Q&A with Jay Gaines, CMO at Forrester

Q&A with Jay Gaines
Jay Gaines, CMO at Forrester has over 20 years of experience in organizational design and leadership, marketing strategy and planning, marketing budget and operations management, demand creation, sales and marketing alignment, and digital strategy in a variety of b-to-b industries.   

In this Q&A, Jay shares insightful thoughts about the audience-centric approach at SiriusDecisions and what marketing means to him.

MEDIA 7: How old were you when you had your first paying job?
JAY GAINES:
 I was 10 years old! I delivered newspapers in my neighborhood on my bike five days a week after school.

M7: You have been recognized as one of the top 10 CMOs in 2019 by The Silicon Review. What skills have enabled you to become a marketing industry leader?
JG:
In my time at SiriusDecisions, I’ve had the good fortune to work closely with many amazing CMOs. That work provided me great insight into what makes for a highly effective and successful marketing leader. There are three primary skills that I think have helped me the most; first, to be a business leader and then a marketing leader. This means focusing on, being accountable for, and consistently reporting on marketing’s contribution to the same business goals that the CEO, CFO, board of directors and head of sales care about most. It also means always speaking the language of business, and avoiding marketing jargon when communicating with my colleagues outside of marketing. Second, is just being a good leader for my team by providing structure and clear goals, defending their focus, and promoting a culture of experimentation and rigor. Third, is constantly staying curious. Marketing is evolving so rapidly in terms of strategies, approaches, technologies, and measurement that part of any leader's job must be keeping up what’s new without chasing every new shiny object.

"Marketing is evolving so rapidly in terms of strategies, approaches, technologies and measurement that part of any leader's job must be keeping up what’s new without chasing every new shiny object."



M7: How impactful are the leadership summits from a marketing outreach perspective, and how significantly have they enabled SiriusDecisions to push towards the forefront as an industry leader?
JG:
Our summits are a key driver of growth for us. We put a huge amount of effort into them and they have become a primary brand experience for our customers and other audiences. We attract thousands of B2B marketing, sales and product leaders to these events and use them to release our latest research, data and insights. Especially as SiriusDecisions has expanded into new geographies (Europe and Asia) and new verticals (healthcare, financial services, etc.) our events have enabled us to quickly establish presence, acquire audiences and build positive perception.

M7: You have been leading marketing initiatives for SiriusDecisions across various geographies including North America, EMEA and APAC. In your experience, how does the approach to marketing strategy vary based on different regions?
JG:
At SiriusDecisions we take a very audience-centric approach in how we go to market through the use of audience frameworks and personas. We typically create personas centrally and then adapt them for geos and vertical industries. Most of the important differences we see are in persona preferences, in how they want to be contacted and engaged, how they consume information, and what their trusted sources of information are. So, while our campaign and program themes remain largely consistent globally the assets, tactics, and channels we utilize vary widely across geographies. For example, in Asia we’ve had great success and lean more heavily on mobile-specific strategies as well as a higher volume of smaller local events.


"Most of the important differences we see are in persona preferences, in how they want to be contacted and engaged, how they consume information, and what their trusted sources of information are."


M7: From a little cottage in Southport, Connecticut to a global leader in B2B marketing solutions, what has been the main force behind the overwhelming success of SiriusDecisions?
JG: 
By far the main driving force for SiriusDecisions has been our relationships with our clients and our commitment to their success. We have a deep culture of customer-centricity and helpfulness that permeates everything we do. For example, every piece of research we produce must pass the test of being supported by data and evidence, and also must include details about how to actually do whatever it is we’re recommending. Unlike many other firms similar to us, we also consider our work with clients to be collaborative. All of our research is based on our work with our clients and our ability to observe and measure what actually works and what doesn’t. This means we learn as much from them as they do from us and their success is our success.


"All of our research is based on our work with our clients and our ability to observe and measure what actually works and what doesn’t."

M7: What is Marketing to you?
JG:
To me marketing is the art and science of engaging target audiences through the delivery of value in order to achieve specific business outcomes. Value can be delivered in any number of ways including information, entertainment and purpose, and business outcomes can span everything from customer acquisition to retention to advocacy.

ABOUT SIRIUSDECISIONS

SiriusDecisions® is the leading global b-to-b research and advisory firm. We deliver actionable intelligence, strategic and operational frameworks, and personal guidance from experienced practitioners.

Sales, marketing and product executives rely on SiriusDecisions® to contextualize problems and bring to light opportunities to drive sustainable growth. Our holistic solutions are founded on proprietary research, a deep understanding of b-to-b complexities, and the tenet that organizational alignment brings better outcomes.

SiriusDecisions was acquired by Forrester (NASD: FORR) in January of 2019.

