Meet Andréa Hudson, Senior Marketing Manager at HubSpot

Get your ticket for Inbound 2021! Speakers include Oprah Winfrey, Tristan Walker and more! Register for your ticket here:   (Discount Code: POCIT)

When Andréa Hudson had the opportunity to speak at a HubSpot panel for her work on branding and events marketing, it marked a pivotal point in her career. At that moment, she felt her work be recognized for its excellence and introduced to a wider audience. Today, Andréa works for the very same company that gave her that speaking opportunity.

In this interview, Andréa discusses her work at HubSpot, how COVID-19 has impacted the way HubSpot puts on events and her career trajectory. This interview was revised for clarity.

Hi Andréa, could you please tell us what you do at HubSpot?

I am currently a Senior Marketing Manager for the Global Events team at HubSpot. Previously, the Global Events team was only managing INBOUND (HubSpot’s annual in-person experience, last year was the first digital experience and this year it will be digital again), but we’ve recently expanded to manage international events such as GROW. I’ve been working here for about a year and a half now, and so far, so good.

Being surrounded by so many brilliant minds feels so invigorating. Working with this team almost feels like getting a master’s degree in the digital technology side of organizing and marketing events, building audiences and developing strategies that drive conversion. I’m learning so many new things as I go along.

Can you tell us about some interesting events for INBOUND 2021?

Oprah Winfrey will be a Spotlight Speaker at INBOUND 2021. This is a huge milestone for the team because it encapsulates the power of women who have shattered the invisible glass ceiling, beat the odds, and most importantly it gives everyone an opportunity to snag some life-changing gems for FREE with the Starter Pass.  All Spotlight Speaker talks are free so that means yes, OPRAH is speaking for the masses.

Another incredible project that I’ve been working closely on with our internal Community team is an initiative called Black at INBOUND, where black business owners can share their stories, experience events together, and generally connect with each other. 

I’m excited about this because we are going to have some great conversations with notable Black entrepreneurs who have taken it from 0-100. For example, we have an event planned with Tristan Walker, the Co-Founder of Walker and Company Brands, who has built a tremendous name for himself. He’ll be doing a meetup, so the attendees of digital INBOUND will be able to tune in, and connect over the conversation. 

How did COVID-19 impact the way HubSpot organized INBOUND 2020?

When I started in 2019, INBOUND had 26,000 registered attendees, but in 2020, COVID-19 happened. We had to evolve. There was no chance that we were going to cancel an event as a large marketing technology company. So we decided that the best way to go forward was to host an elevated experience online.

With the help of one of our partners, we had a platform built from scratch and scaled the event from the 26,000 attendees who were supposed to come to Boston to 70,000 attendees from across the globe. 

We also introduced a free ticket option in 2020, which gave access to all the spotlight speakers, including celebrities and C-level executives. This further broke down the barriers to entry for many attendees. 

Aside from these changes, we devised a digital content strategy that included our followers. I launched an Inbound 2020 Global Advisory Committee, where we held monthly meetings with attendees from all over the world, processed their input, and went to work to implement some of the changes that they wanted to see. We called this campaign and process “co-creation” and continued to find ways to integrate their experiences into our event. We also knew that we had to think differently so we introduced new content types including audio sessions where you could walk away from the computer if you needed to, but still wanted to tune in and learn from some incredible speakers.

When COVID happened, the pivot was more centrally focused on the humanization of the community and how important it was to have a place like INBOUND to keep you inspired. We leaned into an empathy-driven approach and focused on tackling the topics that we knew were on everyone’s mind. The injustices of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor, the stress of your home becoming the only place you could be with lockdown and so much more.  We switched up our email marketing and content calendar to focus more on the relevance of the human experience and I think that was what made our brand extremely strong last year. It created a sense of belonging, trust and value. 

Let’s switch gears for a bit. Prior to HubSpot, you’ve had an interesting entrepreneurial trajectory. Could you tell us more about that?

Most of my previous experience revolved around managing large-scale events, marketing campaigns, and branding projects related to sports, music, lifestyle, and culture. When I moved to Los Angeles, I was hired by AEG, a very well-known sport and live entertainment company, to manage events for organizations, such as The Grammys, the Stanley Cup, and the NBA. 

After three or four years, I moved back to the east coast in Boston and worked for Sonicbids, an online platform connecting musicians, promoters, and brands. Think of it as LinkedIn but for musicians and gigs. If you wanted to play an official showcase at SXSW, you had to apply through Sonicbids. I was on the brand side, working with brands who were sponsoring these experiences, and ran through catalogue after catalogue of undiscovered musicians to pair them with the right opportunities. 

Eventually, that company was purchased by Billboard. I left and decided to found Booger Money Worldwide, a boutique marketing consulting and branding agency in 2014, and worked with brands such as Google and Live Nation. Google was actually my first client, it was funny because some of my friends thought Booger Money was an unapproachable agency name, that wouldn’t attract serious clients but everyone can relate to the feeling of wanting so much money – you could blow your nose with it. 

With Google, I specifically worked on employer branding. We created a music program for Googlers where we would bring live musicians onto the Cambridge campus every month as part of the company’s employee perks programs. We started on a three-month pilot, but the initiative lasted for about four years. I booked over 80 bands for Google during that time, and a good amount of them have gone on to do incredible things. 

One of the largest branding projects I have ever done was for Lord Hobo Brewing Company. There I was the first marketing hire and scaled that brewery to having a global presence and a massive product lineup. I led the expansion from distribution in 7 states to 15 states and internationally. Our campaigns and brands received significant press attention and the innovation projects that I led offered opportunities for speaking engagements, one of which was for HubSpot on Black Excellence, and Women in Pride of Business panels. They became acquainted with my work and appreciated what I had to say. They gave me a platform to tell my story.  After a connection of mine was hired to work for the Global Events team at HubSpot, she reached out to me. I applied, interviewed, took the assessment, and the rest is history.

That’s quite a journey! What kind of challenges or support did you find throughout? 

I’ve always been super honest and upfront about being a queer Black woman. I think of it as a superpower in a way.

Getting these speaking opportunities really made me feel as if my work was being acknowledged, and that people wanted to hear my story and what I had to offer. 

As far as the challenges go, obviously, when I walk in the room, there’s already an opinion being made about me because of the color of my skin. I do still feel as though I have to work harder than most people. I think I will probably always have that complex.

Ultimately, I think that there should be opportunities for people of color in tech to speak their minds, show their creativity, and share their stories. Having a platform is the only way that we’re going to be able to evolve as a culture and as people.

Any other words for people of color wanting to get into what you’re doing?

Just go for it. Don’t second guess yourself. Connect with the right people, have the right conversations, put yourself out there, be authentic, and do not try to hide who you are. And look for companies that are willing to invest in building a great culture where you can thrive. 

Get your ticket for Inbound 2021! Speakers include Oprah Winfrey, Tristan Walker and more! Register for your ticket here:   (Discount Code: POCIT)

Julian Canlas

Julian is a tech writer, specialising in community-first SaaS content strategy and narrative journalism

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