The CMO Files: Sonia Dorais, Compleat Software
Human Resources

The CMO Files: Sonia Dorais, Compleat Software

Name:  Sonia Dorais

Organization: Compleat Software

Job title: CMO

Location: London, UK

Sonia Dorais is a customer-centric marketer, data-smart executive and empathetic storyteller with over 10 years of experience in marketing software and tech start-ups and SMBs in both Canada and the United Kingdom. As CMO at Compleat Software, Dorais leads efforts to accelerate new growth by developing marketing strategies and leading the plan across full mix of disciplines. Dorais' main focus is customer happiness and service excellence; she believes that happy customers are the best marketers for a business.

Where were you born and raised? I was born in Quebec City, Canada. But I was raised in Gatineau (Canada), Brussels and Montreal. I moved around a lot because my father was in the military.

What was your first job? I first started out as a councillor at a camp for children with diabetes, then I moved on to telemarketing for a while and after that worked as a receptionist at a dental clinic. All very different to running the marketing team of an accounting software company, but each of these jobs was incredibly valuable in its own way.

What was the first product you got really excited about? This is a difficult one. I really loved getting my very own computer, so my first personal desktop is probably the product I’ve been most excited about. I spent a long time saving up for it and can remember how happy I was!

Who has been the biggest influence on your career? In terms of striving for more in my career, my husband Andrea has had a huge impact. He stimulated me to read and learn beyond my field, especially in terms of leadership and self-improvement. He also encouraged and supported me through getting a graduate certificate in marketing.

Along the way a lot of people have had a positive influence on my career but Cheryl Jim, my line manager at Birks, probably had the most influence. She taught me about situational leadership and self-engagement. She showed me how to become more self-aware as an employee and a manager.

What has been your greatest achievement? My greatest achievement career-wise has been to help develop my teams and enable them to take on more senior marketing roles, both for my current businesses and for previous ones. Motivating people and giving them the courage to move forward has given me a great deal of satisfaction in my career.

What has been your biggest mistake? My biggest mistake was to be lured to a new job I was not overly excited about purely for a pay rise. This is a mistake I never repeated. No salary increase can make up for the happiness of working in a company that you love and supporting a product you can really get behind.

What is your greatest strength? I think my greatest strength is being able to think strategically but to also execute that strategy. I have met many people in my career who are good at one or the other, but rarely both. I pride myself on being hands-on because it keeps me in-line with the reality of the projects. I’ve had many bosses in my career who had been in management roles for so long they no longer knew how to roll-up their sleeves and do the work.

What is your biggest weakness? My biggest weakness is probably my attention to detail because I tend to speed through projects. Although in general I do not believe that perfectionism is healthy for a business, especially a start-up as agility is paramount.

It’s OK to make mistakes as long as the company is progressing towards its goals. That being said, I do surround myself with people who are more attentive than myself, so that they can achieve what I cannot.

What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers? I get disappointed when my peers believe that all that is required to succeed in the role is good creativity and brand awareness. Being data-driven throughout my career has not only helped me make key strategic decisions but also to justify them.  

Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm? My mantra is, “Live in such a way that if someone spoke badly of you, no one would believe it.”.

Incorrect grammar makes me squirm, for example: the company ‘are’ instead of the company ‘is’. It is only one company!

What makes you stressed? Long unstructured meetings with loads of stakeholders where no actions are taken or decisions made. I also absolutely hate being late. Making people wait is very stressful.  

What do you do to relax? I really enjoy warm baths and listening to music.

What is your favourite song? Colours of the Wind because the lyrics really support my values. Also Climb Every Mountain, because of the meaning supports my outlook on life.  

Which book taught you most? I often recommend The Power of Positive Leadership: How and Why Positive Leaders Transform Teams and Organizations and Change the World, by Jon Gordon.

Staying positive isn’t always easy and that’s why people who do it tend to be special. As it turns out, a positive attitude is essential for success.

Do you have a team or sport that you follow? Lazio in Serie A.

Which country would you like to work in? I feel privileged to get to work in London.

Which company do you think has the best marketing? Amazon. I think it’s vision and mission were (and still are) revolutionary and I love how customer-centric the business is.

Companies like Marketo and HubSpot also have brilliant marketing. They generated so much valuable content for marketers and I’ve learnt a lot from them.

What do you love most about your job? Results for sure. Seeing results backed-up by metrics and data is the best. I also love the variety of projects, from statistics and metrics analysis to content creation and design. I think marketing is unique in such that you need to be both data-driven and creative. 

What is your favourite book? The Harry Potter series. Even though that’s not too original, it’s the truth.

What keeps you awake at night Nothing other than my newborn. Before her arrival I slept very well!


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