Fayez Mohamood is the CEO and co-founder of retail marketing automation platform Bluecore.

He spoke to Econsultancy about how he came to found the company, the kinds of skills needed to be an effective leader, and his advice for new marketers starting out.

Please describe your job: What do you do?

Fayez Mohamood: As CEO of Bluecore, the core of my role is making sure that we have a long-term strategy in place that both our team and the industry are excited about. In order to lead this strategy for revenue growth, I’m spending most of my time recruiting the best people for our team, guiding our product evolution and meeting with customers to make sure where we’re headed is in line with where their business is growing.

Whereabouts do you sit within the organization? Who do you report to?

Fayez Mohamood: As Bluecore’s Co-Founder and CEO, I’m responsible for managing the executive team that naturally manages the entire company.

What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?

Fayez Mohamood: It’s extremely important as a leader to be able to communicate our vision in a way that’s articulate and succinct, so employees, partners and customers are excited to be a part of it. In addition to being a strong communicator, to be effective in my role, it’s also necessary to be a good listener. Every day I’m speaking with customers and Bluecore team members, listening to what they need to achieve success in their roles.

As a retail marketing technology company, the industry is changing quickly and we’re constantly evolving, so I must be adaptable and open to change.

Since I do a lot of recruiting in my role, I also have to be able to identify skill gaps within myself and my own team. Being able to identify weaknesses and strengths will help to identify new positions that may be needed, and the best people to fill them.

Tell us about a typical working day…

Fayez Mohamood: It varies day to day, but half of my day is usually spent in staff meetings with the executive team or 1:1s with team members. My other time is dedicated to building or watching products and diving into the one or two key initiatives that are top of mind for the company with different teams.

I also spend a lot of time with our retail customers to ensure they’re successful, and our products are aligned with their goals. At Bluecore, we’re also deeply committed to our culture, so I really like to be part of the onboarding process of new employees.

What do you love about your job? What sucks?

Fayez Mohamood: I love that we can declare that we want to build something for a customer, and actually move forward to do it. The conversations we have with customers often reveal specific problems that need to be solved for success — and we have the ability to build technology to solve those problems, as niche as they may be.

It can be extremely frustrating when you put a ton of work into something, and you make mistakes and fail. This can happen in any role, and in the moment it’s hard, but it’s important to reflect after a failure and take what you’ve learned and put it into something useful.

What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?

Fayez Mohamood: We measure success by growth rates, renewal rates and net dollar retention rates, which looks at if customers expand and grow with us over time. We also look at success internally through employee engagement and regrettable employee turnover.

What are your favorite tools to help you to get the job done?

Fayez Mohamood: Google Docs, Sheets and Slides are the best tools to collaborate with others in our organization and outside of it. I also regularly listen to the Knowledge Project podcast — a lot of Bluecore’s thinking and learning framework comes from what I’ve learned by listening to the podcast.

How did you end up founding Bluecore, and where might you go from here?

Fayez Mohamood: I co-founded Bluecore with our CTO Mahmoud Arram and SVP of Product Max Bennett in 2013. After working with retailers in my previous role, I realized how difficult it was to set up a simple triggered email. From there, Mahmoud and I developed a patented JavaScript integration that picks up retail product attributes and shoppers’ behaviors in real-time in order to enable marketers to send relevant, timely triggered emails.

With the connection of this retail data at its core, the product has evolved into a retail marketing platform that empowers retailers to launch personalized marketing campaigns in 60 seconds through a single, intuitive platform across email, social media, search and display. We’re looking to keep pushing the envelope in the retail industry with new products and insights, keeping our customers competitive and ahead of the curve.

What advertising or marketing has impressed you lately?

Fayez Mohamood: I think Casper does a great job with its advertising and marketing. It’s fun, engaging and true to their brand. Their advertisements are everywhere, from the subway to streaming services and they continue to capture my attention.

What advice would you give a marketer starting out?

Fayez Mohamood: Understand your business’ problems first before you move forward to add tools and technology in the mix. Far too often, marketers first look to implement new tools and technology before they even understand what they have to do for their business and what problems they need to solve for.