Lupe Feld / Chief Revenue Officer / S&P Data Posted on September 01, 2021
S&P Data Digital drives revenue growth for leading brands dedicated to the exceptional customer experiences that elevate the CX Journey. By combining digital technology with expert sales operations, they provide incremental revenue that drives companies into the future.
Lupe Feld has 20 years of experience building large-scale sales and customer experience business systems for companies like American Express, Worldpay, Fiserv, and S&P Data Digital, where she is their Chief Revenue Officer. S&P Data Digital drives revenue growth for leading brands dedicated to the exceptional customer experiences that elevate the CX Journey. By combining digital technology with expert sales operations, they provide incremental revenue that drives companies into the future.
Over her career, she’s held positions in sales, account management, operations, marketing, customer experience, product management, HR, and consulting.
Lupe’s signature forte is taking revenue growth endeavors from concept to realized monetization at scales, evidenced by several multi-year revenues, sales, and partnership organizational builds. She has a track record of creating unforgettable customer experiences, driving unstoppable revenue growth supported by beautifully diverse teams.
Net, net – whatever Lupe engages upon, delivers lasting perpetual growth for years to come because of her balanced approach to build with people, product, process, all engineered within the necessary financial services compliance wrappers. Her success is fueled by a culture of collaboration aimed to break down silos and unify the business towards a common goal.
1. What was your path to becoming a CRO?
I wish I could say that it was always my intent to become CRO, but this role didn’t exist when I started my career. Since childhood, I have been a problem solver – I think this is part of my genetic makeup. I started in marketing because it is a fun and challenging space. I quickly migrated to sales and leadership, and I found my passion.
I had the good fortune of finding a sponsor, Ed Gilligan, the former Vice Chairman and President of American Express. Over the years, we discussed issues and he tasked me to come up with business solutions. He pushed me to think two levels above me and deliver a financially sound solution. He was a stickler about the importance of understanding finance. Our conversations would eventually circle back to the financial component – the cost of acquisition, revenue, profitability, ROI, etc. Knowing this, trained me to prepare to go deep into the finance aspect of any topic. In hindsight, these were the best lessons he taught me.
I once asked him why he was my sponsor. He said: “I like that you focus on what needs to be done in addition to doing your job. You are a brand champion. You can sell and you are a risk-taker. You see things from a customer’s point of view, which makes you an incredible customer advocate. Technology is your friend, and you make data-driven decisions. I see your passion for leadership, and you build followership by developing a culture. I see a fighting spirit in you; however, always keep it in check by further developing your emotional intelligence.” I realized that day that what Ed admired most in me was what gave me the most satisfaction. It drove my career path as I developed every area by taking roles that would challenge me and help me grow. In hindsight, that is what makes a great CRO.
2. What worked – and what would you do differently?
Having a strong mentor/sponsor is key. Seek one and make sure that they feel the time spent is valuable. Show up prepared and don’t waste their time. A mentor can become a sponsor but don’t rush it. You must build trust and confidence – after all, it is their brand you will represent when they sponsor you.
3. What didn’t work?
Giving up Hawaii as a territory, in the winter and moving to Canada. Just kidding, my Canadian experience was priceless. As a rule, I live life with no regrets and an abundance of gratitude. Denise Pickett, President of Global Services Group at American Express, would always say: “don’t be afraid of failure – a total failure, yes, that would be bad.” She meant small failures and decisions are not going to always be right. If you fail, course correct and learn the lesson. Even the wrong decision taught me something. The key is to let go of the mistake and grow from what you learned. Every job, good or bad, gave me the experience that I use today. I waited a long time to gain confidence and ask for what I wanted. Whether it is an investment, a promotion, headcount, etc. arm yourself with facts, confidence and don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. A caveat, think two levels ahead and pressure test to make sure you deserve it. If yes, go for it!
4. What perspective would you offer to a woman who has aspirations to become a CRO?
Learn about the overall business – sales, marketing, understand the data and let it drive your decisions, become tech-savvy and break down silos with diplomacy. Follow every revenue path, understand it, and how to make it better. Don’t be afraid to dig into financial reports and glean knowledge. Ask questions. dig into the cause and effect by asking why – specifically the 5 whys.
5. How does the role function – what are the core competencies and skills?
The CRO is responsible for all things related to revenue. All things that are revenue-generating have many dependencies – sales, marketing, pricing, product/service, delivery, operations, client success, etc. and the CRO must make them work seamlessly by unifying the vision and driving collaboration. This includes identifying market segments, revenue goals, product/service focus, setting the value proposition and pricing
6. What unique challenges do women face in pursuit of a CRO role?
There is a perception that you can’t rise to an executive level and have a family. Well, I am proud to say that I have done great work throughout my career, but my best work was raising our son, Jonathan. It takes discipline and a great support system. You shouldn’t have to sacrifice having a family to get the job you want. I remember years ago; a senior-level executive came in as an outside hire to lead a division and 30-days later took maternity leave. Most were shocked. I was inspired and later followed this leader to two companies, where she opened the door. Don’t be afraid to look for a door that is open, walk in with confidence and do your best. If you do, that door will always remain open. Managing your career is like a game of chess. You must have a strategy – set your goal and play to win. Remember, chess is a game of strategy. You can walk away from the board for a while and come back to finish and win the game. Don’t apologize.
There are few things in life that you can control. Focus on the controllable like effort and your attitude. Own your strength and develop your opportunities. If there is not an internal mentor, find one externally. Invest in your growth. I live by the 10% rule – 10% of my annual earnings are reinvested into my growth and development.
Some organizations lean into women in the C-Suite and some sadly, don’t. Patience is a virtue that I continually work and develop. To support that, I have made strategic moves that developed my experience while I waited for the opportunity. Round out your business acumen because without it the CRO role will be out of reach
Sometimes the opportunity will never come so you must make a move. If you move, do it with grace and strategy. It is a misconception that assertive women are rude. Being assertive doesn’t have to be negative. You need to be seen and heard to be noticed and achieve your goals. Men aren’t always passive and agreeable yet there is a self-inflicted expectation that women must be silent and agreeable. Culturally, I broke the mold as Hispanic women are not known for being assertive. I started slowly until I gained confidence. So, speak up in a compelling manner with facts, purpose anchored in respect. Don’t react but always respond tactfully. Set goals and push yourself to become more visible. Choose your language and don’t start a sentence with I am sorry.
The road to becoming a CRO requires focused goals and accountability. Although percentages of women in senior roles are growing year over year, we need to balance out the scale.