Human Resources

CMO Files: Marie Hattar, CMO, Check Point Software Technologies

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:  Marie Hattar  

Organisation:  Check Point Software Technologies

Job title:  Chief Marketing Officer

Location:  San Carlos, California








(1) Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Montreal, Canada but spent much of my childhood in the Middle East.  My father was a doctor and he wanted to work where he could help the most people.  It gave me a very worldly perspective from an early age.

(2) What was your first job?  
My first office job was in college as a training coordinator at one of the largest real estate companies in Canada.

(3) What was the first product you got really excited about?   
I had always admired the Volkswagen Cabriolet.  I think I knew everything about them through high school and college.  By the time I graduated, I could finally afford one and it was my first car. 

(4) Who has been the biggest influence on your career?
There were two women that greatly influenced my career:  Selina Lo and Sue Bostrom.  Selina, now the CEO at Ruckus Wireless, was my first product-marketing boss at Alteon WebSystems.  She is incredibly creative, driven, and can find the most interesting angles when introducing products to market.  Sue Bostrom currently serves on the Boards of several public companies but when I knew her, she was CMO at Cisco.  She is the smartest woman I know.  Insightful and able to hone in quickly, she has deep business knowledge and understanding of how to appeal to business leaders.   I do my best to emulate what I can from both of these women.

(5) What has been your greatest achievement?
When I decided to move on after 9 years at Cisco, it was very validating to be faced with several Chief Marketing Officer offers.  I knew the CMO title wasn’t the achievement.  It was the appreciation that others valued my insights to entrust me with their company’s future.  I selected the Check Point CMO role because with the continued growth in mobility, virtualization and cloud computing technologies, the security IT market becomes very critical.  Knowing I could make meaningful contributions to a segment so crucial is an amazing achievement. 

(6) What has been your biggest mistake?
Staying too long at a company even after I was aware my contributions were no longer making an impact. 

(7) What is your greatest strength?
I get personal enjoyment out of building strong teams, cultivating people and enabling them to reach their full potential.  I find myself caring so much for people that I would rather see them succeed even if it’s bad for me in the short term.

(8) What is your biggest weakness?
I probably have two:  I am very transparent and I tend to believe in people too much.  On the transparency, I am not shy about sharing with people exactly what’s on my mind.  Some people are strong enough to process that and some are not.   I also tend to believe that people have positive intent, which is not always the case.

(9) What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers? 
Most CMOs look at markets as being relatively slow moving. Our instant access to information has created a world where some ideas can go viral and others die in obscurity.  There is a new area of study that looks at some of the underlying factors of how and why these outcomes occur.  Concepts like social physics is about understanding how the flow of ideas and information translates into changes in behavior.  I won’t tell you that I know how it all works, but I am aware it is there and can dramatically impact our business if we aren’t paying attention.

(10) Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm?
My mantra phrase would have to be:  Think.  If I had one word that describes what I expect from everyone; that would be it.   

The phrase that makes me squirm would be:  “Am I allowed…?”.  By nature, I am a woman of action so I don’t like having to slow down to ask permission. 

(11) What makes you stressed?
Politics, people that create fake problems, and inefficiency.  Pretty much anything that is not about contributing or making forward progress gets me stressed.  I really dislike wasting time on good imitations of problems when there are real problems we could be solving. 

(12) What do you do to relax?
Movies.  I love movies.  Mostly adventure. 

(13) What is your favourite song?
Hallelujah.  It gives me a chill of warmth every time I hear it.

(14) Which book taught you most?
That’s a tough one.  There are several really good business books out there and I picked up bits from each of them.  My favorites would be:  Crossing the Chasm, Lean In, and Good to Great.

(15) Do you have a team or sport that you follow?
I have to admit I am not much of a sports super-fan.  I do love to watch the Olympics if that counts.  And I cheer for the US as long as they are not up against Canada. 

(16) Which country would you like to work in?
Italy, but not necessarily because of the work environment.  I just love the country, its people, its culture, its food and of course, its wine. 

(17) Which company do you think has the best marketing?
Although I can’t say I have used either of their products, I am a big fan of both Red Bull and GoPro.  They have both taken marketing in radically new directions and each put themselves in leading positions in crowded segments.  Their marketing is very innovative and creative. 

(18) What do you love most about your job?
At Check Point, we are in a market segment that most people don’t fully appreciate until after they have experienced a loss.  I get to organize a team to explain to people why they need to think security before they have a problem. It is a huge marketing challenge.  What’s not to like?

(19) What is your favourite book?
Ender’s Game.  What can I say? I’m a geek. 

(20) What keeps you awake at night?
Work will always have a continuous stream of challenges that require attention.  Other than the occasional late night work, I don’t typically lose sleep over work issues.   Anything that impacts my family or someone I care about, though, that’s another issue altogether. 


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