Inside HqO: Steve Robins

Inside HqO: Steve Robins, Director of Product Marketing | HqO
Reading Time: 8 minutes

Steve Robins

Director of Product Marketing at HqO

Steve has been with HqO since late 2021, helping to grow the company at the intersection of its Marketing, Product, Customer, and Sales teams. Steve listens to customers, prospects, and users to ensure that the company’s products and messaging resonate with them. He also meets regularly with internal company teams to develop product go-to-market strategies; differentiate messaging; plan product launches; train the Sales and Customer teams on new capabilities and value propositions; and collaborate with Marketing on a variety of project types such as events, webinars, written content, and more.

Inside HqO: Steve Robins, Director of Product Marketing | HqO

You have a lot of experience in the industry. What were you doing before joining HqO?

I worked at Building Engines for about two and a half years. That’s a really interesting connection because Building Engines was acquired by JLL, which is an investor in HqO. This makes Building Engines a very important partner to us. It’s been a lot of fun to connect the dots between my work at HqO and what I did there. When I first joined Building Engines, they didn’t have Product Marketing. I started and grew that function for them  — much like I’m doing here. 

And what drew you to the commercial real estate space in the first place?

Well, I’ve always had an interest in architecture. When I was a little kid, I was always building things with blocks. Buildings have always fascinated me. In fact, one of the things that I enjoyed about Building Engines was its office at 33 Arch Street. I believe it is one of the most beautiful buildings in Boston, with a very sleek and cool design. With its natural grit, the HqO office is an interesting counterpoint to 33 Arch. Our building’s lobby is classic and polished, but when you get upstairs to our floor, it’s very reflective of our culture: hardworking, but vibrant. It’s grit with a smile. These are just small reasons why working at both Building Engines and HqO has been so exciting. And, not only are the office spaces pleasant to work in, but we’re working directly with the people and properties that shape the built environment. 

I agree! I love our office space here and how reflective it is of our culture. Everyone is genuinely happy to be here. Are there other things that drew you to HqO?

There were a couple, actually. First and foremost, I was excited to start a Product Marketing function here. I sensed a really strong appetite for that at HqO. Since I’ve done this before, I have a unique Product Marketing model that I’ve developed based on my experiences working with different companies. It helps shape everything from our research, to our value propositions, to product launch, to sales enablement.

Secondly, as I was deciding where to go next, I thought a lot about the eventual return to office. It’s pretty clear that many people are going to come back to working in offices. It won’t be everybody, and it won’t be every day of the week, but they will come back. The caveat to this is that they won’t come back just because their employer mandates it, or because their state tells them it’s safe to do so. Instead, the office has to become a place people want to go to. People want to collaborate with their colleagues and work together instead of alone from their living rooms. 

I believe that HqO is one of the tools — maybe even the most important tool — that helps achieve these goals. You can really take advantage of the full workplace experience and get the most out of it by using our product. The opportunity for HqO is tremendous, and I’m really excited to be here.

I have to say, we’re so happy you joined the team! Now let’s dive into your day-to-day responsibilities. What do they look like?

Every morning starts with a Marketing standup. What’s really cool about that is it helps our team know what everybody else is working on and how we can help each other. In other companies, Marketing leadership usually doesn’t have a lot of visibility into what you’re actually working on. You don’t get to talk to them. At HqO, everybody — including the leaders — are accessible to you and know what’s going on. Everybody gets exposure, and it helps us do a better job both as individuals and as a team.

On a typical day, that standup is followed by meetings with other teams in order to bring important innovations to market. I might meet with the product management team to learn about exciting product enhancements and how they will help our customers, or plan product launches. We keep a really close and collaborative relationship with the Product team to make sure that there’s a steady flow of information back and forth. I might also meet with the Sales team to conduct trainings about our product and our overall company value propositions. Then, of course, a lot of my day is focused on helping HqO’s Marketing team channel that messaging throughout the many different projects we work on together. 

As one of your teammates, I can attest that the work you’ve done with Marketing has been truly invaluable.

I love collaborating with my Marketing colleagues as a subject matter and messaging expert. It’s something different every day. For example, you and I worked together on a website overhaul shortly after I joined. That project was an incredible amount of work, but overall an amazing learning experience and a lot of fun. I might also collaborate on written content like eBooks and data sheets, webinars and tradeshows, research that we’re doing for the company, slide decks for the Sales team, and even preparations for our Customer Advisory Board meetings.

Product Marketing is really such a crucial part of our company.

