Human Resources

CMO Files: Sonal Puri, CMO, Aryaka Networks

 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:  Sonal Puri

Organisation: Aryaka Networks, Inc.



Job title: Chief Marketing Officer

Location:  Silicon Valley, California

(1) Where were you born and raised?

I was born in Bombay, India. My father is a retired Indian Army Colonel and with his frequent transfers, I was raised across different cities in India. I went to 9 different schools before going to Sir JJ College of Architecture, Bombay.       

(2) What was your first job?  

After I graduated with a Bachelors of Architecture from the University of Bombay, I was hired as an Intern Architect with Charles Correa. 

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

I loved gadgets from the very beginning. When I was 10, my parents got my sister and I, a double screen Nintendo video game called Oil Panic and a Sony Cassette Walkman with two headphone jacks. That was the beginning.

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

My mom, by far, She ensured I had a career. Focus on academics was the only way in our home. A Master’s degree from a professional was the minimum standard she would accept- both of us thank her for it and have the same expectations of our children- focus on career and education. 

(5) What has been your greatest achievement?

Giving birth to two wonderful, kind and talented children and giving them all the love and resources we can to make them successful.  

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?

I’ve made many mistakes and I make more every day. Perhaps the biggest regret/mistake will remain not spending more time with my mother during her last days. 

(7) What is your greatest strength?

Consistency of messaging and continued daily and weekly focus on marketing and metrics, 

(8) What is your biggest weakness?

My quest for perfection and fear of failure in everything I do. It’s exhausting and I’ve certainly relaxed over the years.

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

Marketing is a tough job. It is not as measurable as sales and not considered by some as critical as engineering or customer support. Many of my peers do an incredible job of building their company brands. As one rises to the role of CMO, you get removed from the day-to-day tasks and that sometimes leads to an evolution in messaging, not necessary in the right direction.

I try to ensure the messaging across everything we say and do at Aryaka stays consistent and on point- this is critical as we’re creating a new market segment and the evolution may have confusing for our customers. 

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

Mantra- There is no greater genius than hard work.

Squirm- What’s the strategy?

(11) What makes you stressed?

Uncertainty, lack of planning and change without purpose. 

(12) What do you do to relax?

Hang out with my kids and listen to their chatter about their little lives. Play music and dance with them at home. Sometimes sing with them while driving. They have assured me that I don’t have a career in singing but they still love every moment.

(13) What is your favourite song?

A tough one- I love rock, alternative, pop, Bollywood and more. My favourite songs change over time but there are a few all-time favourites from my high school days- George Benson and Whitney Houston’s Saving all my love for you.

(14) Which book taught you most?

I believe good books teach you to read, to write and to think. The earliest books I read were the Enid Blyton series- they certainly taught me to think in English. 

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

I follow my kid’s sports teams. They both play multiple team sports- baseball, softball, soccer and basketball. I also follow the USC football team- depending on the kind of season they are having.

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

I absolutely love working in the US. It’s a true meritocracy and there is respect for talent and hard work.

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

Aryaka! In all seriousness, we have done so much with so little over the last five years. My young and brilliant 5- person marketing engine runs day after day, week after week, redefining 3 different multi-billion dollar markets.

We get inspired by the marketing of many other companies around us and certainly adapt aspects of their strategy within Aryaka.

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

It was a blank canvas when I started and I’ve been able to work with the brightest minds in the US and India to bring it to the market. Hundreds of customers later, its certainly resonated.  

(19) What is your favourite book?

I love books- almost all of them! Reading was the only form of entertainment in our home growing up. TV came on for 50 minutes each evening. 20 minutes for the news and one 30 minutes show.

(20) What keeps you awake at night?

I sleep like a log from the second my head hits the pillow to the time my alarm rings. Sick or nursing kids surely changed that for a few years but now that they are grown up, my sleep is back. It’s a true blessing I’ve inherited from my dad. Or perhaps just a clean conscience?



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