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North Star Leaders Podcast

Carole Offredo

Season 2 Episode 9 18 Jun 2024

Transcript

Carole Offredo:

I think it's about seeing people and also seeing your organization having a long-term life. It's not only when you rely, of course you rely on people, but at some point there is a moment where, especially in companies like ours which is growing, you have to make your people, and also the people around you, understand that what you are doing is something that needs to be sustainable.

Lindsay Pedersen:

The world needs what only your business can bring, and as a leader, it's your job to deliver. But where do you focus? Where do you direct your time, your team, your budget, and your emotional energy? We are learning this together on the North Star Leaders podcast. I'll be talking to purpose-driven leaders about the choices they make to create audacious economic value while also realizing their distinctive purpose. I'm Lindsay Pedersen, brand strategist, author of Forging an Ironclad Brand, and host of the North Star Leaders podcast. Let's get to it.

Today I am really happy to be joined by Carole Offredo. Carole is CMO at Dataiku, the end-to-end platform for everyday AI. Carole, welcome to the show.

Carole Offredo:

Hi, nice to meet you. It's a pleasure too, I'd like to be around, so thank you for welcoming me.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, it's such a pleasure to see you and it's such a pleasure to have you on the show. Carole, to start us off, I want to ask you the question, what is your favorite thing about what you do?

Carole Offredo:

My favorite thing about what I'm doing, it's been eight years since I'm having the best time of my life, I would say, and it's a mix of professional and personal, but I would say first I believe in what I'm doing, and I think it's rare, but when it's happening, when you believe that the product and the vision that you're fighting for has a meaning for you, it's great. I would say secondly, I am energized every day by the people I'm working with. I think I've chosen to work in tech for a long time, since I'm 20, 22, and it's been every day is just another day of discovery, another day of challenge, another day of new things to invent, new things to market, and I have the honor to work with people that I respect and that I have real pleasure to work with.

Lindsay Pedersen:

That is the best.

Carole Offredo:

And I would say the last one, it's also around my team. I'm having fun. I've choose the people that are part of my team, I trust them, and I think I'm that kind of person who got energy from seeing people that you've chosen or people that you guessed who are the right ones to work together and to create [inaudible 00:03:02] moments for customers and for prospects. And this is an energy back, for sure, on top of all the rest.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Wow, it's so rewarding to see that come together and to know that you helped craft that with your hands.

Carole Offredo:

Yes, I'm a team type of person, I've always been, and I like to see things happening. I like that moment where something special comes to life, where I or my team is managing to create a memorable moment, something that people are going to bring back home, and they're going to say, "Oh, I've seen that. That was interesting," or, "I've seen this person on stage and it was amazing." And I like to create the conditions for that, or at least work with my team to make it happen.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah. Well, tell my listeners more about Dataiku? What is Dataiku and what is it like to be the CMO at Dataiku?

Carole Offredo:

Dataiku is providing what we call a universal AI platform. So in fact, we help organization to build, to deploy, to manage data analytics and AI products. And I think we believe that there is a possible AI nearly everywhere on every business processes. And so working for a company like this is a mix of perpetual questioning. Who am I talking to? What is the situation of that person? Do I know what is their aspiration? How will my technology and how will my product help them to change the way they operate and also to transform themselves, or transform their team?

And I think that's why I liked also to work in innovation type of market, which doesn't exist, it's not a replacement market. It's like it's a full first equipment type of wave where you are building with the people who are choosing your technology. And that kind of momentum, where in fact you are doing, because you are doing stuff, because you are convinced that this is the right way of doing it, but you confront it with people who are going to use it, deploy it, and potentially are going to take you a step further into your vision, is my day-to-day life with all my people.

Lindsay Pedersen:

What would you say is the North Star for Dataiku? What's the ultimate reason for being or thing that you're driving toward?

Carole Offredo:

I think we believe as a company that AI is not a matter of just a few number of people. It's a matter of for everyone. And I think we believe that since the beginning, which when you think that we started in 2013 and I joined the company in 2016, was pretty early stage because data science was for data scientists and people were looking at as a black box. I think the market has moved, expectations have increased, and I think we have believed since the beginning that everyone should be able to manipulate, to understand data, to create AI, in order to support their day-to-day jobs. Because there are some stuff that you don't want to do, you can automate them, and I think that's the North Star. Thinking about every type of employee or worker being enabled, or being super powered by AI, and giving these people capabilities to do something else, to do something more, to do something more interesting, and continue to invent.

