1. What was your first (or favorite) job?
While in college, my first job was as a summer lifeguard. As you can imagine, growing up in Ireland, we were wearing tracksuits/sweats most of the time rather than being in Speedos. Certainly wasn’t a Baywatch environment but I still loved it. Halfway through college, I joined the promotions team of a major cigarette brand involved in motorsports and other related sponsorships such as Aerobatics and Powerboat racing.
This is where I got the marketing bug under the tutelage of the brand manager. As the saying goes, the rest is history…
2. Name an “inflection point” experience that prepared you for your current position as a Head of Marketing.
I can’t think of one particular point but rather a combination of experiences coupled with my own attributes and passion. If there was just one, it would be my international swimming career. The skills, endurance, competitive spirit, team essence and mental fortitude (e.g. calm under pressure) I developed have prepared me for the rapid pace of business – regardless of the type or role. It’s certainly “grounded” me.
3. What are the 3 most important components for your personal and professional success?
Working in the advertising world definitely honed my storytelling; The startup world provided the entrepreneurial momentum, and the competitive and team spirit I adopted as an International swimmer for Ireland all played a big part in my success.
4. Earlier this year, Belkin was recognized at CES for storytelling and innovation. How do you create a culture that inspires your team and really allows great creativity take hold?
Having experiences, solutions and products that customers are clamoring to get a hold off certainly helps a lot. Our teams are immersed within each brand driving and executing 360-degree consumer connection(s). Each brand realizes people’s potential with technology: whether it’s connecting and charging those experiences with Belkin; the always-on blanket of wifi with Linksys; or the magical moments created in today’s connected home with WeMo.
5. As a CMO, how do you approach social media? How has having a strong presence online helped your company and your personal brand?
I thoroughly enjoy social media for personal use – though I’m careful not to allow it to be all consuming. Therefore, I’ve restricted myself to less than a handful of platforms for personal use. Under that guise, it’s all about business, marketing, startups (I’m very active helping Irish startups in particular), aviation, motorsports, Ireland, music, travel and food.
For our brands, social media is a great way to get direct, immediate feedback. I – and the team – love engaging with consumers about how the products are making their lives better/easier. In those instances where they need help or have a suggestion, we empathize and react quickly. That alone is highly rewarding.
6. The Internet of Things has the opportunity to really change how we behave and engage with technology on a daily basis. What are you looking forward to seeing in the next year?
Natural resources are becoming more and more depleted with each passing day. There’s no “makeover,” period! These precious assets need our protection, nourishment and universal respect.
At Belkin, we recognize that no one group has all the answers. For instance, when it comes to water, we created Phyn, a joint venture with Uponor (who is one of the world’s leading plumbing companies), in commercializing our water sensing technology. This will have meaningful impact by monitoring, measuring and managing how water is consumed.
A personal wish, my hope is that the Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) solves the age old pandora of commercial aviation travel woes with delayed/canceled flights, gates not being available, etc. Let’s put the magic back into flying!
7. Belkin’s website says they create people-inspired products. How do you bring a human element to your data and marketing tactics?
Well, our focus on People Inspired Products is a result of that attention as to how our products and brands make people’s lives better. Our consumer insights team does an incredible job of harnessing excellent insights for all aspects of the brand – product development, UX, packaging, in-store experience, communications, etc. Net Promotor Score (NPS) is an overarching KPI for us. Consumer reviews and their ratings are also another important metric.
8. Do you have a personal mantra, words of wisdom or favorite inspirational quote?
I must say Nike’s “Just do it” encapsulates it for me. Actions speak louder. When people overthink things, they lose sight of the opportunity and ability to learn.