As an instructor of other scuba diving instructors, Diane Tetrault knows how to convey life-saving lessons in a way that encourages and supports her students. And as it turns out, that skill is highly transferable to two other key roles in her life: manager and mother.
Diane is the Senior Director of Product Marketing at Elastic and is also a mom of two sons. In the water, at work, and with her family, she’s gotten plenty of practice creating the right environment for other people to learn and enjoy.
“Scuba diving is something lots of people have on their bucket list, where they say, ‘Oh, I wish I could do that, but I’m too afraid.’ But I know lots of people would love it if they tried.”
Diane’s not one to shy away from new experiences, even when it seems like they’d be hard to work into her packed life. As a working mom, for example, she still makes time to travel and dive, this time bringing her kids along with her and giving them a taste for the adventure that she and her husband so love. Her eldest son, now 8, had visited 11 countries by the time he was 14 months old!
We sat down with Diane to learn more about how she balances her passions, her career, and her family, including how her role at Elastic makes all of that possible.
An Intersection of Interests
“There's probably not a product marketer alive who woke up one day and said, ‘I'm gonna be a product marketer when I grow up,’” says Diane about how she got into her role. “It’s rare that I meet someone who doesn’t have a curvy, wavy road into product marketing—and I think that’s a good thing.”
Her own role looks like this: she got a programming job right after university and immediately realized the heads-down work with little to no human involvement wasn’t for her.
She moved into technical project management, where she got to interact with customers and still deal with engineering topics. Diane stayed in that role until she was promoted into product management, where her work shifted from outward-focused to more inwards, figuring out what her company wanted to build and what it should look like.
But her sense of adventure pushed her to live abroad, so she decided to move to England. Her company didn’t have a product management job open there, but wanted to keep her as part of the team, so they offered her a role backfilling a marketing director who was out on maternity leave. Diane stepped up into a completely new field, picking up demand generation across events, PR, and advertising. She ended up building a life in England and staying for seven years before returning to her home country of Canada.
“Once I had experience in product, experience in marketing, and experience in sales—because I had sales people reporting to me and I spent a lot of time in the field—I understood that there was something we needed to do in the middle,” says Diane.
Enter product marketing.
She leans on three key skills in her current role, and suggests that anyone else interested in product marketing work to develop the same ones:
- Technical inclination. “I started off life as a developer, so with that technical aptitude, I can hold my own talking to deeply technical people.”
- Customer focus. “You need customer-facing experience so you can understand what they’re trying to achieve. You need empathy for what the customer’s trying to do.”
- Domain expertise. Diane describes a lot of what she does as translating, and credits her years in the industry to giving her the right background of knowledge that makes that translation possible. “If you’re translating to something you don’t already understand, that’s hard,” she says.
When Diane had her first face-to-face exposure to Elastic, she had already heard of them years before. Her current company was trying to compete with Elasticsearch, so they sent Diane to attend Elasticon in San Francisco in 2018.
“I was just blown away by the culture—and particularly by the women of Elastic,” says Diane, who went to a breakfast hosted by the ERG and was shocked to see the company’s CEO there, fully engaged and listening. “He wasn’t presenting, but he wasn’t playing on his phone, either. He was nodding away, really engaged in everything. I was really amazed by the fact that it didn’t seem like lip service. It seemed like the company really did value diversity and inclusion.”
Experiencing the Elastic environment made Diane want to work for them. And that’s what still motivates her the most. “I came for the culture, and I stayed for the culture,” she says. “When I interview people, I’m always looking for cultural fit. We’re fiercely protective of our culture, because that’s what makes people stay.”
Here are Diane’s favorite ways that Elastic’s culture manifests itself:
- Respect, not deference. “I used to work in a company where we had to call the CEO 'monsieur,’” says Diane. “Here, you can just say ‘hi’ to people in the hallway.”
- Distributed, not remote. But those hallway run-ins are few and far between, because Elastic is designed to be a distributed company. “We’re distributed by design. Everything is optimized for that. And notice I didn’t say ‘remote,’ because that implies a center where people who are working outside are remote. At Elastic, we’re all over.”
- Flexibility first. “When you have small kids, flexibility is unbelievably important,” says Diane. “If I say I’m stepping out for two hours because it’s my kid’s Christmas pageant, no one’s like, ‘Oh, really?’ I’ve worked at companies where if you left 10 minutes early, everyone gossips.”
