The CMO Files: Andres Ortola, Marketing Director, Software Group, Middle East and Africa, IBM

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:  Andres Ortola

  Organisation: IBM

  Job title: Marketing Director, Software Group. Middle East and Africa

  Location: Dubai, UAE




(1)           Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Argentina from a Spanish family.



(2)           What was your first job?
I joined a small IT consultancy firm where I learned the taste for technology. Back in those days, technology wasn't what it is today.



(3)           What was the first product you got really excited about?
Windows 95. I remember the transition from the traditional DOS-based Operating Systems to the graphic environment. I remember not understanding how this would work but being amazed by the paradigm transformation.


(4)           Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
There were several names I remember over these many years. Above all of them, I believe Juan Gregorio Hernandez was certainly one of them. He helped me understand that the limits are where you place them and only you can move them further.




(5)           What has been your greatest achievement?
Having a wonderful family. I owe them what I am today.


(6)           What has been your biggest mistake?
To believe that experience could replace intuition, understanding and willingness to change. I've learned that the ability to adapt to changes is the most valuable skill one can have.




(7)           What is your greatest strength?
It's really hard to say but if I had to pick I'd say that being down to earth is probably a good attribute. The increasing complexity of our society makes you sometimes forget your real objectives in business and in life. It is very important, in my opinion, to have both present every time.



(8)           What is your biggest weakness?
Impatience. Although I managed to control it, I still get nervous when things can't get done in time.


(9)           What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
Connection with our end users and clients. We analyse markets and segments but often forget the individuals. Fortunately, new technologies are helping us to get back in touch with them and understand what's really required from us.




(10)       Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
"I'm the master of my fate; I'm the captain of my soul". I believe everybody has the ability to forge his own destiny.


(11)       What makes you stressed?
Inability to act. Today's businesses require fast-paced actions and decisions.




(12)       What do you do to relax?
Spend time with family and friends. Also reading and practicing sports.


(13)       What is your favourite song?
I love many genres but I particularly enjoy listening to classical music. It helps me to relax.



(14)       Which book taught you most?
The Servant (James Hunter). A different view on leadership that I recommend every leader to read.




(15)       Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I'm passionate about rugby. I played it since I was young and still try to stay involved with the sport by coaching a group of kids in Dubai. I also enjoy watching any match that's available.


(16)       Which country would you like to work in?
There are many on the list. I guess one where I can learn as much as I do nowadays. The Middle East and Africa is a fascinating region with great diversity.




(17)       Which company do you think has the best marketing?
There are many leaders in their own categories. I love how some brands build connections with their clients. I always admired how Harley Davidson, for example, can connect with their customers to the point they get their brand tattooed on their bodies. Fascinating.


(18)       What do you love most about your job?
Marketing offers you the chance to influence many.



(19)       What is your favourite book?
The Servant (James Hunter).



(20)       What keeps you awake at night?
I've learned that to lead is to serve. I strive to become a better leader every day by serving my teams better.





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