Chris Koehler of Box
To say 2020 has introduced unexpected twists and turns for CMOs is an understatement. Even in the face of seismic shifts and unprecedented challenges, modern marketing leaders call upon their wealth of experience and wisdom to change course as needed and lead their organizations forward.
We interviewed five of those leaders to gain insight into what experiences shaped them and what advice they can share to inspire others. Here’s a view into the fifth of these five CMOs: Chris Koehler, the marketing leader who helped Box generate record revenue of $608 million in 2019.
If there’s a formula we’d all like to unlock, it’s the one behind the mindset of the modern marketer. We find that in Chris Koehler, CMO of Box, whose blend of mental toughness, psychological insight, creativity and analytical rigor make him a standout in today’s world of marketing.
Chris’ impressive professional accomplishments include leading the best cross-functional strategic project in Box’s 14-year history, launching a program that increased
Annual Contract Value by 3x, and driving the company’s social media presence through the roof. Before leading marketing at Box, he made his mark at Adobe, reshaping its Customer Success organization before climbing the ranks to head go to market and product marketing for Adobe Creative Cloud for Enterprise.
Being analytical and creative don’t need to be at odds. In fact, they should be working in orchestration. As an effective marketer, you need a design sensibility coupled with analytical rigor.
Dig into Chris’ early days, and you gain insight into what made him into the person and marketer he is today.
Growing up, Chris was such a passionate, talented soccer player that he was recruited to play at a Division 2 college. When the coach at that school deemed Chris unqualified to play in Division 1, Chris was determined to prove him wrong. Not knowing George Mason University had one of the best soccer programs in the country, Chris showed up as a walk-on. Not only did he make the team, he played all four years and earned himself a scholarship in the process. “If I make up my mind about something and put in the effort, I know I can make it work.”
Chris firmly believes that marketing success and innovation go hand in hand. He calls upon more than one mechanism to ensure he and his team – and company – stay on the cutting edge. One of those is his fascination for social psychology and understanding the ins and outs of consumer behavior – an interest that was sparked during his high school days. “In high school, I found it fascinating that everyone would start wearing a certain brand, like z cavaricci or OP. I saw how quickly people jumped in to be part of the trending story.”
While Chris can share plenty of examples illustrating his creative capacity, he balances it with a solid respect for analytical thinking. He believes so strongly in the importance of being analytical that he earned an MBA from Georgia State University and graduated from the Harvard Business Analytics Executive Education Program to round out his Bachelor of Science in Marketing from George Mason University.
Read the in-depth profile for more insight into what makes Chris a true modern marketer.