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| 12 minutes read

CMO Series EP87 - Kimberly Conyers on identifying pivotal moments in a legal marketing career

It’s easy to reflect on the most significant moments in your career in retrospect, but understanding and identifying those milestones when they happen can be fundamental to taking the next step in your career journey.

On today’s CMO Series podcast, Eugene McCormick is lucky to welcome Kimberly Conyers, Senior Marketing and Business Development Manager at Kennedys, to talk to us about the pivotal moments in her unique career.

Kimberly and Eugene explore: 

  • Kimberly’s path into legal marketing and business development and where the journey started
  • The first pivotal moment in Kimberly’s career and when she realised how important that was
  • The approach Kimberly took to building her skillset and understanding the value she had to offer in her next role
  • The key projects or milestones that were pivotal in influencing the course of Kimberly’s career
  • The key factors or characteristics to understanding when is the right time to take the next opportunity
  • Advice to help other professionals recognise pivotal career moments and when to take the next step


Intro: Welcome to the Passle podcast CMO Series.

Eugene: Hi folks and welcome to another edition of the Passle CMO series podcast. It's easy to reflect on your biggest career moments in retrospect, but understanding and identifying those milestones when they happen can be fundamental to taking the next step in your career journey here to talk to us about the pivotal moments in her unique career.

We are lucky to welcome the wonderful Kimberly Conyers. Kimberly, thanks a million for joining us today.

Kimberly: Thank you, Eugene. It's great to be here.

Eugene: So you've taken an interesting path into legal marketing and business development. Can you tell us a wee bit about where your journey started, and how you got into it? And just tell us a little bit about your story.

Kimberly: Sure. You know, when I got out of school, I worked in advertising in South Florida for a few years. After about three years, I decided I wanted to be closer to family and moved back to Boston. I had an interest in law, thought about becoming a lawyer, but wanted to stay in the marketing field and eventually got recruited into legal marketing. So my first role was as a Marketing Assistant to the Director of Marketing at Mintz Levin. And that's pretty much how I got my start. I was there for about five years.

Eugene: Amazing. And when we first said to you, “hey, we would love to do the podcast with you.” You said “I would like to talk about the pivotal moments in my career because I think it's really important.” What was the first pivotal moment in your career? And indeed, why did you realise it was important? When did you realise how important that pivotal moment was for you?

Kimberly: Thank you. You know, a lot of it began within this role with taking the chance at legal marketing, it was something I had never heard of before or wasn't as familiar with that come from advertising. But I would say the first pivotal moment was meeting my mentor at Mintz Levin, a year later, the Director of Marketing left the firm in my first six months and I heard the firm was planning to hire a CMO and this was very new at that time, you know, typically just, you know, Director of Marketing was top-level, the term CMO was fairly new in the legal marketing space. And while we were prepared to hire another Director of Marketing from a larger firm, one of the candidates had a background in sales at one of the big four and I thought that was incredibly interesting and unique. So I stuck around to see where that would lead. And when I think back to my pivotal moments, that was certainly one. Sticking around and meeting this new CMO changed my life. This person came in and offered me an opportunity, gave me room to grow, challenged me, to develop my skills and mentored me to expand my career. I think we had one of the strongest marketing teams in the market and I enjoyed my work and felt valued. So when I think about the first pivotal moment, you know, I joined this firm, you know, joined this leader and mentor this boss who leaves. But sticking around and meeting the CMO and I think the idea of the mentor and having a mentor really helped me leverage my skill set over the next few years. So I probably noticed about a year or a few months in that I was clicking with this person. But over time, you know, you're speaking with your peers and feeling valued at work, it really encouraged intellectual curiosity in a way that would drive my attention to the client-focused industry approach.

Eugene: So you mentioned um there about just building your skills, understanding your value and the different ways that mentors maybe helped you in both of those facets, they lifted you up, they opened your mind and your skill sets, but also helped you realise your own value within the firm. What were you doing at that early stage of your career to build those two things? You know, how were you trying to upskill yourself? How did you ascertain and actually state your value to the firms that you were working in?