Lindsay Pedersen:

And I hear, and there's a democratizing of AI, you use the word everyone and mundane day-to-day things. It's not a lofty ivory tower rarefied air, it's for everyone.

Carole Offredo:

I think that's what I like in the vision. When you sell AI, it's easy to say that it's a black box, it's not for me, it's going to have bad impact, and in that case you refuse to change. I think I'm not naive, but I believe that there is a power in understanding how it works, and there is a power in enabling people to make it theirs so that they, with their domain expertise, are able to use it on their day-to-day basis. And for me, it's more stronger than fighting against it.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah, it's like letting it be your friend instead of your boss, or your something that is intimidating, or amorphous. It's just there as a tool for you.

Carole Offredo:

Yeah, it's a tool. It's a career path. It's a way to change, adjust. It's a way to create and to innovate. And again, no one should be naive about it, there is a power there, but I think we are stronger even as people and as a community and as citizen if we understand what is behind. Because in fact, it means that you can control it. It means that you can put pressure on companies on how they use it. It means that you can create laws and regulation to really understand what is behind. But if you catch that connection between the tool and the technology and the people who are living with it, I think you create tension, you create fear, and I think that's the vision that I like in that I...

Lindsay Pedersen:

And you started this very conversation with your favorite things about what you do is the alignment between what you care about and what the company cares about, what the product is that Dataiku is commercializing, it matters to you and it lights you up. That comes through in what you're saying.

Carole Offredo:

Yes, it matters to me, it matters to my kids, it matters to my parents. It matters to everything that is coming.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Wow. It matters to your kids and to your parents. Say more about that. What's that intersection between AI and your kids and your parents?

Carole Offredo:

I think AI is going to be anywhere, whatever happens. I think it's going to be part of the life of my kids, either on their day-to-day job, or either because they're going to live through it, they're going to discover things for it. And so equipping them and making sure that I contribute of making it accessible, understandable, I think is something that I believe in.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah, I love you used the word equipping them, there's this sense of empowerment, so I can empower everyone. I can empower my kids, my parents, people who I otherwise wouldn't quickly associate with AI. They too can be empowered by the ability to harness AI.

Carole Offredo:

Exactly. But it applies to any type of, it applies to pharmaceuticals in trying to invent new medication, it applies to transportation, it applies to car, it applies to logistics. So there are many places where AI can add that tiny additional value, to make it more efficient, more sufficient, more environment friendly. And again, as I said, I'm not naive about it, but I think there is a benefit in living with it and trying to make it transparent and accessible to everyone, or to people who are interested to get there. And I think people are interested to get there, to be honest.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I love how you said, "I'm not naive about it. It's not as though we're being starry-eyed and idealistic here. We should be clear-eyed as we look at it." You're grounding the aspirationalness of this in something also like, and we're going to hold this with some seriousness as well. For me and for listeners who want to bring this down a little bit lower, what is Dataiku? What's the product, or what's the thing that is the vehicle to this democratizing of AI?

Carole Offredo:

It's a platform where you connect your data. You prepare it, you clean it, you apply a certain type of machine learning models. You create insights, you publish them, you put generative AI on top of it for interrogating it. That's the kind of platform where in fact there is, in a central place, in a unique place, capabilities for people to work the data. And I think we believe, and we haven't spoken about it, but I think we are very attached to the notion of collaboration between what we call data experts and domain expert.

And it's the same, I think, if you manage to make people work together on something. It doesn't mean they're going to work all the time together, it means that at least you create the transparency of how things are done. In fact, it's making everyone stronger, and so that's the way the software works. And we can have companies who have hundreds of people who are connected to the same platform doing hundreds, thousands of different kinds of use cases on a day-to-day basis, but sharing a way of doing it, sharing, and we call it the power of reuse, the power of repurposing, trying also not to reinvent the wheel each time, making the people as themselves but the teams, but also the company, more efficient in the way they try to create a new data product.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Who do you consider to be, or what type of company do you consider to be the primary sweet spot audience for Dataiku?

