ICUC Leader Spotlight: Nicole van Zanten, Co-President & Chief Growth Officer at ICUC

Emily Marquis

July 13, 2021

Meet Nicole van Zanten

ICUC’s Co-President and Chief Growth Officer, Nicole Van Zanten knows how to meet a goal. Whether she’s innovating revenue machines or developing client acquisition strategies, we know where she’s looking: ahead. When Nicole isn’t taking new client phone calls or running town hall meetings, you may see her strolling with her loyal canine or tracking some serious miles on local Vancouver trail runs. Best of luck catching her, though – you’re better off finding time on her calendar 😊 How does this Chief Growth Officer do it all? The word “resilience” comes to mind, but after chatting with Nicole, it seems her magic trick is in life’s simplicity: learn how to find joy and inspiration in the day-to-day. Let’s dive in …

Can you give us a snapshot of your role at ICUC?

“I initially joined ICUC as Director of Marketing, which led to leading the marketing and sales team as Senior Vice President, bringing both sides together under one happy family, which isn’t always easy to do! And now, I’m the Co-President and Chief Growth Officer. Essentially, bringing together the first ‘touch’ of a potential new partner to ICUC, through to customer success, and I love it. We’ve built a truly fantastic team.”

What experiences in your previous roles led you to Co-President and CGO?

“When I was SVP of Marketing about 5 years ago, a business consultant worked with ICUC to assess where we were at and really wanted to focus on building out the sales team. He tasked me with establishing a Predictable Revenue cycle – knowing exactly how many leads we need to generate to than how many we need to close to meet our revenue goals. It was my #1 task, and he gave me 6 months to figure out how I could build this revenue machine (Which at the time, was intimidating!)

I started gathering and leveling up all our lead mechanisms, from content generation to appointment setting vendors. They all contribute in some form to driving clients for ICUC.

Once creating the Predictable Revenue cycle was accomplished, the next step was to ask myself, how can we drive more revenue to current clients? How can we grow our partnerships and enhance our relationships with current clients?

My directive for the 6 months following was then to keep the focus on obtaining new business, but also to focus on our engagement with current clients. We launched client newsletters, client-specific webinars, little mini-conferences, anniversary celebrations, in-person meetings, dinners, etc. … a concerted effort to drive awareness around our relationships.

I remember thinking to myself, here I am as SVP of Marketing with such a strong client-centric strategy now in my portfolio. The next logical, and most passionate step, for me, was to start managing our client relationship strategy. The Director of Customer Success came into my team and that is essentially where we are at today.”

How long have you been with ICUC, then?

“In total, I’ve been with ICUC for seven years. The marketing team at that time was a content creation machine with not a lot of focus on the strategy and function of marketing. We’ve moved from a communications/PR team to a GROWTH team. Marketing needs to have a sales end, in addition to a brand reputation. I came in right when that transition happened in the industry.”

What drew you to ICUC initially?

“Prior to ICUC I worked for several different industries: regulated, non-profits, sports, and entertainment. I led social and digital channels for the Vancouver Canucks for 6 years. I literally opened their Instagram account! I was a one-person show, and I always wanted a business like ICUC to support me in that role. We grew a lot, and I was desperate for community management support. I was reached out to by a recruiter to join the Director of Marketing role at ICUC, so I decided the time was right!”

What do you like most about your job?

“I love listening to what our clients are looking for and what their pain points are. I love shadowing pitches and joining first calls. If I’m not apprised of what our constituents are looking for, then I can’t plan 5 years ahead.”

5 years?!

“I’m on the phone a lot 😆 But, I love it! love planning… Right now, we’re planning for 2025, which may sound crazy. This technology is changing so much and over the last 14-16 months; we’ve just realized how valuable our people are … Not that we didn’t before, but something has certainly shifted.

Before COVID, we were a tech and human business. Now we’re going to market with the value of our humans, and how special those people are. We’re investing in our people more than we ever had. We’re making decisions in a different way; a human-focused way.”

You’ve had a lot of cool wins. How do you define success?

“For myself, I don’t want to say being happy every day, but I do need to wake up feeling inspired every day. To me, inspiration = success. If I’m not inspired, then I’m doing something wrong.”

Seeing my team grow and evolve is the best part of this job. My team mentors me and I mentor them but seeing them evolve over this past year has been so much fun. Resiliency has been our big word.“

If you could tell your younger self some career advice, what would it be?

“Keep raising your hand.

I feel like there have been some doors I’ve gone through that have not been the best move for my career, but they always led to something else. Looking back at when I was tasked to build a Predictable Revenue cycle, I had NO IDEA what I was doing, but I’m so happy I raised my hand.”

What do you enjoy doing outside of work?

“I love to push myself in endurance events, so ultra-marathons are what I’m focusing on right now. I’ve done Ironmans in the past and I’ll certainly do that moving forward (For those reading, an ultra-marathon is any run over 42.4 kilometers). Running gives me a chance to decompress over the weekend especially after a long work week.”

That must require a strong routine…

“Well, I’m a Virgo so 😂 … I wake up early in the morning, I take my dog for a walk with a cup of coffee, and then I either hop on the bike, do some strength exercises, or a short run. The weekends are the long runs and I go on the trails.

On July 10th, I ran a 50 Kilometer event solo (because races aren’t happening right now) from basically one area of Vancouver to another. The route is referred to as one of the most difficult trail races in North America, the Knee Knacker. I have a great group of friends who supported me: one ran with me and another one of my friends drove me back to my car. There were 8 stations throughout the entire course which is when I could hydrate.”

Ok, if you could pick three words to describe yourself, what would they be?

“Focused. Resilient. Collaborative.”

It seems like you do a lot of traveling just by running. What is the best place you’ve traveled to, and why?

“This may seem simple, but I love going to visit my family in the Netherlands. I have a ton of cousins and aunts and uncles in Amsterdam. I haven’t been with them in some time, and it’s always just so wonderful.”

Last question … Tell us something about yourself that would surprise us.

“I was in 4-H when I was a kid, meaning that I trained cows for anyone who doesn’t know 😆. I have a long farming history in my family, so I trained cows in Canada when I was 11 years old.”

That is amazing. Thank you so much, Nicole. I feel inspired just chatting with you.

“Thank you! It’s been a while since I’ve looked back at my timeline. That was fun.”