The CMO Files: Jerome Nadel, Rambus
Human Resources

The CMO Files: Jerome Nadel, Rambus



Name:  Jerome Nadel            

Organization: Rambus

Job title: SVP & CMO

Location: Silicon Valley (Sunnyvale), CA


  1. Where were you born and raised?  

I was made in France, born in NYC, and lived my first year in France. Moved back to NY and grew up outside of NYC on the beautiful north shore of Long Island.    

  1. What was your first job?  

Well… I had various jobs before going to university from mowing lawns to selling flowers. At university, I worked as a waiter. Through graduate school I was a teaching assistant and had two research fellowships as a civilian at an air force base in Arizona.

My first (real) job was at IBM in the Human Factors group conducting usability studies.

  1. What was the first product you got really excited about?   

My Schwinn Stingray bicycle – with a slick rear tire, banana seat, and turned-up handlebars.  Beautiful, simple, fast, and fun… My amazement and appreciation for the simple elegance of bicycles has stayed with me through my 55 years.

  1. Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

Don Lucas, the iconic grandfather of Venture Capital.  He was chairman of the board of SLP Infoware, a start-up I joined as CMO in 1999 and helped sell in 2001. Don convinced me to connect what I had done in the usability and UX space to marketing. Unending respect for this humble genius.

  1. What has been your greatest achievement?

Being a father to my amazing children, now 28 and 22.  After divorce in 2003, I took full custody, raising them alone from 7 and 13, and built an enduring parent-child connection that fathers rarely experience.

I’m also proud of being the Masters US National Champion in cycling.  Something I just achieved this year. The ability to avoid “monolithic” success (career); and express myself in other outlets makes me better at everything I do.

  1. What has been your biggest mistake?

Leaving graduate school before finishing my dissertation. Not that the PhD would have necessarily changed the path of my career, but I regret the perceived need to rush to a job offer…

  1. What is your greatest strength?

Positivity, perseverance, desire

  1. What is your biggest weakness?

Impatience – this subsides with age. I imagine by the time I’m 100, I’ll be better…

  1. What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?   

I believe the role of the CMO is too focussed on “downstream” product/service promotion, demand, lead-generation, and not enough on strategy and product concepting and design. From the early 2000’s we witnessed a shift in the psychology lexicon from “can somebody use this product?” to “is this product delightful?”. To me, it has become essential to apply a design-think narrative to what we’re doing. That’s the story that should carry through from the conception to the promotion of the product at the end.

  1. Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?

Lead with love. Something I believe and have preached to my kids since they were tiny. Not sure I’m proud of this, but they both had it tattooed in my handwriting.

Hate is a word that I have a negative visceral response to.

  1. What makes you stressed?

Hmmm, I probably stress too much. Things being “undone” or unorganized.

  1. What do you do to relax?

Ride my bike. 17,000 km per year! Time with loved ones, being outside, feeling the warmth of the sun…

  1. What is your favorite song?

I love music (and play the drums). My music tastes are very eclectic. I’ll give two – Led Zeppelin’s ‘Baby I’m gonna leave’ and Dave Brubeck’s ‘Take Five’.

  1. Which book taught you most?

The Alchemist

  1. Do you have a team or sport that you follow?

Cycling for sure. I had an athletic gift as a kid. Practiced sport all the way up to university and even tried some triathlon when I went to graduate school… But I ultimately fell in love with cycling.

As an elite amateur masters cyclist, the strength and speed of the “youngsters” in the pro tour is amazing.

  1. Which country would you like to work in?

I have lived and worked in France twice. I travel around the world for work, but have really enjoyed my last 5 years in northern California. I must say, this is the best place I’ve lived and worked. I often think of buying a second home in the south of France…

  1. Which company do you think has the best marketing?

Great marketing starts with great concepts and products that create brand affinity and positioning. With that I’d credit market leaders like Apple and BMW.

  1. What do you love most about your job?

The CMO role can be a large as one makes it. I feel that my contributions span high-level strategy, product concepting and design, brand and culture, promotion, demand and lead generation, to sales. This aerial perspective coupled with the ability to support and cultivate talent within my team makes this role and job special.

  1. What is your favorite book?

It has to be The Alchemist – a loaded and timeless tale.

  1. What keeps you awake at night?

The state of our world. A trend toward myopic nationalism and away from globaliziation and acceptance.


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