- Leading by example. Diane’s never once worried about putting her workouts, her after-school pickups, or her other personal appointments on her work calendar, because she’s seen Elastic’s C-suite do the same. “We’ll have 2,000-person calls and Shay [Elastic’s CEO] will have his kids in the background, asking him something,” says Diane, smiling. “Or you take a call with senior leaders and they're going outside for a walk as they talk. That sort of gives others permission to do the same thing, too.”
Building Towards the Future
Diane has always known that there’s more than one way to solve any problem. That’s as true for how she approaches product marketing, as it is for how she approaches parenting.
Just this year, for instance, she and her husband pulled their kids out of school for a week to hike in the Canadian Rockies. “We told them they had to learn something new every day, and they learned tons, like about climate change and its first-hand effects,” she says. “Seeing new things gives us perspective. There’s lots of different ways to look at things.”
Diane hopes that people who are looking to build careers in product marketing share that approach. “Be open to different things. Product marketing is a windy road, and you have to create the opportunity. I’m always looking for people who have a hunger for learning, because no one will have everything. The ability to learn and adapt and be open to new things helps you with everything else.”
When solutions consultant Hazelle Sevilla asks her nearly three-year-old daughter whether she's excited to move to New Zealand, she never knows what response she'll get.
"Sometimes she says yes, sometimes she says no, but she's quite excited—she sees the boxes and will put your stuff in them," says Hazelle, who spent about five years post-grad in New Zealand, then moved back to her native Philippines, and is now based in Australia. She's getting ready to move back to New Zealand, where her sister still lives and where her company—web application performance service New Relic—is opening a new office.
The timing of New Relic's growth into New Zealand couldn't have been more serendipitous for Hazelle. "The pandemic highlighted how spread out our family was, and we decided that we should all pick one place and stay there. We all decided on New Zealand."
Hazelle was worried, though, that she might have to leave her role as a solutions engineer at New Relic in order to make the move. Then she heard that New Relic was looking to hire a solutions consultant in New Zealand and decided to tell her manager she was interested in relocating there, and that she could help out until they hired the solutions consultant they needed.
Instead, her manager responded by encouraging her to try for that role—and she got it. "It's a big challenge, but I'm so excited because it's a huge opportunity to grow my own skills as a solution consultant, while also helping New Relic to grow in a new market," says Hazelle.
We sat down with Hazelle to hear more about her role, how she's balanced her career with motherhood and her family, why she enjoys her work at New Relic, and what advice she has for other women thinking about pre-sales.
Pre-sales engineering: an empathetic introvert's paradise
Hazelle knew from a young age that she was interested in technical challenges, so computer science just made sense.
"I like solving problems, I like coding. I'm not going to lie, I'm a very introverted person; I can work all day at my computer without complaining," she says, smiling. And though she did exactly that as a software developer, she realized after a few years that she wanted something a little more dynamic.
She's always been a logical yet empathetic problem solver, whether dealing with arranging care for her father when he fell ill or tackling issues at work. She ended up finding a role that relied on all of her skills.
Hazelle found her way into pre-sales when an employer was looking for someone proficient with integration technology. She was hired as a solutions engineer and quickly realized that the job was a great mix of hands-on-keys technical work with client-facing thrills.
"I get to play with a lot of technology and I get to solve different types of problems. No problem is ever the same," she says. "I love the opportunity to influence how clients solve problems, and to be exposed to how technical problems are tied to their business or revenue."
The variety, problem-solving, and knowledge sharing elements of her role have kept her busy at New Relic for over a year—and now they're about to grow in scope with her recent promotion to solutions consultant and her move to New Relic's new office in New Zealand.
Finding the flexibility to pursue her goals at New Relic
As a solutions consultant, Hazelle will move away from focusing on just the technical aspects of a sale and will have more of a responsibility for the relationship with clients and prospects. "You want to be able to not only build long-term relationships with clients, but to be able to build champions," she says. "It's about working with your sales counterpart to navigate the organization, uncover opportunities, and become the trusted advisor to your clients."
That's an especially important set of responsibilities considering that New Relic will be entering the New Zealand market for the first time. "We're the ones who are going to be responsible for building the New Zealand business," says Hazelle. "There's more opportunity for me to prove my value."
Hazelle is especially appreciative of this opportunity after her priorities changed post the birth of her daughter.
