The CMO Files: Latané Conant, Appirio

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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Latané Conant

Organisation: Appirio

Job title: CMO

Location: Chicago, Illinois, USA



  1. Where were you born and raised?
    I was born and raised in Northern Virginia and attended the University of Virginia.    
  2. What was your first job? 
    I taught swimming lessons, but after college I worked for Arthur Andersen and even earned my CPA. However, I quickly realised that accounting was not a field I could feel passionate about. Anyone who’s been in a meeting with me knows I am overflowing with ideas and energy. So, I decided to switch over to the tech consulting side since it promised innovation and excitement. I liked the idea of being part of something that is drastically changing the way businesses all over the world operate.  
  3. What was the first product you got really excited about?
    Ariba Marketplace was the first product I got really excited about. I remember saving up all of my training credits at Arthur Andersen and instead of accounting training I went to the Ariba training.
  4. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
    I had a couple of really great bosses who took a risk on me, challenging me in my career and teaching me to trust my instincts. The first influence was a man named Jack Cohen, who was my boss at Ariba. Ariba was known as the house that Jack built, and I had the good fortune to apprentice under him. He taught me to know my customer better than anyone else and that I’d need to be an extension of the customer’s team.
    A more recent influence is Appirio’s COO, Chris Heineken. He ran sales when I joined Appirio and regardless of my role here, he will always be my boss. He is the one that helped me switch from sales to marketing, and for that I am eternally grateful. I still get to be the voice of the customer, only now it’s for ALL of Appirio’s customers, rather than just those in my patch.
  5. What has been your greatest achievement?
    My greatest achievement has to be my 4 boys (husband, 2 kids, and DaVinci the dog).
  6. What has been your biggest mistake?
    You tend to learn more about yourself from mistakes than wins. When I look back at times when I didn’t make the best decisions it was when I didn’t go with my instincts.
    I remember a specific team project in business school where I knew the answer my group was working on was not the correct one, and I felt confident that I knew the correct answer. However, I chose to not speak up and instead went along with what the group was doing. Sure enough, when the professor corrected our work, the answer we gave was wrong and I had been right. I will never forget the lesson that experience taught me. It’s not always about being right, but I have learned the importance and the power of trusting my instincts.
  7. What is your greatest strength?
    My greatest strength is my sheer determination. I had dyslexia as a child and learned early on that I was going to have to work harder than everyone else. Having dyslexia has pushed me to really dig in and work hard to get the job done. Big projects or goals don’t really scare me, because I know I can always work hard to make it happen.
    It may be a strength and it may be a weakness, but I have no poker face. I wear my heart on my sleeve, so you always know where you stand with me. I believe that everyone should always strive to be true to themselves, and I am definitely not afraid to just be me - wild shoes, ridiculously loud laugh and all! If nothing else, I hope I teach my boys, friends, colleagues, and team that their best self is their true self. Let it all hang out (figuratively of course).
    People say I can tell a really good story through a rockin’ presentation. So I enjoy getting up and just crushing a presentation or a pitch. But it doesn’t come naturally. I’m a nervous wreck and I practice hundreds of times to get it just right. Because I have found that storytelling in business is a unique skill that pays off immensely.
  8. What is your biggest weakness?
    My biggest weakness is my unbridled drive and that sometimes I can lack patience. Someone once told me that “Planning is dreaming in detail” and I took that to heart. When I plan, it’s dreaming in extreme detail. Once I have the vision in my mind, I want to make it a reality as quickly as possible. So I need to temper my enthusiasm at times.
  9. What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
    The biggest mistake a CMO can make is to lose relevancy. It’s a constant struggle to maintain your relevance to your customer and business. I spend as much time in the field as possible. It’s really about finding out how your solutions are uniquely addressing your customers’ needs, and taking time to pitch a prospect and garner constructive feedback.         
  10. Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
    “Anything worth doing is worth overdoing”. If we are going to do something we are going all in, and it’s going to be amazing. Great experiences are something people have come to expect from Appirio. We help businesses create great worker and customer experiences, and we need to walk the talk by creating phenomenal experiences for companies interacting with our brand. We’ll never half ass it.
  11. What makes you stressed?
    Budgeting, spreadsheets and forecasts stress me out. It’s a big part of the role, so thank goodness I have an awesome finance business partner.
  12. What do you do to relax?
    I love to host dinner parties. If I wasn’t working at Appirio I’d probably be working at Crate & Barrel working on setting the perfect table. Also, Chicago winters are pretty rough, so I’m going through a major spinning phase — crazy indoor cycling classes — to keep the endorphins going. My team and I are also starting to hit spin classes together when we are on the road.
  13. What is your favourite song?
    Anything by Fleetwood Mac. From Second Hand News, to Chain, to Silver Spring, their songs always put me in a good mood.
  14. Which book taught you most?
    There is a book about the making of Rumours, Fleetwood Mac’s 1977 album, that is a favourite. One of my dearest friends gave the book to me. It was meaningful because it’s from her, but I also love the story. The band had many complex relationships, ups and downs, egos, and issues, but they put it all aside and came together to make a masterpiece. There is a lot to learn from their story that can be applied to business. You might not always get along with everyone, but the most important thing is to work towards one goal and always remain focused.
  15. Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
    Jimmy Choo, LK Bennet, Staurt Wietzman. Shopping is a sport in my world.
  16. Which country would you like to work in?
    I really want to move to the UK, particularly to London, but I need to convince my husband first. My best friend lives in London, and I think it would be such a great experience for my sons to grow up outside the U.S., at least for a little while.
  17. Which company do you think has the best marketing?
    I really grew up career wise at Ariba. Ariba always excelled at marketing. What I loved particularly was their ability to create a space in the marketplace and own that space. Ariba was also great about driving alignment between sales, product, service, and marketing, which is key to creating a great brand.
    Of course, I can't not mention Salesforce. I love how inclusive they are. They really get how to partner and use partnerships to amplify a brand and create a movement.
  18. What do you love most about your job?
    I feel lucky to be at company that has given me a lot of opportunities and thrown challenges my way. Of everything I've done so far in my career, serving as a CMO for Appirio is the role that feels the most natural. My team has a great partnership with sales, so it’s fun to see our work in action, come to fruition in our numbers and ultimately in our customers’ satisfaction. No day feels like the day before.
  19. What is your favourite book?
  20. What keeps you awake at night?