Robotics and automation are now fairly quotidian, but it’s surely still an exciting industry to work in?
To find out, this week’s ‘Day in the Life’ interview comes from Redwood Software, a process automation company, and their CMO Simon Shah.
Here’s what Simon gets up to, day-to-day…
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Simon Shah: I lead a team that creates and coordinates all the global marketing efforts for an innovative software company with exciting solutions in the process automation and robotics space. My role is to attract and appeal to prospective buyers across every stage in their buying journey from discovery, exploration to selection and then to retention.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Simon Shah: I am part of the Executive Team and report directly to the CEO.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Simon Shah: Above and beyond the skills in marketing, people skills are fundamental. You need to be able to coach and inspire people, and help them understand their role in the bigger picture and the overall strategy. Equally, you need the skills to manage both upwards and across the organisation to ensure you are collaborating with other functions such as product development and sales.
Tell us about a typical working day.
Simon Shah: In the last eight years working at Redwood, there has not been a ‘typical day’. The reason is that we are in a constant change of flux and always adapting to market feedback.
Simon Shah: For example, I recently commissioned some market research to a global audience comprising customers, prospects and even to prospects where we did not win business. The intention was to understand perceptions across the entire buying journey from discovery of a problem, exploration of possible solutions, to selection of an eventual vendor and even around after-sales care and support. As a result, we have taken a long hard look at our branding, our messaging and our preliminary customer contact points to ensure the true essence of what makes us unique really shines through. We went a step further and conducted workshops to define our purpose, as well as craft product value propositions that we created with cross functional international teams and which were stress tested with industry analysts and customers.
Someone once told me that business is like pedalling a bicycle. When you stop pedalling you lose your balance and fall down. There are always new opportunities to learn and improve and given this, the concept of a typical working day is a bit of a contradiction.
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Simon Shah: What I love about my role is that you never really know the definitive answer and need to continually strive to keep learning and understanding. Why do customers buy? What appeals to them above else? How does your message resonate to different stakeholders in a complicated business-to-business context? These are all fluid. There are a lot of moving parts and the systemic nature of the world means that any models will be just models.
What sucks is that there is no guarantee that what worked in the past will work in the future. It means you have to constantly strive to do better and never rest on your past success.
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Simon Shah: There are many metrics, but in a B2B software context, the most important ones are marketing influenced revenue, marketing influenced sales pipeline and new customer acquisition.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Simon Shah: Office365 has come on leaps and bound, and beyond Outlook and Word, some of the collaborative tools are helpful. It is always useful to have a project management tool to ensure your teams are working towards common goals and you have visibility. We also use Asana.
How did you end up at Redwood, and what might you do next?
Simon Shah: My career in marketing started in the late nineties when I was posted overseas to Kazakhstan to head up sales and marketing for Cadbury Schweppes soft drinks and confectionery. I then moved to Russia to sales and marketing for Mattel toy brands. When I came back to the UK, I did an MBA and specialised in marketing, completing a major consulting project with UNICEF at the same time.
It was during my MBA that I realised there was significant opportunity to apply my skills and experience to technology B2B markets. I worked in several domains across e-procurement, enterprise content management and customer relationship management. I was headhunted and decided on Redwood not only because they had a great opportunity in an exciting space around process automation and robotics, but because they really took time to understand my motivations and drivers. They left me with a very strong and positive first impression. Great marketing I would say!
Which B2B marketing has impressed you lately?
Simon Shah: I have been really impressed by fintech challenger banks like Starling. My wife set up a business bank account in minutes through an iPhone app. She gets notified of every transaction and gets great exchange rates abroad.
What advice would you give yourself if you could go back eight years to when you became CMO?
Simon Shah: I would say don’t take things too seriously. Always give yourself time to stop and reflect on things, on what you have learned and what can be done better next time. If you always stay true to your passion and why you started a career in marketing in the beginning, while keeping that inquisitive mind, you will have a great adventure.