Human Resources

CMO Files: Mary Clark, CMO, Syniverse

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'.


Names: Mary Clark

Organisation: Syniverse 

Job Title: Chief Marketing Officer

Location: Maryland, US


(1)  Where were you born and raised?

Annapolis, Maryland, United States

(2) What was your first job?  

I was a tour guide in Annapolis, Maryland, giving 90-minute walking tours of the city and the U.S. Naval Academy every summer for seven summers. It was an amazing experience that taught me to speak in front of groups at a very young age. I can still do the tour. No matter where I am, I can give you a tour of Annapolis.

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

The VCR – the idea of being able to record a favorite movie was amazing! In mobile, it was the Motorola MicroTAC Lite. I sold dozens of them!  

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

My father has had the greatest influence on my career. He taught me that attitude is everything and that it’s critical to keep a positive attitude toward anything you face, and doing so provided the basis of my own self-confidence.

(5) What has been your greatest achievement?

In my professional life, it’s being able to stay in mobile and continuously being in a position where I can affect change.

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?

Tough one – I have definitely made mistakes in my career but have learned something incredibly important every time. So, while I may have made some better choices at times, I have learned some valuable lessons that I would never have learned had I made a different choice.

(7) What is your greatest strength?

Self-confidence is my greatest strength. The belief that I can accomplish anything has driven me to get things done out “a sheer force of will” – one of my favorite phrases.

(8) What is your biggest weakness?

Besides candy, it’s that at times my self-confidence – my strength – can blind me to something that needs to be changed or fixed.  

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

While everyone generally gets the critical importance of marketing, I make sure – through sheer force of will – that my peers don’t neglect anything about the role of marketing and its strategic importance to making our revenue goals and achieving our objectives.  

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

My mantra is: “Get it done.”

On the other hand, the term “paradigm shift” makes me squirm. Around 10 years ago when the mobile industry was undergoing the shift to 3G, “paradigm shift” excessively became the go-to descriptor and became extremely tedious.

(11) What makes you stressed?

Having “get it done” as my mantra, sources of stress vary and include, “do I have a mimosa or just a straight glass of champagne when I sit down on an international flight?” Madness! 

(12) What do you do to relax?

Cook, walk and spend time with my kids

(13) What is your favorite song?

Just about anything from Frank Sinatra

(14) Which book taught you most?

I learned so much from a series of books I read as a child called the “Chalet School Books.” The books were written in the 30s and 40s in Austria and throughout Europe. The series is about a boarding school for girls and taught me life lessons of loyalty and honor, among other things. They provided fascinating insight into pre-World War II life in Europe and how the onset of the war impacted a young person’s life. As a result, I gained a broader sense of the world at a very young age as well as a better understanding of self-reliance, independence and value of adventure.

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

Nope – sadly.  Other than my son’s lacrosse team(s), I really don’t follow anything.

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

The U.K. – I love London.

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

I have always liked Coca-Cola’s approach to marketing. They know that someone is born all the time that has not had a Coke product, so they approach their marketing from a generational point of view. And, their messages are so happy. There’s nothing like happiness in a product.   

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

I most enjoy working with my team and getting to meet with and listen to customers. There is nothing like hearing directly from the market.

(19) What is your favorite book?

I really love to read and will read popular fiction like Nora Roberts and Clive Cussler, but love “Lord of the Rings.” I usually have a couple different books going at any one time. I love to listen to audiobooks as well.

(20) What keeps you awake at night?

With a focus on getting things done, I am often asking myself, “What am I missing?” or, “Have I looked at what we need to do from every angle necessary?”


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