Claudia Thijs is the Director of Global Field Marketing at OpenSpace, where she bridges sales and marketing and leads a talented team of marketers who are helping more builders discover the benefits of reality capture. MR: Thanks so much for spending some time with us, Claudia. Let’s get to know you a bit better!…
Catching Up With… Sarah Leicester
May 2nd, 2023
Sarah Leicester is Head of EMEA Field Marketing at OpenSpace, where she builds and executes marketing programs to help ensure our growing European audience learns about the benefits of OpenSpace reality capture. Sarah connects the global marketing team with the countries in the EMEA region, from Scotland to Saudi Arabia and everywhere in between. A key part of her role is working with the regional teams to identify trends and events to make sure everyone in the industry knows how OpenSpace will improve the way they work.
MR: Thanks so much for sharing your story with us, Sarah. You studied International Relations and French at university and then spent time interning in Paris, where you got your first taste of marketing. What about marketing appealed to you? Were you planning to do something different with your degree before this internship?
Sarah: Much of my degree focused on human rights in developing countries, which was interesting and heartbreaking in equal measure. I didn’t think the corporate world was for me and initially sought to hone in on the international relations part of my degree, looking for internships in Non-Governmental Organizations.
I couldn’t turn down a golden opportunity to use my French, though, when I was offered an internship in Paris working for tech giant OpenText. This opportunity quashed my expectations of what it would be like to work in tech. I met incredibly interesting people who were really passionate about challenging and improving the way people work. I thank my mentor in Paris for allowing me to get my teeth into a real range of marketing activities during my time there—organizing local events, running social media, and developing marketing strategies. My eyes were opened, and so began a career in marketing.
MR: What a great awakening that was! You’ve worked for several companies in the legaltech space. What interested you about this industry, and what accomplishments are you most proud of from that part of your career?
Sarah: I actually fell into legaltech by accident, and initially, it seemed like an incredibly hard industry to market to. Try convincing law firms, which bill by the hour, to buy technology that’ll save them time.
I did, however, join the world of legaltech at a really exciting time. The whole legal industry is steeped in centuries of tradition, with everything done on paper. It was desperate for disruption! And that’s where we came in, initially blowing the minds of the early adopters, but in no time at all, every law firm wanted to brag about their digital toolkit and the ways in which they were innovating. There are thousands of new legaltech startups each year now, and the industry continues to grow, but I’m proud to have been part of one of the first.
In terms of accomplishments, I led a new vertical launch for a company I worked with called HighQ (legaltech). I spearheaded the launch of our product to a completely new persona (corporate legal teams), which involved delivering extensive persona research, building product collateral, launching thought-leadership campaigns, PR…everything really. Within 18 months, this vertical accounted for 30% of new business. Soon after, we were acquired by Thompson Reuters!
MR: That’s quite an accomplishment! So what led you to OpenSpace? Did you have any connection to the construction industry?
Sarah: Actually, I didn’t have any prior connection to construction. This was another new industry I stumbled upon, but I was intrigued by the similar opportunity for digital disruption. Since I’d already developed strategies to tap into this opportunity while working in legaltech, I was game for the challenge. But I have to say it was interviewing with the team, particularly Sam Badrah (regional lead for Middle East and emerging markets), that sealed the deal for me. I felt compelled by the real need in the market for OpenSpace, the stage of growth OpenSpace was at, and, most importantly, the passion with which OpenSpace employees approached their work.
MR: Well, regardless of how you got here, we’re so fortunate to have you on the team and the experience you bring from other industries and regions. Speaking of regions, what are some of the challenges and opportunities you are encountering when it comes to marketing a reality capture solution in Europe, the Middle East, and Africa?
Sarah: Every sub-region is different, and then every country is different beyond that—from who is involved in the buying cycle, to the pain points, to the regional laws and languages. To sell successfully in EMEA, you need to understand these differences and be able to talk to each audience. It’s a challenge, but we have a great team who share knowledge and experiences, so we are able to keep up to speed and come up with ideas together.
MR: Let’s take this to the next level. Can you share something interesting about yourself that your teammates might not know about you?
Sarah: Here are several things! I did the London Marathon in 2018, and I raised over £7k for a charity (Injured Players Foundation) that helped a very close friend of mine. My favourite words are loquacious and philharmonic. I’ve got an unhealthy obsession with cheese…the stinkier, the better! I am expecting my first baby in a month’s time, and I can’t wait to eat all the stinky cheese again. I live in a town called Didcot which got voted Britain’s most ordinary town—so, good for me!
MR: Congratulations on your impending new arrival! And how wonderful that you were able to raise so much money to help your friend (what a powerful incentive to run a marathon!). I will have to make sure I present you with stinky cheese when I next see you. Until then, what motivates and inspires you about working at OpenSpace?
Sarah: What inspires me most is the team I work with all over the world. Everyone is passionate about what we’re doing here at OpenSpace.
I am new to the construction industry, and working at OpenSpace has changed the way I look at the world. Everywhere you go, the world is changing, and construction is at the heart of it. I love it now when I walk through London and see the names of OpenSpace customers everywhere, it’s exciting to be part of that!
MR: What a wonderful sentiment. Thanks again for sharing your story with us, Sarah!
Sarah: I’ve enjoyed it, thanks!
OpenSpace has a diverse, talented team across the globe. Some actively support our customers to keep them building better and faster. Some lead key departments and initiatives to keep OpenSpace moving forward fast. And others work in fascinating roles behind the scenes to deliver innovative technology that we’ll also explore. In this “Catching Up With…” series on the OpenSpace Blog, we’ll meet members of the OpenSpace team, learn about their roles and what motivates and inspires them, and give readers an inside look at OpenSpace. Looking for a new challenge and want to build something you can be proud of? Join our team!