Human Resources

The CMO Files: Robin Selden, Avast

Robin Selden

 Organisation:  Avast

 Job title: Chief Marketing Officer

 Location:  Redwood City, California USA, / Prague, Czech Republic



1.      Where were you born and raised? 
I was raised in Silicon Valley before it had any silicon in it. My grandparents had an apricot orchard dating from the 1930s and I grew up helping them with it and enjoying the opportunities available in the valley.

2.      What was your first job?
My first job was an animal health technician at a Veterinary Clinic.

3.      What was the first product you got really excited about?
It was a product from my first company out of Business School, Adaptec. We made the product super easy to use, which was unheard of at that time. We also packaged and merchandized the tech product in retail stores such as Frys for the first time too.

4.      Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Probably Guerrino DeLuca, who was our CEO while at Logitech. Guerrino had an amazing mind and eye for Marketing while also aggressively growing his business. I learned a lot about not settling for less than great, and how to keep diverse opinions on the team so you do not go down the wrong path.

5.      What has been your greatest achievement?
In my career, I would say my greatest achievement has been reaching the level of CMO and knowing I am the trusted advisor for Marketing for the CEO. I have built or revitalized several brands throughout my career and it is hard to pick one. Kind of like saying you have a favourite child.

6.      What has been your biggest mistake?
Thinking that my performance is based on what I do. It is not. It is based on my team’s performance. I never forget that now.

7.      What is your greatest strength?
I think my greatest strength for a technology marketer is that I started as a product person – in product marketing and sales really understanding the products I market. You can’t do a good job in Marketing unless you understand the product as your customer does. I have been both a General Manager and a CMO, and knowing both sides of the company helps me be more effective in my role.

8.      What is your biggest weakness?
Probably my impatience. I want to get this done, yesterday, and sometimes I am too hasty or make an error trying to move too fast.

9.      What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?   
The integration of Marketing with the rest of the company. Not paying enough attention to communication and building relationships across functions so everyone feels like one team. I hear horror stories about isolated teams that never talk or end up working in different directions. This creates so much waste.

10.  Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
My mantra would be, “Life’s too short not to laugh every day”. I try to keep my team happy while we are working so hard. The phrase that bothers me the most is when an agency tells me my demographic is between the ages of 25-54 years old. What does that mean? That is everyone with an income? I like to be a bit more precise than that.

11.  What makes you stressed?
It is always people right? People you work with or people who work for you. You want to motivate people and move everyone forward, but there are often issues that have to be sorted out. 

12.  What do you do to relax?
Exercising and gardening. I love being outside with beautiful things.

13.  What is your favourite song?
Thunder Road by Bruce Springsteen

14.  Which book taught you most?
Positioning, The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout

15.  Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I am a big Golden State Warriors fan here in the SF Bay area – but who isn’t?

16.  Which country would you like to work in?
I really have two homes now – in California and in Prague, Czech Republic. I love working in Prague.  I guess if I were to have an opportunity to work elsewhere it would be nice to work in Japan.

17.  Which company do you think has the best marketing?
I really admire Audi. They came from not even being in the consideration set for luxury car buyer, to becoming one of the top three brands by sheer marketing and positioning. 

18.  What do you love most about your job?
That I have wonderful people all around the world I get to talk to and work with every day.

19.  What is your favourite book?
The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, by Carson McCullers

20.  What keeps you awake at night?
Realizing I missed a commitment to someone.  I hate that.


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