FSQ Faces/Behind the Tech: Stu Kendall, Director of Product Marketing, Enterprise (Places, Visits, Pilgrim, Studio)

Can you tell us a little about your role and team at Foursquare?

I’m the Director of Product Marketing and lead a stellar PMM team supporting our data, developer, and geospatial analytics products. 

The mission of our team is quite simple – to educate our customers and target audience on what we do, why we’re different, and how we can help them. And to equip our GTM teams with everything they need to be successful. That comes in the form of product storytelling, positioning & messaging, product & feature launches, GTM strategy, content production, sales enablement, customer marketing, and more.

How did you end up at Foursquare? What does your career journey look like?

If you’re looking for a story about how my career unfolded due to a series of pragmatic and strategic career moves, this is not one of them. I’ve spent my entire career in the data and analytics space, working at both big companies and small startups. But none of that was necessarily intentional. 

Rather, I spend a lot of my career growth energy working hard in my current role, developing my skillset and leadership capabilities, and doing what I can to increase surface area for me to get ‘lucky’ with whatever may come next.

I’ll give you an example – last January I was catching up with an old friend and former co-worker to see how his move to California had gone. And at one point he mentioned an open role at his company (Foursquare) that would fit my experience and skill set and encouraged me to interview. It seemed cool, and I was just starting to peak around at new gigs and looked into it. And before I knew it, I was having my first day at the company.

Funny how things work out like that, right? 

Did you always know you wanted to work in technology?

No way. When I was a kid I remember being convinced that my dream job was to become an ice cream truck driver (still is). 

Since starting at Foursquare, how has your career grown or changed?

My career has evolved in a number of different ways for the better. When you think about how modern marketing teams operate and how they go to market, it seems like it’s always changing and evolving. Even in the short time since I first joined Foursquare up until now, there’s been a number of new techniques, strategy frameworks, and ways that we go to market that have been new for me as a marketer. It’s always a fun challenge to expand my marketing skills in those different scenarios. Being a part of the geospatial location industry also represents a ton of just natural growth because this industry is rapidly changing, too.

What sets Foursquare apart as an employer?

One thing that I think we do really well is that we very much put our customers at the forefront of everything we do. From the messaging that we bring to market on our website or through our ads and emails, to our product roadmap, and even just generally how we go to market and bring our products and services to our customers. We do a great job at starting with the customer and their needs, and what they’re trying to solve for, and then working back to figure out what we can then do to serve them.

Why is diversity, inclusion and equity (DE&I) important to you, and how do you think Foursquare’s culture embodies these values?

This is something that I talk to my team about quite often. I believe that if we find ourselves agreeing with each other too often then it’s a signal something is very wrong. We’re either succumbing to groupthink too easily, or there is a breakdown in our culture where folks do not feel the environment is right to challenge the status quo and come up with new, creative ideas.

To combat this, Foursquare is very intentional about building a diverse team. Whether that is diversity in job experience, personal background, different styles, and more, we want folks to challenge each other and to introduce new ideas because it ultimately leads to better outcomes for our customers. Diversity, inclusion and equity all play a really big piece of that.

What do you see as the greatest challenges facing businesses today? What role can Foursquare play in addressing those challenges?

Many of the customers I interact with are generally pretty good at understanding their own first party data. That is, data that they collect and own. They understand how to use that information to inform their decisions, their products, their pricing, et cetera. What we find is that they’re not as adept at utilizing second or third party data- or data that comes from outside of their walls – to inform their business decision making. This is a challenge that Foursquare is uniquely positioned to solve.

For over a decade, we’ve been in the business of helping businesses utilize that data – whether it’s through analysis, visualization, developers tools – to make better business decisions.

What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?

The best advice I’ve received is to put in the work. You can read books, blogs, podcasts, and other people’s advice all day, but it is near meaningless to you unless you put it into practice. Instead of reading 12 business books throughout the year, try reading 1 book and apply things you’ve learned immediately in your life or job. Nearly all of the things I’ve learned along the way in my Marketing career are from when I’ve been in the trenches of deep work. 

When employees join Foursquare, they’re always asked to share a fun fact. What would your fun fact be?

When I was 27 years old I quit my job and pursued a sabbatical of traveling and volunteering around the world full time for about 13 months. I sold nearly everything I owned and had the privilege and opportunity to work at various animal rescue shelters in Central & South America, South Africa, and Southeast Asia. It was a humbling and incredible experience that I’ll remember forever.

What do you like to do in your spare time?

I’m a new dad, so my wife and I love spending time with our daughter, Ruth. She joined us in May of 2022 and she’s just fantastic! We’re having a blast as new parents raising her and introducing her to our two year old pup, Stanley. We love spending time as a family walking along the beach here in Chicago or visiting one of the many different dog friendly park areas in the city.

What local hidden gem would you recommend to people?

If you own a dog in Chicago (or just love dogs) you must visit the Montrose Dog Beach. It’s a section of the lakefront that is specifically designed for safe and fun off-leash dog play on the beach and in the water. During the peak summer hours you’ll find 200-300 dogs romping around together having a blast.

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