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CMO Files: Stacey Epstein, CMO, ServiceMax

CMO Files: Stacey Epstein, CMO, ServiceMax

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:  Stacey Epstein  

Organisation:  ServiceMax

Job title:  Chief Marketing Officer

Location: Pleasanton, CA




1.       Where were you born and raised?  

Albuquerque, NM

2.       What was your first job?   

Well, I coached soccer camps and waited tables through college, but my first “real” job was as an admin to an admin at Oracle, back in the early 90s when no one knew what Oracle was.  I thought I wanted to be a sportscaster and needed a job to pay the bills while I applied to grad school.  I certainly never thought I’d have a corporate job, much less in high tech, but once I got inside and saw how dynamic the industry was, and how many great opportunities existed, I was hooked.  I stayed 6 years at Oracle and cut my teeth in several jobs including marketing, sales and alliances.

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

My husband likes to say that I am passionate about everything, which is partially true.  I did actually get excited about relational databases at Oracle.  But for sure the first time I felt a burning passion for my company’s mission was at SuccessFactors.  Cultivating leadership and fostering a high performing workforce remains a centerpiece of my work strategy and I still believe that people, and only people, are at the heart of what makes a company successful.

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

Well of course it has to be Dave Yarnold, whom I have worked for or with at five different companies, including Oracle, Clarify, Extensity, SuccessFactors, and now ServiceMax.  My respect for his leadership style and ability to inspire, his salesmanship and focus on results across the organization, and his rational approach and transparent directness continues to grow.  Certainly working directly for Lars Dalgaard at SuccessFactors was a very impactful experience as well, which you can read about here:

5.       What has been your greatest achievement?  

Tough question!  Certainly I’m proud of my soccer accomplishments in college and that I still hold a few records at Emory.  Having two kids after the age of 40, and keeping up with a 2 and 5 year old while maintaining a full-time job ranks up there.  Helping take SuccessFactors from a small company with no marketing through a successful IPO and multi-billion dollar acquisition was quite rewarding, as is the similar trajectory we’ve been on at ServiceMax.  But really I feel my biggest achievements are when someone tells me that something I’ve said or done has made an impact on them or inspired them. 

6.       What has been your biggest mistake?  

I’m not big on regret or guilt, so this question is a tough one too.  Certainly I’ve made plenty of mistakes, big and little, but when I look back at them I think of them as a necessary part of the path that I’m on.  Maybe I shouldn’t have sold shares of SFSF at $17, maybe I should have been a ski racer, maybe I should have phrased it differently on the phone to that reporter, maybe I should have booked a different keynote speaker, maybe I should have stayed living in NYC longer, maybe I should have gone to Siebel instead of Clarify back in the 90s.  I could keep going, but in general I think there are no mistakes, only opportunities for learning, and if I didn’t make the decisions I made, I wouldn’t be where I am now.

7.       What is your greatest strength?

That I don’t make mistakes.  Ha!  Kidding of course.  My old mentor Lars Dalgaard used to say that my greatest strength was that I “get sh*t done.”  Which I agree with.  I also think I inherited a good sixth sense from my mom.  I’m good at reading and even predicting how people will feel about something.  This certainly helps me in my role as a marketer, since marketing is all about compelling people to feel and do something.

8.       What is your biggest weakness?  

Oh I have several.  Impatience is the biggest for sure.  I want things done the minute I think of them.  This is a usually a good quality to have as a CMO, maybe not so good at home, right honey?

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

I don’t think enough marketers realize that their customer is the sales team, and not vice versa.  Great marketing without sales results is NOT great marketing.  If what we are doing isn’t driving real pipeline that converts to closed business, then we’re not doing a good job.  I judge my team’s success by whether or not we’re hitting the sales numbers.

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

I don’t really have a mantra, but my favorite quote is by the Beatles “And in the end, the love you take, is equal to the love you make.”

11.   What makes you stressed?  

Being a CMO and a mom of littles is a tough combination.  I get stressed when I feel like I’m not doing enough at either place, which these days is a common feeling for me.

12.   What do you do to relax?  

Run, hike, or bike and listen to music.

13.   What is your favourite song?  

Way too hard to answer, way too many.  The Beatles always make me happy, but I love brand new stuff too.  Love music.

14.   Which book taught you most?  

I really loved Jack Welch’s book Winning (published well before Charlie Sheen ruined the term).  My two big takeaways were the importance of delivering outstanding service to customers, and that focusing on talent and employee performance can drive the biggest business impact.

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

49ers, Giants, Warriors, Manchester United, and my college soccer team the Emory Eagles!

16.   Which country would you like to work in?  

I spent some time working in London and Copenhagen and loved every second of it.  I’d love to experience working all over!  Paris, Munich, Singapore, Japan, Sydney, Hong Kong.  I’m always up for new experiences.

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

I have a lot of respect for the Salesforce marketing machine.  If you don’t agree, you must not have been to Dreamforce lately.  Part of it is marketing and part of it is the constant innovation that comes from their organization.  They give the marketing department a lot to work with!  Certainly Apple has built an amazing brand, but again a lot of it is the innovation and the product that they promote.  It’s tough to have great marketing without a great product to market.

18.   What do you love most about your job?  

Too many things!  I love my boss, love my peers, love my team, love the culture, love the huge opportunity we have as a company, and love that I can have a big impact on a big, neglected market that is ripe for transformation.

19.   What is your favourite book?  

If only I had time to read.  I think my favorite book right now is the Elmo book that my 2 year old demands to hear every night. I love how she screams “ELMO!” with such delight.

20.   What keeps you awake at night?  

A senior member of my team asked me this the other day.  It was a great question and showed that she wanted to be aligned on what our priorities should be.  I’m not sure she was prepared for the fire hose response she got from me…  “How can we get the pipeline to grow even faster? What should we be doing with wearables? When will I exercise in the next few days? Should my daughter start preschool for 2 or 3 days a week?  How can we get even more CIOs to attend our summit?  On what topic should I write my next article?  In this day and age, why in the world do companies still think they can pay men more than women?”  I could go on, but I’ll stop there so I can get to sleep!


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