In the last of our series on our 10 IMPACT Award winners, Alayna Hyler (pictured here third from left at our celebratory Luncheon), associate director, marketing programs at Questex, talks about taking on a leadership role at a major B2B media organization. (She won in the Emerging Talent category.) “I always encourage people to grow in their career toward what they’re passionate about,” she said.
Besides being our Emerging Talent, Alayna Hyler is a rising star on Questex’s Performance Marketing team—the team that delivers on all of Questex’s programs, from advertising to content across 40-plus brands. She acts as the liaison between sales and clients for delivery.
Since Hyler has been the associate director, the revenue her team supports has increased 25.5% YOY. This revenue growth consists of advertising programs that increased by 25.8% and content marketing programs at 24.7%. She was able to deliver on this growth while only increasing cost 13%. She has also transformed how Questex serves its clients by moving to account-based customer service and away from her team supporting individual sales reps.
Hyler has also increased their programmatic revenue streams. By working with an expert in the field, attending a programmatic/ad operations industry event and through her own research, she has started to put improvements and tools in place to grow in this area of business.
Additionally, Hyler saw a gap in being able to define the client satisfaction of Questex’s digital programs and launched an NPS survey for the marketing programs team to send to all clients that run content marketing programs with them. Now, Questex is able to gain feedback on overall satisfaction, quality of leads, quality on content, how likely they are to work with them in the future and project management/client communication.
Get to know Alayna Hyler a little further in this Q&A:
Ronn Levine: How long have you been at Questex?
Alayna Hyler: I am going on five years now. Time moves fast.
I’m told you manage a team of 17 people. Leadership is such a tricky thing these days, especially with the pandemic. How did that come about and how have you grown?
AH: I was working as a marketing program specialist for two years, and at that time our team of five or six people had a big workload. So we had to add additional people. My manager was leaving the company, so I was promoted to manager of the marketing program. I oversaw a group with about nine direct reports, overseeing our science, health care and technology sectors. I was in that position for about a year, and then that boss left the company and I was promoted again. Just having the experience of working in that room for two years gave me a really good idea of what was needed.
What has been your style as a young leader? Is it a matter of just being authentic and yourself with everyone?
AH: Just being honest and approachable is kind of the way I like to go. Also to be as transparent as possible; that was especially true during Covid. (I started managing people just a few months after Covid started.) My strategy has really been constant communication—check-ins with my direct reports either bi-weekly or weekly. We all have tons of group chats to stay in touch. I always try to be available for a couple minutes. I just try to make sure everyone has all the information they need and all their questions answered.
I’m also told that to date, 14 people have been promoted on your team. That’s quite admirable.
AH: It’s really exciting because I do have a younger team so it’s a pleasure to work with them and see them grow in their careers. I always encourage people to grow towards what they’re passionate about. I saw that the team was beginning to struggle juggling tasks. So I restructured the team, promoting one member to lead a subset in roles that support the backend processes, while promoting two other members to each lead a team focused on client-facing tasks.
Questex has been a member of our association for some time, and your CEO Paul Miller has always been a great partner to us.
AH: Paul is really great at providing direction for the entire company, and I think he’s a really special leader. I seriously believe that he knows every single person in the company. It’s really motivating. Every quarter he does a Town Hall giving some kind of shared information or how we’re doing as a company.
I see that transparency is a theme there. What type of customer outreach are you finding works best these days?
AH: If our client’s goal is brand awareness, then I would suggest something like Web ads on our site or newsletter sponsorship. Webinars are still a great way to get conversions. If lead gen is your goal, emails might be the best way to get your brand out there. We also have many content marketing programs and partnerships that will work with customers. [Hyler launched a process allowing the team to log and track promotions associated with each of their content market programs.] We like any material or content that gets that message out to our clients and reaches their audience.
I also see you played a large part in getting podcast sponsorships there. I know that can involve multiple teams, and it’s now a new revenue stream for your digital business. I’m sure you’re in on your share of meetings.
AH: Yes, this afternoon I’m having a big team meeting—all 18 of us. It’s definitely a challenge as a manager to make sure I’m getting everyone’s input, so having that video component is really important. I don’t want someone to feel like they need to sit on mute the whole time. I want them to feel free to speak up. I always tell them: You are the one working with our clients on a daily basis. You know these processes. So I trust your input and feedback for when I have to make decisions.
Where do you see yourself growing in your role in the next couple of years?
AH: Growth is something that HR encourages for the entire company. For me personally, I’m still learning so much and still being challenged every week. That’s really important for anyone to have in the role that they’re in. I have a fantastic boss that I learn from every single day. I’m just trying to be a sponge and soak all that up for now.