The CMO Files: Daniel CF Ng, Senior Director of Marketing, Asia Pacific, CommVault Systems

Get inside the mind of the world's top marketing professionals. In 20 questions we find out what they love most about their job, what their biggest achievements are... and what keeps them awake at night. Read 'The CMO Files'...

Name:  Daniel CF Ng

Organisation: CommVault Systems

Job title: Senior Director of Marketing, Asia Pacific

Location: Singapore  


(1) Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Malaysia and grew up in Kuala Lumpur.

(2) What was your first job? 

My first job was in Nixdorf Computer as a Systems Analyst/Programmer.

(3) What was the first product you got really excited about?

Hard to remember but I would probably say it was a product I helped developed - a banking solution N'BASYS - which was implemented in Malaysia and across Asia. When I was first asked to present to an audience about that product, it was the beginning of my transformation from a software engineer to a marketing professional.  That transition really raised my level of passion about any product to a new level for the first time.

(4) Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

I have been very fortunate to have various people help nurture and guide me at various stages of my career. Many of them are in IBM where I spent most of my professional life. Specifically I would mention Ms. Teresa Lim, Ms. Janet Ang, Mr. Paul Moung and now in CommVault Systems, Mr. David West.

(5) What has been your greatest achievement?

It is almost impossible to identify a greatest achievement, because all great achievements must always be taken in context of the environment in which they are achieved.  Great achievements also create possibilities for greater achievements to be achieved in the future.  In reality I think my greatest achievement is in continuing to put myself in scenarios where I can learn new things and contribute in different ways.  After all, in my 28 year career to date, I can still come into work and be happy and motivated that what I am doing is innovative and ground breaking.

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?

No successful marketers can claim that they have never made mistakes. I for one certainly have made some. To me, if you have not failed before, you have not tried hard enough. Making mistakes is also the most assured way of learning how to do things better next time, so in fact, behind all good marketers will be bad experiences that enable them to be better professionals going forward.  I do not consider any mistakes as failures if one learned from it and never repeats it.

(7) What is your greatest strength?

An ability to provide the thinking, structures and processes that enable an organisation to innovate.  I am a strong believer that asking questions is free, and the worst that can happen is for someone to say no. Asking questions that push people to think outside of their usual comfort zone, or take a fundamentally different way to do things than they have done in the past; this has been the foundation of some of the most successful projects I have overseen, and often achieved in a timeframe or scope which  no one had initially thought possible. With this confidence, I can uncover passion, lead teams and challenge convention.

(8) What is your biggest weakness?

My trust in others. I have always tended to trust everyone from the outset of any relationship, and start from an expectation that they will do unto to me as I do unto them. This has unfortunately caused some challenges of my own making in previous roles, but I still maintain that it is the right thing to do.

(9) What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?

The relevancy of what marketing delivers, beyond the ROI or the cost per lead, into an understanding of how marketing genuinely influences behaviour and attitude.  I believe Marketing is essentially a behavioural science delivered as an art.

(10) Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?

‘RELEVANCY' is my consistent mantra that I have always installed in all of my teams.  On the flip side, I don't believe that the term ‘I' has any place in any team environment - most especially correctly integrated marketing teams.

(11) What makes you stressed?

Inactivity. Waiting. Indecision.

(12) What do you do to relax?

Avoiding inactivity and indecision, primarily through cooking and going to the gym.  A perfect evening would be finishing work, clearly deciding on what to cook that evening while being active in the gym!

(13) What is your favourite song?

Teman Terulung (My Best Friend), a malay song by Anuar Zain of Malaysia.

(14) Which book taught you most?

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen. It is all about perception, image, positioning and behaviour, and I love Jane Austin.

(15) Do you have a team or sport that you follow?

I used to be a sprinter and therefore sprint events and athletics always gets my attention. It is fast, requires passion, drive and determination from the competitors and you will know the results without waiting too long.

(16) Which country would you like to work in?

Singapore and Hong Kong. I love places surrounded by water with a good mix of people that is a melting pot of cuisines, culture and attitudes.  I think all of those elements are critical to a healthy working and living environment.

(17) Which company do you think has the best marketing?

The company that can relate best to its customers, and understand their needs. No one company stands out but many have moments of glory in that regard.

(18) What do you love most about your job?

Meeting people, understanding their needs, developing plans that answer their questions by providing relevant value that they can deliver as value to their customers.

(19) What is your favourite book?

Pride and Prejudice.

(20) What keeps you awake at night?

Insomnia. Hahaha. Actually, the excitement of what tomorrow will bring.