The CMO Files: Lynn Huang-Freeman, Senior Director of Marketing, Motorola Solutions

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: Lynn Huang-Freeman

Organisation: Motorola Solutions

Job title: Senior Director of Marketing, Asia Pacific and Middle East

Location: Singapore


(1) Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in China. I had opportunities to attend schools and universities where English was taught as a second language and subjects were taught in English by native speakers. As a language, English opened doors for me to understand and appreciate different cultures and values more deeply. 

(2) What was your first job?
My first job was as a journalist with the New China News Agency. During my post graduate studies, I was trained as an English writing journalist by American journalism professors (funded by US Fulbright program) in Beijing.

(3) What was the first product you got really excited about?
In the early years of my career, I worked for China National Tourism Administration for more than three years. As a marketing and communications officer for the organization, I was responsible for promoting China as a preferred destination in the European tourism market. My ‘product' was China! That was an amazing experience and I was always fascinated by my product i.e. my home country. I also learnt a lot about destination marketing and European culture from the experience.  

(4) Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
I have been influenced by many mentors and managers throughout my career. During my 14 years with Motorola Solutions, the company's Chief Marketing Officer Eduardo Conrado and Asia Pacific Corporate Vice President Phey Teck Moh are the two managers who have given me the best coaching. They developed me into not only a strategic marketer but also an international business leader. I myself have also mentored other people and had great learning from the people I have mentored and developed.  As the old Chinese saying goes, "the experience of teaching someone else is the best learning by itself".

(5) What has been your greatest achievement?
I believe building up and developing the Asia Pacific marketing organization for Motorola Solutions is the biggest achievement that I will always feel proud about. Asia Pacific is one of the most challenging regions with complex geo-politics and multi-cultures. Over a short span of less than four years, I built up the team of 40 people across the region including China, India, Australia, South Asia, Japan and Korea to support a fast growing business from US$600M to US$1.1B. During the same period of time, the company had gone through lots of changes (including the separation from Motorola Mobility and Integration with Symbol Technologies) and implemented significant corporate-wide transformational initiatives. I had the chance to drive the marketing transformation and lead the team to manage the change in the region.    

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?

I have made lots of mistakes in the past and I believe I will still make more (not repeated ones!) in the future. I am not afraid of mistakes as I believe in learning from the mistakes and growth from the learning. You can't grow yourself if you don't try out new things or new ways of doing things. It's OK if you can't make everything right when you are trying.  For me, every mistake I made has made me a smarter person and every failure I experienced brought me closer to success.

(7) What is your greatest strength?
I have positive outlook on my life and career. There were many ups and downs in my career. My positive attitude, authenticity and confidence of who I am, are my greatest assets. Marketing has always been my passion and I believe I am very strong in organization development and change management as well.

(8) What is your biggest weakness?
I tend to run too many things too fast at the same time. I walk fast (even in high heels) and talk fast (even in my 2nd language). I need to remind myself to slow down from time to time so that I can make sure others can be at the same pace and on the same page as I am.

(9) What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
Prioritization of marketing investment is never an easy call to make. Sales peers tend to neglect this as they would like to see all their requests in terms of marketing support can be met.  It seems always easier to say ‘yes' to all the requests and decide to do everything, rather than to say ‘no' and decide not to do something. However, as marketing resources (from budget to people and time) are always limited, any marketing leader needs to be able to prioritize, have the business sense, and probably more importantly, the guts, to say no to some requests or people and focus on those investments that can create impact.

(10) Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
"Leadership is about making others better as a result of your presence and making sure that impact lasts in your absence". I could not agree more with Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook on her interpretation on leadership. Leadership doesn't come with a person's position or title. It is a reflection of the person's character. I have been trying to live this mantra in all the positions that I have held.The phrase that makes me squirm at work is "it is impossible to..." For me, every problem has a solution. It is always possible to find a way to achieve a business objective. The question is: do you want to try it or not? 

(11) What makes you stressed?
Throughout my career, I have noticed that lack of respect to people (especially by those in a more senior position) causes tension for everyone involved. In my previous roles, I was stressed by the fact that I didn't have a good line-up of the next-level managers and successors in my organization. I spent considerable time and effort to develop the people and build up the team.

(12) What do you do to relax?
Reading, music, walking my dog or, chatting with my family and friends relaxes me. I also swim, do yoga and play table tennis regularly to recharge myself. Travel for leisure always energizes me.  

(13) What is your favourite song?
Here I Am by Bryan Adams from the original motion picture Spirit. It always uplifts me!

(14) Which book taught you most?
Two books taught me the most: A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle and Dao De Jing by the ancient Chinese philosopher Laozi. A New Earth enlightened me to look for the ‘inner me' and discover who ‘I' truly am. Dao De Jing taught me about the relationship between human beings, nature, the universe, energy (Qi in Chinese) and love.   

(15) Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I don't follow any specific team or sport although sometimes I do watch the Australian Rugby League with my husband. Generally I prefer to participate in a sport that I enjoy rather than just be a spectator.   

(16) Which country would you like to work in?
I love where I am now. I have travelled to 28 countries for business in the past 20 years of my professional life. I don't mind to work in any one of these countries or even a new one which I have yet to visit and have a new experience.  

(17) Which company do you think has the best marketing?
I don't think there is one company that has the best marketing. There are more marketing-savvy and -driven (rather than product-driven or sales-focused) companies. In the B2B marketing world, I believe what my CMO Eduardo Conrado and his team (including me) did for Motorola Solutions is significant and superb. First of all, we have successfully redefined Motorola Solutions brand purpose and the purpose of "helping people be their best at the moments that matter" has been reflected in everything we do since Motorola Solutions became a stand-alone company. Secondly, we have been transforming the product-driven marketing to vertical solution oriented marketing. This means we are addressing customers' needs at the vertical segment level. Thirdly, we have enhanced the sales enablement via automated demand generation and targeted content marketing. All these have probably explained why Eduardo was rated as one of the world's Best B2B Marketers consecutively in the past few years by the Chicago-based B2B magazine.

(18) What do you love most about your job?
"Help people be their best at the moments that matter". This is our brand purpose and I have loved the fact that I have been living this in my years with the company.

(19) What is your favourite book?
I love reading and many books have inspired me in the different ways. I have different favourite books over the different period of time.The most recent one is Lean In written by Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook. It described how women unintentionally hold themselves back in their careers and encouraged women to "lean in" and "sit at the table". I particularly loved the questions she challenged readers and herself: "What would you do if you were not afraid?""Leaving Microsoft to Change the World" written by John Wood, the founder of Room-to-Read is also one of my all-time favourites.  

(20) What keeps you awake at night?
I try to sleep tight and have sweet dreams every night! I have had my fair share of sleepless nights and it also happened that sometimes I would jump out of bed and try to write down some compelling thoughts that occurred to me.