The CMO Files: Melissa Wong, SVP, Strategy and Marketing, PGi

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:  Melissa Wong

Organisation: PGi

Job title: SVP, Strategy & Marketing, Asia Pacific Japan

Location: Sydney, Australia


(1) Where were you born and raised?
Born in Hong Kong and when I was 4 years old, my family migrated to Sydney where I grew up and was educated.

(2) What was your first job?
After graduating university, I was determined to head back to Hong Kong to gain my taste of "Asia Pacific experience" and enhance my Cantonese linguistic skills. Knowing potentially that the job market would be highly competitive, during my university time I spent 1.5 years gaining work experience on non-paid internships. The internships proved valuable as I quickly secured a role at a professional conference organiser in Hong Kong as their Marketing and PR Manager for the largest conference and exhibition in Hong Kong at that time. It was an exciting time and I was eager to absorb and contribute to the success of the event.

(3) What was the first product you got really excited about?
Working in my first IT marketing job at MapInfo Australia (now Pitney Bowes) provided the opportunity to experience the power of technology helping and delivering benefits to B2B organisations. This was pre-Google time and MapInfo developed the first online mapping application for Compaq Computers (now HP). The application was for customers to find the nearest Compaq retail stores via a website. MapInfo leveraged their expertise in spatial mapping to develop mapping applications for large enterprises and government. I was rather geeky for a marketer at that time and found myself spending time with all cross-functional teams from Sales, Presales System Engineers, Trainers, Technical Support and IT to better understand what motivated customers, how the product worked and was developed. MapInfo provided a solid grounding and I knew and wanted to build my career and succeed in the IT industry.

(4) Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
There have been many people that have made a positive impact throughout my career, however, both my husband and my daughter have influenced and taught me the most as a working professional, wife, best friend and mother. My husband is my biggest supporter and encourages me to strive to the best I can be in my career. His belief in "If you do not try you will have zero chance of succeeding and if you try - at least you have a 0.001 percentage chance to succeed." is also a belief that I share deeply. Taking calculated risks allows for me to continuously improve and learn. On the other hand, my daughter has enhanced my ability to be more effective/productivity as I juggle between a mother and a working professional.

(5) What has been your greatest achievement?
As an achievement-oriented person, I have had many achievements through my career, however the most fulfilling is probably right now at PGi. PGi is going through a pivotal time as they are in the process of transforming from an audio conferencing provider to Software as a Service (SaaS) vendor. Across Asia Pacific Japan, we have made impactful headway in their transformation. In my role as Strategy and Marketing AVP, I have the best of both of my passions - business strategy and marketing. As a result of the re-defined business and marketing strategies, PGi APJ have seen an exponential growth of 560% year on year growth in the number of licence opportunities and 88% growth in the number of SaaS license opportunities over a 6 month period.

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?
Yes, mistakes - I think we all have made them and I am not an exception. It is not about the mistake itself, on the contrary, it is critical to understand and logically decipher what I have learnt from them and what I am doing to ensure I do not do them again!

(7) What is your greatest strength?
Whilst I could share with you from my perspective what my strengths are, I find it more valuable to recognise and cherish how others perceive my strengths. I would quote from my former boss who wrote this in a book he presented to me before he relocated back to the US - "I have really enjoyed working with you and love watching you attack every challenge head on with a fresh attitude. This will be your greatest strength".

(8) What is your biggest weakness?
The art of perfection - I am passionate about my work and given my results-oriented nature, I always see that everything can be improved on. Whilst others may perceive this as being a perfectionist, I see this as continuous improvement. I embrace this quote from Aristotle as it does signify my belief - "Pleasure in the job puts perfection in the work".

(9) What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
The ROs - Return on Data (ROD), Return on Marketing Investment (ROMI) and Return on Customer Experience (ROCE). These key aspects impact on revenue, profitability and growth of the organisation and I see my role to bring a holistic approach in bridging, translating and measuring - what information/data we need to make effective decisions, what is the return on marketing investment as it relates to pipeline and closed sales and how the end to end customer lifecycle experience will help our organisation to achieve customer advocacy across the multi channels.

(10) Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
Hard to narrow to one but can definitely share two quotes and one word that I embrace - "Strategy without tactics is the slowest route to victory. Tactics without strategy is the noise before defeat." —Sun Tzu, and "Conquer yourself rather than the world" -René Descartes, and Kaizen - a Japanese word that means ‘continuous improvement'.

In today's competitive business environment which spans nationally, regionally and globally, the quote from Sun Tzu is becoming increasingly important and critical. Simply put, strategy + superb execution = success. I studied Descartes during my MBA and enjoyed his philosophical thinking. I look at myself and see how I can continuously improve and challenge myself to excel and think differently. Lastly Kaizen - continuous improvement in Japanese - I regularly reflect on how I am using the kaizen in my personal and career growth.

Don't have any words or phrases that make me squirm - my perspective is that the impact of the words and phrases are determined by the person who is sharing them.

(11) What makes you stressed?
Stress tolerance is one area that I manage fairly well so not much really phases me out. I take each challenge as an opportunity to learn from others.

(12) What do you do to relax?
Love spending my time with my family, gym (I am up at 5:30am three mornings a week), reading and travel (personal).

(13) What is your favourite song?
No favourite songs as such, however I do enjoy listening to different genres of music, from Cantonese music like Jacky Cheung 張學友 , to 50 Pieces of Greatest Classic Music from London Philharmonic, to hip hop and pop.

(14) Which book taught you most?
All the books I used during my MBA at Macquarie Graduate School of Management (MGSM)! Given the breadth of topics studied, the books utilised from Philosophy to Operations Management, Entrepreneurship and Competitive Intelligence was and still is valuable as many frameworks and methodologies can still be applied today.

(15) Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
Not really - not much of a sports fan.

(16) Which country would you like to work in?
I have been fortunate to have worked and engaged across the Asia Pacific Japan region for many years based here out of Sydney. I could probably see myself spending more time in Asia if the right opportunity arrives.

(17) Which company do you think has the best marketing?
Do not see one company that has the best marketing - it really depends on how these organisations are communicating to their customer segments and if their marketing efforts positively impacted the organisations' key metrics that they define success by - revenue, profitability, market share, share of wallet,  Net promoter etc..

(18) What do you love most about your job?
Love the fact I get to work with and learn from exceptionally committed peers, colleagues and teams across the region to deliver uplifting impact to the business. Additionally, working across cultures, the emerging and growth markets and customers across APJ has proven to be my daily motivation.

(19) What is your favourite book?
I prefer reading short articles and magazines rather than books. Regularly read Harvard Business Review, Strategy + Business from Booz Allen, and fashion magazines.

(20) What keeps you awake at night?
Literally.. nothing, as I am exhausted at the end of the day and am asleep within minutes of hitting the pillow. However, during my thinking time, whether it be during the week, on a plane for personal or business travel or during my annual leave break - I do think about what impact and contribution I can make personally and professionally. I am always motivated to "kaizen" myself.


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