Why You’re Not Changing the World with Kim Caldbeck, CMO, Coursera

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Education is something that is incredibly powerful. It changes lives, communities, even countries. But education is more than institutions. It’s knowledge, empowerment, and knowing how to take action on skills you learn.

My guest today, Kim Caldbeck, CMO of Coursera, is using her marketing skills to make an impact on individuals to help empower them to make changes.

“We did a campaign in the fall that was about rethinking possibilities and, and that, and, um, this year, uh, the campaign platform that we’re really working through is, is all about that feeling. When, when, you know, you can ACE that interview, when, you know, you have the skills for the job, when you realize you can actually go dream like you could when you were a kid.”

In this episode she talks about what it’s like working at an institution that targets nearly anyone who wants to learn. She discusses some of the marketing tech she uses, what she looks for in success stories, and how she creates passion in her team.

When you finish this episode, let me know what you think by leaving a comment on Apple Podcasts or on YouTube. Alright, let’s get to it!

Main Takeaways

  • Sales is about teamwork. In the end, sales always comes down to the marketing team, and they should be working closely with the sales team to make sure they have enough potential, and knowledgeable, customers to execute on.
  • Take advantage of internal and external talent. When you are a growing team, it’s helpful to bring on external talent to make sure you are completing the jobs in the most efficient manner, but when it comes time to scale you want to bring on internal hires. Having internal talent will help make sure processes are followed, and you have more control over the end result.
  • Look ahead. It’s easy to get trapped in the day to day work grind, but you want look down the road. What will the next three years look like? What will the world be like? What goals do you have for the next three years?

Key Quotes

“I think marketing is an amazing field that allows you to combine that interest in understanding people and empathy and creativity and storytelling along with hardcore data and analytics and technology.”

“If marketing’s not doing the most effective thing to close deals, then we’re not doing our job. And if sales is wasting energy by not taking the leads that we’re providing, then either they’re wasting energy on their side and they could be closing more deals or we’re not doing our job. It’s just that shared commitment to the end result.”

“[When hiring] what’s their why? Pretty much everyone at Coursera has some connection to our mission in a meaningful way. It is an easy one to get behind when you’re trying to transform life through learning. Having people be able to articulate why that means something to them and why they’re excited.”

“[External vs internal teams] is definitely a nail and scale approach. I would nail with more freelance support and scale with more full-time support. But even within that, the larger equation is, how do we get the job done in the best way possible at the lowest cost?”


Kim Caldbeck is the Chief Marketing Officer at Coursera. Kim joined Coursera in April 2015 as Director of Brand and Product Marketing. Prior to Coursera, Kim spent five years at Facebook launching many of Facebook’s first consumer marketing campaigns in over 60 global markets. She spent much of her time in the mobile space spearheading Facebook’s internet.org launch to bring internet to the offline world, leading product marketing for Facebook for Android and Facebook for Every Phone, and developing the Facebook for Android beta program. She also spent two years in business marketing at Facebook helping advertisers build their brands and businesses in the digital world. Prior to Facebook, Kim worked in marketing at Apple supporting a network of over 100,000 app developers. She started her career in brand consulting and consumer research at Landor Associates working with many of the world’s leading brands. Kim received her undergraduate degree from Harvard University and her MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

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Episode 286