Carole Offredo:

Historically, we have a platform which is a good fit for very large companies, for 2000 type. This is where we have our biggest customers like Schlumberger, Unilever, Regeneron, BMO, LVMH. And so for a simple reason, is because these people have a mix of what we call center of excellence, which people who are very good at manipulating data, and they have what is their core, which is their expertise, their domain expertise. And so in some companies it's marketing, in some companies it's supply chain, in some companies it's R&D. And for these type of companies who are trying to combine the capabilities, the skill sets of all these different people together, we are a very good fit. And I think we provide on top of it to IT and to people from the CIO type of organization, we provide them with governance capabilities, security capabilities, cost control capabilities, so enabling all these people to work together in an environment which is relatively controlled at some point, which I think is part of the game.

You can't invent at any cost, you need to put your innovation at the right places and with the right guardrails to make things work. So at least to focus where it's going to make the difference. I think we believe that, and not only me, but I think at Dataiku, we believe there is value in enabling these companies to invent their differentiated AI. Where am I the best? Where do I have the best experts in the world? And how do I sustain that skill set as part of my CapEx? It starts to be capital for the company.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah, it starts to be capital for the company, and it grows and reinforces itself as expertise tends to do. When you think about the vision of the company and the North Star as you described it, AI is for everyone, we're democratizing, we're empowering, we're equipping, how does that North Star serve you as a leader, as the CMO? When does that become something that filters decisions that you make or planning or actions that you take or decide not to take? What's the down-to-earth utility of it?

Carole Offredo:

There is a part of our day-to-day which is to be close to our customers. They are inventing it. And so I think keeping that connection, especially on the market which is in the making, is very critical. And in fact, it drives a lot of behavior, which is like understand how people are using, understand how people are implementing, understand what are the use cases that builds, and capitalize on top of it. That's part of it.

I think there is something on top of it which is also interesting, but from a pure marketing perspective, but I think as a company we try to say the truth, so we try to tell the stories that are really happening, and not trying to oversell or to sell more than what we are usually doing, which can be, in a very innovative market, sometimes a weakness, because we don't sell too much. But at least on a day-to-day basis, it means that my stories are the stories of my customers, and so everything that I'm doing is to try to give them a voice when they are ready, when they want to do it, and it's driving most of the marketing activities that we are doing on a day-to-day basis. So it's like it goes back to some very basic decision.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I hear in what you're saying that there's, and this is maybe where values intersect with the vision, that there's a deeply held value around truthfulness and not embellishing, so something very... I think everybody wants to think of their company as honest and truthful, but what I hear you saying is that it really sharpens your commitment to granular real stories, and even in the guidance to not oversell or not to over-promise, which is hard in a category creating environment. This is a new market, so it's probably more tempting to promise something too big when you're trying to get people's attention and to adopt a new behavior, a new category altogether. So it's not just the vision that's helping you, it's the commitment to the very mundane truth of it. This is actual customer stories. These are not stylized, they are not exaggerated. They're real.

Carole Offredo:

Yes, they're real. And so we listen to what is happening. We are investing with a customer, with the customer team. So it's not only a story, it's something that I think is part of the common culture. I think this is where I felt when I joined that I was in the right place. It's just like it's not only me who believe that there is a power of being a reliable partner for people who are trying to find a path to something that they are building with you, it's a shared value across the board at Dataiku.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah, I hear that. How has your view of purpose or vision or North Star, how has that evolved over the course of your career? So we've been talking about Dataiku. Has it always been like that in your career or have you worked in environments where purpose was not part of your charge as a leader?

Carole Offredo:

I don't know if it's a decision that I made on purpose or if it's life that is taking you at the right place, but I think I've been lucky enough to work in companies in which each time I was a strong believer that something was behind, and something bigger than just a feature, or something bigger than just a replacement of something that was already existing. I think it's a chance for people like you and me who have been part of the last 20 years of so massive change to have been associated to stories that, in fact, I've built the future, and I'm not telling you that I was every time in a company that reshaped the whole stuff, but at least I think I was convinced that I was doing something new, and that it matters to me as an individual.

Lindsay Pedersen:

I'm curious, why does it make such a difference in your day-to-day life to have purpose and vision, to have North Star as a guiding light? Why is it that that is preferable to an environment where you don't have that? In your case, for everybody it's, I'm sure, different.

