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The Four Pillars – Must Contain Season 2 Ep. 8 with Amy Goldfine

This week Kristin and Kristin are joined by Amy Goldfine to talk about The Four Pillars.

Originally introduced and defined by Edward Unthank in 2019, the four pillars of marketing operations are the foundational components that create a functional team. Tune in to learn more about how Amy has used the pillars to create job descriptions and build her team and how you can do the same as a leader and an IC.

To get your quick fix, skip to 25:44 for the three things you need about the four pillars.

A reminder that we have an open call for guests. Submit your buzzword using this form or type the link into your browser – We can’t wait to hear what topics you want to break down with us in Season 3. 


Hosted by Kristin Anne Carideo(KAC) and Kristin Crowe (OGK)

Intro: (00:00)

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (00:36)
Hi, I’m Kristin Crowe.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (00:38)

And I’m Kristin Carideo.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (00:40)

And this is Must Contain the podcast from Etumos where we help explain the how of marketing, although we can’t always explain the why.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (00:48)

Join us every two weeks as we break down marketing and corporate topics and discuss what they really mean.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (00:53)

And if you enjoyed this podcast, please remember to like follow or subscribe in all your favorite podcast platforms.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (01:02)

Welcome back to another episode of Must Contain. Today we’re talking about team building.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (01:08)

Like those cheesy icebreakers and trust falls?

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (01:13)

No literal team building. Our guest today is Amy Goldfine, head of marketing operations at Iterable and founder of And she used our pitch form.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (01:25)

Shameless plug for the pitch form which we’ll link per usual in the show notes.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (01:30)

Yep. Shameless plug. She used our pitch form to pitch us an episode on the Four Pillars, which is Etumos and our founder, Edward Unthank’s long held philosophy about how to grow yourself a well-rounded MOPs team. Amy, why don’t you introduce yourself?

Amy Goldfine: (01:45)

Well, thank you, Kristin and Kristin, for having me here. My name is Amy Goldfine. My pronouns are she/her. I am head of marketing operations at Iterable based out of the San Francisco Bay Area. Iterable is a powerful communication platform that helps brands activate their customers with joyful interactions at scale. And I’m also the founder of Marketing Ops Advice dot com, which is the site for marketing ops practitioners to get advice on their career as well as technical and strategic topics.

Amy Goldfine: (02:12)

Spoiler alert I do have an article that’s pinned to the top of my blog about this topic. If you want to dive into it even more after the episode.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (02:20)

Awesome. We are so excited to have you, Amy. So let’s jump in at the very beginning. Can you recap the four pillars for our listeners briefly?

Amy Goldfine: (02:30)

Absolutely. So I think it helps to take a step back and redefine what marketing ops is, which, Kristin, you did so helpfully for us in your episode about must contain mops. So I’m just going to paraphrase what you said because I think it really encapsulates really well that marketing ops is the people, processes and technology that power the marketing strategy and create efficiencies. And those efficiencies drive and measure the ROI of marketing. So I think of the four pillars as a way to understand what marketing ops actually it’s- because if you talk to any marketing ops professional, you talk to any market leader or you look at any marketing ops description and they’re all really different. And that’s because they’re all some different balance of the four pillars.

So the four pillars is a way to categorize the different functions of marketing ops, help you understand your job and build your team. So those four pillars are platform ops, campaign ops, marketing intelligence ops and dev mops. Platform ops is really what you think of as like the administration, the governance, the architecture. If you’re a marketo engaged user, that administration and your operational programs, that’s all of your integrations that are the foundation of your tech stack, which allows you to do campaign ops, which is executing your marketing initiatives in your system.

Amy Goldfine: (03:54)

So that’s setting up your I’m going to use Marketo as an example again and adding up your Marketo program for your webinar or connecting it to a Salesforce campaign and connecting it to the event in your event provider. Email marketing also falls under campaign ops, and campaign ops can be centralized or decentralized. And I’m not going to go too deep into that because that could be a whole episode in and of itself.

