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marketing Legend

Robin Matlock, CMO of VMware

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 makes them tick and advice they can share as inspirational role models. Here’s a view into the second of these five CMOs: Robin Matlock, a leader who has distinguished herself by helping create categories and build markets.

The best marketing leaders understand other parts of the business extremely well. That’s certainly true of Robin Matlock, CMO of VMware. On her circuitous path to leading the marketing charge, she gained valuable experience in many other domains — experience that makes her darn good in her role as CMO.

Like the other marketing legends we’ve profiled, Robin had no idea what her future held…but she did know that anything was possible. That’s a lesson her Mom – who raised Robin and her two brothers on her own – instilled in her from a young age. “She made it clear we could do and be anything.”

So when Robin found herself largely on her own in the Bay area after graduating college, she set to work making things happen. She made her foray in tech working in sales, and used that as a launch pad into business development. Her next career move found her in product marketing and product management. For Robin, it was natural to then take on the challenge of leading global marketing as VP Corporate Marketing.

When the pressure is on, you need to perform well in what seems like autopilot mode. But it’s not about going on intuition or even eliminating dread. It’s about being efficient and effective because you’re well prepared.”

That said, she almost missed out on the chance to fill the CMO spot at VMware. “My boss was leaving and asked if I wanted to throw my name in the hat. I declined because I figured the company would give me the job if they wanted me to have it. I had been leaning back when I should have been leaning in.”

Robin announced her candidacy but wasn’t a shoo-in for the position. However, through luck and perseverance, she proved herself the best candidate for the role – a role she has now held longer than any other VMware CMO.

In all her positions, Robin has made the product and customer – what she calls the two most important pillars in tech – her constant touchstones. She also called upon what might appear to be unlikely influences – her dual degrees in economics and music. Robin’s economics background helps her make predictions and spot trends, while her many years of music study taught her the value of preparation.

Read the in-depth profile for more insight into what makes Robin the person who helped VMware grow from $2 billion to nearly $11 billion in annual revenue.

Download the full interview