Human Resources

The CMO Files: Jamie Barnett, Netskope

Jamie Barnett

 Organisation: Netskope

 Job title: Chief Marketing Officer

 Location: Palo Alto, California


1.     Where were you born and raised?
I was born and raised in Northern California. I spent my early years on a cattle ranch in Calaveras County where my family lived with my grandparents while my Dad went back to school to get his college degree. Instead of going to preschool, I was my grandfather’s number one ranch-hand. I took care of the cows and horses, helped fix irrigation equipment, fed the geese (they are mean!), and even “drove” the truck. In reality, this meant putting the truck in compound low gear and the toolbox on the gas pedal while I stood on the seat and steered “toward that water tower!” while my grandfather stood on the truck’s bed and baled hay to the cows and horses in the pasture. 

2.     What was your first job?
Besides ranch hand in the early days, my first job out of college was investment banking for a boutique firm doing primarily mergers and acquisitions. It was a great place to learn how to think in financial terms. From that experience, financial concepts, like option value and opportunity cost, and economic theory, like derivatives, tangents and game theory, are useful in helping me look at marketing and business problems. 

3.     What was the first product you got really excited about?
Believe it or not, clustered file systems in the early 2000s. I was working for a small startup that was acquired by HP. This was the first product I ever marketed. I was terrible at my job, but I learned to appreciate how customers view a product benefit versus how you do. It smacked me in the face: You have got to listen to, watch, and walk in the shoes of your customer. 

4.     Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
Besides my parents, I’d say Dennis Hoffman, my boss at EMC. He and I were the first two people on EMC’s security team and we led EMC’s acquisition of RSA as well as other security companies. He taught me to think strategically about business decision-making and especially how to influence groups of people.

5.     What has been your greatest achievement?
Greatest life achievement: Convincing my seriously wonderful husband to marry me despite my many flaws and somehow raising two kids without killing them or losing my mind. Greatest professional achievement: Bringing together a very high quality group of people that can do my job 10x better than I can.

6.     What has been your biggest mistake?
How long do you have? In all seriousness, my biggest mistake is not getting a college degree in math or science. I love STEM (and STEAM!) subjects and wish I had the bona fides to match. I’ve had a chip on my shoulder and worked extra hard to compensate throughout my entire career.

7.     What is your greatest strength?

8.     What is your biggest weakness?
Saying “yes” to too much.

9.     What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers?
Deep product knowledge and customer empathy. I want to throttle marketing leaders who are all about colour palettes and “programmes” and can’t be bothered to learn the product.

10.  Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
Words and phrases I value include: listen, walk in the customer’s shoes and use simple, rather than complex, words and phrases to explain things.
Words and phrases that make me squirm include: synergy, leverage, paradigm shift, and operationalise.  

11.  What makes you stressed?
Not knowing or not understanding something.

12.  What do you do to relax?
To relax, I hike, garden, cook, share terrible puns and movie quotes on social media, watch funny videos on YouTube (like dogs eating peanut butter) with my kids and laugh uproariously.

13.  What is your favourite song?
The Bruces’ Philosopher Song by Monty Python.

14.  Which book taught you most?
The Little Prince. It taught me wonder, love, and our ties to one another. My husband and I had the interaction between the Little Prince and the fox read at our wedding.

15.  Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
My kids’ baseball teams (I coach my daughter’s team so I have to follow that) and other sports teams that they play on including basketball, flag football and dance. Of the professional variety, the San Francisco Giants or Warriors are often on in the background when I’m working.

16.  Which country would you like to work in?
I’ve lived and gone to school in France and lived and worked in Brazil. I would love to work abroad, and those two are natural choices.

17.  Which company do you think has the best marketing?
I enjoy HubSpot’s content. They are good and have their finger on the pulse of what marketers need. I like Kapost for the same reason.

18.  What do you love most about your job?
I laugh really hard many times every day. I have really funny colleagues.

19.  What is your favourite book?
Whatever I’m reading at the time. Right now, it’s Sylvia Plath’s The Bell Jar. I’m all on my high horse about feminist issues as a result.

20.  What keeps you awake at night?
Nothing. I am so damn exhausted and sleep-deprived from working in a high-growth company and raising kids that I fall into bed and sleep like the dead every night!



« C-Suite Talk Fav Tech: Ojas Rege, MobileIron


C-suite career advice: Mark van der Linden, Dropbox »
IDG Connect

IDG Connect tackles the tech stories that matter to you

  • Mail


Do you think your smartphone is making you a workaholic?