Sue Yun has worked in marketing for over 17 years, and joined HackerRank as Head of Customer Engagement and Marketing in 2017. She has previously worked as a Director at both Searchmetrics and Google, and was part of a start-up (LifeLock) that went public.
Sue is a passionate believer in the power of content marketing. It’s this passion, and Sue’s extensive experience, which compelled us to reach out to hear her thoughts on marketing in the tech industry.
1. What is HackerRank?
HackerRank is a skills assessment platform. We have two sides of the business;
One where developers go onto our platform to practice code or compete against other coders to see where they rank. They can also enter competitions either to win money or simply just for bragging rights. This has become a community of more than 3.5 million developers.
On top of that, we’ve built a platform where companies can assess skills better.
In the past, there was a recruiter trying to fill spots in the engineering department. You’d have engineers telling these recruiters ‘this is the type of person we need.” The problem was, those engineers might as well speak an entirely different language—the recruiters were only picking up certain words or phrases in the conversation and as a result would often bring in people who were nothing like what the engineers needed.
This made the whole process of filling the roles within an engineering team long and tedious.
HackerRank cuts this process down by 75%.
We strip down everything about a person, except their actual skill set. This is purely about how good you are at your job. There are so many different aspects of coding, and a business might be looking for someone who’s amazing in one area. Doesn’t matter about other areas. Up until now, there’s been no clear way to assess that. Now, with HackerRank, there is.
2. You’re visiting London today because of a HackerRank event. Can you tell us a little bit about what the event is and why you’re doing it?
One of the things that is really important for a business right now is carefully curated, well thought out content. That’s why we produce so much.
Part of our content plan is a series of events. For example, this HackerRank main() event exists to create a discussion around the research that we’ve done on things like diversity in the industry, issues surrounding developer skills assessment, etc.
3. What’s your process for creating content?
Our Head of Communications Ritika Trikha leads our content efforts. We get together as a team and look at the entire year and pull out certain dates in which certain topics will be relevant. For example, we chose February to release our ‘Women In Tech’ report because there’s a lot of initiatives around women in tech in that month.
We consider what events, research reports, and blog posts we can do in advance in order to promote more about a topic, in the time frame that we have. Then we fill out the calendar with other activities which we weave together with our bigger content so that it’s one coherent story.
Getting this right takes teamwork–something I’m a strong believer in. The fact that everyone in my team is so dedicated to our work is what makes it a smooth and enjoyable process.
‘You have competition everywhere you turn. So, in order to stand out amongst the noise, you need good, compelling, thought-provoking content that positions you as a thought leader.’ ~Sue Yun, HackerRank
4. Why do you think content is so important?
You have competition everywhere you turn. So, in order to stand out amongst the noise, you need good, compelling, thought-provoking content that positions you as a thought leader.
Content is like the new SEO… it used to be about selecting a few great keywords and hoping people would find you. Now, people want to know what you are thinking, doing, and how you’re going to help them cut through the noise.
Good content is how to compete with others in the same industry. Cat food, bicycles, it doesn’t matter—write about it and talk about it. Our team is phenomenal at producing relevant content.
One thing that stood out from the Women in Tech 2018 report was that, while young women are coming into the industry, it’s still mainly men who hold leadership positions. As a female leader in the tech industry, what do you think the industry can do to rectify that?
I think it’s a game of catch-up. There were fewer women in tech before so there have not been as many women to climb into leadership positions. But as the number of women entering the industry changes, it will catch-up. However, it’s not going to happen overnight.
5. Is the tech industry doing what it can to attract women?
There are a lot of diversity efforts and initiatives for both women and minorities to help them move up within the tech industry. But overall, tech is becoming more interesting to under-represented groups. For example, there are many more women graduating today in tech fields than there were 10 years ago. If we sat down again in five or ten years there would certainly be more women leaders in the industry.
Of course, there’s a lot more work to be done ahead. For instance, our recent research report found that there’s a ceiling for women. Over 20% of women over 35 are still in junior positions. That percentage is a lot lower for men over 35. We need to do more to promote women in tech.
6. How did you get into the tech industry?
It just happened! I focussed on marketing and realized that I was good. I didn’t start in the tech industry, but I felt my skills were transferable and I was lucky to be given a chance to show that. I had a traditional start, working at an ad agency learning the ropes about marketing and advertising and how that world works. I then joined a tech start-up when there were fewer than 50 employees… that went public in six years! The experience that I got from there is where I got the credibility to move up in the tech industry.
7. How has HackerRank’s marketing strategy developed over the last six years?
The marketing team at HackerRank is amazing, and as a result we’re able to be more targeted and are able to customize our content better than we have in the past.
Having a great team also means we are able to plan everything out in advance and make sure that we do not do anything on an ad-hoc basis.
8. In your experience, has the tech industry been receptive to traditional marketing efforts, or have you had to think outside of the box in a forward-thinking industry?
Certain things are never going to change. Retargeting, social media, AdWord campaigns, email marketing are going to continue. But, your content is what helps you stand out from the competition—‘content is king’.
What’s the biggest change you’ve seen in the last decade, and do you have any predictions for what the next decade will look like?
A decade ago, social media was something that businesses just laughed at, and now even B2B brands that do not target individual consumers are creating strong social media brands. It’s harder now because when there were so few brands on social media, it was easy to stand-out—now that everyone is on it, there’s more competition.
In terms of the next decade, I’m not going to try and predict what will happen, but I know that everything we do now will still need to be done—we’ll just need to be smarter about it in order to keep up with new innovations and remain unique and memorable.
We couldn’t agree more when Sue says ‘content is king’—it’s the vital ingredient that underpins online marketing. That’s why we’ve invested so much into making our content marketing services unlike most others.
Content acts like a brand ambassador that never sleeps. When used right, it serves as both a valuable resource for your ideal clients—like attracting them to your brand— and validation of your firm’s knowledge and expertise.
But it doesn’t stop there. Correctly curated content has the ability to deliver you qualified, eager prospects that are ready to convert into paying clients. At JTN, this is our thing. We specialize in content that positions you as the obvious choice to prospects who are in the market for your services.
If you’d like to know more about how our self-managing process attracts clients, download our guide ‘How To Influence Prospects And Win Clients In The Tech Industry’.