Jun 20, 2023
4 min to read
With an expertise in global expansion and a commitment to diversity, discover how Akeneo's Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer Kristin Naragon plans to lead the MACH Alliance towards becoming a true champion of agility, innovation, and diversity across the world.
In today’s rapidly evolving tech landscape, it’s crucial to have leaders who not only excel in their respective fields, but also champion diversity and equal opportunities. And while we may be a bit biased, we believe that our Chief Marketing & Strategy Officer, Kristin Naragon, is one such individual who has been making significant strides in promoting diversity and technological innovation.
We sat down with Kristin this past week to learn more about her commitment to diversity within both the tech sector and the MACH Alliance, as well as her background in championing best-of-breed technologies and expanding to new geographies.
Q: You’ve been nominated for both the Women in MACH award and the title of Innovator of the Year at the Women in Tech Excellence Awards. Can you tell us more about your commitment to diversity and equal opportunities in the tech sector?
Kristin: I have two kids — Percy and Britta. Percy, my 10-year-old son, has become quite the feminist in the most adorable way. From time to time, I’ll catch myself saying in front of him some self-defeatist comment like, “Well, they just don’t give those sorts of opportunities to people like me.” And he will be the first to stomp all over that and tell me to go for it anyway. Britta, my 8-year-old daughter, reads a story nightly from the book, “Goodnight Stories for Rebel Girls” and she excitedly talks about how she would like to be like them.
It’s a long way of saying that my commitment to diversity and equal opportunities is rooted in the fact that there is still so much change that needs to happen in order for not just me and my peers to have an equal playing field, but also for my children. I want to be intentional about changing the professional world so that they don’t have to fight or dream for things to be better. They just are.
Q: You have been actively involved in promoting diversity and equal opportunities by speaking at the Women in MACH event last year. How do you envision leveraging your experience and expertise to further enhance diversity within the MACH Alliance and the tech sector as a whole?
Kristin: I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been told by another woman that they didn’t think it was actually possible to rise to the C-suite in a tech firm until they saw me do it. Representation matters. I will ensure that women and men alike can have open, candid, and transparent conversations with me on the topic of diversity. In this type of leadership role, I would have more access to more people who have more influence to change the world, one action at a time.
“I can’t count the number of times that I’ve been told by another woman that they didn’t think it was actually possible to rise to the C-suite in a tech firm until they saw me do it. Representation matters.”
Q: Your specialty lies in helping European tech firms break into the U.S. market, as demonstrated by your successful contributions at Akeneo, Adobe, and Neolane. How do you plan to leverage this expertise to drive growth and success within the MACH Community and establish it as a champion of agility and innovation in the U.S. tech sector?
Kristin: Just as there are differences in the way women and men interact in business, so too are there differences in how people from different cultures receive messages. Messaging and positioning that works in France or Germany or the UK might not work one-for-one in the US. It’s all about finding that product-market fit. The same is true for the MACH message. I would work hard to iterate and innovate on finding that perfect messaging fit for MACH in the US, to help accelerate the growth of the movement so that companies around the world can more quickly benefit.
Q: In your opinion, what are the key benefits of open, innovative, and best-of-breed solutions for businesses undergoing digital transformation?
Kristin: Some problems are best solved with “good enough” solutions that do a little bit of everything. But when a business is staring down a path of chaos in delivering exceptional customer and product experiences, while providing the tools to make their employees successful (and happy) in delivering those experiences, that’s when considering best-in-breed comes into play. And it doesn’t have to be an all-or-nothing approach. What’s beautiful about composable is that you can start small, integrate into your ecosystem, and bite off different areas. Or, you can do a complete full-sweep transformation. It’s up to you and your organizational capacity.
Q: The MACH Alliance community consists of a diverse range of companies and individuals. How do you plan to ensure that their voices are heard, and their needs and concerns are addressed effectively within the alliance? How will you facilitate open dialogue and collaboration among the members to create a cohesive and supportive community?
Kristin: Diversity is the spice of life! And without spice, life is boring. What’s useless to me is an echo chamber or order-takers or “yes” people. I like to challenge and listen. To provoke and be provoked. To encourage people to build on each other’s ideas and craft a unique idea as a group. Isn’t that the ultimate goal? To have a group of people bring their unique ideas to the table and find a way to grab the best of each to generate something that no single person could have produced on their own! That’s the type of work that I love bringing to the table.
“When a business is staring down a path of chaos in delivering exceptional customer and product experiences, while providing the tools to make their employees successful (and happy) in delivering those experiences, that’s when considering best-in-breed comes into play. What’s beautiful about composable is that you can start small, integrate into your ecosystem, and bite off different areas.”
Q: And now, a few fun questions – what’s been your favorite purchase in the past year/what’s the best gift you’ve ever received?
Kristin: I’m in the business of helping people and companies to create and deliver product experiences that unlock growth. Crafting those product stories that engage people at all points in the customer journey. I am also both a consumer and a business buyer. I live and breathe product experiences every single day. I see a lot of good and bad product experiences.
The best gifts that I’ve ever received are always and will always be something handcrafted by my kids. Outside of that, my favorite purchases are not ‘things’ but are experiences. Which are very often a collection of things … airline tickets, hotel rooms, skis, bikes, snorkeling gear. I sometimes think that businesses forget the true value of what they are offering. Because when I buy that new bike for my child, it’s not just a bike, but it’s a way for us to ride together as a family; enjoy the outdoors; stay fit together. I naturally gravitate to those brands who can articulate their story in a meaningful way.
Q: What trend in marketing/eCommerce is most exciting to you?
Kristin: You want me to say AI, don’t you? Well, it’s not. For me, the trend in marketing that feels most exciting is watching those brands that exhibit authenticity surviving and thriving in this constantly changing world. Patagonia will always (hopefully!) be my go-to example for that. When I buy that second or third or fourth puffer jacket from them, I feel good about it. When I send it back to get a zipper replaced, I feel even more connected to the brand. I’m excited that there are more and more successful brands basing their entire strategy around core values that are important to progressing society or protecting the environment.
By leveraging her experience and fostering open dialogue within the community, Kristin has the potential to lead the MACH Alliance towards becoming a true champion of agility, innovation, and diversity within the U.S. tech sector.
If you’d like to show your support for Kristin’s nomination to the MACH Alliance board, please share this article on LinkedIn with the hashtag #Krsitin4MACH.
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