The CMO Files: Daragh O'Byrne, CMO, BPC Banking Technologies

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'...

Daragh O'Byrne

Organisation: BPC Banking Technologies

Job title: CMO

Location: Based in Ireland but with customers on 5 continents


(1)    Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Galway on the West Coast of Ireland but was raised mostly in Waterford, which is the south east of Ireland.


(2)    What was your first job?

Stacking fresh fruit and vegetables in a local supermarket. It taught me the importance of putting yourself in the "mind of the consumer" and that presentation is key.


(3)    What was the first product you got really excited about?   

My early interest was in computers so the first product that I got really excited about was a personal computer called the Commodore VIC 20. At the time its main competitor was the ZX Spectrum - which was more advanced but I chose the VIC 20 because it had a real keyboard - like business computers - and I wanted to learn how to touch type.


(4)    Who has been the biggest influence on your career?

The biggest influence on my career was Peter McCullagh - he was the first true CMO that I ever worked for, he showed me many things including how to, using his own words, do big-M Marketing. He was a firm believer in the power of Marketing to shape the way companies deliver their products and services to meet customers' needs, instead of just creating brochures and advertising campaigns. From him I also learned about the importance of authenticity - that claims must be backed up by facts.


(5)    What has been your greatest achievement?

From a professional point of view it has to be putting together and executing a program to get serious industry recognition for a brand new product that we launched - within its first year it was positioned in the magic quadrant of a well-respected industry analyst firm.


(6)    What has been your biggest mistake?

My biggest mistake was not realising soon enough that a 90% solution delivered very quickly is much better than a perfect solution delivered later. While there is a place for perfection, the pace of change is so fast today that in most cases, perfection is a luxury that we can't afford.


(7)    What is your greatest strength?

So much of today's technology marketing is about technical features or how cool a product is and so little of it is about how it helps the customer. I view one of my greatest strengths as knowing how to turn technical features into business benefits and then explain those benefits in a clear, concise and compelling way.


(8)    What is your biggest weakness?

Assuming that other people understand the big picture and more importantly, that they are working towards it. In many cases people don't share the same vision and are working on their own agenda. So to counteract this I check their understanding and make sure they have bought-in to the vision.


(9)    What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?   

Telling a story in an easy to understand and compelling way, backed by strong evidence and facts, and most importantly telling that story from the customer's perspective.


(10) Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?

Always think about the next obvious question and then make sure you answer it before it is asked - this way the feedback you get has a much bigger chance of being high quality.

"I'll get back to you" - makes me squirm because it usually means that "that's too difficult to give a considered view now, so I'll put it in the too-hard bucket" and anything that goes in there usually doesn't come out again.


(11) What makes you stressed?

People who don't think about what they are doing or are asking to be done. These kinds of people are always too busy (doing the wrong things, or the right things in the wrong ways), or are creating havoc across a company by loading up people with work they really shouldn't be doing.


(12) What do you do to relax?

Go for a walk and listen to an audiobook. I used to love reading, but don't have the time anymore so audiobooks are fantastic, especially when they are read by someone you like listening to.


(13) What is your favourite song?

Best of You - Foo Fighters. While the words can be interpreted in many ways I prefer to think that the song is encouraging you to always give your best and to not let anyone grind you down.


(14) Which book taught you most?

Peak Performance: Inspirational Business Lessons from the World's Top Sports Organisations. The book tried to find out what makes winning teams win again and again over many years. I liked the stories and more importantly, how the authors made it relevant for business. I worked at a company where I helped to run a transformation program based on the principles of the book.


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

Rugby - especially when Ireland are playing in the Six Nations.


(16) Which country would you like to work in?

Some place warm and sunny - Hawaii in the USA would be nice.


(17) Which company do you think has the best marketing?

I think that BMW's ultimate driving machine marketing was perfectly pitched.


(18) What do you love most about your job?

I love it when I see our software in action, when I see a customer happy because they can do something that they weren't able to do before.


(19) What is your favourite book?

I listen to a lot of audiobooks on my iPhone, mainly science fiction from Iain M Banks and Peter F. Hamilton.


(20) What keeps you awake at night?

Very little, while there is always more to do than time to do it, I try to write it down so I don't have to try to remember it. That frees your mind and helps you plan your time.


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