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Interview

The CMO Files: Wolfgang Runge, Vice President EMEA Marketing, HP Software

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:  Wolfgang Runge

Organisation: HP Software

Job title: Vice President EMEA Marketing HP Software

Location: Vienna

 

(1) Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Austria in a small city called Linz. I was then raised in Austria, but as a child I lived with my parents in Norfolk, Virginia for 3 years.

(2) What was your first job?
I got a very exciting job, even though I had not planned to have a career in IT. I started in software development for an Austrian bank working with mainframes and the most expensive equipment you can imagine. I was really impressed by this huge, high-security IT centre with mainframes where we developed real time banking software. Maybe all those mainframes are now fitting into one or two Linux servers.

(3) What was the first product you got really excited about?
In terms of private activities I was really excited about my first Harley Davidson bike. It was a huge bike, a lot of chrome and a great sound. In terms of IT, it was basically the first IBM PC XT where we started to build the first PC applications on this small computer interconnected with the mainframes.

(4) Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
I think the most important person is my wife Isabella because without her support I could not do international jobs. But there were also a couple of great people I had the pleasure to work with or to report to. Most of them are from SAP, where I worked for more than 20 years. But I would like to mention three people – Dietmar Hopp, the charismatic founder of SAP, Henning Kagermann, CEO of SAP, to whom I had the pleasure to report for quite some time and also Marty Homlish, CMO of SAP at that point of time and now at HP.

(5) What has been your greatest achievement?
First of all my great family, my wife and son, as this is the most important thing in life. During my career I was very proud of my engagements as consultant where I could implement SAP Manufacturing and Logistics in great companies like Siemens or Henkel. I still know a lot about these processes. Later when I was in management, I led the Global Supply Chain unit in SAP, where we achieved the #1 position, and later on when leading the business of SAP Eastern Europe and Middle East we had great growth rates. Also, I was heading global product marketing when we designed and brought to market SAP ERP as a new solution based on a new platform. SAP ERP is still the major revenue contributor for SAP. Interestingly enough, my first sell of an SAP R/3 system was on an HP platform.

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?
I think there is nothing I can mention here besides the usual mistakes you normally make during your business and your personal life. But this is part of your learning curve and without mistakes you cannot improve.

(7) What is your greatest strength?
I like to work with people and in teams, especially if you have the chance to build organizations.

(8) What is your biggest weakness?
Very often I’m very impatient.

(9) What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
I don’t feel that my peers are neglecting my role. They really see Marketing as a very important part of business success. Maybe one point could be true – they sometimes think that I have endless budget to invest.

(10) Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
The phrase I like very much is “Good is the enemy of Great”.

(11) What makes you stressed?
Heavy traffic in Vienna.

(12) What do you do to relax?
I like to hear music or drink a good bottle of red wine with my wife. I also try to ride my Harley Davidson as much as possible outside of Vienna. Within the city it is certainly not relaxing. But Austria is a great country for cruising around. You can find everything you want such as empty roads, high mountains or nice lakes you can visit.

(13) What is your favourite song?
“Here I go again” from Whitesnake

(14) Which book taught you most?
The biography of Herman Maier who is a famous ski racer. He had a very bad accident with his motorbike and it took him a long time to come back to the top. I have never seen such great will to achieve something.

(15) Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I like all kind of motorsport, especially Formula 1. My favourite team here is of course Red Bull Racing as the team is owned by Austrians. By the way, they have good chances to win the championship this year.

(16) Which country would you like to work in?
For the last 20 years I have been living in Austria and travelling worldwide. So there was never the desire to move. The cities I Iike most are New York, San Francisco, London, Rome and Dubai. But the most impressive city was certainly Shanghai when I was there for the first time.

(17) Which company do you think has the best marketing?
I’m not sure if there is a company with the best marketing. The marketing discipline is too complex and depends in which business you are in. And you are never good in all areas. You also have to see Marketing in conjunction with the products or services the company is offering and how the employees are living the brand. That altogether makes the success.

(18) What do you love most about your job?
I like to work with the creative Marketing power we have in our company. The same applies to our product or business development people. They are really impressive. I like to work in a forward-looking environment. In Marketing we have the chance to always be included right from the beginning. The second area I like a lot is to talk to customers. During our large events we have enough time to meet them and to get their view of the future.

(19) What is your favourite book?
I don’t have a specific book in mind. But the last one I read impressed me a lot. It is called “Onward” written by Howard Schultz. He describes the turnaround of Starbucks and how you can move a simple product like coffee to become a culture by itself. This reminds me of the question above - who makes the best marketing.

(20) What keeps you awake at night?
I think there are basically two areas. First of all, when I work on a difficult topic and I cannot shut down my brain. I want to do my best and I’m constantly thinking about how to achieve the goals I have set myself. The second area is certainly any people-related issues within my team.

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