Sandra Malone, Marketing Director for marketingmoves, interviewed Dawn Wyndham recently about her stellar career in the IT sector.
SM: Dawn, tell us about yourself
DW: Well, I was born and brought up in Wales and basically, I’ve had a gloriously misspent youth. I’ve been an ice cream lady, got a full motor-bike license, I’ve sailed around the world twice with the Merchant Navy and I’ve been a Playboy bunny too!
SM: (laughing), and those were the credentials that got you into IT?
DW: No, (also laughing) I had a solid education too. I joined IBM years ago and since then, I have accumulated quite a few ‘1sts’:
- I was responsible for starting IBM’s first supplies telemarketing team
- I was IBM’s first female GSD sales person in the UK
- At HP, I was the 1st female District Sales Manager for London and the SE
- At HP, I was the 1st female Global Account Manager for Shell
- At Digital, I was the 1st female Business Unit Manager
SM: That’s pretty impressive! What role are you in at the moment?
DW: I have the best job in all of Cisco. I devise the content for CXO engagement. I create the content for telepresence events on a global scale to engage with the world’s CIOs across Europe, The Middle East, Africa and Russia. I also devise the content for Cisco’s EMEA and Russia CIO Summit, which includes finding and managing fantastically interesting speakers …
SM: You keep astounding me – and probably everyone else! What’s been your favourite role of all time?
DW: Without a doubt, it would be my role at CTP (Cambridge Technology Partners) before it was bought. It was the exciting start of the .com era and a real hotbed of exceptional marketing talent and today, many of my colleagues from there have gone on to lead global marketing teams, including Dr. Christine Bailey at Cisco who is the Director of Marketing Strategy, Operations and Program Office, Europe, Middle East, Africa and Russia.
SM: When did you go freelance?
DW: When CTP was sold to Novell, I decided to go freelance (that was in 2000) and I’ve never regretted it. I have to turn down work all the time. I’m very lucky.
SM: Where do you think your true skills and interests lie?
DW: My career has always been about CXO engagement. I am obsessed about what technology can do for people and business, but I am not interested in the technological details behind the technology- I find it boring. Being able to translate the benefits of technology into CXO engagement is both challenging and rewarding.
SM: What’s the secret of CXO engagement?
DW: Well, the absolute cardinal sin in CXO engagement is not to waste their time. There’s a lot at stake and senior executives look for insight, honesty and openness – a sharing of views and thought before it becomes commonplace, particularly in IT, so that they can create a partnership that helps them drive competitive edge. Businesses do rely on the knowledge and thought leadership of the company and their peer network to inform business critical decisions
SM: Dawn, in your career, you must have had to side step quite a few landmines. What advice would you give to women following in your footsteps?
DW: Two pieces of advice, really. The first is to be honest about yourself and your capabilities. It’s not good enough to be ‘good’, you have to excel at what you’re doing and be really focused on what you can deliver. The second piece of advice is that to get to the top, you don’t need to be a bitch. Be yourself and be nice. It always helps to have a sense of humour, of course, that’s a real gift. It will help to keep you sane and it always helps if you can make people laugh.
SM: Paint me the picture of the Dawn Wyndham of the future
DW: She lives in the south of France, (probably with a swimming pool full of gin!) with a holiday home in the UK nearer to my work than my lovely rural home in Wales. I’d love to replicate myself – my business relies so heavily on me, it’s difficult to scale, although I mentor marketing graduates from the University of Wales and they certainly do help with the work. I’d like exciting projects to continue, of course.
SM: It’s been a pleasure speaking with you – one final question, what’s been the one thing that’s been said to you by an employer that still makes you feel good?
DW: The Commercial Managing Director at Steria, a man not known for his compliments, when I was leaving just last October, wrote to me and said, ‘Thank you, you made a difference.’
SM: Dawn, many thanks for a very interesting interview!
DW: Thank you.