The CMO Files: Shaun Walsh, Cylance
Human Resources

The CMO Files: Shaun Walsh, Cylance



Name: Shaun Walsh

Organisation: Cylance

Job title: ‎Senior Vice President of Marketing

Location: Irvine, California


  1. Where were you born and raised?    
    I was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, but always considered Scituate to be my hometown. I moved around extensively as a child and attended 31 different schools in 11 different states in 3 countries between the ages of 3 and 18.
  2. What was your first job?   
    Gutting fish on my grandfather's boat was my first work experience, but the first time I received a pay check was when I began delivering papers for the Patriot Ledger. 
  3. What was the first product you got really excited about?   
    The first product I remember really getting excited about was the Hayes modem. It was the digital equivalent of a ham radio, and offered the ability to talk to any computer in the world, which was really a gateway concept for me and truly opened the rest of the world to me.
  4. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
    I’ve been fortunate in that I’ve had a number of mentors over my career. Both Neal Waddington, who was president of Quantum when I worked there in the 90s, and Robert Long, who founded Overland Data, had a huge influence on my career.
  5. What has been your greatest achievement?
    Personally, I believe my biggest achievement is creating a network of top-notch people that allows me to assemble my own team of sales and marketing “delta-force.” Over the years, I have been fortunate to have a great group of individuals I’ve worked with over the years. I’ve been able to maintain these relationships and that is something I’m really proud of. At the end of the day, products change, but success is enabled by the quality of the people you work with.
  6. What has been your biggest mistake?
    I was offered a position to be employee number 11 at NetApp and I turned it down.
  7. What is your greatest strength?
    I’d like to say it is the fact that I’d rather get fired for action than inaction. I may not be perfect, but no one will accuse me of standing still. I live by the Sam Walton quote: “Ready, fire, aim.”
  8. What is your biggest weakness?
    My biggest weakness and greatest strength are one and the same: I’m impulsive. I say what is on my mind and tend to be fairly unfiltered, which means I’ve managed to step on my proverbials more than once.
  9. What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?   
    Branding. It is the single greatest thing people neglect in marketing. No one wants to make the investment, but at the end of the day, the companies with the best brand ultimately win markets. People want the results and benefits of brand, but if you explain what it takes to create it they flinch. Cylance is the first place I’ve worked where it is understood by everyone that a strong brand drives revenue.
  10. Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
    For me, the question I am constantly asking myself is: “Do we have data?” We live in a technology culture that was built by engineers for engineers. If you attempt to do things without data, you are going to lose every argument. The right data enables you to make leaps of progress based on insight. 
    The phrase I always try to avoid is “value proposition.” It is one of the most overused, especially in marketing, and it bears absolutely no meaning.
  11. What makes you stressed?
    Going back to my mantra, I’m driven by data. But at the end of the day, I know there is no perfect data set and that I’ll never have all the facts and that can’t stop anyone from making decisions. In Colin Powell’s biography he said, “Fools make decisions with 10% of the data…managers make decisions with 90% of the data and leaders make decisions with 60% of the data and their intuition...”  Living with those leadership choices and setting priorities based on those keep me up at night.
  12. What do you do to relax?
    My two hobbies are Brazilian Jiujitsu and car racing. Nothing is better for clearing your head than breaking a sweat in the gym or racing down a track at a hundred miles an hour.
  13. What is your favourite song?
    It depends on my mood, but if I had to choose it would be “Enter Sandman” by Metallica.
  14. Which book taught you most?
    Jonathan Livingston Seagull by Richard Bach. The primary lesson of the book is that we set limitations on our own minds, and that we can’t let these limits set the final path we end up on. That message always resonated with me, and it is something I like to remind myself of possible is a choice and don’t limit yourself.
  15. Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
    I’m still coming to terms with my favorite sports team’s new home, so for now I’ll call them the NFL Chargers.
  16. Which country would you like to work in?
    Germany or Australia. Germany was always appealing to me because there are no speed limits, and I appreciate Australia because of its California-like culture.
  17. Which company do you think has the best marketing?
    If I had to pick, I’d say it has to be Red Bull. The company has taken something that doesn’t taste particularly good and turned it into a global brand by doing things like sponsoring air racing teams,  physical challenges and extreme sports.
  18. What do you love most about your job?
    I think the thing I like most about marketing is that you get to live your enthusiasm. I love having the responsibility of carrying a company’s mission and message to the world, especially when it is doing something I truly believe in.
  19. What is your favourite book?
    I’m a bit of a science fiction and fantasy nerd, and always loved The Belgariad by David Eddings. On the more mainstream side of things, I’m a huge fan of the A Song of Ice and Fire series by George R.R. Martin.
  20. What keeps you awake at night?
    Right now, the biggest thing that keeps me up at night is the scale and growth of threat actors. As someone in the security industry, I have an understanding of what these people are capable of, and it is truly frightening. But, if we treat hackers like the Borg from Star Trek, and start believing that “Resistance is futile,” we lose. We simply can’t give up the fight.


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