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Finding top talent is the first step to building the best team for your organization, but what about retaining them? What can you do to foster their current development and simultaneously guide their future potential, so they stay engaged, challenged, and motivated? How do you, as a leader, boost morale, improve work/life balance, and protect them from poor job satisfaction? That is where nurturing and protecting top talent comes into play.

With hybrid work, virtual meetings, and an expanding talent pool, it’s up to leaders to adjust to new work dynamics and learn the expectations of future of talent—who, more than ever before, have clear priorities on how they work and whom they work for.

During our Marketers That Matter Summit, “Leading into the Unknown,” Sara Mascall, SVP of the Wall Street Journal, moderated a great panel with Whitney Curry, the CMO of Pacaso, and Chris Koehler, the CMO of Box. Together, they discuss strategies for leading their talent to flourish personally and professionally. 


  • Identifying Top Talent and Their Needs to Spur Engagement 
  • Providing Multi-Functional Growth Opportunities for Talent
  • Navigating the Hybrid Work Environment
  • The Importance of DEI: Lifting and Listening to Diverse Talent
  • New Approaches to Leadership 

Identifying Top Talent and Their Needs to Spur Engagement 


Establishing and maintaining relationships with top talent is crucial to keeping them engaged in your organization. According to 24 Seven’s recent Talent Retention Survey of 3,300 respondents, 58% said they are actively or passively looking for a new job. Due to the paramount importance of these relationships, Whitney Curry compared the efforts of nurturing talent to dating. She elaborated, “it’s a two-way relationship, so it needs to work for both people.”  

Having empathy for those surrounding you can be impactful. Whitney continued, “There has been a lot going on over the last six months alone. The economy is intense. There has been much change, and people may be facing an entirely different budget than what they thought in January.”

Checking in with your talent to see how the relationship is working and doing what you can to improve it makes all the difference. Cultivating healthy relationships makes for a better, more engaging workplace, and extending those values to the partnerships you establish may result in better job performance. 

Providing Multi-Functional Growth Opportunities For Talent 


In a time of global hardship and economic instability, most employees are likely hoping for a promotion. However, companies worldwide have also faced numerous challenges over the past few years, which have affected growth projections. Now, leaders are thinking of ways to develop growth opportunities for their teams that are often outside the norm.  

At Box, focusing on profitable growth led Chris Koehler and his leadership team to develop new, alternative opportunities for talent to grow. Chris came to a point where he had to ask, “How do you help people grow and keep your team energized when your growing and hiring rate slows down, and you can’t promote?”

The answer arrived in the form of an innovative LearnFest in which his talent is given a chance to grow in several different functions. “We offer opportunities for people to learn through masterclasses, we provide practitioners opportunities to share their craft, career path mentoring, and we produced the CMO Show, where my team could learn directly from CMOs,” he added. Despite budgetary or promotional limitations, the importance of providing team members with valuable growth opportunities cannot be understated. 

Navigating the Hybrid Work Environment 


As we know, an alternative to the traditional office setting has become more prominent–hybrid work. The ability for talent to complete their work when and where they want has become a sought-after priority for many employees [94% of those surveyed in the Talent Retention Report said they want flexibility], and it’s the main selling point of many companies. Chris leads a hybrid team and states “it has been great tapping into talent from other geographies, but it’s been tough balancing virtual meetings and people coming into the office.” 

Describing Pacaso’s operations, Whitney states, “From the beginning, we have been a distributed company. We have employees who work across 30 states and six countries.” Pacaso’s distributed workforce, something many leaders have seen value in, “has helped us recruit some amazing people from places we otherwise would not have had on the team,” Whitney adds.  

Team members and leaders are finding ways to engineer their companies to make the hybrid work experience enhance work-life balance. Whether that is through connecting socially with local employee pods, finding fun ways to connect virtually, using time in meetings productively, and ensuring the onboarding experience is strong from the start—it all makes a difference. 

