Human Resources

CMO Files: Diane Kegley, CMO, RichRelevance

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:  Diane Kegley

Organisation: RichRelevance

Job title: Chief Marketing Officer

Location: San Francisco, CA




(1) Where were you born and raised?
In Alameda, California, which is just across the Bay from San Francisco. 

(2) What was your first job?  
I was an “expediter”—basically a fancy name for a cashier with Burger King.  Needless to say I was popular among my friends when working the drive thru window J.

(3) What was the first product you got really excited about?   
The first Terabyte server, while I was working at Sybase.  I’m a closet geek and worked on the go to market for this in concert with EMC. 

(4) Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
I’ve had so many talented and highly respected individuals believe in me throughout my career that they’ve collectively had a hand in my development and growth.  From my first experience working in radio where the head of the NBC-owned station decided to give me a shot at a new marketing role, to the entire management team at Hyatt-owned Red Sail Sports who, rather than hire a corporate marketing director had the previous marketing director mentor me for a full year to develop me into the role.  Sybase hired me without any technology marketing experience but my manager there wanted a fresh approach.  Through her belief we introduced new approaches and initiatives that were highly innovative at that time.  That kind of support and faith early in your career stays with you and inspires you to do the same for new talent entering the workforce. 

(5) What has been your greatest achievement?
Professionally, my greatest achievement has been the creation of Business Matchmaking, which was formulated in concert with the U.S. Small Business Administration and Hewlett-Packard to help small businesses gain access to government contracts through technology and face-to-face events all over the country.  Since we created this program in 2002 (and it still exists today), nearly 100,000 meetings between small business sellers and buyers from federal, state and local government agencies and Fortune 500 corporations have resulted in billions of dollars in contracts granted to these small firms.  When you can take a small or disadvantaged business and help them gain access to a government contract that will in turn help them employ more people and give back to the community, it’s a wonderful and fulfilling experience. 

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?
It’s been said that if you don't make mistakes, you're not working on hard enough problems. And that's a big mistake.  We make missteps nearly every day – and sometimes those present themselves in big ways and you just never see the outcome because they are part of the process.  I think if you’re not making mistakes – trying new tactics, employing different approaches and learning the outcomes of those efforts (whether right or wrong)—you are making a mistake.  So in essence, if you are constantly challenging, pushing and innovating you WILL make mistakes but it’s nothing to fear. It’s progress.

(7) What is your greatest strength?
I consider myself to have a big heart and with that comes loads of empathy.  At the end of the day, marketing is about touching humans – reaching them in ways that are meaningful and personal.  To do that you have to have empathy, because you need to put yourself in the other person’s shoes – whether is a customer, a co-worker or one of your managers.  I think this is the key to success in life no matter the role.

(8) What is your biggest weakness?
While I have loads of empathy, I am also an impatient person.  I like to move fast and do many things.  I value both my own and others’ time as something invaluable.  So I don’t have patience for activities, meetings, and conversations that don’t add value, but take the currency of time away from my control. 

(9) What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
In this day of “data, data everywhere,” I don’t believe that CMOs are prepared to handle the onslaught of data and do something with it.  This is not just a number-crunching issue – it’s a technological, human capital, organisational and core business practice issue.  That’s a lot for the CMO suite to figure out but it’s the most important thing for businesses today.  It’s crucial that you truly use data to analyse a business case before acting, but also analyse its aftermath so you and your team can learn and grow from those insights.

(10) Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
Mantra: Drive drive drive
Squirm: Lean in

(11) What makes you stressed?
Running out of time. 

(12) What do you do to relax?
I live in both San Francisco and Austin, Texas so I love to explore these two different cities – hiking, biking and eating out – a lot!  J

(13) What is your favourite song?
Currently it’s Coldplay’s latest album, “Ghost Stories”.

(14) Which book taught you most?
I read (Former HP CEO) Carly Fiorina’s book “Perfect Enough” about 10 years ago and really enjoyed the insight she provided throughout the different challenges of her career as she maneuvered various situations and personalities.  What was really compelling was how that then transpired into her approach in her leadership role at HP. 

(15) Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I’m more of an outdoor enthusiast so you won’t catch me tethered to the TV watching sports, but I do enjoy attending professional baseball and football games with my family. 

(16) Which country would you like to work in?
I have in the past and would welcome again the opportunity to work and live in the UK – it’s a wonderful place for marketing inspiration with great brands and campaigns plus a great launch pad for travel throughout Europe. 

(17) Which company do you think has the best marketing?
I believe one of the best marketers in the world is Amazon – hands down.  Yet the company only began doing formal advertising campaigns when they launched the Kindle.  The reason they excel in marketing is because they put the customer at the centre of their business thinking and built the online experience in a highly personalised fashion, created unique services such as Prime, and deliver on what they promise.  This trifecta is the essence of successful experiential marketing. 

(18) What do you love most about your job?
The confluence of the industry we serve (ecommerce), the competitive nature of our business and the challenges and opportunities brought to my team on a daily basis that has us rally together to conquer and win.

(19) What is your favourite book?
My favourite book is normally the one I’m currently reading, which is “To Rise Again at a Decent Hour” by Joshua Ferris.  Anyone who is addicted to their mobile or connected to their social network should read this story about how one person’s identity gets impersonated online – and it ends up being a better “version” of the real person.  It’s an interesting story and a bit of a mirror in the face of our digital realities. 

(20) What keeps you awake at night?
Someone once told me that missed opportuniites cannot be seen stacking up on your desk.  It’s true.  Even though we’re covering a lot of bases as a marketing organisation, the question I ask myself is “what’s right in front of our face that we’re not seeing, taking advantage of or moving towards?”  Hindsight is 20/20 but in the highly charged and competitive enviroment that I always seem to find myself operating in, you want to ensure you are moving on the right opportunities at the right time.


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