In an interview with Insights Success, the CMO of Tangoe, Sidra Berman shares her insights behind her triumphant ingenuity as a Chief Marketing Officer. The zealous and admired leader has driven the ascension of the Technology Expense Management and Enterprise Mobility Services Company with her contemporary and innovative management and marketing expertise.
Below are the highlights of the interview conducted between Sidra and Insights Success:
Explain your background in detail and tell us your prime goals?
When I graduated from college, I had no idea what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. Fortunately, the company that I had been interning with hired me full time. Basically, I “fell” into the beginning of my career. Within a few years, I ended up at GE. GE had a great training program—the company really invested in people, their careers, and growing their skill sets. That is where I met the first mentor in my career, Reid Walker, who was a fantastic boss.
I would ask him regularly during our 1:1 catch-up meetings, “What can I do better?”, and he would always give me feedback. Even though it can be hard to get constructive criticism, when it is well delivered and meant to grow the person, you can’t be brittle about it. As I’ve moved up in my career, I try to do the same for the people who work for me. I want all of them to be successful, and try to help them with both the hard and soft skills necessary to get to where they ultimately want to be in their careers.
Tell us about the company you work for, and the services it provides.
Tangoe is the global technology expense management and enterprise mobility services standard for the world’s greatest brands. Our clients rely on Tangoe to increase productivity, reduce costs, and drive predictable results. Our customers believe – like us – that people work smarter when technology works for them.
How did you decide to pursue the career you are working on today? What was the pivotal moment or inspiration?
I started my career working on political campaigns and for non-profits. As I matured and decided jumping from campaign to campaign was getting old, I realized that what I was actually doing was marketing. While I wasn’t marketing a product, I had been marketing and raising money for candidates and specific issues, and was able to carry over those skillsets.
What is the most important characteristic that every CMO should possess?
There are two important characteristics that every CMO should possess. First, listening to the market and customers; this includes both external customers, as well as internal feedback from your sales team. Always remember that customers pay your paycheck, so you need to listen to pay attention to what they want. Second, do your homework and understand the dynamics of the market. How big is it? Who signs the checks that buy your products? Who influences and researches that purchase? Knowing the market both quantitatively and qualitatively is essential.
What are the most pressing challenges that CMOs are facing today to be innovative and Why?
One key challenge for CMOs is that there is so much noise in the market – it’s hard to be heard by the people you’re trying to reach.
Since social media has given everyone a platform, it is difficult to get attention as people are being inundated. This makes it more important than ever to go back to the basics: who are you targeting and what is their pain? Where do they go to research a purchase? You need to focus your message through the right channel in order to get the attention of the people you’re trying to reach.
What are the key values, which helped you to overcome the roadblocks/challenges in your career as a CMO? Tell us something about a memorable incident under your leadership.
The key value I try to live by is treating people as what they actually are — people with their own hopes, goals, dreams, lives, and families. When you treat someone like a human—just as you would want to be treated—it changes the way you give feedback, lead the department, manage tasks.
A key memorable incident was when I first became a Director and had my own team to lead for the first time ever. My manager at the time (as well as mentor & friend), Jim Rogers, said to me “I know you’re ambitious and running a team is a step to where you want to go. Always remember, the way you treat people who work for you influences how they feel about themselves, how their interact with their spouse or significant other, treat their child and even how they sleep. Being a manager is a massive, sacred responsibility.”
What would you advise to the budding entrepreneurs and marketing individuals entering into the market?
Early in your career, try as many different roles as you can within the marketing or business function you’re in. I worked in communications, web marketing, event planning, field marketing, and product marketing throughout my career before becoming a CMO. Each role taught me a new aspect of marketing and helped me figure out where I wanted to focus on with my career.
Where do you see yourself in coming years, and how do you see yourself catalyzing that change?
I love what I do, and want to empower and mentor others to reach the highest pinnacle they can in their careers. It would be an honor if in 5, 10, or even 15 years, there were lots of CMOs who used to work on my team.