The Importance of DEI: Lifting and Listening to Diverse Talent

💡 Tips on supporting diverse talent:  


-Regularly assess team performance. How are people of color performing? How can you go out of your way to help support them in challenge areas not everyone is experiencing? 

-During meetings, whether on Zoom or in-office, notice when someone is trying to speak and give them a chance to provide input. 

-There may be skill gaps due to a lack of opportunities. Open doors of opportunity.  

-Know who typically dominates the conversation and neutralize the meeting to create space for all voices to be heard. 

Diversity is one of the most significant growth factors for businesses of the future, and yet several companies are watching diverse talent leave. Being a leader today means valuing and hearing the input from all voices on your team and applying that input effectively. Some of the benefits of DEI are amplifying different viewpoints, new perspectives, and an engaging playing field where all team members feel welcome.  

Reflecting on the culture cultivated at Pacaso, Whitney states, “as a person of color, it is both my duty and my delight to hold the door open for others because people did that for me.” She emphasizes modeling that behavior and providing coaching opportunities to ensure your peers are hearing the voices of people of color goes a long way.

Chris adds that being proactive in inclusivity takes a conscious effort. His angle for including other, less-dominant voices is this, “You must actively work and manage to bring them into the conversation. That’s my job as a leader: making sure everyone has a voice heard.” Incorporating DEI will benefit the team, the overall company, and consumers. The elevation of talent from doing so speaks for itself.

New Approaches to Leadership 


Leadership ultimately sets the tone of the company and team culture. You can do several things to help people feel connected, engaged, and want to advance within the organization. Communication and transparency are at the forefront of productive leadership strategies. Chris shares, “I try to be very transparent with my leadership team and the broader organization. As a company, we’re transparent; it’s part of our culture.”

Transparency leads to open lines of communication, and open lines of communication lead to improved engagement. Whitney adds, “In times of uncertainty, over-communicating is important, and that means appreciating and calling out wins from the team.” With talent retention being a constant need, leaders must be willing to develop alongside their teams. 

Key Takeaways 


The contributions of Whitney and Chris to this discussion paint a clear picture of how thoughtful leadership and taking the extra steps to nurture and protect top talent can ensure high satisfaction and job performance. Growth can be achieved in more ways than one, and extending those opportunities to a team of diverse individuals will help your talent recognize their true potential. From recruiting and onboarding to team building and tapping into skill sets, nurturing and protecting your talent is crucial to driving successful outcomes. 


This section of the MTM Summit was moderated by Sara Mascall, SVP of The Wall Street Journal, and held at the Intuit Headquarters in Silicon Valley. To see our upcoming events, please visit our event calendar.

Whitney Curry, CMO, Pacaso: Whitney is the CMO of Pacaso responsible for driving demand, building the brand, and creating exceptional online and offline customer experiences. She launched her career at Zillow as the company’s first intern. Throughout her 12-year tenure, she played a key role in growing the brand into a household name and held leadership positions across PR and marketing. Whitney is a marketing executive passionate about bringing the voice of the customer into daily decision-making. Prior to Pacaso, Whitney co-founded Kingston Marketing Group, a Seattle-based marketing agency. 

Chris Koehler, CMO, Box: Chris has 25 years of experience leading marketing, sales, and product teams in start-up and large enterprise environments. He specializes in growing and scaling new products and businesses and is passionate about marketing, analytics, digital trends, and building high-performing teams. Chris’ impressive professional accomplishments include leading the best cross-functional strategic project in Box’s 14-year history, launching a program that increased Annual Contract Value by 3x, and driving the company’s social media presence through the roof. Before leading marketing at Box, Chris led market and product marketing for Adobe Creative Cloud for Enterprise. 


Marketers That Matter® is a community of top marketing executives coming together to pioneer the future of marketing, sharing real-time experiences, and solving current challenges.

Our parent company, 24 Seven, specializes in helping you find exceptional marketing and creative talent for your teams.


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