Carole Offredo:

It makes me stronger, it makes me a fighter, to make it happen. So it did raise a level of energy, which I think I would not have been the type to been able to raise if it was not the case. I have that energy, it's been eight years, I still believe in it. I'm like, every day, I'm like, I'm ready to go back. And I think it's not only that I'm ready to go back because it's not only a recurring fight, it's also something around I'm learning every day, I'm trying to challenge me, myself, every day and my team, I think they are complaining about it. I'm always coming with something that I've seen, something that I like, and so it's because I believe in it. If I didn't believe in it, I think I would not have the same type of energy, the same type of passion, on some of the decisions that we make as a group.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Yeah. Well, and I hear in what you're saying a real thirst for learning and curiosity, and that being in an environment in a company that is asking you to think bigger, not just about features, not just about the P&L, but about something purpose, that that enables you to indulge your curiosity, indulge your desire for learning, in a way that, if you were merely building features, you might not have that same kind of intellectual growth. Am I saying that right?

Carole Offredo:

Yeah, exactly. There is also something around, I'm not telling you I'm a huge visionary, I have people around me who are visionary, but I know that when it's there, I can give it a life, or I can try to make it something that people are going to see, are going to live, are going to experience, and I think that's where I'm the best at some point. But not as a marketer, but just as even as a person, this is where I'm getting energy, this is where I feel that I can make the difference. I'm not a visionary. I am a doer and a pragmatic, but I need a vision to get there. I need something that is driving me to be good, to make my people good, to make my company look good, to make my experiences making the difference for my audiences.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Well, I love that you're distinguishing this idea of being kind of like the consumer of a vision doesn't have to be the creator of that vision, and most of us are not visionaries per se, so there's so much power in being an operator in bringing to life a vision that you believe in, but you might not have authored. I love the permission of what you just said. It's okay, I'm not the person who came up with the idea of, whatever, fill in the blank, super lofty product. That's okay. In fact, our team needs to be made up of less of different types of approaches, and that you see and gain energy from the bringing to life of that vision as opposed to the writing of the vision, and that too is North Star leadership. And of course, there are companies or businesses that you would elect not to join because you don't believe in their vision. I'm sure that I hear from you that that's important as well, but there is a desire to learn and to sharpen your edge as a leader in whatever it is that you're building.

Carole Offredo:

And there is something around the power of diversity, which is definitely at stake. At some point, I've been working for a long time, I know who I am. It doesn't mean I'm not going to change, but it means I kind of know where I'm staying and what are my strengths, and finding people to play with which are totally different for me and making that glue, being a creator of something, is energizing. Again, I haven't been working for companies where this did not happen, and so I don't know. I think there is something for me which still relies in people. I like to work with people. I like to work with people who are different for me, who trust me. And so maybe on a standard market where there is not innovation, I would've found also that type of person where there is the willingness of doing something together that I think is feeding me too, because there is power in collective creation, there is something very important there.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh my gosh, I love that phrase. There's power in collective creation. And it folds in this idea that you mentioned of diversity, and diversity of learning type, diversity of thinking, diversity of background, diversity of life experience, and that all of that brought to bear elevates what you are collectively creating. Even the most brilliant creator on his or her own wouldn't have access to that richness that makes it a bigger, more vibrant idea, innovation product in the market. What is your leadership growth edge right now as you are building your own leadership presence and ability to be an effective, inspiring leader? What are you most working on?

Carole Offredo:

I'm working on delegation. I'm working on that moment where I'm enjoying seeing people in my team finding their paths, having the same type of momentum that I'm having, and so everything is around connecting my people, continuing to think about marketing. I think marketing is at the crossroads of many things. We have a huge power because if we manage to make concrete something that is living in different kind of places on the product side, on the sell side, I think we have that power of reconnecting a lot of the energy in presence, and that's part of what I'm trying to do in a growing company. So when you do it and you are 50 people, you do it with three people. Now, when you are 1200, you do it at the scale of 12 countries, different type of languages, different kind of personas, and so it starts to be more sophisticated, but there is still that winningness of making it happen together. I think I'm going to learn from that until the end and after. We'll see, but I think that's what I like.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Well, that's so beautiful. What I hear in that too is it's really more than delegating, it's delegating in a really empowering way that shows the connections, that allows people to experience the unlock that is marketing, that it's at the intersection of sales and product and P&L and all of those things, and that in allowing other people to grow in that intersection, it makes you more powerful leader. It's not as though you're just like, oh, delegating, "Go do this for me," or, "Go do that for me." It's actually in an empowering see them grow as individual marketers as well.

