product marketing team works continues to help me bridge the gap between how I can support them, what questions to ask them and how I can help our sales team to be up to speed on new product releases or any launches that we can do. That comprehensive overview and knowledge of how each team and marketing operate is so important.”
It is this type of collaboration—coupled with endless opportunities for creativity and problem solving—that draws Kseniya to the marketing field. Since 2012, she has held marketing coordinator and marketing manager positions at a range of companies. But all of her learning and marketing up-skilling has been experiential in the workplace.
“I never learned how to do marketing or how to run a team—my degree is in sociology,” she says. “But I joined a health care company as a marketing coordinator and shortly realized that I needed to learn a bit more because I was unfamiliar with the language that was being used—Googling acronyms and being lost a bit. A couple of years later, I felt that I had to learn more in order to be able to progress in my career—to be able to speak the same language, to be comfortable in the room and feel confident about what I'm talking about. And some of it does come from being out in the field. But having a really good knowledge base was really important to me.”
I can still remember my coursework while talking with you! And what I really enjoyed was my instructors: They were very engaging in presenting the coursework and interacting with us.
So you were looking for a toolbox of concrete skills that you could apply in your work.
Yeah, you would think at some point the marketing work would have been a little more intuitive. There is quite a bit of what you can learn while doing the job, but it's really nice to go back to the basics.
At that time, my personal life and my career just did not allow for me to go back for a master's program and devote two years and the budget to it. So I started looking at different online programs. Cornell, Harvard and others offered a certificate, but it was all virtual, and I really wanted to get back into a classroom. [Kseniya took marketing courses before the COVID-19 pandemic.]
I'm a very visual and sensory learner and need to have that interaction to be engaged: to learn from my peers, to do the group projects. And that's how I came across UC Berkeley Extension and I thought it was just an absolutely perfect fit. There were evening classes, the location was great. [Kseniya was living in San Francisco while taking classes.] I read about the coursework and the instructors who have been out in the field and have real experience that is relevant to right this moment and not 10 years ago. It wasn’t going to be theory; it was going to be actual practice.
So you registered for the certificate and started your educational journey. What was your experience?
I can still remember my coursework while talking with you! And what I really enjoyed was my instructors: They were very engaging in presenting the coursework and interacting with us. We did a lot of hands-on projects about relevant brands, which was great because I could take that experience to an interview and show that I have these skills even though I may have not done that type of work at my previous job.
The instructors reviewed our group projects as if you were on the job at a certain company and presenting the project to get buy-in from certain stakeholders. That was very much appreciated. And I really felt like the instructors wanted to be there and wanted to teach. They wanted to share their knowledge.
It doesn't matter what industry you're going to be working in as you can apply marketing skills to each of them—health care, FinTech, real estate. There isn’t a brand that doesn’t use marketing, right?
Were you able to make connections or network with any of your classmates?
Yeah, I have built some really good networks. I actually found out that a couple of my friends had also attended some classes in the past, though we did not overlap. But as I was posting on Instagram, they would comment, “Oh, yeah, I took that certificate, too!”
I now have some really good friends who I'm still in touch with after we finished taking those classes. We visit each other and have really close friendships. So I would say, late nights, drinking wine and doing a project really paid off. [Laughs]
The best way to do a group project! What is it about marketing that draws you to this field?
I think it's one of those very applicable career choices: It doesn't matter what industry you're going to be working in as you can apply marketing skills to each of them—health care, FinTech, real estate. There isn’t a brand that doesn’t use marketing, right? In a sense, marketing gives you more choices of what you want to do as there are so many niches: product marketing, field marketing, content marketing. It’s really a broad variety of work.
It also gives you the tools to sell your personal brand and build up your career.
If I hadn’t completed the marketing certificate, I would not have had the competitive advantage that I needed to succeed in my career.
What does earning the certificate mean to you both professionally and personally?
To be completely honest, my first time around when I went to college, I was not very excited to learn or to be in school. I wish I had paid more attention. And to go back to school and get really good grades in my classes just feels really good.
If I hadn’t completed the marketing certificate, I would not have had the competitive advantage that I needed to succeed in my career. I keep thinking about doing another certificate. It's been a really exciting journey, and I highly recommend this certificate.
Having gone back to school, any tips for other students who may have been out of the classroom for a while and need to get back into that mind frame?
I think it requires a bit of kindness that you have to offer yourself for trying this. Do it with a light-heartedness and a curiosity around it.
Ask as many questions as possible. The instructors are so knowledgeable. Ask them about any real-world problems you’re having at work and wondering how to solve and then be able to apply it to the future. Ask the instructors for feedback, thoughts, any opinions that they might have.
It’s also interesting to hear from your classmates—it creates a very full spectrum of opinions, different ways to approach something. And if and when you do run into an issue at your next job or in your current work, you have this great bank of ideas and perspectives from which to choose what to do.