The CMO Files: Mark Roberts, CMO, Shoretel

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:  Mark Roberts 

  Organisation: Shoretel

  Job title: CMO

  Location: Mountain View, CA


(1)       Where were you born and raised?
I was born in the UK and grew up in Kent, a county in the Southeast part of the country that is known as the garden of England.



(2)       What was your first job?
I worked in construction for a short time, one summer, while I waited for the school year to begin.




(3)       What was the first product you got really excited about?
Sony Walkman.  It seemed to be the perfect answer to a problem I didn't know I had.    And it was cool…at the time.


(4)       Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Probably Nigel Grierson.  While working at Intel, he headed up the EMEA team for desktop video conferencing.  The introduction of a new product category with the talented team Nigel formed, taught me a lot about product value.




(5)       What has been your greatest achievement?
Personally, my son Cole who is 9 years old and a baseball fanatic.  Professionally as a marketer, any of the rebranding projects I've been involved in would make the list. So brands such as Polycom, Mitel and now ShoreTel.


(6)       What has been your biggest mistake?
Not listening enough early in my career.  I was surrounded by some exceptional talent.  Given the chance to start again, I would have spent more time absorbing and less time worrying about trying to keep up.



(7)       What is your greatest strength?
Being able to see the bigger picture.



(8)       What is your biggest weakness?
Not being able to see some of the details when needed.



(9)       What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
Training, sharing of knowledge.  I often see people defining new roles or ‘upgrading' the team instead of focusing on strong performers who have the ability to grow.  Our impatience in high-tech leans more towards buying the answer to a problem rather than growing the existing team's capabilities.




(10)    Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
I don't like sweeping statements; they are all too often throwaway comments without any relevance to the situation in hand.  And having made that statement…my mantra would be …… there's only two things I want to hear from a marketer, either put more opportunity into the funnel or help move it through quicker, or consider how your activities impact that.


(11)    What makes you stressed?
The planning phase before any action has taken place.  It always seems to be the time in a project when a lack of any measurable activity is happening.  I feel more comfortable once the project has started and progress ascertained.


(12)    What do you do to relax?
I like to ride.  Anything with two wheels, although have a preference for Italian machinery.




(13)    What is your favourite song?
Depends what I'm doing, very different taste for relaxing, working out, riding.  Not a huge fan of jazz, but anything else goes, depending upon my mood.



(14)    Which book taught you most?
For a quick, simple read, it would have to be ‘The 22 Immutable Laws of Marketing' by …...  I still pick that up from time to time; it's surprising how much is still relevant in today's digital world.   As a reference book:  ‘Strategy' by Bob de Wit and Ron Meyer.  I consume many books for personal reading; I can't even recall my current read.  They are typically historical thrillers.



(15)    Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I do follow the Ducati MotoGp Team, which has been a frustrating experience over the last few years.  And living in the Bay Area: 49's and Giants, of course.



(16)    Which country would you like to work in?
I'm doing it.  Born in the UK and living/working in USA, specifically California with its diverse cultural views.


(17)    Which company do you think has the best marketing?
Consumer: Geico because it is always entertaining and memorable.  Dove for thought provoking work.  B2B:  I like what GE are doing and it would be impossible to make a list without TED Talks.




(18)    What do you love most about your job?
The problem solving.  Working with a broad ranging group of talents.  The marketing function probably has the widest ranging selection, from creative to pure analytics and everything in-between.


(19)    What is your favourite book?
I don't have one.  I read many books to relax, many blogs for information.  My reading habits are changing, it's a digital world.



(20)       What keeps you awake at night?
When work isn't moving fast enough, i.e. when I can see a bigger picture but the group/team/company isn't moving fast enough.  Playing conversations over in my head as to why.




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