Lisa Sharapata: Driving Exponential Growth for Organizations 

Orchestrating winning go-to-market strategies and driving up revenue growth in the B2B tech space, Lisa Sharapata, Chief Marketing Officer at The Arbinger Institute, is a global marketing leader with more than two-decades worth of experience.

Lisa is a veteran in leading teams including Demand Gen, Brand, Digital, Growth Marketing, Product Marketing, Operations, Field Marketing, Business Development, and Customer Experience. She links business objectives, marketing campaigns, and sales execution throughout the customer lifecycle to achieve aggressive revenue goals in a repeatable, scalable, and efficient model. She brings passion, skill, and a customer-centric focus to drive tangible results.

With the help of Arbinger’s training, consulting, coaching, and implementation tools, people, teams, and organizations change their natural self-focus—what it refers to as an inward mindset —to an outward mindset, which is results-focused. Its programs and approach are founded on almost 45 years of experience working with organizations all over the world, as well as 55 years of research in the psychology of human behaviour and motivation.

In an exclusive interview with CIOLook, Lisa Sharapata gives her sharp insights into the world of marketing to drive transformation in organizations.  

Brief our audience about your journey as a business leader until your current position at The Arbinger Institute. What challenges have you had to overcome to reach where you are today?

I started my career as a graphic designer at a brand and advertising agency, but it didn’t take long for me to learn that I wanted to get closer to the product, the market, and the go-to-market strategy. It’s hard to be an effective marketer if you don’t have a pulse on the market, and that’s exactly what prompted my move in-house.

They say that most growth happens outside your comfort zone, and I’ve been no stranger to that. Early in my career, I knew I had to throw myself into uncomfortable situations and be willing to ask questions no one else was asking. Another key to success I’ve learned over the years is to surround myself with the most talented people I can find—which has been both intimidating and inspiring.

One of my mentors once shared a statement that stuck with me: “What got you here won’t get you there.” That’s the ongoing marketing challenge—you must take risks to keep evolving. This hasn’t always turned out the way I wanted, but I’ve turned risks that fail into successes by learning from them and never giving up on what I think is right.

My curiosity, ambition, and desire to create great experiences for any audience I’m marketing to are the things that have really helped me evolve into the role of CMO—though that’s not to say there haven’t been many challenges along the way. Before Arbinger, I was in the B2B tech space for a decade and in several other industries before that, and I learned many lessons the hard way. The biggest one I’ve carried with me is that growth at all costs isn’t a sustainable or viable way to build a go-to-market (GTM) engine. You need to create a repeatable, scalable GTM motion to thrive long-term.  

Tell us something more about The Arbinger Institute and its mission and vision.

The Arbinger Institute’s mission is to bring humanity back to the workplace—and turn the world outward. We help leaders create the people-centric culture that drives exceptional organizational results. Through an innovative training, coaching, and consulting process, we help people adopt an Outward Mindset, which is integral in creating genuine inclusivity and sustainable change.  

Enlighten us on how you have impacted the Marketing industry through your expertise.

“Form follows function” has stuck with me since my early design days. Understanding the market, your audience, their challenges, and how your product can help them is the driving force behind my approach. When you create a marketing message—whether it’s a campaign, piece of content, display ad, or a social post— ask yourself: What is the purpose of it? Are you adding value to the consumer’s experience or confusing them? What do you expect them to do after they consume it? Then remove as much friction as possible for them to take that action.  

Describe in detail the values and the work culture that drives The Arbinger Institute.

Organizational change starts with individuals. In fact, an organization will only experience meaningful change when the people who make up the organization change. The Arbinger Institute brings five decades of research and experience to our work—serving hundreds of clients worldwide. We help leaders and teams shift from an inward to an Outward Mindset so they can unlock extraordinary results.

Through our proven training and coaching methods, we help people at all levels of an organization discover how a shift in mindset empowers them to break down silos, spark productivity, inspire greater inclusivity, create sustainable cultural changes, accelerate innovation, and impact their bottom line.

As a company whose purpose is to help other organizations transform their workplace culture, the bar for our own culture at Arbinger is especially high. Our 38 proprietary tools and frameworks, such as “SAM” (See others, Adjust efforts, Measure impact) and “Start in the Right Way” (a collaboration exercise for situational analysis), help us guide conversations and make typically challenging conversations easier. By incorporating these tools into the fiber of our culture, we foster an environment of psychological safety, belonging, and inclusion that makes it comfortable to address shortcomings and gaps. At Arbinger, all employees have access and ongoing training to our portal to aid in their success.  

What change would you like to bring to the Marketing industry if given a chance?

I want to be a shining example of what marketing can bring to the table if given the respect and latitude needed to make an impact. At the board and C-suite level, there still needs to be a shift in understanding that marketing isn’t the arts and crafts department, a cost center, or simply gauged based on the latest attribution models.

Effective marketing is part science, AND it’s still part art. There was a small shift in mindset when marketing leaders started to utilize data and bring reports on effectiveness to the boardroom. However, marketing isn’t black and white, which still creates confusion for many executives.

Marketing is the heart and soul of the organization; these are two things that are hard to describe and more ambiguous than numbers and data. Marketing drives brand reputation and experiences that deliver revenue results. That being said, these results can only be realized over time. Attribution to one specific thing will never tell the full story. Many shades of grey make marketing an art; the data brings in the science, and knowing what to do next makes the difference.

Thus, marketing is a delicate ecosystem that drives customer acquisition, retention, and renewal. When one part of the ecosystem isn’t working properly, it impacts everything else. When done correctly, the whole is greater than the sum of all the parts. For those reasons, I feel marketing is the most complex piece of the revenue pie and deserves more respect. I’d like to see marketing viewed as the driving force behind the GTM strategy, brand, and experiences––thus invaluable to the organization instead of dispensable.  

What, according to you, could be the next significant change in the Marketing sector? How is Arbinger Institute preparing to be a part of that change?

Intent data is a driving force in the transformation that’s been happening in Marketing for the last several years. Working for one of the leading providers when intent data was in its infancy gave me a view of what is to come. The ability to create personalized experiences will evolve as technology and data advance. At Arbinger, we’re building a best-in-class revenue engine that will enable us to create personalized and meaningful experiences with as little friction as possible. Using intent data allows us to focus on the best accounts (ones in our ICP that are also in-market) and know what they are doing, so we can be more helpful and less wasteful. The next level is to aim for shorter cycle times, greater profitability, and higher value––and to start looking at customer lifetime value (LTV). In conjunction with other revenue leaders, marketing needs to take the LTV-based growth approach instead of shifting at all costs.

Where do you envision yourself to be in the long run, and what are your future goals for Arbinger Institute?

From the moment I learned about the work Arbinger is doing, I was determined to be a part of it. I see myself here for the long run as we build out this go-to-market revenue engine and considerably grow our market share.

What would be your advice to budding leaders who aspire to venture into the Marketing industry?

Community is my secret to success. Find and join communities that lift you up and help you grow.