Kimberly: Oh, yes. What I was doing at that time while I'm being mentored, learning about, you know, developing my skill set. There was a theme when I would go to my boss and say, “Okay, what can I do? Here's where I want to be. I'm looking for career growth. What's that path for me” and being able to have these honest conversations and take honest feedback and constructive and use that. Well, I was fairly young coming up in a law firm, you know, there was the idea - working in the law firm, he was always like, find out what they figure out what they find valuable and then deliver that. So upscaling I would take, you know if it was about having an executive presence, I took it to the executive coaching seminar and this was, you know, informal. There was a friend who was building a program and was looking for some students to test out and later went on to one of the global retailers to roll this program out for professional development. But I sought out opportunities outside of work where I could develop my leadership skills. I thought that's what I valued in my peers and my boss working for a group, how to, you know, be organised, how to present. One of the things that I did with working with this mentor was learning how to, you know, ask for opportunities. 

We had a business intelligence function and there was an analyst of business development or business intelligence analyst. The role that had been created kind of for this person. And she did so well and excelled at it. It became a very valuable function. Her husband had been recruited through McKinsey. They were going to graduate and move, move across the globe within the next few months, anyway. So she was leaving the firm and I knew we had about just a few weeks left. I realized that when she left there wasn't going to be anyone that knew how to pull an intelligence brief for this business intelligence function. So I asked my CMO or boss if I could learn how to pull these reports together, that was also another pivotal moment. But another way to upskill myself. You know,  I'm doing this other stuff. What else can I learn today? Staying curious. 

Eugene: It's a pivotal moment, but it's also a bit of a key project, something you can really hang your hat on, which then you can look back on and it makes a lot of sense. And I'd say a lot of that comes from really your attitude, having a very open attitude probably helped by your mentor. But would you say that it's really your outlook and your attitude and putting yourself in a position to say yes and be like a sponge? Is that really been one of the key underlying foundations of your success?

Kimberly: Yes, I would say there are a few, you know, some of the key factors, characteristics. Number one, I take curiosity that could include being curious about everything from what it would look like if I took this opportunity versus doing the same thing to how people incentivize and uh being curious about what's next, also seeing the long game. So when I think about the characteristics, curiosity, seeing the long game, what else can I learn here? Where can I deliver value? Are there systems that can learn to become someone's backup if needed agility, organisations as well as legal marketing as a whole, have seen significant shifts in the way they're doing business now and how they're approaching, you know, the legal market. We've all been through leadership changes and economic downturns and upturns. So I'd say being able to stay nimble and agile and pivot quickly and easily when it comes to these shifting strategic directions uh could be a tremendous asset. Those shifts almost always open up additional opportunities for learning and growing. So when you think about the key characteristics, it would be those three.

Eugene: And one thing that comes across Kim, I'm lucky enough to have obviously met you a couple of times. You have a real passion and indeed, I think a lot of your passion comes from sort of business development and a lot of that came from your business intelligence work, which I remember you describing, you knew more about the client and what they needed and it allowed you to then be better because you could deliver a better result. What's next for you in your journey? So you've been upskilling yourself, you've got the attitude, what's next for you? What sort of thing are you looking to find next? And what's the next challenge for you?

Kimberly: What's next for me? You know, when I look back on my past and my role and thank you for those kind words. I'm still drawn to the client side. And I think learning the business intelligence role and being able to feed the curiosity about the client and client behaviour is very attractive. And what I also noticed is that there was a lot of building: building roles, building departments, building reports. So founding that building infrastructures and mentoring have become another of the top two favourites. So I'd say what's next for me in my journey would, would be a client-focused role with a professional, innovative firm. This firm would demonstrate a dedication to marketing and business development and invest in client service. Ideally, I land a role that allows me to help professionals and teams and companies enhance their relationships and deliver more value.

Eugene: Yeah, and you mentioned delivering more value. What would be your one little golden nugget of advice, we can call it, to other marketing B D professionals to almost help them recognise those pivotal moments in their careers. And indeed when to take the next step, because you're about to take your next step. And it's actually quite a brave thing. It's much easier to keep doing the thing you're doing rather than look for something new, look for a new challenge. What will be your one bit of advice?

