The CMO Files: Christine Heckart, Brocade

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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Christine Heckart      

 Organisation: Brocade

 Job title: CMO

 Location: Silicon Valley (San Jose), US


1.             Where were you born and raised?
Born in Nebraska, raised in Colorado

2.             What was your first job?
Pumping gas at my parent’s gas station. I was 12 years old. My first professional job after college was in new product development for a service provider called WilTel.

3.             What was the first product you got really excited about?
I was the product manager that helped to define and launch the world’s first Frame Relay service, called WilPak.

4.             Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My husband. He quit his job to raise the kids, and moved in with me so I could be CMO at Juniper. He’s my biggest supporter.

5.             What has been your greatest achievement?
All the people I’ve been able to sponsor, promote, support and advocate for over 30 years in business and in the community, and the amazing things they have been able to do in their families, communities and companies.

6.             What has been your biggest mistake?
Not aligning well enough with stakeholders during times of major change or when introducing new concepts.

7.             What is your greatest strength?
Seeing big industry changes and trends and capitalizing.

8.             What is your biggest weakness?
Listening well to key influencers and stakeholders.

9.             What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers? 
Change management, with focus on the people.

10.         Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
In marketing its: Think big, start small and move fast. That is my mantra. “Can’t” makes me squirm.

11.         What makes you stressed?
Trying to do too many things poorly instead of doing one thing better than anyone.

12.         What do you do to relax?
Paint, write, read, and watch football.

13.         What is your favourite song?
I have many, ‘Sound of Silence’ by Simon and Garfunkel is one!

14.         Which book taught you most?
‘Good to Great’, by James Collins.

15.         Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
Denver Broncos, NFL Football.

16.         Which country would you like to work in?
I really enjoy working here in the USA, but if I had to move – Australia.

17.         Which company do you think has the best marketing?
Lots of companies have great marketing, but the best marketing example of all time may be Fantasy Sports/Football… they completely engaged a broad football audience to be interested not only in their home team players but in all the players in the league, and they created a billion dollar industry in doing so. Engagement and money… that’s great marketing.

18.         What do you love most about your job?
The blending of science and art.

19.         What is your favourite book?
‘Dune’, by Frank Herbert.

20.         What keeps you awake at night?  
Almost nothing. But what gets me up in the morning is the chance to make a difference. It’s not what you make that matters, it’s what you make possible. It’s not how much you make that matters, it’s how much you make a difference.