The CMO Files: Judy Boniface, Mailjet

Get inside the minds of the world's top marketing professionals. In 20 questions we find out what they love most about their job... and what keeps them awake at night.

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Judy Boniface

 Organisation: Mailjet

 Job title: CMO

 Location: Paris, France


1.       Where were you born and raised?
Born and raised in Taiwan, I spent my teens in Australia and Japan before spending much of my adult life in the US.

2.       What was your first job?
I started my career as a management consultant, advising Fortune 500 companies on their sales and marketing strategy and operation.

3.       What was the first product you got really excited about?
I worked in Ghana for a tech company that focuses on providing financial services products to people who bank and carry out purchases through a mobile wallet. As not everyone has a bank account in developing countries, people who work in the city used to take a long bus ride with a brown paper bag full of cash to "transfer" money to their families in the villages. I witnessed how these important financial products change people's lives.

4.       Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My dad, who never went to university, built his company from scratch 25 years ago through hard work, determination and respect for everyone he works with.

5.       What has been your greatest achievement?
Building a healthcare human resource forecast model and audit system for the national healthcare system in Zambia. I helped the Health Ministry figure out how many doctors/nurses/pharmacists/lab technicians are needed at different levels of hospitals and health centres, and how they could best respond to the varying demand level of the healthcare service provision throughout the country. It was later presented as a success model by the Zambian Health Ministry at WHO conference.

6.       What has been your biggest mistake?
When I first started at Mailjet as a CMO, my biggest mistake was to not pay enough attention to our paid acquisition channel and relied too heavily on an external agency who had been managing this for a few years. For any SaaS companies, aligning paid acquisition channel strategy such as SEM (Search Engine Management) with the SEO and content strategy is key to accelerating growth. I should have focused on this earlier.

7.       What is your greatest strength?
Aligning people's interests from different backgrounds and bringing them together to work towards to the same goal.

8.       What is your biggest weakness?
I'm an organised person and deviating from plans sometimes make me uncomfortable. Over the years I've learnt to improvise for plan B, C, D when plan A doesn't work out as expected and not to get too attached to it.

9.       What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
The demand for data intelligence and analytics. Today's CMO actually should be CMTO (Chief Marketing Technology Officer) - someone who has versatile analytical skills to make sense of the vast amount of consumer and market data from different sources such as CRM, web analytics tools, marketing campaigns and competitor intel.
Marketing is both an art and a science. Doing it well requires discipline to perform necessary analysis but also the flexibility to apply intuition-driven decisions. 

10.   Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
Mantra – “Be the change you want to be in the world” – Ghandi
Squirm – “This is not my job”

11.   What makes you stressed?
Conflicts between people due to difference in opinions or ways of working together. The stress comes from seeing these conflicts as challenges to overcome as well as opportunities to change hearts and minds. 

12.   What do you do to relax?
Meditation and curling up on my couch with a great book.

13.   What is your favourite song?
‘Ain't No Mountain High Enough’ by Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell - yup oldies are goodies.

14.   Which book taught you most?
‘Outliers’ by Malcolm Gladwell. Working hard is a given (mastery of skills takes 10,000 hours of practice), opportunities are for those who are ready to seize them, and timing and relevance play a role in success

15.   Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
Not really, although I do like watching tennis.  

16.   Which country would you like to work in?
I’ve enjoyed working in Asia, America, Europe and Africa. Ultimately I’m open to wherever opportunities take me. Mind you, good power and a steady water supply are nice to haves!

17.   Which company do you think has the best marketing?
Apple. Simplicity, design and great product.

18.   What do you love most about your job?
Working with my rockstar team from Paris, London, Berlin and New York and driving the growth strategy of Mailjet at the same time.

19.   What is your favourite business book?
‘Built to Last’ by Jim Collins. It teaches you that a great execution of an average idea is much better than average execution of a great idea. Fail fast, accept mistakes and pivot quickly. It also emphasises the importance of building the right working culture, identifying leaders to promote from within to reinforce values.

20.   What keeps you awake at night?
The refugee crisis in Europe and not doing enough to help combat climate change.