And I believe Alicia did do an episode on campaign ops. That was really great. Marketing Intelligence Ops is your analytics. So showing the ROI or perhaps lack of ROI of your your marketing initiatives that you executed and DevMOPs is all the custom coding. So if you have custom integrations, web hooks, custom form coding on your website, anything like that, that would fall into dev.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (04:45)

Thanks for the recap. I like the implied shade on the marketing team of the MIOPs pillar. Why do you think this is an effective framework for building out a MOPs team? Why is this something that really resonated with you?

Amy Goldfine: (05:01)

Okay, so you guys have really done some of my work for me again in the Must Contain MOPs. Kristin, you said you don’t really want one person doing everything. You need a variety of people with a variety of skill sets. And if you see a job description where they want you to do a little bit of everything or actually it’s not usually a little bit of everything, they want you to do a lot of everything.

You want to run away because you don’t want to work there because either they don’t know what what they want or they want you to do more than is humanly possible. Even though many of us in mops are superheroes, we’re still only human. So understanding the four pillars really helps you assess your needs on your team. And what you need in your team members helps you understand what you’re looking for in terms of what is a must have and what is a nice to have. And it helps you coach and mentor existing team members on where they want to go in their careers.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (05:52)

Well, thank you for the shameless plug and all my mops definition glory kind of expanding on some of like the team building and the skill sets and needing people to have a lot of different skills and not one jack of all trades, master of none. Have you seen the idea of going from a generalized skill set for someone who starts is kind of that jack of all trades, master of none into a more specialized skill set as the team and the organization matures.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (06:20)

Have you seen it happen in teams you’ve led or teams you’ve been adjacent to, and how have you seen that play out?

Amy Goldfine: (06:29)

Yeah, I think this has to happen. I mean, this is not just unique to marketing ops, right? This is as any company and any team matures, you end up having people more specialized. You just can’t have a team full of generalists. You need people to specialize. Now, that doesn’t mean that you can’t have overlap, and it doesn’t mean you need people who are laser focused. So this this concept of a somebody being T-shaped, meaning they have a couple of focus areas of expertize, but they also have more broad areas, you know, that they can cover and that they have can dabble in a little bit. You know.

And as people grow, most people find that there are some things that they like more and that they like less. My personal experience is that I love doing platform ops, I love project management, communication, collaboration, I hate doing campaign ops, like really hate doing campaign ops. I’m actually pretty good at it, but like, I just do not find any joy in it anymore. I can do it in a pinch. I’ll do complex campaign ops for things like our conferences, but everybody kind of figures out what they like to do, what they want to focus in, what they want to grow in, or maybe what they want to grow into. And then as your team grows, you really determine which pillars you need, what the focus needs to be, how responsibilities need to be adjusted, whether or not you need to add team members.

So, you know, as the company matures, as your team matures, things are going to shift for you to think about it. And it’s not like you need oh, I need one person per pillar. It doesn’t have to be super siloed. And it may be that you aren’t even like doing one of the pillars because it’s not relevant to your team and your organization and your maturity, you know, at that level. So a good example. For example, there’s three people in-house on my team. Two of us are Marketo Engage certified, but I don’t really actually spend that much time in that platform anymore. My direct report is really our main Marketo admin. She does campaign ops enablement, but I can step in if necessary. And both of those things. And then we have another person on my team who is an Iterable expert. I can jump in a little bit on that, although honestly, that is less my personal area of expertise. But I can help her and she can jump in with some things that we need as well. But we have really kind of clear defined roles and responsibilities which helps us know who gets why, also helps people know who to come to for what.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (08:45)

So what’s your recommendation for marketing ops managers and directors around how to think about adding headcount to their teams? Which headcount do they add when? At what stage of maturity? Like how do you put some of that framework into action?

