Introducing Sisu’s new VP of Product Marketing, Joel McKelvey!

By Sun Lee - August 30, 2021

I am very excited to introduce Sisu’s new Vice President of Product Marketing, Joel McKelvey. Joel is a transformative leader who is passionate about great technology that makes a difference in people’s lives. He will be critical to accelerating Sisu’s growth and strengthening our position as the disruptor transforming the data and analytics industry. With over twenty years of experience building and leading product marketing, most recently at Looker which was acquired by Google, Joel brings creativity and technical credibility to lead early stage technology companies through the hyper-growth and beyond.

I’m looking forward to partnering with and learning from him. Hear from Joel and his excitement about joining Sisu!

What interested you in joining the Sisu team?

The Sisu team really has built something special, and I think that’s why I was first interested in joining. The product is definitely top-notch and has the potential to help the data community address the next big challenge we face — helping organizations we support make better, more comprehensively informed decisions by leveraging cloud-scale and ever-growing datasets. I did extensive research before joining Sisu and I spoke with employees, current customers, industry experts, and prospective customers and they all agreed — Sisu can really help you get more value from data, faster.

But beyond just the product, I also think Sisu has collected together a great team to build and bring these valuable tools to market. Personally, I thrive in an entrepreneurial environment so I was excited to find Sisu an agile, highly productive, customer-obsessed organization with real potential to change our industry for the better. Who wouldn’t jump at the opportunity to work at a company like that?

You mention the changing data market. What do you think is changing in the data space and what makes tools like Sisu so compelling to you?

I think we’re in a period of unprecedented and (to a certain extent) unanticipated growth in data. Most data pundits have predicted rapid data growth, but I still think it took our industry by surprise to see the geometric speed at which datasets and data stacks have grown and evolved.

In the past two years in particular, I’ve seen many data teams struggle to keep up with data volumes, variety, and velocity with corresponding increases in user requests for data and decision support. Data teams I’ve worked with have asked for something new to help — a way to curate mountains of data so they can find insights without wasting hours or days of valuable time. They also need better ways to present relevant data to users so that it’s actionable. Using Sisu, analysts can quickly sift through massively wide datasets in moments and present key factors to users within a few clicks. This is a real game-changer.

I also think that making data-driven decisions has become more complex as datasets have grown and expanded. If you’re in the position to make big decisions for your company, it’s hard to be confident that you’ve sifted through all the relevant data and found all the relevant factors. As datasets grow, this only becomes harder. Sisu is important in this way, too. Sisu doesn’t just provide answers as to why metrics change, but provides comprehensive answers using the whole width of the dataset and does so really quickly. Decision-makers value fast, comprehensive, agile decision-making and this is a great complement.

How do you approach product marketing, and in particular how do you build a product marketing function that can really have an impact?

There’s a well-known quote from Steve Vranakis that does a great job of describing the core of product marketing: “Know the user. Know the magic. Connect the two.”

In this case, magic refers to the Sisu product itself. In general, technology companies are often very good at describing their technology — after all, it’s their job! Prospective customers who reach out to tech companies seldom fail to get a full description of the products that are being offered.

But organizations that use tech companies shouldn’t have to be technical geniuses to benefit from cool products like Sisu. Product marketing’s mission is not to just explain the product, but to help everyone understand the value it can bring, the uses to which it can be put, how it fits in a larger data ecosystem, and compelling reasons why using it now can make a difference in the future.

So my goals at Sisu are to make sure we’re clearly describing not just the product, but also its benefits in a language that is clear, concise, and understandable. If we can do that, we can help customers succeed by leveraging the benefits of Sisu and I’ll consider product marketing successful, too!

Now that you’re at Sisu, what challenges do you look forward to addressing?

As a company, Sisu is growing rapidly as our customers increasingly discover the disruptive effect of exponential growth in data complexity.

My last two roles were with fast-growing companies and I find the challenges of rapid growth and scale exhilarating. But growing well and delivering value to our customers, our employees, and our equity holders will not be easy. Luckily, at Sisu we have great customers, great culture, and the opportunity to help customers through a major market transition. These are ingredients for success and I’m really looking forward to diving in!

Last question—outside of work, what are some things you nerd about?

Well, I’m a biologist by training with a background in entomology (the study of insects). My first start in data and analytics was in university where I did ANOVA analysis of the cranial morphology in elephant seals. I did some interesting correlative analysis as part of my thesis, too, studying the impact of insects on beach strawberry plants in Northern California. So I love the outdoors, living things, and the science of nature.

In related news, I recently received California Naturalist program certification through UC Santa Cruz and I’ve been working on those interpretive signs you might see when you’re out hiking around in parks and down by the beach. You should beware if I invite you on a walk in the woods — I’m likely to talk about natural history the whole time and we probably wouldn’t get very far because I have a tendency to keep stopping and looking at bugs, leaves, and mushrooms!

Interested in helping build the technology and systems that will help every business operationalize its data? We’re hiring across the company.


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