When she first got pregnant, she'd switched from a role as a solutions engineer to a role in support. "It was a little easier to manage around, and it gave me the opportunity to have more time with my baby," says Hazelle, who enjoyed not having to travel or set her schedule around client meetings. But a big part of her missed the dynamism of the pre-sales environment, and she felt like she had more drive than ever to succeed in it.
"I felt like I wanted to become more successful for [my daughter], so I can be a good example for her," she says.
That's when she applied for an opening at New Relic for a solutions engineer role and transitioned back into the environment she'd missed. She was upfront with her recruiter about her commitment to her family and her desire to work from home some days, and wasn't sure that would work for them.
"I love solutions engineering; there's no question about that. I wanted to find a company that would not only challenge me technically, but also help me balance life as a mom. My daughter was my priority and New Relic never made me feel like I should change that." she says.
Hazelle found that to be true when she joined and was pleasantly surprised by the number of women in leadership roles, including working mothers. "Being in computer science, women are usually outnumbered, but you don't feel that in our Australian office," says Hazelle of the New Relic team.
That care for people has extended into Hazelle's promotion and move. When she mentioned she wanted to move to New Zealand, Hazelle wasn't expecting anything more than a "congratulations." But now that she's been promoted to that new office's solutions consultant and is being allowed to work from her future city of Wellington instead of being based in Auckland with the rest of the team, Hazelle finds herself truly impressed.
"They're my employer—they didn't have to be supportive at the level that they were with me," she says. "Them supporting me is what made me brave enough to do the actual move."
4 skills every solutions engineer should have, per Hazelle
- Problem-solving prowess. "You can't just showcase a product or features and hope that that's going to stick to your customer. You need to understand their problems and find a way to solve them."
- Flexibility. Hazelle once stayed with a client throughout the night until early the next morning to make sure that their launch went well. "It wasn't in my job description to stay with them during the big event, but they shouldn't have to ask you—you should be flexible enough to adjust to your client's needs," she says.
- Honesty. "Sometimes it's really hard, especially when you're selling," says Hazelle. "It's hard to say no; you always tend to just kind of say, 'Yes, yes, we can do that.' Be straight and mature with your clients. You gain their trust [that way]. Clients know that nothing's perfect, no product, no technology is perfect. It's about how you help your customer solve their problems"
- No fear of looking stupid. "Don't be scared to ask questions!" says Hazelle. "And if you're in a customer engagement and they mention something you have no idea about, tell them that even though you don't know the answer, you'll find out for them, you'll learn, you'll try."
Women Founders & CEOs Share Their Tips
If you're anxious about looking for a new job right now, you're not alone. We've talked before about how you can land a job in the midst of COVID-19, but today we wanted to share advice from some of the experts who spoke at our inaugural Diversity Reboot Summit.
Adda Birnir (CEO of Skillcrush), Reshma Saujani (Founder of Girls Who Code), Kristy Wallace (CEO of Ellevate Network), Natasha Green (Sr. Local Communities Manager at AnitaB.org Initiative) and Dee Poku-Spalding (Founder and CEO of WIE) covered up-skilling, bravery, and networking in a remote world.
If you're struggling with perfectionism:
Reshma Saujani is the Founder and CEO of Girls Who Code, the international nonprofit organization working to close the gender gap in technology and change the image of what a computer programmer looks like and does. Since her viral TED Talk, "Teach Girls Bravery, Not Perfection" resonated worldwide, Reshma has been on a mission to inspire women to leave socially-ingrained perfectionism behind and rewire themselves for braver, bolder lives. Reshma talked with Zeryn Sarpangal, Chief Financial and People Officer, Code For America, about how women can work to be brave, not perfect, as they look for new opportunities.
If you're looking to pivot into tech (and land a remote job):
Adda Birnir, CEO of Skillcrush, shares her tips for getting the skills you need to land a remote job, even if you don't have a tech background. Skillcrush is an online tech-education company that helps their women make a career change into tech.
If you need an inside connection:
How will we connect with others professionally as social distancing continues? During this session, Kristy Wallace, CEO of Ellevate Network; Natasha Green, Sr. Local Communities Manager at AnitaB.org Initiative; and Dee Poku-Spalding, Founder and CEO of WIE (Women: Inspiration and Enterprise) share their expert networking advice with Organized SHIFT CEO Landi Spearman.
Good luck in your search and let us know how else we can support you in the comments below.