March 08, 2023
Evolving with Business
Alumna Laura Goldberg focuses on business fundamentals to drive success
By Elizabeth Speed
From Napster to the NFL, LegalZoom to Kabbage, Carnegie Mellon alumna Laura Goldberg has always solved problems and connected with customers in unprecedented ways.
But when she was on campus studying industrial management at Tepper School of Business, she absolutely couldn’t have predicted landing in her current role as chief marketing officer at Constant Contact.
“When I got out of school, I never would have thought about marketing because marketing was big, splashy television ads and creating campaigns.” Laura says. “It’s shifted and much of marketing is now deeply rooted in data, decision-making and problem-solving. It’s about driving the numbers and the revenue and pushing the business ahead in a way marketing wasn’t before.”
“It's just a super cool, gratifying space to work in.”
“It just didn't hit that problem-solving itch for me. Finance lacked the aspect of rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. At that time, the internet was just emerging, and the digital music world was in an interesting place to start.”
Innovating and Growing
After graduating with her bachelor’s degree in 1989, Laura took a role in finance, and she says she soon felt something was missing.
“It just didn't hit that problem-solving itch for me,” Laura says. “Finance lacked the aspect of rolling up your sleeves and getting your hands dirty. At that time, the internet was just emerging, and the digital music world was in an interesting place to start.”
Her next move to Universal Music Group provided the challenge she was looking for.
It was 2001, and anything involving the internet was uncharted territory. She made the jump based on skills, since no one had direct experience. People were as hungry to consume music online as Laura was to solve the operational challenges necessary to deliver it to them. Within a few years, her group acquired Napster out of bankruptcy and set to transforming it from a free, legally questionable file-sharing service to a legitimate music-on-demand subscription service.
From music, Laura jumped to sports, shepherding and growing product lines and online presence, for the NFL and ScoreBig.
“I really cut my teeth in operations,” Laura says. “I owned marketing, technology and call centers that helped me develop a lot of skills around both general management and ops.”
When a contact from her music industry days called looking for a CMO for LegalZoom, she wasn’t sure why they were reaching out to her.
“I said, ‘I'm not a CMO. Why would you call me?’ They told me that they have people who know the legal marketing and technology, but no one who is solving for the customer.”
After some conversations, she “fell in love” with LegalZoom and their mission.
“From where you work out to your local florist, babysitter, dog walker, hair stylist or Uber driver, they’re all small businesses. I am maniacally focused on helping small businesses like these by giving them the tools they need to be successful.”
Moving to CMO
The LegalZoom offer came with specific marching orders — profitable growth. Her focus on finances and experience opening opportunities in untapped spaces online helped Laura focus, measure and optimize the company’s marketing efforts.
As a CMO, Laura has defined her leadership sweet spot, leading independent companies that are navigating a growth phase. After helping make legal services more accessible, she jumped to fintech unicorn Kabbage to focus on lending for small businesses. Her role in growing revenue made the company attractive to American Express, which bought it in 2021.
Her next and current role at Constant Contact reflects a second passion that evolved along with her marketing roles: small businesses.
An email and digital marketing platform that helps entrepreneurs stay in touch with and grow their customers, many of Constant Contact’s users are small businesses. In Laura’s past year there, Constant Contact has acquired other businesses, launched new offerings and continued to expand the suite of tools available to help its user base grow.
“From where you work out to your local florist, babysitter, dog walker, hair stylist or Uber driver, they’re all small businesses,” Laura says. “I am maniacally focused on helping small businesses like these by giving them the tools they need to be successful.”
“My education at Carnegie Mellon was deeply rooted in using data to make decisions and solve problems. I went there because of that, and the university delivered in spades.”
Past Meets Future
As the marketing head at a digital marketing company, Laura calls on a surprising amount of operations expertise. One could say that her career is coming full circle and back to her roots at CMU.
“I think the CMO role is very much an evolving one — one that is much more reliant on strategy, financial acumen, responsible growth and with a bigger seat at the table than they’ve had historically,” she says.
Direct preparation for a career that was destined to evolve drastically due to technology and the internet would have been impossible to imagine in the late 1980s. Instead, Laura is quick to cite the fundamental preparation she learned at CMU more than three decades ago continues to serve her well.
“My education at Carnegie Mellon was deeply rooted in using data to make decisions and solve problems,” Laura says. “I went there because of that, and the university delivered in spades.”