The CMO Files: Victoria Grey, Nexsan

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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Victoria Grey

 Organisation: Nexsan

 Job title: CMO

 Location: California, US



1.       Where were you born and raised?       
I was born in Berkeley, California while my Dad was at Cal in a graduate program. I lived in California until I was 7 when my family moved to Connecticut, following my father’s transfer by IBM. 

2.       What was your first job?
My mother paid me to iron my father’s shirts when I was a kid –– it took me 14 shirts to make $1!

3.       What was the first product you got really excited about?  
The Macintosh. In December of 1983 Apple pre-released their to-be-famous “1984” commercial in a handful of theatres nationwide and I happened to attend a movie that showed it. At the time I was selling CPM and Unix based PCs and was overwhelmed with what the Macintosh represented.  I went on to get a job at Apple.

4.       Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
My father. He was very smart and intellectually curious, and very supportive of me.

5.       What has been your greatest achievement?
I don’t rank my life in terms of greatest achievements. I am proud of my financial independence. I’ve been able to take care of my family and myself since I started work shortly after college.

6.       What has been your biggest mistake?
Not going to graduate school right after college. I jumped into the burgeoning personal computer business and as it was taking off like a rocket, I never could extract myself to get an MBA. 

7.       What is your greatest strength?
I’m a big believer in teamwork. I support my team to achieve together what we could not do alone.

8.       What is your biggest weakness?
I have had to learn to promote my accomplishments and strengths; self-promotion does not come naturally.

9.       What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers? 
I think one of the most daunting aspects of marketing is tracking back to revenue. Only if we can show how our investments have contributed to revenue enhancement can we be sure of demonstrating value. This may not be neglected but needs constant attention.

10.   Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
My favourite mantra is ‘stay positive, work hard, make it happen’. In contrast, I don’t like the term, ‘I don’t have time’ I think this shows a lack of preparation.

11.   What makes you stressed?
Lack of internal support. Marketing is intricately integrated into everything a company does, and if there is not support for it then it is impossible for me to do my job.

12.   What do you do to relax?
I like to go outside to clear my mind – I particularly enjoy hiking and golf. I also am an avid reader.

13.   What is your favourite song?
This is so hard to choose, but with the recent death of Leonard Cohen I am reminded of the power of “Hallelujah”, about man’s struggle with spirituality.

14.   Which book taught you most?
How about Lord of the Rings – accomplishment through dedication, teamwork, and persistence. Also, Game of Thrones – change is constant, even heroes get killed, your place in history is small.

15.   Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
Both the SF Giants and the Golden State Warriors.

16.   Which country would you like to work in?
Somewhere in the Nordics – I think they rate the highest in the world for quality of life.

17.   Which company do you think has the best marketing?
I think Salesforce deserves a lot of kudos. Not only have they been able to completely dominate the CRM space, they have been consistent in their marketing approach, very successfully. They focus rabidly on how to love your customer using their tool, and this has worked very well for them.

18.   What do you love most about your job?
I love how modern marketing is a balance between the right brain and the left. Marketing is both creative and analytics, and I appreciate the ability to use both of those skills in the work.

19.   What is your favourite book?
Usually that’s whatever I read last, but let me call out “Superintelligence” by Nick Bostrom. It’s about the very real likelihood of the coming singularity where artificial intelligence renders human life irrelevant.

20.   What keeps you awake at night?
Making sure I’m paying attention to what the next big thing is and what we need to do to be successful. Not just executing on the business plan we’ve developed, but finding the big idea that will make a difference for us.