Kimberly: One bit of advice I say so the bit of advice would be, you know, for up-and-comers, I guess would be to take that executive presence class, read about leadership and ask for feedback. And when you can offer the coach, you learn so much about yourself. But when I think about how to identify those pivotal moments, they're probably the most nerve-wracking and scary moments and uncomfortable. At each of these pivotal moments, nothing was wrapped up or coming at a very comfortable time. It was usually a very uncomfortable time. Things are shifting, people are changing, roles are changing, coming and going. And I think, you know, staying curious and seeing will, you know, how could I fit or add more, add value and continue growing? You know if this is a tough time, either with my team or with my firm, what does this look like after we make it through? I think I've learned so much by sticking around. Companies are gonna go up through ups and downs, teams are gonna go through changes in management. And I really think you can learn a lot about yourself and your team and the firm, the business cycle by, you know, staying where you are, it doesn't have to be in the same role. But kind of staying put to see what happens after it's, I think there's a lot of trust that builds through those uncomfortable times and when you come out the other end with your group, hopefully, and ideally you're standing there stronger and with more rapport and a bit of a tighter, more working relationship. We've already demonstrated you guys are both on the same page. And so I found that the relationship certainly comes out stronger then. 

Eugene: Kim, what's your favourite business and nonbusiness book? 

Kimberly: My favourite business book, there were a few, I would say for one of the first ones that I read for legal marketing was Making Rain: The Secrets of Building Lifelong Client Loyalty by Andrew Sobel. So, that was really great and moving and taught me a lot about client relationships and behaviour and getting buy-in and it was recommended by my CMO who changed my life. That was one of the books that I loved. Favourite nonbusiness book, I'd Say The Nightingale by KristIn Hannah. I'm still sad that I finished reading it.

Eugene: Kim. What was your first job?

Kimberly: My first job was as a cashier at Bradley's. It's a big retail chain. It was in my home town of Framingham, Massachusetts and I was so excited because I'd grown up just obsessed with the cash register and the sound of pressing the buttons and the till and cash and counting. So becoming a cashier at Bradley's was like my first dream achieved - no more babysitting.

Eugene: A very modest aspiration. And Kim, what makes you happy at work?

Kimberly: What makes me happy at work is working with fun, smart, dedicated and creative people, I think that's what makes me happy at work.

Eugene: I would agree with that. What are you listening to at the moment? Can be book, audiobook, podcast, music, anything in between.

Kimberly: A couple of podcasts that I'm listening to here and there is called As We Work, it's produced by the Wall Street Journal and started, I want to say like right after or during the pandemic, that gray area when it ended and was still happening. But I find that helpful to kind of hear about, you know, the economics and social constraints and updates with professionals that are going through a lot of things that we might have questions for. It's nice to listen to. So that's on the podcast. Music, some nineties R&B.

Eugene: Love it.

Kimberly: Yeah. 

Eugene: Anyone in particular for the nineties R&B?

Kimberly: There's so many when I think about, you know, the concert I'd love to go to, but I don't like concerts. It would probably be Mary J. Blige.

Eugene: I'm glad I found a fellow nineties R&B lover. And last question, Kim. Where's your favourite place to visit and why?

Kimberly: My favourite place to visit would be Saint Thomas in the US Virgin Islands. Or really any of the US Virgin Islands or maybe the even British Virgin Islands. But I have family on Saint Thomas and Saint Croix. So I feel very at home there like a home away from home and not a bad place to visit either. 

Eugene: I'm gonna check those out. I've never heard of Saint Croix. Okay, wonderful. When I look at your career, Kim, I really see all of the little things that you've achieved with business intelligence plan, and focused approach. A willingness to learn a willingness to like step into something which is maybe not your core responsibility. And I think it's going to put you in really good stead because you've got a unique skill set that you can do anything. And you've actually found what you want to do, which is that real focus on the client, the business development work. Kim, that's been absolutely fabulous. Thank you so much for making the time for us. I hope you enjoyed it as well and to everyone listening, thank you for listening to another edition of the Passle CMO Series.


cmoseries, e2e, professional services, marketing