Amy Goldfine: (09:02)

So I think that, you know, really understanding the four pillars, understanding maturity of organization and what your organization needs is really helpful. And sometimes your interests and your expertise and what you want to do might not exactly align with your organization like you might be an analytics superpower and you might, you know, really want to spend a ton of time building out multitouch attribution and building tons and tons of reporting. But if you’re a team of one, you don’t have a BI you don’t have the budget for a multitouch attribution tool or an analytics tool like Tableau or Looker. That just might not be the right thing for you.

If you’re a team of one, you’re probably spending less time on analytics, probably spending most of your time doing campaign execution because you got to get those campaigns out the door. But, you know, as things grow. So for example, if you start out decentralized because you don’t have the headcount for centralized campaign ops, but you have you maybe like five marketers, they’re all like fairly comfortable executing campaigns. They’re doing all the same kind of things, fine. And things are going and then you’re in hypergrowth mode, as many of us are, these, you know, pre-IPO SaaS companies. And then you blow that from 5 to 25 marketers and people are joining all the time and people are trying to use your systems that are not really trained.

Maybe you need to consider consider shifting your from centralized, from decentralized to centralized and kind of adjusting those pillars. The other thing to really think about is if you’re a people manager and you are spending all of your time doing individual contributor work, if you’re a people manager and you’re spending all your time doing individual contributor work, you need to have an adjustment. Either you need to delegate to somebody who’s already on your team, you need to advocate to get a hire in-house.

You need to advocate for getting an agency to assist you, or you need to somehow figure out how to cut load, cut down your workload and deprioritize, which I realize is a lot easier said than done. But as a manager, you know, you need to be able to spend time managing, you need to be able to spend time on strategy, on having those important meetings and building relationships. And you cannot be spending all of your time doing IC work and execution. It will not serve your team well.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (11:23)

So can we dive a little bit more into how to determine what your organization’s needs are now? So maybe you’re a team of one and you kind of see that growth path or maybe your decentralize, and now you’re huge and you’re trying to rein it back in. Like, how do you see what you need right now versus what you might need in 6 months or 12 months? And so you can start to prepare the team, you know, for growth plans, future growth plans, short term, longer term.

Amy Goldfine: (11:53)

Yeah. I think to start, you really need to have a clear charter. So you know what marketing ops does and what marketing doesn’t do and how people can work with your team and really socialize that. That’s really the first step. Having a clear roadmap for the year and then having, you know, roadmap projects each quarter. If your company does OKRs or something like that, great. But you don’t need a company framework to figure out what your company’s priorities are and to map that to your team’s projects. So that will kind of help you decide where to go.

You also kind of need to do a deep dive into the maturity of your tech stack and where you think your tech stack needs to go in the next 3, 6, 12 months. And then you go from there and figure out, okay, do I need somebody in house? Do I need an agency? Do I need somebody in-house? But I don’t have a budget for it. And I’m going to have to hire an agency, you know, just like hot tip for people. If you do not have budget for somebody in-house, you can probably get agency budget. I’m not a finance person. I don’t exactly understand how this works. And often you can get quite a lot of budget for an agency, but companies are usually much more comfortable spending money on agency rather than in-house, and that can be a huge help. We have an agency help and that has really saved me.

It’s the only way we can get our conference series done is by having agency do a ton of the platform ops and the campaign ops for our conference series Activate, which we have three of this year. Another thing to think about is like for agencies is what do you need help on that you really do not need full time help on. I think like Dev MOPS is a really great example on this you might need occasionally some help like doing some custom coding on your forms or you want help with a hook, you know, maybe it’s it’s stuff that either you don’t know how to do or you’re just not good at. So, like, just to be fully transparent, like, I can never get web hooks to work. It’s just and it’s not a good use of my personal time as manager of the team to spend time delving into it. And it’s not an area that I really care about growing in, so I throw that over to my agency.

