Defining Your Marketing Ops Career Path

A career path in MOPs can mean many different things, and, like with most things, it looks different for everyone. We put together valuable insights from leaders in the space on important topics like determining whether consulting or in-house is the best fit, balancing a generalist vs. specialist approach, and how to transition into marketing ops from another role. Let’s dive in! 

Consulting vs. In-house 

Here’s what the experts are saying. 

There’s no right answer. Courtney McAra, Marketing Ops at Mustang Martech, recommends experiencing in-house and consulting to help get the complete picture before deciding. Working in-house allows you to be a subject matter expert within the company, while consulting gives you perspectives on various types of businesses, teams, and challenges. 

Sometimes, your journey takes you down an unexpected path. Andy Caron, VP of Consulting at Revenue Pulse, shared her journey into consulting and what external factors helped lead her there. It’s a good reminder that while you may have a specific vision for your career trajectory, being adaptable is a skill that will serve you well.  

Consulting has its own unique set of challenges. Jenna Molby, Head of Revenue Operations at Dooly, discussed some of the challenges of working in consulting for yourself. First, there is no one to bounce ideas off. Her suggestion is to join communities of like-minded professionals to share ideas, challenges, and successes. Another challenge when working in-house is that you have to be an expert at checking your work as there isn’t always someone to give the work a second pass. While consulting may still be the right path for you, it’s important to plan and anticipate some of the challenges you may face. 

Have you worked entirely in-house or consulting? Or a mix of both? Either way, it is a good opportunity to take stock of the options and consider the pros and cons of each! 

Deciding to be a generalist vs. specialist

Another common discussion within marketing ops is whether you want to be a generalist or specialist. As with most things in marketing, it depends.

A generalist vs. specialist path can be influenced heavily by the type of company you work for. You are inherently more of a generalist at startups, whereas enterprise companies' roles are typically more specialized. It depends on what you are looking for in your career. While both have their benefits, earlier in your career, it might be wise to take a generalist path so you can  identify your strengths and preferences and gradually specialize as your career goes on – if that’s what you choose. 

David Kreitter, Head of Marketing Operations at Workato, shared his thoughts on generalist vs. specialist paths and how the company type and size play a big part.

Another consideration when pursuing a generalist or specialist path is career progression. While generalist roles can give you a breadth of experience, specialist roles may enable you to get promoted faster. 

“If you specialize early, it can be easier to move up.”

Vish Gupta, Marketing Operations Manager at Databricks, shared her thoughts. 

Everyone is different, so consider the pros and cons and what is best for you!

Moving from another role to MOPs

The path to marketing ops isn’t always linear. There are different ways people find marketing ops and get their start in the space. 

Here are a couple of paths we’ve seen from talking to people in the space.

Demand Gen → MOPs 

Demand gen and marketing ops require similar skills. 

Jan Aclan, Marketing Operations, and Strategy at PandaDoc, discussed how both roles require being a cross-functional partner. Making the switch was a natural fit for him because he was already the go-between for sales and marketing and understood the needs of multiple teams and stakeholders. 

Sales MOPs 

Brad Couture, Senior Marketing Ops Manager at CS2, made the switch from sales to marketing ops. 

Brad started at HubSpot in a BDR function on the corporate team. From his experience in that role, he realized he was interested in the tech and inner workings, moving to the implementation team. Eventually, these roles and a passion for tech led him to marketing ops. 

Brad’s story is a good reminder that you might not know what you want to do right away. It can be a series of trial and error, and one path may lead you down another. 

People management 

Another critical element of a career path is determining if you want to be a people manager and how to best support your team if you choose that path. 

Chelsea Kiko uses her leadership position to help elevate her team. She works with them to determine their path, whether they want to pursue people management or stay an individual contributor/subject matter expert, and how to get there.

In addition to recurring 1:1s, at least once a quarter, she holds career check-ins to understand what she can do to make her team happier and help them get to where they want to go. Chelsea also regularly asks what she can do better as a manager to help them grow.

Everyone’s career path will be unique. Ask yourself what you want out of a role and a career, and good luck on the journey!  

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