Humans of Tech- Ivy Lee Gregory
Meet Ivy Lee Gregory!
Vice President of Marketing at Sensibill
We talk about life-changing technology, comfort zones (and the magic that happens outside of them), validation techniques, and becoming the mentor you wish you had.
What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing tech?
When I was at the University of Waterloo, my first co-op job was with Microsoft, working their bilingual helpline. I worked my way up and completed several terms with their marketing team, realizing it was my calling. I wound up changing majors and schools, and have now spent my entire career in tech marketing. I love the pace, love how it shapes people’s lives. I worked at BlackBerry in the early days. We changed how the world communicates. Now phones are ubiquitous and everyone is always on, always connected—it started there, at BlackBerry.
I love the quote by Henry Ford, “If you asked people what they wanted, they would’ve said a faster horse”. Life-changing technological advancements came from someone saying, “oooh, what if we try this?” Who knows what the next thing will be. We can change the world.
Tell us about a time you stepped out of your comfort zone?
My comfort zone has always been mid to large size organizations, so joining a scale-up was out of my comfort zone. I love the concept that growth happens outside your comfort zone - and in order to challenge yourself, you need to try new things. That was one of my main motivations to move to a scale-up: to understand what it takes to make an organization successful at the early stages. To roll up my sleeves and dig in. I saw that as an opportunity to flex different skills and get back down to the basics, ensure my marketing skills were sharp. Of course, it’s scary. As humans, we tend to gravitate to what’s comfortable, especially with the uncertainty around COVID. Sometimes, you have to make the leap.
Having good allies helps—surrounding yourself with people you trust, people you know have your back, so you can bounce ideas off them or be vulnerable with them. We all experience self-doubt, especially when we go outside our comfort zone, so reassurance can help.
As I was going through the process with Sensibill, I found myself needing some reassurance so I started an inspiration board. I covered it with notes I’ve gotten through the years of encouragement, thank yous and gratitude. Whenever I feel doubt, I look at all the handwritten notes from people I love and look up to, both personally and professionally. Their beautiful words remind me that I’ve got this.
I also find that support is a two-way street: When I support others, the support comes back readily. I’m a big believer that when you help others, the goodness comes back. I’m always looking for opportunities to mentor others and share my learnings, in hopes that someone might find value in it and in turn, support someone else.
If you were giving advice on mentorship to women like yourself what would it be?
If you don’t find a mentor, be a mentor. Be the mentor that you’d like to see. Lead by example and help coach those around you. Blaze the trail and you’ll find that you actually have more support than you would have known. Being a mentor doesn’t need to be formal. It could be an active interview like this, or in a meeting, or on a project, or simply during an interaction you have with a customer or partner—every bit makes a difference.
Go create those opportunities, have those conversations. Some people are tied up with titles and think, “I don’t have a leadership title, therefore I can’t be a mentor”, but that’s not true. You’re always leading by example just in the way you conduct yourself. We learn from those around us, not just from those with a fancy title. You should be looking for every opportunity to learn.