Currently holding the position of Chief Marketing Officer at Cherwell, Scott Gainey earned his first leadership opportunity while working at NetApp in a combination product management/solutions marketing role. At the time, Scott was working within a small incubation team tasked with navigating NetApp’s entrance into a new market adjacency around data protection. Like many new leaders, he entered the role with little formal leadership training. That came a few years later at Cisco, which backed Scott’s desire to attend the executive education program at Stanford’s Graduate School of Business.
It was at Cisco, where he was given his first significant opportunity to lead a marketing organization, responsible for Cisco’s new cloud computing and data center networking portfolio. Scott took on that role pre-revenue and remained with the team until they achieved a billion-dollar revenue run rate, that fastest growing portfolio in Cisco’s history. Later he moved over to take on Cisco’s multibillion-dollar security business and played a vital role in the $2.7 billion acquisition of SourceFire.
After the integration, Scott decided to take on a new leadership challenge at Palo Alto Networks where they were evolving the marketing organization to support explosive 55- 60 percent year over year growth demands. His first CMO role came at SentinelOne then continued on to Cherwell Software.
Scott asserts that Cherwell has developed a unique service management architecture that allows the company to deliver broad service experiences for both employees and customers of mid to large enterprises. Since its early history, however, Cherwell primarily focused its go to market efforts strictly on IT operations, delivering IT Service Management (ITSM) solutions. Under marketing’s leadership, it has since expanded that position and extended Cherwell’s focus to include the much larger enterprise service management market, a market estimated to be four times the size of ITSM. These efforts resulted in a strong acknowledgment from Forrester who named Cherwell, a leader in its 2018 Wave for Enterprise Service Management.
What Defines a CMO?
According to Scott, the role of CMO has expanded dramatically over the last 6-7 years. Today more than ever, CMOs must deliver on a comprehensive, investorvisible, strategy that defines and builds the company’s brand, creates efficient and qualified demand, and drives high productivity across the field. He states, “To succeed a CMO must have command of its target market, key buyers, and influencers. She/he must have command of what makes the company genuinely unique.” These capabilities must inform every decision CMOs make. Today’s CMO must have a thirst for intelligence. She/he must have the means to organize data across different team and system sources into meaningful information so she/he can use unobstructed retrospective views to drive sound, forward-looking decisions.
Moreover, CMOs must be inherently curious about technology, but also have the capability to look at choices through an architectural level lens. Like CIOs at a company level, they must think more holistically about building a marketing technology platform and how that platform must come together to deliver connected experiences for the broader marketing team and ultimately, their customers. The technology available to CMOs today is incredibly vast. Hence, a CMO must be able to navigate through sound decisions so as not to compromise the continuity of their technology platform.
Alignment of Expectations
Scott believes that the most common challenge is the alignment of expectations. As a CMO, one is beholden to the expectations of the board, her/his CEO, and the needs of the field as she/he aligns closely with her/his company’s CRO. Among fellow CMOs, Scott often laments over the short tenures of his peers, typically the shortest within the executive leadership team. He believes the primary reason for these short tenures is a misalignment of expectations. In many regards, marketing serves as the tip of the spear for the business. The first contact before sales engages one to one with a prospective customer. As a CMO if you’re also responsible for the Business Development Representative organization, sales are also looking to you for highly qualified discovery meetings, which further increase the expectations. Having a command of the business goals and aligned expectation of marketing’s contribution to those goals goes a long way in overcoming that challenge.
Knowing the Competition
Scott asserts that he wouldn’t characterize the competition as cutting-edge. According to him, they are larger than Cherwell by orders of magnitude; they are well entrenched in the market; and have a marketing budget that he could only dream of having right now. Despite this, Cherwell secured a strong #2 position in the market by staying true to its strengths. It holds its values closely – heart, hunger, humility, and honesty. It keeps these values central to its game plan and believes actively these values are changing the rules of the game for its competitor and will allow the company to continue to break market share away despite their size.
Scott asserts that there is a massive opportunity for continued growth within Cherwell. Last year the company took on a $172 million investment from KKR who have proven to be an incredibly valuable partner. Recently it launched partnerships with AWS and HCL. Cherwell has more exciting go to market partnerships that it will be announcing soon. Future endeavors for the overall marketing team and Scott is to continue to be a significant part of the company’s ongoing success, including contributing in excess of 50 percent of the overall pipeline. Scott has confidently agreed to loft stretch goals with the board knowing he has one of the best marketing organizations behind him.