Christine Bailey featured

Inspirational Woman: Dr Christine Bailey | CMO, Valitor

Christine Bailey

Dr Christine Bailey joined Valitor, an international technology and payments company, as Chief Marketing Officer in August 2017.

She has 25+ years’ experience of business to business marketing in the technology sector, including leading European marketing functions for large companies (Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems), as well as smaller companies such as Extraprise, Cambridge Technology Partners and Insight Marketing.

Christine is a respected thought leader and speaker, most notable for her TEDx Talk ‘Unconventional Career Advice’ and regular blogs for Forbes Woman. In Oct 2017 she was included in Axxon Media's Top 140 Super Awesome Content Marketing Accounts Every Marketer Should Follow. In 2016 she was ranked #7 most influential marketer at the London Festival of Marketing, as well as being included in B2B Marketing’s Top 10 Most Influential Women in Martech. In addition to being a judge and keynote speaker at the UK’s Women in Business Awards, she was also the Global & EMEAR co-lead for Connected Women at Cisco.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’ve spent my whole career (25+ years) in marketing in the technology industry - running European marketing functions for industry giants such as Hewlett-Packard and Cisco Systems, as well as for much smaller companies. My first degree was in German & Business Studies, which led me to work in Germany for 5 years. I also have a doctorate in customer insight. I’m currently working in London as the Chief Marketing Officer of Valitor, an international payments solution company headquartered in Iceland.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I’m a big advocate of having a ‘direction’ rather than ‘a plan’, because plans can be too rigid and have a habit of not working out! Instead, having a clear direction allows a lot more flexibility with many paths to success. I always knew I wanted to work in international marketing, so my first adventure was running European PR/analyst relations for Hewlett-Packard in Germany. After that, I aspired to be a marketing director and I achieved that at Extraprise, a CRM consulting firm in 2000. A great mentor then encouraged me to “dream bigger” and I started aspiring to be a ‘marketing guru’. I’m not there yet, but getting my doctorate and landing my first CMO role at Valitor have been great steps in the right direction!

Have you faced any particular challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I’ve been made redundant three times in my career. Each time it felt like a huge challenge, but then it shaped my career in a positive way with the added bonus that it’s helped me to get comfortable outside my comfort zone. I’ve found that the path to success isn’t always linear - sometimes you have to go sideways to go upwards. But as long as you have a clear direction and you’re moving forwards, I believe that everything happens for a reason.

If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?

If I could wave a magic wand, I’d make flexible working the norm. I’m a firm believer that work is something you do, not a place you go and women in particular appreciate the flexibility to be in control of how, when and where they get the job done. It’s the reason why so many women work for themselves or start up businesses. I’m not talking about radical changes, just the ability to work from home sometimes (school holidays are every parent’s nightmare!) and some flex in working hours.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

I’m a massive fan of mentoring. I’ve always had mentors, both formally and informally and I’ve mentored many people too. The important thing is to know what you want a mentor for - career advice, skills development, personal growth, expanding your network etc. Pick wisely and make sure you set the right expectations on both sides. I find it’s best to time-box it too - usually the most value comes from a period of 6 - 12 months then a fresh perspective is more beneficial.

How would you encourage more young women and girls into a career in STEM?

I think we have a responsibility to be role models and teach our daughters that there is no such thing as ‘normal’ and they can be whatever they want to be. One of my favourite quotes from my ten year old daughter was when she was at nursery - they asked her what she wanted to be when she grew up and she replied “in charge”!

The earlier we can start, the better. I’m hugely in favour of programs in schools that encourage girls to learn how to code and consider careers in STEM. When I was running Connected Women at Cisco, one of our flagship programmes was ‘Girls in ICT’. We also support this in Valitor - bringing 13/14 year old girls into our head office for the day and introducing them to life in a technology company.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

My biggest physical achievement was getting to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro in 2002. That taught me important lessons in stamina and how small steps can achieve big things if taken in the right direction. As my guide said “there are no prizes for coming first, you just have to get to the top. Keep putting one foot in front of the other and you’ll get there”.

My greatest mental achievement was getting my doctorate. That was definitely a marathon not a sprint! Six months into my 4 year journey I was made redundant, losing both my job and my sponsorship. It turned out to be a blessing in disguise, as I did consulting work to pay the bills and finished in 3 1/2 years instead of four. I was 9 months pregnant when I handed in my thesis and was offered a fabulous job at Cisco - definitely not ideal but sometimes you just have to grab opportunities when they arise!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

I’m still working towards being a “marketing guru”! I was recently featured as a “Rockstar CMO” which was pretty cool. Right now I’m enjoying the best job of my life as CMO of Valitor and I’m involved in various women’s networks. My dream for the future is to spend a little less time working!


HeForShe: Bob Davis | CMO, Plutora


Bob brings to Plutora more than 30 years of engineering, marketing and sales management experience with high technology organisations from emerging start-ups to global 500 corporations.

Before joining Plutora, Bob was the Chief Marketing Officer at Atlantis Computing, a provider of Software Defined and Hyper Converged solutions for enterprise customers. Bob has a proven track record using analysis-driven and measurable revenue-based marketing. He has propelled company growth at data storage and IT management companies including Kaseya (co-founder, acquired by Insight Venture Partners), Sentilla, CA, Netreon (acquired by CA), Novell and Intel.

Bob earned a BS in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University, and an MBA from Santa Clara University. He holds a patent in data networking.

Why do you support the HeForShe campaign?

Not only do I have two daughters who have very successful careers, but I have also worked with lots of women throughout my working life in both marketing and engineering – I’ve found that some of the most incredible performers in terms of productivity and skill have been women. For me, the goal is to have an organisation filled with smart, creative, energetic and self-motivated individuals, regardless of their gender. It’s important for businesses to have a mix of different perspectives, and this is improved through a healthy mix of both men and women.

