The CMO Files: Frank Wiener, Sepior

What makes you stressed? "Wasting time on things like long unproductive conference calls."

Name: Frank Wiener

Organisation: Sepior

Job title: CMO

Location:Petaluma, CA

Frank Wiener leads marketing for Sepior. Previously, Wiener led marketing at multiple security and networking startups, including Wedge Networks, Cyan, Calix, and Paradyne, with several achieving successful IPOs. With roots in engineering, Wiener has also held other leadership roles, spanning product development, product management, sales, business development, and general management.


Where were you born and raised? St. Petersburg, Florida

What was your first job? My first job after college was as a Network Engineer for Nortel (Northern Telecom) in 1986, an eternity ago. I was providing systems level troubleshooting and support fiber optic transport systems used in carrier networks. It was great because it was cutting edge technology and I was forced to learn the big picture about systems.

What was the first product you got really excited about? Fiber optic transport was really cool stuff in the 1980s, but I would have to choose the ADSL transceivers that were developed at Bell Labs when I was with AT&T Paradyne in 1993. I was leading marketing and business development for the transceiver technology business where I was able to travel across most of the world's major markets, introducing DSL to telecom equipment and service providers globally. My team was chartered with convincing them that DSL would enable broadband services that would unleash the potential of the internet. Those were fun and exciting times that set the course for the internet driven world we live in today.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career? Early in my career it was Bob Breiner from AT&T who sponsored me for the AT&T Leadership Development Program. His leadership and that program opened the door to many incredible personal growth opportunities. Later in my career Carl Russo (Calix) and Michael Hatfield (Calix & Cyan) were both heavily influential in helping develop my marketing, executive leadership, and general management skills.

What has been your greatest achievement? At a personal level that would clearly be raising two happy children with my wife and seeing them become happy and successful adults - with great friends, solid personal relationships, and good paying jobs that keep them off my payroll (LOL).
On a professional level I've been fortunate to have been part of multiple highly successful teams that pioneered the introduction of ADSL at AT&T/Paradyne, IPTV at Calix, SDN orchestration at Cyan/Ciena, and now Blockchain and Crypto Wallet security at Sepior. Being part of early stage markets is both exciting and challenging, and being successful in multiple different markets is something I'm definitely proud of.

What has been your biggest mistake? Not moving out to California earlier in my career. I worked with some really great people back at Paradyne in Florida, but in retrospect I should have taken that leap much earlier in my career.

What is your greatest strength? I would say frequent and candid communication, and not being afraid to fail. Being an engineer with strong written and public speaking skills opened the door to marketing where I could achieve higher leverage than just the things I could do myself. Not being afraid to fail gave me the freedom to try new things and embrace new opportunities. As my responsibilities grew, those same skills allowed me to synchronise with my team on a shared vision and transparent execution.

What is your biggest weakness? A reluctance to say no which can translate into taking on too much.

What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers? First off I have incredible respect for my peers. Most of them actually have deeper roots in marketing than myself and I always learn from them. I think the biggest risk that most of my peers face is becoming overly dependent on marketing analytics and data. Clearly the tools we have today provide more insight than ever before. We just need to make sure we don't get so obsessed with metrics that we lose sight of the ultimate metric which is actual sales. No amount of data completely replaces the insights gained from face to face conversations with customers, channel partners, and your sales team.

Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm? I like to set short to mid-term goals aligned with the broader organisational goals, execute, evaluate, and repeat.  Carl Russo compared this to OODA loops as a concept used by the military for fighter pilots to observe, orient, decide, and act. The point is to avoid spending too much time over analysing data. Get out there, form your beliefs, try something and learn from it.

Detailed annual plans makes me squirm. This probably goes back to my experiences with annual budget planning as part of AT&T. Setting high level goals is absolutely important. But in rapidly evolving and emerging markets, detailed annual planning can lead to a false sense of confidence.

What makes you stressed? Wasting time on things like long unproductive conference calls. Not spending enough time on the important stuff.

What do you do to relax? Exercise, doing almost anything outdoors, and cooking (which typically includes a beverage and some laughs).

What is your favourite song? I'd be lying if I said there was one. Billy Joel and Steely Dan are my favorite bands. I actually listen to a lot of alternative music today.

Which book taught you most? 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Covey was truly formative early in my career, and the principles still hold true today.

Do you have a team or sport that you follow? Giants for baseball, Buccaneers for football, and Warriors for basketball.

Which country would you like to work in? The US is hard to beat. Singapore is a great base for APAC, and I've always loved London for Europe.

Which company do you think has the best marketing? Apple. Their messages are clean, crisp and simple.

What do you love most about your job? I love learning new things and meeting new people. Being in tech has been great for both. Being in marketing gives me exposure to both the technology side of things and the customer facing, sales side.

What is your favourite book? I'd struggle to pick one overall. Good to Great by Jim Collins would be a top choice from the business management category.

What keeps you awake at night? Going to sleep is one of my great strengths. Staying asleep can be another story if I'm not feeling like we're sufficiently on top of our game. On those occasions I've learned to stop fighting sleep and simply get up and do what needs to get done.