Juliette Rizkhallah, CMO of Kong, On Confidence and Thinking Big
Juliette Rizkhallah has built a successful career by trusting her gut, flipping established formulas on their head, and thinking big.
In her first job as a junior consultant for Arthur Andersen, she unlocked possibilities by challenging the client deliverable. “I didn’t think we were solving problems for the client so I brainstormed on what would lead to a better outcome.”
The result was a predictive model that Arthur Andersen’s senior partner sold in a million-dollar deal. “That experience taught me to trust my gut and share my ideas.”
Seeing the bigger picture seems second nature for Juliette – and may have been instilled during childhood. Her parents – dentists who ran their own offices – gave Juliette responsibility for depositing business checks at the local bank. “I understood the importance because they explained why we needed to put money in the account.”
My father always thought about the worst-case scenario and my mother prepared me to handle any situation calmly.
After consulting at Arthur Andersen and Bain & Company, Juliette landed her first tech marketing job at Oracle. Once again, her ability to make sense of big concepts came to the fore. The development team was so impressed by her first marketing requirements document, they asked her to move into product management. “They were mesmerized by the way I was able to codify a business process.”
After working her way up to Senior VP of Product Marketing, Juliette decided to embark on a lateral role in demand generation as VP of Americas for Business Objects and found herself one year later promoted to CMO for BusinessObjects. That experience paved the way for follow-on lead marketing roles at Check Point Software and, more recently, SailPoint, A Cloud Guru, and now Kong.
At SailPoint, Juliette yet again made big things happen. SailPoint had been locked into the identity management category but Juliette took steps to ensure it was included in the cybersecurity conversation. “We needed to be part of a larger addressable market. Within five years, we redefined the category as ‘identity security.’ ”
Juliette also led the company to go all digital in its marketing strategy – a move that served the company well when COVID hit. Once again, Juliette called upon her penchant for challenging the status quo. “I charged my team with thinking like consultants to clarify the problem of how we best attract and engage buyers. When COVID hit, we were in good shape.”
That ability to lead others through big changes can be traced back to Juliette’s childhood. Her parents sat Juliette and her old sister down before every trip to explain what the girls should do if they never returned. “My father always thought about the worst-case scenario and my mother prepared me to handle any situation calmly.”
Some of Juliette’s other keys to success:
- Surrounding herself with talent. Juliette knows no CMO can be expert at all marketing disciplines so she hires top-notch marketers, often if not always from whom she can learn.
- Feeding her curiosity. As much as Juliette loves to share her insights with others, she’s just as eager to soak up new knowledge.
- Bringing her team along. Juliette invests as much time in internal positioning as external when spearheading major initiatives.