I think so, too. One of the things that I love about Product Marketing is that it sits at the center of Product, Marketing, Sales, Customer Support, Customer Success, and Implementation. When you do Product Marketing well, it helps all of those other functions to do their jobs better and more efficiently. It helps us all stay aligned, using the same powerful value propositions. For example, we make sure Sales representatives are well-trained about a new product or feature that is coming out so they can talk about it effectively with their prospects. When they’re successful — especially the Sales team — we’re successful.

How do you ensure all these teams are always on the same page?

Our culture plays a big part in that. At HqO, we have meetings at a defined cadence where everybody in the company has an opportunity to learn about different things that are happening. Whether it’s a biweekly Lunch & Learn or a Demos & Wins meeting, you can learn what new features are coming out and other company updates. You never feel out of the loop, because there is an extraordinary amount of transparency between departments at HqO. So, I like to set aside time to dial into the things that are happening all over the company so I can translate and share them with the right people. In one way or another, almost anything that is Product-related or Sales-related is also Product Marketing-related.

Inside HqO: Steve Robins, Director of Product Marketing | HqO

Out of all the things you’ve worked on so far, which project are you most proud of?

I can actually speak about two projects I’m proud of. One of the first projects that I worked on was the “marketecture” — or the non-technical description of our products, systems, structures, and interactions — for HqO as part of our new website launch. HqO has many unique competitive advantages, and we really wanted to highlight that. One of the ways that you can make that come to light is through product marketecture. In the process, we also renamed some of our products and features to better reflect their unique capabilities. We also sought to surface that we have a very powerful app, backed by a series of built-in and partner modules that all come together to produce valuable insights through HqO Analytics. I think people only see the tip of the iceberg, which is our mobile app. But, that mobile app is backed by a very robust, scalable, and secure SaaS platform.

The second project stems from our acquisition of Office App back in October. That allowed us to move towards serving corporations directly, and not just landlords. Since our product is already used in 25 countries, our global team has been taking the expertise that we gained through the merger to partner with the workplace experience managers who work in those companies. Since then, we’ve been building out our footprint in the corporate market and doing all of the things that happen when you move into a new market. It has required an extraordinary amount of collaboration to create Sales tools, new content, and trainings for this market. Martijn Frusch joined us from OfficeApp, and has been leading the product marketing charge on this. It’s been really exciting to see it all unfold.

As you work through all these projects, have there been any specific real estate technologies that excite you the most?

What excites me the most is having a single app that does everything that you need to manage your workplace experience. It can engage with not only your office building, but also the workspaces that you choose to work in. It also encompasses everything from mobile access, to ordering food in advance, to reserving conference rooms, to taking advantage of events and classes. It’s incredibly convenient. That convenience factor is especially important right now because, as companies reopen their offices, it’s really easy for them to want to throw different apps and tools at their employees. Having one app to power all your workplace needs makes everyone’s experiences faster and more pleasant.

In your opinion, how is workplace experience technology shaping the future of the industry?

Ten years ago, we all took offices for granted. Companies also took for granted that employees were going to show up in their office Monday through Friday. These days, it’s much more important for employers to provide an experience that is easy and that connects the employee to their company. Employees will be more inclined to stay with a company if their work lives are made easier, by providing new opportunities for them to get a sense of what they can accomplish in the office.

This means showing them how they can collaborate and what they can take advantage of. For example, employers might provide coupons for food as an enticement to be back in the office. Perks and benefits like that help employees to actually want to be in the office. All of this contributes to the overall workplace experience, which is fundamentally about creating connections between the people that work in the building itself, and the company. That’s why HqO has a complete suite of features that helps both landlords and employers build strong relationships with employees and tenants. That’s workplace experience.

To wrap things up, what excites you most about working at HqO?

HqO is the leader in the industry. We’re a critical tool that’s going to get employees back into offices. We’re not going to do it on our own, but we can serve as partners to those with the same mission. 

We’re also a company with really simple, yet comprehensive LET’S GO values. We live those values every day, and we work with each other through that lens as well. They are all values that just make a lot of sense and that challenge us to do our best work. It all goes back to what I said earlier, about the grit-with-a-smile culture. We’re leaders, but we’re still evolving and constantly seeking improvement. If you join HqO today, you’re going to have the chance to really polish that stone and help us grow.

Inside HqO pulls back the curtain and introduces you to the people who make HqO the undisputed leader in workplace experience technology. For more information on HqO, click here. If you’re interested in joining Steve and the HqO team, check out all of our current openings here.

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