Frederik Maris, VP EMEA at Splunk, on Making Your Own Way
Between his time winning the respect of playground bullies in Mexico and playing professional tennis as a teen, Frederik Maris learned lessons that serve him well to this day. He has called upon many milestone moments from his childhood to shape his effective leadership style. After holding roles at BMC, PTC and EMC² – where he ran a $2 billion business – Frederik became VP EMEA Sales at Splunk, one of the fastest growing companies in the history of enterprise software.
If nothing else, Frederik quickly learned what it took to establish his position as his family shuttled between Holland, Mexico and South Korea during his childhood. In addition to needing to make new friends with every move, Frederik had to literally fight to earn his way back into his friend group in Mexico after one summer away. “I discovered you have to be true to yourself and stand your ground. There’s no way I’m going to run away from something that I truly believe in.”
It’s tough when the thing you want to do most isn’t working anymore but I kept at it. It taught me resilience.
Another early-life experience taught Frederik the importance of a different kind of resilience. He picked up the game of tennis at age 11 while hanging around the courts as his father Willem – a Dutch national champion – played in South Korea. Spurred on by Willem’s encouragement, Frederik entered the Dutch National tennis system when the family returned to Holland.
Frederik placed a laser-like focus on his game. His perseverance paid off, earning him the number-17 Dutch national ranking in singles. But it all came to a screeching halt when Frederik hit a wall and lost his ability to hit a forehand for two years. “It’s tough when the thing you want to do most isn’t working anymore but I kept at it. It taught me resilience.”
In addition to inspiring his love for tennis, Frederik’s father also served as a role model by being a good business leader. His sense of fairness, calm demeanor, and down-to-earth nature made him a beloved CEO of Dutch semiconductor giant ASML. At his father’s retirement party, Frederik got a firsthand view of the potential impact of a leader. Hundreds of employees lined the halls, clapping and cheering for Willem. “I still get goosebumps thinking about that. My father built very good relationships with people, and that’s something I’ve taken with me everywhere I go.”
Some of Frederik’s other keys to success:
- Not looking for a silver bullet. According to Frederik, success is a matter of working on the small things every day.
- Doing what is right. Frederik believes deals must be a win for everyone, which means for customers and partners too.
- Being consciously competent. Rather than going on gut instinct, Frederik is attuned to what he does and doesn’t know, and what does and doesn’t work.