Friday, December 7, 2012

Top women: Constant Contact

The top 100 women-led businesses in Massachusetts


Premium content from Boston Business Journal by Mary Pratt, Marcella Garcia and Taryn Plumb, Special to the Journal

Friday, December 7, 2012

But for women executives and the businesses they lead, the U.S. economy would be in far more dire straits today. Indeed, for the roughly the past two decades, revenue and hiring growth among women-led businesses have expanded at a greater rate than the economy as a whole and now total more than 8.3 million establishments nationally.
Those organizations account for approximately 7.7 million jobs and slightly more than $1 trillion in annual revenue, or roughly 10 percent of U.S. gross domestic product.
And yet obstacles appear to remain in the path for women seeking to attain the same career milestones often associated with male executives at the top of their industries, particularly when it comes to math- and science-related fields. Progress also is slow when it comes to seeing more women in the corporate board rooms of America’s largest, publicly traded companies, not to mention many of the most influential businesses in Massachusetts.
Nonetheless, women continue to play a dynamic role both locally and nationally in creating the jobs and developing the technologies that are expected to spur the U.S. economy back to health. With that in mind, the Boston Business Journal is honoring three women-led businesses with its first-ever growth awards, determined by the number of Massachusetts-based jobs added over the past three years. The awards, provided to a small employer (under 100 employees), mid sized employer (100-to-500 employees), and large employer (above 500 employees) employer, represent the fastest-growing among this year’s Top 100, though they are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the breadth and depth of the Bay State’s women-led businesses.


Large Company | Constant Contact

Marketing pioneer pays it forward through mentoring 

“Whatever role you’re in, take time to understand ‘How can I be a leader?’” says Gail Goodman, chairwoman, president and CEO of Constant Contact Inc. “People will see it, recognize it, and give you more leadership opportunities.”
Goodman has certainly never hesitated to take the reins. After holding top positions at OpenMarket, Dun and Bradstreet Software Services and Bain and Co., she took over Constant Contact in 1999.
Since then, the Waltham-based company has evolved from a small startup cultivating one email marketing product, to a public company with numerous products, six locations worldwide, more than 500,000 customers and annual revenue topping $200 million.
And though Goodman is part of a small, albeit growing, group of female CEOs at public companies, Constant Contact takes that distinction even further: Two of its top positions are held by women, with Ellen Brezniak as its senior vice president of customer operations.
So far the strategy has paid huge dividends. Since 2010, the company has added 154 new jobs in Massachusetts, equal to an approximately 28 percent expansion in its total head count in the state.
During a recent interview with the BBJ, Brezniak acknowledged that being a female in the technology business “is different,” although the times are definitely changing. She pointed to Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer, who at 37 years is the youngest CEO among Fortune 500 companies, Meg Whitman of Hewlett-Packard and, locally, Laura Sen of BJ’s Wholesale Club as top examples of the influential women who are reshaping the corporate world.
Brezniak said she intends to foster that evolution as a mentor both at and outside Constant Contact.
She said women often take themselves out of the running for management positions to raise children, when in reality they can still play an important role in the workplace. She also said women can sometimes be more tentative than men when it comes to networking and expressing their career goals.
“Women tend to say ‘I’m doing a fantastic job, why aren’t I getting more?’” said Brezniak. “You need to tell people what you want to do.”
Ultimately, it’s about “fostering healthy relationships” with colleagues and management, she said.
Meanwhile, Goodman encourages young women to draw from a “collage” of best practices and skill sets – for instance, she noted one former colleague who was “unbelievably calm under pressure,” and a current executive who is adept at asking tough questions without inciting defensiveness.
“There’s something you can learn from everybody,” she said.
And what others can glean? She described her ability to “get to the heart of an issue, to really peel off the side conversations and extraneous pieces.”
It’s an approach that has served her well in her current role as Constant Contact’s CEO. Involved in the early days of the Internet boom, she said she was “absolutely captivated” by the way the Internet could work for small businesses. Going forward, Constant Contact aims to continue to focus on that set through its email, event and social media marketing tools, online surveys, partnering programs and seminars, as well as its “evolving” nature to engage and coach customers.
“I love that our customers are small businesses,” Brezniak agreed. “They’re an entity that’s massively under-served.”

— Taryn Plumb,
Special to the Journal

Read the full article (and the other company profiles) here

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