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PR Newswire | January 30, 2024

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PRWeb | October 25, 2023

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The combined power of our offerings will serve to bridge the skills gap between students seeking more training and work-based learning opportunities and industry customers looking to build a skilled workforce. PATHWAYos was established in 2017 with a mission to unlock work-based learning opportunities for all. Its mission is to change how students view their options, how educators see their workload, and how the industry considers its growing talent pool. Work-based learning (WBL) prepares students for the job market and helps build a pipeline of skilled workers, all while lowering recruitment and training costs for employers, and expanding economic development in local communities. The company's WBL programs have impacted over 800,000 students across 2,000 schools in 30 states, leading to more than three million work-based learning hours logged. "Joining forces with Vector Solutions catapults us to an ambitious new era, where we can serve as an unrivaled catalyst for Career and Technical Education," said Cecilia Retelle Zywicki, CEO of PATHWAYos. "Our aim is nothing short of empowering students at scale by unlocking paths towards the future they want, and granting access to economic mobility that often is reserved for an exclusive subset of students. Together, we aspire to impact countless students, breaking barriers between education and the workforce, and reshaping the landscape." Vector Solutions serves over 24,000 customers and thirty-one million end users across the Education, Commercial, and Public Sector markets. With an increased focus on CTE, Vector Solutions will accelerate its presence in this critical market. The company will support students no matter what path they choose to take into the workforce and enable industry customers to access a pipeline of skilled talent. Post acquisition, PATHWAYos will be a product under a new business unit within Vector focused on CTE. The combined expertise and resources will strengthen Vector Solutions' CTE offerings and solidify its position as a leader in the industry. About Vector Solutions Vector Solutions is the leading provider of impactful technology solutions dedicated to driving safer, smarter, better decision-making in the world's most critical industries. Embedded into daily workflows to drive improvements in compliance, safety, performance, and preparedness, our software includes training management, industry-focused online course libraries, EHS management, workforce scheduling, risk communication, operational readiness, and more. Vector's unique combination of information and technology - delivered when and where it is needed - is integral to our more than 34 thousand clients looking to achieve better outcomes and safeguard lives. Vector is committed to providing resources to support those who need them most and launched a collection of free courses on critical mental health and safety topics through Vector Cares. For more information, visit http://www.vectorsolutions.com. For access to free Vector Cares courses visit https://www.vectorsolutions.com/about-us/vector-cares/. About Vector Solutions for K-12 Education Vector Solutions for K-12 Education is a leading provider of training, software and professional development solutions committed to creating safer, smarter and better school environments. Trusted by more than 5,000 K-12 districts in the United States, Vector's award-winning suite of products save administrators time, improve compliance, and streamline administrative processes. Vector trainings on imperative topics like safety and compliance; inclusive instruction; mental health and well-being; diversity, equity and inclusion; and cybersecurity enable students and teachers alike to make schools safer, more inclusive, and more effective places to work and learn. For more information about Vector Solutions for K-12 Education, visit http://www.vectorsolutions.com/k12. About PATHWAYos PATHWAYos® is the innovative software at the center of all career-connected learning. School districts, states, and career centers can now collaborate with businesses to expand work-based learning programs. The software streamlines processes while allowing partners to provide numerous opportunities that enhance the development of skills required by the workforce of the future. The world-class platform is quickly becoming a household requirement for innovative school districts.

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Education Technology, Talent Development, Online Education

Bridge2Rwanda Extends Partnership with IXL to Support Students Developing English Language Skills

