Making the Human Connection With Grant Johnson, Chief Marketing Officer at Emburse

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Marketing Trends Background


“I think all of us feel – especially companies like Emburse that are getting back to meeting with customers in person – that there’s no substitute for the human connection — to be able to be in three dimensions, talk to somebody, [and] relate to them on a personal level…”


For business leaders, what’s the right balance between competing and caring? Grant Johnson, the Chief Marketing Officer at the expense management company Emburse, claims that a “human connection” remains crucial for success. Tune in for some valuable marketing insights from Grant about leadership, empathy, and “humanizing work.”


Key Insights


What Excites Grant About the Spend Optimization/Management Mission at Emburse?

“I think it’s been a constant focus in my career… connecting with customers, and we are trying to humanize work. Our mission is one of the primary reasons that I joined Emburse. We want to help eliminate the time-consuming and tedious tasks that get in the way of doing more important work, or giving back to your community, or spending more time with your family. So, it’s a very noble mission.”

Throughout his highly accomplished professional career, Grant has made it a priority to treat his clients as people first, and customers second. That mentality harmonizes well with Emburse’s mission to “humanize work,” which aims to help clients use their time in more meaningful ways.

Has Grant’s Sports Background Influenced His Leadership Methods?

“I love the drive to win, to excel, [and] to be number one, but it has to be moderated by humanizing work and being authentic with your staff, and being compassionate.”

A longtime competitive tennis player, Grant’s drive to succeed has helped him excel in the marketing field. He warns, however, not to let the competitive fire swallow up other key principles: “We have [what] we call the ‘SEE IT’ core values — [the] executive team, we came up with: Sincerity, Empathy, Empowerment, Individuality, and Teamwork… They’re all important, but you have to be empathetic, especially in these times.”

How Does Grant Use Storytelling To Connect With Customers? 

Growing up with dreams of becoming a film director, Grant has leaned on his storytelling skills to communicate with customers impactfully. 

“So for me, it’s trying to connect on a human level [and] in authentic fashion, something that’s meaningful to the audience. I learned, even though I started in a pretty technical role in product management, product marketing, that what it does is important, [but] what it means is more important… Customers want outcomes. They don’t want your technology. They want to solve a problem. And if you can describe the outcomes, the future state, [and] the goodness of being a partner with your company and… adopt your solution, then I think you’re a long ways to connecting.”

About the Guest:

BIO: As chief marketing officer, Grant leads global marketing for Emburse, overseeing marketing strategies, programs and tactics designed to increase market leadership, generate demand and enhance customer advocacy.

Grant has a storied history working in senior marketing roles for some of the best-known brands in technology, including FileNet/IBM, Symantec and Toshiba. Before joining Emburse, Grant was CMO of cybersecurity company Cylance (acquired by BlackBerry). Prior to that, he was the CMO of Kofax and CMO of Pegasystems.

Grant holds a B.A. in Political Science from the University of California, Santa Barbara, and an M.B.A. from Pepperdine University.”

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Episode 326