They have a ton of experience game developers who can do this really quickly and really efficiently. So it’s really nice for me to have that agency. We have, you know, retainer with them and I can pull them into those kinds of projects whenever I need it without needing to have somebody full time. Another thing to think about is growth in your organization’s needs is, you know what your team is interested in. If they do want you know, if you do have somebody who’s like, you know, actually like webhooks seem really interesting and Dev seems really interesting. Professional development, give them things that they want to work on because that’s how you were. One of the ways that you retain people is by making sure that they’re working on things that are interesting to them.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (14:40)

So tell us a little bit about any missteps you’ve made as you were building out your teams. What would you do differently in those situations if you could do that again?

Amy Goldfine: (14:52)

When you write out a job description you were writing out a fantasy, the person that you were envisioning in your head does not exist. You should really aim to get somebody who meets maybe 80% of the requirements. And that’s also on the flip side, when you are a candidate, you do not need to meet 100% of the requirements to apply for the job. Again, a good benchmark is 80%. If they say we want somebody with 5 to 10 years and you have, you know, four years of experience doing something, or they say that they want, you to have these five technical skills and you only have four of them or maybe even three and a half.

But you’re really interested in one more and you’re starting to learn it, go for it. Like this is I’m giving you permission to apply for jobs that are a stretch. And for me, I’ve had this happen a few times where I’ve written this job description. I use the four pillars. When you see an Iterable marketing ops job description, you will see like it will say platform ops, campaign ops, marketing intelligence, whatever the pillars are. And then the bullets will be under that. Because I want to be really clear to the candidate what this job is.

I am often overly optimistic and I was trying to hire somebody last year who had experience in three different tools. And guess what? The Venn diagram overlap of somebody who was a full time hire, who was looking for a job, who had experience, in those three tools was zero people. And we kept looking and looking and looking and we couldn’t find anybody. So I went back to the drawing board. I talked to my team and we were like, You know what? Actually, what we really need is experience in this one tool and let’s pull on an agency to help us with the rest of it. And so we made that switch, and the person that we found was exactly who we were looking for. She’s amazing. She’s exactly what we needed. And I’m so glad that we need that switch because it’s it’s worked out really well. And it’s, you know, it turns out exactly what we needed.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (16:47)

Amy. When you consider MOPS generalists, the people again who are jack of all trades masters of none, who want to specialize in one of the specific pillars or in some of the particular skill sets of a particular pillar, say like a data or analytics type skills. What advice would you have for them to do that?

Amy Goldfine: (17:09)

First of all, I would say go for it. Take the initiative and talk to your manager. A good manager will want you to grow. Like I said, a good manager wants you to be happy in the work that you’re doing. Nobody loves 100% of things they do in their day, but if you’re not spending the time doing what you want to do, you’re probably going to leave. So there’s so many great resources out there. I mean, we are living in the age of just like abundant free or really affordable resources about how to learn how to do all sorts of technical things. So everything from, you know, talking to people on, you know, stocks like mopspros going to mopscon using things like LinkedIn learning, using Udemy, you know, you can really start to build those skills and just look for small projects internally that you can work on that will have an impact and you know, tie it back to something that people can use.

And, you know, it’s fine to sort of like on the side work on your pet project. That’s totally great. So I have somebody on my team who has been here a year and she said she was feeling a little bit, you know, she’s feeling a little bit stagnant. She was having some growth. And we started talking about, well, what do you want to learn? What do you want to grow in? And she was like, Actually, I’d really like to learn more about Salesforce. I think I might want to learn to be a certified Salesforce admin.

And I was like, Great, we always use more of those and that will help our team to have you have the Salesforce experience. So I got her access to training on Udemy. I went on mopspros and asked around about what was the best training, and several people said, Oh, this guy’s training is really great. Use this particular course. And then I talked to our head of business systems and she’s like, Oh, I’m so excited for her. Let me know. I’m happy to help her if she has any questions or she wants help. Studying for the exam, for me that’s great that she’ll have that strong skillset. It’s great because hopefully that means she’ll stay here longer, but also eventually she’s going to want to fly the coop.