PR Newswire | January 30, 2024

IXL, the personalized learning platform used by 15 million students worldwide, has announced an extension of its partnership with Bridge2Rwanda (B2R), a nonprofit dedicated to creating global education opportunities for high-achieving African students. B2R educators will continue leveraging IXL's award-winning platform to deliver targeted English language arts (ELA) instruction, helping learners build and master literacy skills essential for securing university scholarships. In total, B2R has used IXL to support 500 students across eight different training programs since the partnership began. Despite encouraging improvements in literacy rates, limited access to resources and a nascent reading culture pose significant challenges to educational achievement in Rwanda. Recognizing the pivotal role education plays in enhancing socioeconomic outcomes, Bridge2Rwanda was established in 2007 to empower Rwandan high school students with high-quality reading and writing opportunities. B2R's ultimate goal is to build a thriving community of well-educated African leaders who will accelerate their nations' growth and improve the lives of others. B2R began using IXL Language Arts in 2019 to support the English language development of 30 high-achieving scholars from Rwanda, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, South Sudan, and Burundi. In 2020, the nonprofit relied on IXL's all-inclusive platform to ensure that its English language learners (ELLs) developed essential ELA skills during distance learning. After two years of an impactful partnership, B2R made IXL an integral component of its new intensive English training and college preparatory program, Isomo Academy. The inaugural class of 120 Isomo Academy scholars quickly embraced IXL's tailored support, built-in instructional resources, and engaging learning opportunities. During the first week of Isomo Academy's eight-week training program, educators use IXL's adaptive assessment, the Real-Time Diagnostic, to pinpoint each student's English proficiency level, helping them understand individual strengths and areas for improvement. Based on these insights, the diagnostic then generates personalized skill recommendations to challenge and support learners at the right level. Additionally, B2R educators use the diagnostic to track student growth each week to ensure that students are progressing and mastering essential ELA concepts. Bridge2Rwanda educators also rely on IXL's comprehensive curriculum to help students build the skills that they need to become strong communicators. Each day at Isomo Academy, students take writing and reading classes that are paired with intensive language and communication seminars. Additionally, students work on IXL skills that align with their classroom lessons. The combined approach allows educators to engage students at their individual levels, assign homework, and differentiate learning beyond the school day. "IXL bursts bottlenecks for Bridge2Rwanda scholars by eliminating language barriers," said Luke Dreiling, Lead English Teacher, Bridge2Rwanda. "This enables them to excel in their studies, advance their careers, and contribute significantly to the growth of African communities." "Bridge2Rwanda's dedication to expanding educational opportunities for young African students is commendable. We are excited to continue equipping even more bright and ambitious learners with the tools they need to confidently pursue their dreams on a global scale," said Paul Mishkin, CEO of IXL Learning. "At IXL, we are committed to leveraging education as an instrument of empowerment to break down language barriers and ensure all students have the opportunity to thrive." IXL's impact on English language learners IXL Language Arts gives teachers a systematic way to troubleshoot each student's unique reading and writing roadblocks, and put them on the path to success: Among schools with a high percentage of ELLs, research demonstrates that those using IXL outperformed non-IXL schools on Smarter Balanced Assessments in ELA by as much as seven percentile points. IXL's comprehensive curriculum provides more than 2,400 adaptive skills that span early literacy, reading comprehension, grammar, vocabulary, and advanced concepts, such as persuasive writing. Each IXL skill is adaptive, ensuring that ELLs feel confident that they are perfectly challenged and supported at the right level when developing fluency. IXL's adaptive assessment, the Real-Time Diagnostic, pinpoints students' grade-level proficiency in key ELA strands, and generates targeted next steps to help students grow from where they are. As English language learners progress, these personalized recommendations stay up-to-date, ensuring that they always have a clear path toward mastering ELA concepts. As students learn and practice, IXL provides in-the-moment support and resources for self-remediation. For example, video tutorials guide learners through the building blocks of reading, writing, and grammar to provide additional support during learning and independent practice. If a student answers a problem incorrectly, IXL provides a step-by-step explanation of the right answer so that students can learn from their mistake and solidify their knowledge of that skill. Educators also rely on insights from IXL Analytics to track student progress, monitor readiness for exams, and differentiate instruction to fill knowledge gaps. Up-to-date reports help teachers uncover areas of challenge for each student and identify patterns in mistakes in order to provide targeted reteaching.

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Education Technology, Online Education, Continuing Education

2U Partners with University of Surrey to Launch 15 Online Master's Degrees

PR Newswire | February 01, 2024

2U, Inc, the company behind global online learning platform edX, today announced a new partnership with the University of Surrey to launch and support the delivery of online master's degrees and online professional certificate programs. An initial five online degree programs will welcome students in 2024, with a portfolio of at least 15 master's degrees and at least 15 professional certificate programs being delivered by 2026. This will expand access to this highly ranked UK university for students worldwide. Surrey's partnership with 2U will deliver Surrey Online Learning: an acceleration and transformation of the university's provision of online learning. 2U's expertise will help Surrey establish a scalable model and quickly expand its digital capabilities to worldwide audiences. The collaboration aligns with the university's mission to expand access to life-changing education and personal and professional success. "We're partnering with 2U and their edX platform to accelerate Surrey Online Learning provision," said Professor Tim Dunne, Provost and Senior Vice-President at the University of Surrey. "The University of Surrey has global strength in innovation and research, and is renowned for being one of the best universities in the UK for delivering excellence in teaching and employability. Through Surrey Online Learning, we will offer flexible and affordable educational pathways that are compatible with and relevant to modern careers, combining accessibility with strong student outcomes." Surrey's suite of online degrees will build on the success of its on-campus programs, with the online curriculum developed in partnership with LearningMate. The first five degrees expected to launch in 2024 will be in the areas of artificial intelligence, business, psychology, marketing, and sustainability. The professional certificate programs, which will focus on technology, healthcare, business, communications technologies, and sustainability, will provide learners with an opportunity to build and enhance critical professional skills on their way to determining if a full degree in a corresponding subject is part of their educational journey. "2U prides itself in being a digital transformation partner that can support strategic long-term thinking, accelerate innovation, and help drive positive student outcomes across new formats and modalities," said Andrew Hermalyn, President of the Degree Program Segment at 2U. "The University of Surrey has major ambitions to expand its online learning capabilities, and we are honored to be their partner to help build their online presence from the ground up." "LearningMate is honored to partner with the University of Surrey on its transformative online learning initiative in collaboration with 2U. We're excited to contribute to the development of cutting-edge online master's degrees and professional certificate programs that align with Surrey's commitment to excellence," said Prasad Mohare, Senior Vice President at LearningMate. "Our focus on innovation and accessibility will be showcased in the initial offerings. LearningMate is dedicated to supporting Surrey in expanding access to impactful, career-relevant learning opportunities in the evolving landscape of online education." Today's announcement builds on the continued demand for 2U's flexible degree partnership model, which gives universities the choice of selecting different bundles of services according to their needs.

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