Carole Offredo:

I think it's about seeing people and also seeing your organization having a long-term life. It's not only like when you rely, of course you rely on people, but at some point there is a moment where, especially in companies like ours which is growing, you have to make your people and also the people around you understand that what you are doing is something that needs to be sustainable. And it's not the same exercise as only relying on pure energy of individual people, it's about capitalizing, understanding how you make it better, how you make it faster, how you focus on what is making the difference. And I think that's part of growth because you don't grow the same way as when you are 50 people and only seven marketers around the world. Now with 60 people you have to think about where you're growing, which is not only around making people grow as individual, but making people grow as a team and making people grow as an organization, as a machine too.

Lindsay Pedersen:

There's this, it's not just the right thing to do and you help people by growing into that vision, it's also making for a more scalable, sustainable, long-term value creating business. So we don't just do this because it allows us to live our best life, we also do this because we're creating a business that we want to be around for years and decades. I love this, Carole.

Okay. To finish this off, I have some rapid fire questions, just some questions with a one word, two word, three word answer. Are you ready?

Carole Offredo:

In French?

Lindsay Pedersen:

You can do it in French if you'd like. I won't understand what you're saying, but it will sound beautiful and my audience will probably love it too, so you choose. You choose the language.

Carole Offredo:

Okay.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Okay. For a vacation, do you prefer beach or city?

Carole Offredo:

Hybrid, both. I like [inaudible 00:29:38]. Doesn't have to choose on one side or on the other side.

Lindsay Pedersen:

What's an example of a hybrid beach city vacation?

Carole Offredo:

It's like you go somewhere for 10 days and you go somewhere else.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, I see, so I do it too. I was thinking, gosh, is there a city? Rio de Janeiro is a beautiful city on a beach.

Carole Offredo:

Oh, there are some places in France.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, in France. Oh, okay. I love. What time do you usually wake up in the morning?

Carole Offredo:

With the kids, 7:00.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Okay. What is your favorite trait in a person? Your favorite characteristic in a person?

Carole Offredo:

Kindness.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Kindness, yeah. What do you love to do on a Sunday afternoon?

Carole Offredo:

I like to walk. I like to go outside. Hours of walk in the city, as you said, or in the forest, because I'm having conversations with my kids. I love it.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Oh, walking with the kids.

Carole Offredo:

Yes.

Lindsay Pedersen:

And lastly, what is your favorite season of the year?

Carole Offredo:

Spring. These days, energy is blooming. I don't know if you feel it in the US-

Lindsay Pedersen:

I do.

Carole Offredo:

But in France, there is something in the air. You just want to go outside and heat the world every morning. Let's make it happen.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Everybody is so alive and hungry for the day. I love it. Carole, this has been wonderful. Thank you so much for joining me in this conversation. If people want to learn more about you or about Dataiku, where online should we send them?

Carole Offredo:

On our website, www.dataiku.com. For sure. On my LinkedIn profile.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Good. And we'll include that in the show notes for folks as well. Thank you so much.

Carole Offredo:

Thank you. Thank you, Lindsay.

Lindsay Pedersen:

Thanks for listening to this episode of North Star Leaders. Make sure you don't miss an episode by subscribing on your favorite podcast app. For show notes, transcripts, and newsletter sign-up, visit ironcladbrandstrategy.com. Please join us again for another episode of North Star Leaders.

Lindsay speaking

About Lindsay

Lindsay Pedersen is a bestselling author and brand strategist with a scientific, growth-oriented approach to brand building. She has advised companies from burgeoning startups to national corporations, including Zulily, Starbucks, T-Mobile, Coinstar, and IMDb.

Her background as a P&L owner at Clorox fostered in Lindsay a deep appreciation for the executive’s charge: increasing the company’s value. There, she led mature, billion-dollar businesses and newly-launched categories, from Clorox Bleach to Armor All to Brita. In each case, she was solely responsible for increasing the business’s value.

Thanks to this executive perspective, Lindsay demands that brands be hard-working, disciplined and rigorous in growing a business. Her brand strategies are tested in the crucible of her proprietary Ironclad Method. Lindsay arms leaders with an empowering understanding of brand, and an ironclad brand strategy to guide choices as they grow.