CMO Files: Matt Preschern, SVP - Enterprise CMO, Windstream

CMO Files: Matt Preschern, SVP - Enterprise CMO, Windstream

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:  Matt Preschern 

Organisation: Windstream

Job title: SVP – Enterprise CMO

Location: US






(1) Where were you born and raised?

I was born and raised in Austria. I spent a couple of years in Taiwan and eventually, in 1991, I moved to the U.S.

(2) What was your first job?

I sold life insurance door-to-door. It was the hardest job ever, but I learned a few life lessons along the way.

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

I remember Adidas introducing a new soccer ball, the “Tango,” for the 1978 World Cup in Argentina. The Tango had a new design and different colors, including yellow and red… unheard of until then! I venture to say that every kid around the world who was following soccer (including me) wanted one of those Tango soccer balls.

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

I have been very fortunate to have had a number of incredible mentors along the way.  Notably, I have appreciation for my dad for "introducing me to the world"; Alan Gershenhorn from UPS, who showed me how to “get things done"; Nigel Dessau, who was with IBM at the time, and Lauren Flaherty (now CA) for their marketing brilliance; and Bruce Harreld, who is now at Harvard University, who saw and believed in talent all while steering the strategy of a $100 billion company.

(5) What has been your greatest achievement?

I hope some are still ahead of me! But looking back, the UPS Germany repositioning in 1993/1994 and working on IBM's Smarter Planet initiative were both special, transformative, and game-changing efforts.

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?

I think there have been quite a few along the way. As a marketer, I learned the hard way that "words matter" when at IBM we introduced "On Demand Business" to the marketplace in 2003-2004. Great strategy, leading edge capabilities, but the visceral reaction to "On Demand" was so strong—and frankly speaking, very limiting. Yes, words matter!

(7) What is your greatest strength?

The team at Windstream recently gave me the nickname "Full Court Preschern." Yes, I'm all in, all the time. I also enjoy working with people and love to accomplish great things in a team atmosphere.

(8) What is your biggest weakness?

I have a tendency to move very fast and take on a lot of things—sometimes (borderline) too much. Patience is not part of my vocabulary—which can be good, but sometimes not so good.

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

I believe marketing should be playing a transformative role in today's fast-paced world.  As such, CMOs need to step up and become trusted advisors to their CEOs! Our priorities should be focused on customer experience and driving top-line revenue growth for the company, not some functionally oriented marketing or lead generation metrics. To do so, we need to focus on the business, move fast—much faster than ever before—and pilot new things. We should constantly be learning, sometimes failing, and always course-correcting, while optimizing our efforts.

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

My mantra is that "the impossible is possible." There is nothing more powerful than the belief that someone, or a team of people, can accomplish just about anything when he puts his mind to it.

Conversely, we all know and have heard the various corporate power words that more often than not say and mean just about nothing. "Synergy" comes to mind, followed closely by "strategic intent."

(11) What makes you stressed?


(12) What do you do to relax?

I like to exercise and play sports: tennis, soccer, cycling, golf, skiing—you name it. It's most fun when my two teenage boys come out and spend a few hours with dad.

(13) What is your favourite song?

My music tastes were mostly influenced by artists of the ’80s and early ’90s. As such, I enjoy listening to AC/DC to this day and I have a big smile on my face when Guns ’n’ Roses plays. I was very sad when we lost Kurt Cobain from Nirvana. I’ve also gained an appreciation for Eminem because of his brilliant and powerful use of language—again, words matter!

Growing up in Austria, I would say "Schifoan" by Wolfgang Ambros may be one of my all-time favorites, although Falco had some great songs, as well.

(14) Which book taught you most?

A World at Arms by Gerhard Weinberg

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

In tennis, I'm a big "Rafa" Nadal fan and would have loved to see Liverpool’s soccer team win the premiership league this year. Also, watching Ted Ligety win gold in the Olympic giant slalom in skiing earlier this year was epic!

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

I'm very happy to be living and working in the U.S. Having said that, if the right opportunity presented itself, I'd like to spend a few years down under. Australia is a pretty special place!

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

Now that's a tough question. I believe that companies like Red Bull and Snap-on have revolutionized lifestyle and experience marketing. In the B2B space, I'm impressed with how Adobe maneuvers the digital space. I also believe that Delta (more of a traditional "brick and mortar" company) is doing a nice job transforming the company and its integrated, multi-channel marketing is excellent.

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

I joined Windstream, a $6 billion telecommunications and IT service provider, just about nine months ago—and I love it. It's been so encouraging to work for and with a visionary CEO and a smart, focused, and dedicated leadership team that is committed to transforming "our challenger brand" into a world-class company, the best in the industry. And yes, we believe that our people and our culture will continue to be our key differentiator. Are we working hard? You bet, but we are also having fun and getting things done!

(19) What is your favourite book?

The Purple Cow by Seth Godin is brilliant, even if he (apparently) had not heard about Milka Chocolate when he wrote this book.

(20) What keeps you awake at night?

I don't sleep well during a full moon!



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