A good manager actually wants your team to grow and knows that eventually they might outgrow you and that is okay. Maybe she’s going to want to become a Salesforce admin or she’ll move her business system team. Or maybe we won’t have space for her in business systems and she’ll leave. But I will have like built a really good relationship in the meantime.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (19:22)

This is something I’m curious about as someone I used to hire a lot of MOPs people. Now my team is mostly like customer service sales marketing on the revenue side, not mops. Are you finding that you have more people who are already super specialized within MOPS at an earlier point in their careers? We talked about this in the last episode a lot because I feel like people of a certain age generally fall into mops like organically. We talked about Kristin and I talked about our own journeys of just like, Oops, you’re a MOPS manager now. Whereas maybe there’s like more people nowadays that have identified that as a career track early on. Are you finding that?

Amy Goldfine: (20:05)

Yeah. I mean, I have somebody on my team who’s pretty early in their career. I think they spent a little bit of time as a marketing generalist, but then, you know, came in to marketing ops. I think there is absolutely value in working in marketing for a while first, because you really have to understand marketing and understand how the business works. And I think actually like having spent time in the trenches, I’m good at campaign ops because I ran those webinars for so long. Right. I understand deeply the pain of setting up a webinar. I understand, you know, running trade shows and you need to get those lists upload and that, you know, and understand the business case of how all those things work. But I think that like it’s great that people are coming into it, but more people in marketing ops is what we need so however we can get them, it is great and I think as marketing ops, as a career, people are learning about more and more and more. They’re able to come in earlier and I think they even some some schools and colleges are teaching marketing ops courses. I know Julz James, is a former Marketo champion and professor and she would talk about marketing ops and Marketo in her classes. So so I think this is great, but it’s also like there’s still plenty of people who are coming into it later and that’s great as well. I will say that one thing that concerns me a little bit is people who just study, for example, for the Marketo certification and get the certification, especially whatever used to be called the Marketo certified expert. It’s got a long name now and

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (21:36)

no one knows. No one knows.

Amy Goldfine: (21:38)

I should know, but I’m going to mess it up if I say it. So we’ll go with Marketo certified expert, the Marketo certified associate, which is like the first level, is kind of at least originally when it was launched, the expectation was that you could use Marketo University online and kind of study just for that and get that certification and get your foot in the door. But I would caution that like even if you could somehow like study to the test and get a marketo certified expert that doesn’t actually make you a Marketo certified expert. It makes you a really good test taker. And I think certifications are a complement, not a replacement for experience. And I also think as a hiring manager, I try not to discount candidates who have experience but don’t have the certifications because they’re expensive. I’ve been lucky to work at companies that have paid for it, but not everybody has that luxury. Not everybody has the extra money for the certification and the prep course and all of that. You may want to say if you’re really looking for somebody as a marketo certified expert, for example, either someone who has the certification or somebody who will get it within the first six months and your company will pay for it.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (22:45)
Yeah, absolutely. And Kristin already mentioned our previous episode. We talk a lot about that, what kind of privilege it is to be able to get the certifications. And that doesn’t necessarily mean you have the right skill sets, even though you got that cert in the platform. So I think that’s a really good point to make, especially as folks are getting into mops or trying to grow mops that maybe certifications aren’t the focus. But yeah,

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (23:06)

it works. Both ways, right? Like you can have the certification and not be right for the role, you can not have the certification and be the exact right person for the role.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (23:14)

Yeah, yeah. I love how you talked about it as a compliment. I think that’s a really great way to think about it. But moving on, when we’re talking about MOPS, talent, as you are growing your established team, what attributes we know it’s not certifications are most important to you in the candidates you’re interviewing.

