The CMO Files: Maggie Fox, Senior Vice President, Digital Marketing, SAP

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:  Maggie Fox

  Organisation: SAP

  Job title: Senior Vice President, Digital Marketing

  Location: North America



(1)           Where were you born and raised?
Hamilton, Ontario, Canada (just outside of Toronto)

(2)           What was your first job?
I worked in Promotions and Marketing at a television station. We did contest and movie promotions for advertisers, mostly.


(3)           What was the first product you got really excited about?
I was pretty into my Snoopy sno-cone maker, but then we ran out of sugar syrup, and the romance was over. As an adult, I'd have to say it was my first iPod. It was just so amazing to be able to store that much music in such a portable format. It changed how I experienced the world - suddenly, there was a soundtrack!


(4)           Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
I've had a number of mentors throughout my career, as I think people do. The person who hired me for my first job really taught me a lot - her name is Mary Powers and she's an incredible, highly-respected broadcast communications professional. From her I got a great piece of advice on managing people (and, really, when you think about it, life in general), and that was: sometimes, you need to just shut up and listen!

(5)           What has been your greatest achievement?
My tight network of friends and family. I firmly believe you judge a person by their friends - and I have been very lucky to somehow manage to acquire a group of people that I truly admire and love. I count myself extraordinarily wealthy in friendships.

(6)           What has been your biggest mistake?
There's no one giant mistake, but I think every time I have made a big one, it's usually for more or less the same reason - not having enough information, and that usually comes from not being curious enough. Now I try very hard to consciously and actively push and ask others (and myself!) those awkward questions. Sometimes it can be uncomfortable (who doesn't like harmony?) but you really need to address the elephant in the room if you're going to be successful. The upside? Chances are everyone else is thinking the same thing, anyway.

(7)           What is your greatest strength?
I think I am a very strong communicator, which shouldn't really be surprising. I spent a big chunk of the first part of my career writing for TV - at times I was writing scripts for up to two live hours of TV a day, with no room for error. You tend to either thrive or die in high-pressure newsroom environments, and I really enjoyed it. I enjoyed pushing myself in that way.



(8)           What is your biggest weakness?
I feel like I never quite know enough - that somehow I should know everything about everything, and in a business as complex as ours, that can be a real challenge. Somehow I imagine that my peers and others know it all and I am always trying to catch up. I fully recognize that this may be delusional, which might be my actual, real, weakness ;-)

(9)           What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
Interesting question. I think that in many businesses overall, there is a tendency to look down on marketing as "just" marketing - just a cost centre that's really a nice-to-have, but which isn't core to the business. Of course, I think that is absolute madness. Do you think products or services sell themselves? Consumers have never had more choice or more ways to avoid commercial messages. Cutting through the noise to deliver value has never been more difficult or important, and that is the art and science that marketing delivers. In addition, because of our proximity to the voice of the customer, we can deliver intelligence back to the business, shifting us from order-taker to business driver.

(10)       Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
"It's a conversation" - it isn't, really. It's a value exchange. I, as a marketer, give you something tailored and of value. In exchange, you give me your attention. If I did my job right, you will seek to transact or connect with me.

(11)       What makes you stressed?
Not getting enough sleep. If I'm rested, I can take on almost anything. People who say they need four hours of sleep a night are either lying or robots.


(12)       What do you do to relax?
I love to spend time with friends and family - entertaining in my home or over dinner elsewhere. Being close to the people I care most keeps it real.


(13)       What is your favourite song?
I don't have just one - at the moment, I'm pretty partial to Courtney Barrnett's "Avant Gardner" and also the new single from Real Estate - "Talking Backwards" - I tend to wear songs out, though, so next week it will be something else…

(14)       Which book taught you most?
"From Good to Great"


(15)       Do you have a team or sport that you follow?

(16)       Which country would you like to work in?
I have the opportunity to work in many countries - I love my role for that reason. I've learned more about different cultures and work environments in the last seven months than I could have possibly imagined. I'm starting to feel like a real global citizen!

(17)       Which company do you think has the best marketing?
[Did not answer]


(18)       What do you love most about your job?
See #16 - that, plus the incredibly smart people I get to work with every day. I'm absolutely blown away by the quality of people and the strength of the culture at SAP.

(19)       What is your favourite book?
[Did not answer]

(20)       What keeps you awake at night?
I spend a lot of time thinking about what we do and what we will do. Working through all the scenarios is exciting, and sometimes I can't sleep, thinking about it.