The CMO Files: Purnima Menon, Executive Vice President & CMO, CSS Corp

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.

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:  Purnima Menon

Organisation: CSS Corp

Job title: Executive Vice President & CMO

Location: Bangalore, India



(1)      Where were you born and raised?

Born in Cochin, India and raised in Kolkata & New Delhi, settled in Bangalore, India.


(2)      What was your first job?    

Was a management trainee at Raymond's India -a leading men's clothing retail chain. My role was to learn to manage the supply chain, advertising and retail merchandising of clothing accessories.


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

I worked on the India launch for the Avaya Unified Communications in the mid-2000s. The fact that the Avaya IP office could change the way we worked - the ability to connect to office, home, car and just about any place was a huge game changer in the way we viewed communications and workplace efficiency.


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

My biggest influences have been my own experiences, but I also learnt a lot by observing people around me, especially my father. If I were to narrow it down to business it would have been my previous bosses - Samit Sinha who taught me how to write the perfect brief, Amit Sinha for teaching me about delegation and empowerment, and Ritesh Idnani who taught me how to lead from the front. Besides that, I really admire Sheryl Sandberg and Erin Burnett for being the best in what they do.


(5)      What has been your greatest achievement?

I would rate my stint at Infosys where I helped scale the BPO marketing team to drive global initiatives that included setting up a world class online marketing and lead generation team, and thought leadership content as being truly memorable. We also won many external and internal awards that validated our efforts across the years.


(6)      What has been your biggest mistake?

I really don't remember any because I look at most missed opportunities as part of the learning curve. So nothing really stands out as being a regrettable mistake.


(7)      What is your greatest strength?

My trust in my team and myself.


(8)      What is your biggest weakness?

Impulsive behaviour. Sometimes I tend to respond super extra quick whereas a slower more measured response might be appropriate. Am working on it!


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

Quantifiable ROI and the ability to create a balanced Marketing scorecard that not only aligns to organisational objectives, but enables marketers to move up to mainstream business roles, should they want to, as part of their growth and career objectives.


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

"If it is meant to be, it is up to me" I think summarizes my mantra at work and home. I squirm when I hear someone say "that's not my job".


(11)  What makes you stressed?

Not being able to live up to my own expectations.


(12)  What do you do to relax?

Lots of music, Pilates and I love a good sweat on the treadmill. Besides that I am also an amateur Kathakali dance performer. Kathakali is the classical dance of the Indian state of Kerala.


(13)  What is your favourite song?

Too difficult to pick one… Pride and Joy by Stevie Ray Vaughan, Mac the Knife (Ella Fitzgerald version), many of AR Rahman's compositions, Christina Aguilera, Wadali Brothers, Gypsy Kings, Sting, Jethro Tull…No way I can answer this!


(14)  Which book taught you most?

Organising Genius by Warren Bennis. I learnt a lot about leading, team play and about being in the driver's seat to actionize outcomes.


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

Yes, thanks to my husband I took up to watching NBA. San Antonio Spurs is the team I follow. I like to play table tennis when I can. I watch tennis and athletics when I get the opportunity.


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

I think every country would have a unique culture that would be exciting to learn. I would pick Latin America as I haven't had the opportunity to work there. That should be interesting.


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

I follow Google and Accenture as my playbooks on Marketing


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

My current role at CSS Corp allows me to go beyond Marketing and provides me with the flexibility to impact other areas of business. I am excited at the opportunities of mentoring and being a change agent across the initiatives that come my way today.


(19)  What is your favourite book?

Again too many to choose. ‘Surely you are joking Mr Feynman' by Richard Feynman and ‘If Life is a bowl of cherries what I am doing in the pits' by Erma Bombeck. There is also book on the life of Yuri Gagarin - My brother Yura - written by his brother which is a very touching life account of Yuri. Reading that book always makes me emotional.


(20)  What keeps you awake at night?

My husband jokes that I wouldn't wake up even if an earthquake tossed me off the bed - so nothing really. I always believe in Scarlett O Hara's words - Tomorrow is another day.