Amy Goldfine: (23:34)

Number one is growth mindset. It’s one of our values at iterable and it’s the first in the list of our four values. It’s actually growth mindset is a concept that’s been around for a long time in education. It’s sort of become in the in the business and popular culture world in the past few years. It’s less about what you know and more about what you want to learn and what you can learn. And you’re not having that fixed mindset and having that growth mindset of just being able to learn things and being excited about learning things and having a good attitude about it will take you much further than having just technical skills. So a great example and this kind of ties back to having that like fantasy job description. I had a role open and one of the pillars they needed to cover was analytics. And I found this great candidate actually found her because I spoke at a mops talk and I mentioned that I was hiring and the talk was about why marketing operations professionals quit their jobs. And she was like, Oh, wait, actually like maybe I am not like super happy at my job. And this Amy person had mentioned she had a job, job opening. And so and then when I talked to her, I was like, oh, this, I’ve got to hire this person. But she didn’t really have analytics experience. She’d done a little bit, but I could just tell from talking to her that she got it and I talked to my sales ops manager who really asked her pointed questions about, you know, analytics and data and we knew that she had the capacity for it. So I put together sort of an analytics bootcamp. Like I said, there’s tons of resources online. So, you know, I sort of crowdsourced some courses and self studying and had the sales ops manager teach her how to build Salesforce reports and dashboards and then had like the BI manager teach her how to use our BI tool. She was absolutely the right candidate again, so if you don’t keep growth mindset in mind, you might miss out on a really, really great hire. Remember that just because someone hasn’t been in one of the pillars or has done something specific doesn’t mean that they can’t do it. You really want to like hire for aptitude and interest as well as, you know, specific skill set.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (25:39)

And I think that is a great place to wrap it up. Thank you, Amy. And here are three things you need to know about creating a well-rounded marketing operations team or making yourself a more T-shaped employee if you’re currently a generalist

One, to go from generalist to specialist as a MOPS professional, you may have to be proactive in seeking out opportunities within your organization to grow, volunteer if you can, for projects with other teams that overlap your interests. But make sure those projects have demonstrable impacts on your organization. That’s the best way to start transitioning into a more specialized role. Remember, as your organization grows those more specialized roles will start to be available, and if you’re already partially performing them, you may be able to transition fully once there’s a full-time role.

Two, if you are a leader in a MOPS team of generalists, the four pillars – we’ll link them in the show notes – can provide a good starting framework for thinking about how to scale your team. Along with that, make sure you are identifying and supporting internal candidates for more specialized pillar roles early in their career. Even if those roles don’t exist yet, as that will end up paying dividends for you and them later on.

Three, Strategy. Have it. At least in a lightweight semi-sort of way. Regular road mapping between marketing and marketing operations is going to be very important in how you’re thinking about scaling your team, including thinking through your 6 to 12-month tech stack needs. You want to see those specialized needs coming from a long distance, so you have time to ramp individuals on your team or find someone out in the market for a brand new role or find an agency.

Kristin Carideo (KAC): (27:18)

And that’s it for this episode of Must Contain. The next episode, very exciting will be live from MOPsCON with Etumos founder Edward Unthank on the topic of customer growth operations. That is going to be on September 20th at 10 a.m. Pacific, 1 p.m. Eastern time, you can get your tickets at You also won’t want to miss Amy at our live Ask the Experts panel on September 20th at 1 p.m. Pacific, 4 p.m. Eastern Time, she will join her MOPS colleagues for a discussion on the hottest topics in mops and answer your burning questions for our dedicated listeners you can use the code MUSTCONTAIN10 for a 10% discount on your ticket to MOPsCON.

Kristin Crowe (OGK): (28:01)

This episode was produced by Kristin Crowe, Kristin Carideo, Ali Stoltzfus, Lindsay Walter and Claudia Lopez. It was edited by Kristin Crowe. Theme Music by Rusty Hall. Special thanks to Amy Goldfine and that’s it for must contain. I’m Kristin Crowe, and we’ll see you live for Must Contain on September 20th.

Check out Amy’s blog
Edward’s introduction to the four pillars and how to use them to build a high-powered team
Amy’s updated blog on WTF is marketing operations (featuring the four pillars)
Interested in being a featured guest on Must Contain? Have a buzzword that doesn’t hold water and need us to break it down? Pitch us your idea.

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