The CMO Files: Cindy Klein Roche, Cybereason

The CMO Files: Cindy Klein Roche, Cybereason

Name: Cindy Klein Roche

Organisation: Cybereason

Job title: Chief Marketing Officer

Location:Boston, Massachusetts

Cindy Klein Roche, Chief Marketing Officer at Cybereason, is a marketing executive who has focused on brand building, integrated marketing, and customer experience at Fortune 1000 companies such as TripAdvisor, athenahealth, and Fidelity. She has built top global brands from scratch, driven significant growth in brand awareness, and created successful go-to-market programs for consumer, small business, and enterprise audiences that led to dramatic sales results.


Where were you born and raised? Martinsville, New Jersey, a tiny town that no one had ever heard of until Italy practiced there during the 1994 World Cup, and a bunch of malls appeared.  

What was your first job? I was a literary agent for a famous and very respected agency, Georges Borchardt Inc. I represented authors: edited their book manuscripts, negotiated contracts on all their intellectual property, and worked for some of my favourite people (Elie Wiesel, Jhumpa Lahiri, Tracy Kidder).

What was the first product you got really excited about? The Walkman. It was a game changer to be able to listen to music while walking around, running, and commuting. Pure joy.

Who has been the biggest influence on your career? When I joined TripAdvisor to run global Brand Marketing, it was because of Christine Petersen, then CMO. She is a true brand builder and transformed TripAdvisor from an unknown brand to a global household name. She taught me to take risks on big, bold brand ideas. Hug any insights you have about what the customer wants and create campaigns that connect with them on an emotional level.

I also owe some credit to my husband. He inspired me to move from book publishing to technology and marketing. His encouragement and advice have been critical to my success.

What has been your greatest achievement? There are actually two that stand out:

I am extremely fond of a brand campaign "Let Doctors Be Doctors" that we did for athenahealth. Our video ads empathised with burnt-out physicians. Our brand awareness numbers went up significantly, but we also got a lot of anecdotal feedback about how deeply we had connected with American physicians.

The second is from the past. I discovered a writer named Jhumpa Lahiri who has gone on to enormous fame. When I first met her, she had published in very small literary magazines, and she was doing a yearlong grant at the Provincetown Writers' Workshop. I got three of her stories published in The New Yorker, which was her breakout. Then we sold her story collection and her novel, and that launched her career.

What has been your biggest mistake? Any time I haven't delegated as much as possible, as fast as possible. You're only as strong as the smart people you hire, and how much responsibility you give them.

What is your greatest strength? One of my greatest strengths is my ability to assemble the right team for the job (hence why I should delegate more!). It's like a symphony, when all the right people play together to make something incredibly special.  

I look for folks who are smart and unafraid of a challenge. I particularly love starting from scratch and then convincing people from past jobs to come join me in tackling a new problem. Creating great teams may be the best thing you can do for a company.

What is your biggest weakness? Most of the high-performing professional women I know gravitate toward the details, and are vulnerable to dwelling in execution versus strategy. The key is to set the big goal, hire the right team, and guide the strategy and process. And you always want to fail fast, learn, and iterate.

What do you think is the aspect of your role most neglected by peers? I think too often people wait to recruit until they have an official and open position. You have to be in recruiting mode all the time: that means building networks and maintaining relationships with former colleagues and employees and thinking about who from your past can be a part of your current and future endeavours.

Which word or phrase is your mantra and which word or phrase makes you squirm? "Stand out in a sea of sameness. Be different." That's the motto I live and lead by.  I look for approaches that are different, and think a lot about ways to change the traditional mindset. That's how you can stand out as both a leader and a brand.

What makes me squirm? I hate when people feel the need to say, "I own this." Just do the work and demonstrate that you're taking the lead; if you have to say, "I own it," it's a sign of weakness. Great leadership comes from collaboration and leading the way -- not operating in isolation.

What makes you stressed? When people bring their laptops to meetings.  Slack and email distract people from the meeting, and they don't fully engage. I'm guilty of this too, but I'm trying to avoid it as much as possible and lead by example. [My husband has started telling people to close their laptops in meetings.]

What do you do to relax? I run (every day) and read as many books as I can fit into my schedule.

What is your favourite song? My kids determine what I listen to, and their favourites change all the time. Right now they really like Florence and The Machine: I like the songs themselves, and the "girl power" message.

Which book taught you most? Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational.

Do you have a team or sport that you follow? What are sports? Seriously, it would have to be Crimson Aquatics, where my daughter swims.

Which country would you like to work in? France. I speak French fluently and love the way they live/work/play/eat -- basically everything about France.

Which company do you think has the best marketing? Amazon. While it may seem like an obvious choice, their marketing is undeniably smart and strategic. Even their customer service is part of their brand, and their marketing.  And Jeff Bezos' annual shareholder letters. Speaking of Amazon, The Amazon Effect is another excellent book.

What do you love most about your job? My team, our wicked smart, quirky customers, and that I'm part of a startup with a lot of "firsts."  That means we're building entirely new programs and campaigns -- it's the perfect balance between challenging, fun, and rewarding.

What is your favourite book? I have two. All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr and Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese.

What keeps you awake at night? The fact that there's so much to learn and that I have to make time to sleep.


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