Why do you think it’s important for men to support gender equality in the workplace?

I’ve never understood the counter argument to this. Why wouldn’t men want gender equality? This has never been a big deal for me. For as long as I can remember, when we hire new staff, it is always the experience and level of the candidate that’s far more important, not their gender.

How welcome are men in the gender equality conversation currently?

There are definitely issues in the technology industry and the world in general, I hear it and read about it almost daily. Recently we’ve seen various campaigns and movements on social media, which raises the point that it’s about more than just equal pay. In my own experience, however, I’ve never been around men who I felt were of a different mind about gender equality than me, which is really positive and says a lot about the organisations I’ve worked for throughout my career.

Do you think groups/networks that include the words “women in…” or “females in…” make men feel like gender equality isn’t really their problem or something they need to help with?

No, these terms have never bothered me; I don’t know why this is even an issue. Unfortunately there does seem to be a certain buzz around the notion of affirmative action, which has definitely been a big deal in the US in recent decades. There can be backlash and criticism to an extent, which is human nature, but on the whole it’s important to acknowledge the positivity of initiatives like this.

What can businesses do to encourage more men to feel welcome enough to get involved in the gender debate?

Differences in the workplace can be a really good thing – the capabilities of people don’t vary because of their gender, but because of who they are. These days, I see businesses trying harder to hire people who are more diverse, to help introduce a range of perspectives to their teams and this is vital for growth. I believe the goal for a business is to get people to understand that diversity is critical to their success – you will be far more successful if you operate under the notion that different is powerful.

Do you currently mentor any women or have you in the past?

Yes, to both!

Have you noticed any difference in mentoring women – for example, are women less likely to put themselves forward for jobs that are out of their comfort zones or are women less likely to identify senior roles that they would be suited for?  

If I were to evaluate the population of men and women that I’ve worked with, looking at who’s willing to put themselves out there, take risks, be bold and say what they mean – I’d say that the percentages of men and women are not all that different. Some of the women I’ve worked with are the most influential and powerful leaders I’ve known and are or have been successful both on a US and international stage.

You’ll generally find you get a softer, more thoughtful approach to an argument from women than you do from men. Women are also usually more effective at dealing with difficult personalities, which partly explains their ability to lead so well.

Inspirational Woman: Katy Keim | CMO, Lithium

Katy KeimKaty Keim is the Chief Marketing Officer and GM of Lithium Reach and Response, Katy is responsible for all strategic marketing activities for the company including branding, positioning, communications, go-to-market strategy and customer acquisition programs. She also leads Lithium’s overall product marketing group and product strategy for Lithium's Reach and Response business.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, not when I was younger. I started out in high-tech finance and then learned that I loved the entrepreneurship and nurturing that goes with building tech companies. I knew I was more creative than linear and that’s when marketing started to make more intuitive sense as a career.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I’ve faced challenges communicating a concise, assertive way that’s going to ensure I have the most impact. I’m a passionate person and get easily excited about my point-of-view. I’ve needed to learn how to articulate it in the context of the business. Working with a lot of men, I’ve also had to adjust my communication to be more pointed and brief. Less noise, more signal.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

Be very clear about what you stand for. Employees can easily spot discrepancies between what you say and what you do. Know what is important to you because there are many tricky situations in business that aren’t always cut and try—so having a consistent true north on your values is key.

Be decisive at the right times. New leaders often have trouble communicating what is a decision and what is collaboration. Sometimes you need a lot of input, sometimes you have to make the call. Just be clear on context with your team.

Ask for feedback. There’s always room for improvement and the more you move into a leadership position, people are more fearful about sharing feedback—especially constructive comments. You have to hunt for it.

When faced with two equally-qualified candidates, how would you decide who should have the role?

Potential typically trumps experience. Some leaders want a proven track record of doing that exact role. I am looking for people who are motivated to tackle new challenges and people that continue to grow rather than just mastering the same tasks. Smarts, hunger and hustle can’t be taught.

How do you manage your own boss?

My job isn’t to manage my boss, but to work together to drive the direction of the company. I am trying not to die on every mountain. There are always challenges in a business, but picking the ones to solve—that will have the most impact—is my focus. This sometimes means tackling big issues one-on-one. I want to continue to be more effective on picking a few strategic issues and influencing direction with my point-of-view.

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

I review my calendar, figure out my must-dos, lay out what needs to happen the next day, and always clean out my inbox at the end of each day. I have official opening and closing “ceremony” of my day.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations?

Invest in public speaking and be a 10x communicator. Regardless of the audience, having complete command of your message always delivers better results. Also, don’t shy away from your successes. Women often downplay their accomplishments. Own it. Say thank you. Don’t always defer your successes to others.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

I’m a big believer in coaching. Role playing is especially important when you’re in a high stakes situation because an objective observer can help you practice and tackle a tough situation before you handle it in real life. Everything is better with practice, and good results don’t come without hard work. We tend to have a distorted view of ourselves and need another perspective from someone else.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker?

It’s totally important – what goes around comes around. Naturally, it feels good to help people. But people often think of networking in terms of how it’s going to help in their next job. Why not think of it in terms of how it helps in your current job? Some of my best ideas as CMO were from networking with my peers. People outside your organisation can be inherently creative about your situation. I also use networking to find talent.

What does the future hold for you?

I want to evolve to lead a more meaningful role in the culture of the company. My leadership principles are definitely grounded in the belief that there is a certain X-factor in people. People can accomplish so much more when you set a clear, empower them to act and create an environment of joy (yes, joy—humor, satisfaction, price). I want to build a company where the culture is its primary competitive advantage.