Introducing Sun Lee, Sisu’s new Chief Marketing Officer

By Peter Bailis - February 2, 2021

I’m excited to introduce Sisu’s new Chief Marketing Officer, Sun Lee. Sun is an expert in building modern brands, with over 15 years of experience leading full-stack marketing initiatives for companies in data creation, data storage, and B2B business.

Sun joins us most recently from Pure Storage, where she was Vice President of Brand Experience and oversaw brand, digital marketing, and global campaigns. Prior to Pure Storage, she ran brand experience and digital marketing at SurveyMonkey, where she led their rebrand and successful 2018 IPO. With her breadth of brand, digital, and messaging expertise, Sun will be critical to accelerating our positions as a leader in the analytics market.

To introduce Sun in her own words, I sat down to get her perspective on all things brand, design, and data.

To start, what attracted you to Sisu?

In marketing, I’m often pitched so many new products and technologies that it becomes easy to cut through the noise and see what’s just a solid pitch and what’s real. It’s rare for me to see something and think, “Wow, that is really impressive.” But when I saw Sisu for the first time, I had that reaction.

I instantly realized what Sisu’s technology enables people to do and the problem it’s solving for organizations, especially the continuing challenge of using data at scale. I knew it would help a lot of people. I was hooked, and I knew that the challenge of telling that story and building this category was something I needed to be a part of building.

Then in my first conversation with you, I was impressed with your curiosity and wanted to be a part of the audacious vision for the company and to work to help it become a reality.

A brand is often the first thing people touch of a product. What do you think are the essential pieces for brand and experience building?

To me, brand building boils down to three things: making it memorable, mentionable, and monetizable.

These days, you’re fighting against a really short attention span. To succeed, you have to cut through the noise by creating truly memorable moments for both a users’ first touch and for returning users.

Once you’ve made something memorable, you need to make it mentionable. A brand needs to be so unique that people want to talk about it, advocate for it, and put their personal brand behind it to drive new users to the product.

Finally, none of this matters if it’s not monetizable. You have to balance creativity while also driving value. It’s not necessarily about making the company money off of each user who finds the product memorable and monetizable. Rather, it’s about making a potential user feel the warmth and that they want to pay for the experience.

Creating these three pieces is not easy; it’s a lot of trial and error in a short time frame, but it’s a challenge that excites me and one I love tackling.

You’re joining us from Pure Storage and Survey Monkey. What were some of the most challenging projects you led there?

At SurveyMonkey, I faced some of the most challenging and rewarding projects in my career. It started with an interesting challenge: how do you reposition a well-known brand in a way both users and employees will love?

At the time, SurveyMonkey was almost 19 years old – almost a dinosaur “startup” at the time. We had democratized how people asked questions and how they surveyed the people and customers that mattered most to them. I had to revamp an iconic brand, one that had already reached verb status with people saying they “surveymonkey-ed” it to refer to asking for feedback.

To do it well, I went back to the product and democratized the process. I surveyed everyone – employees, customers, prospects. I needed to elevate and modernize this old tech brand, and using the data and insights from those surveys, I was able to do so successfully, and in a manner other tech brands emulated down the line. When I saw this process pay off a few years later when SurveyMonkey went public, it was a highlight of my career, and one I hope to experience again.

There’s a central thread in your last three companies: data. You’ve gone from collecting it to storing it to now analyzing and acting on it. What do you think are some of the most interesting opportunities in data and analytics today?

Everyone says data is the new oil, but few people realize that data is literally like oil. Everyone knows they need it, they know where it’s stored, but it feels like it’s still underground, accessible only to a few well-trained technicians. Someone needs to create a gas station and finally make it accessible and consumable to everyone.

Companies are spending a ton of money on collecting and storing data, but not enough organizations are focused on making it truly accessible and consumable to everyone.

That challenge of making data consumable to a broader audience, whether it’s through piping, distribution or cleaning, or the full ecosystem, is interesting to me and where I see the opportunity for Sisu. I think we will be the engine that accelerates that journey. The idea of democratizing data is an overloaded word; not everyone is a data analyst, not everyone is born left-brained, and with Sisu, you don’t have to be either of those things to understand and act on the facts in your data.

Getting into the practical of your day-to-day at Sisu, what are you most looking forward to tackling?

First and foremost, I want to think about how we celebrate the genuinely awesome technology we’re building. We’re creating the next generation of business intelligence tools, the first Augmented Intelligence engine, for a general audience. The core technology is truly differentiated and can do things no other product can.

Now, the challenge is: how do we tell that story well? How do we celebrate it, position it, and get more people to know about us so they can benefit? I honestly believe that if you have a massive amount of cloud data and aren’t using Sisu right now, then you’re not getting the value out of that data.

As you think about growing this team, what do you think is critical for a successful marketing team?

I want to build a team with people who have bold perspectives and bring fun to work, especially now as we’re spending more time working from home and the barrier between work and home isn’t well defined.

I’m looking for people who enjoy tackling big problems. It’s cliche but true – if you love what you do, you’ll do better, and it’s my job to focus on creating that environment and bring in people who are willing to take the risk.

The other critical piece for success is building a team that trusts each other to deliver on their responsibilities and hold each other accountable, while also being thoughtful and flexible. The pandemic was a hard lesson in pivoting and engaging in the business world, and not every company or marketing was able to adapt. However, it’s clear the Sisu marketing team was able to survive and thrive, and that we have a team that can scale.

I’ve noticed a trend with everyone who joins Sisu, they tend to have a topic or thing they unabashedly nerd out about — what’s yours?

For me, it’s cookware. In particular, I love Le Creuset because of their value prop and brand promise. The experience you get out of using it is exactly what they promise – and honestly, it just makes you feel like a great cook. No matter what I create it in, it goes from being a chore to a reward. Recently, my two favorite things to cook in them are roast beef and pasta sauce – for some reason, they taste better in a Le Creuset.

Last question, What’s one brand or product you wish you could have had a hand in creating?

It goes back to my idea of what good brand building is, but I would love to be a part of building the products I don’t mind paying full price for and advocating for. I’m drawn not to the brands or products I need, but the brands I want.

For example, I wish I could have had a hand in creating the Dyson brand. They do a fantastic job of appealing to their product’s technological superiority, but what’s inspiring is how they tell the story. They celebrate the customer, tell an authentic story, and then deliver on the promise.

For more of a technology brand, I’d say Slack. They did a great job of coming into a crowded space, not creating a new category, and appealing to their users with a fun twist. In the beginning, their homepage was engaging, with a quirky astronaut falling, and seeing them come to market with their unconventional approach was exciting to watch. Many companies start strong and fail when they become more B2B, but Slack built on their earlier brand momentum to stay successful as they scaled.

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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