1. What was your first (or favorite) job you’ve had?
Fortunately for me, my current role has easily been my favorite. From where I started – as a foreigner to the global insurance industry, and the finance industry in general – I’ve learned an incredible amount and been fortunate to work with stellar colleagues all around the world.
My first post-college job, and the one that set me on the first decade of my professional experience, was on Capitol Hill, in the office of the late Senator Ted Stevens from my home state of Alaska.
2. What are the 3 most important components for your personal and professional success?
The first component is a tie between two, but both are people. I have parents that always provided the support mechanism and confidence to fail and succeed in equal measures. And today, I’m fortunate to have a wife and family that provide immeasurable support.
Second, like many others, I’ve benefited from an incredible mentor and friend in our CEO, Mike McGavick.
Third, early in my political work, I learned the importance of differentiating with a clear strategy and the tactics used in achieving it. That’s a lesson I think about and use daily still.
3. Name an “inflection point” experience that prepared you for your current position.
In political campaigns, there are any number of events that teach you to manage a crisis, to keep a clear view of what’s of macro importance, and to separate – to the greatest extent possible – the personal from the professional, and the resultant stress therein.
A few specifics come to mind, but the details will have to wait for my tell-all.
4. What characteristics do you value most when hiring new marketing talent for your team?
At XL Catlin, we run an integrated communications and marketing function where, with limited exception, each team member is expected to handle all the duties of the traditional communications/marketing silos. We focus first on the business partner relationship we have with our internal leaders, determining the best channel for an appropriate message, rather than let the channel do the dictating. So, to work in this model you need curiosity and flexibility. And personally, I look for people who can communicate their ideas clearly and succinctly.
5. What technology are you looking forward to using or implementing for your brand in the next six months?
We’re in the process of upgrading our marketing stack, moving to Eloqua as our primary campaign automation platform.
6. Which book would you recommend to your fellow CMO Club members right now?
I recently finished Lincoln in the Bardo and, other than it being one of the it books of the moment, it has a voice unlike anything else I’ve read in quite a long time. It’s one of those books that you aren’t quite sure what you are reading when you start and which resonates with you for a long time after you’ve put it down.
7. Name one Head of Marketing who impresses you today and tell us why.
Ok, that’s a cheat, as he’s obviously not strictly a CMO. But, let’s be honest: above all, he’s building a brand.
8. Do you have a personal mantra, words of wisdom or favorite inspirational quote?
I like teams and the cumulative power of collaboration. So, for me, any piece of the St. Crispin’s Day speech from Henry V always works, but particularly this one:
“For he that sheds his blood with me this day shall be my brother.”
Yes, a tad gory, but it speaks to the bonding power of mutual perseverance and how shared experience is ultimately the most powerful mechanism of making people see eye-to-eye.