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Sprinklr CMO says always being a student & having passion is good, but focus is key
Get to Know: Tom Butta, CMO for Sprinklr, a cloud-based SMMS platform
In April of last year, Tom Butta joined Sprinklr as CMO for the cloud-based social media marketing management platform. In his role, Butta is tasked with creating thought-leading content to inform, inspire and guide the world’s largest brands — helping them digitally transform into customer-first organizations.
“I am currently working on our overall marketing strategy, which is focused on demonstrating to the world’s largest brands that our technology can help them make their customers feel like they matter,” says Butta.
He is also working on a campaign to help executives understand transformation is key to becoming a customer-first organization.
With more than 30 years of experience, Butta has served as CMO for a number of technology brands, including Red Hat, PTC and AppNexus. He has also played the role of strategic partner, acting as a marketing consultant-in-residence to lead transformative projects for Andreessen Horowitz and Citrix.
What mobile device can you not live without?
Which apps do you use most often for work?
The Twitter app. It helps me keep a pulse on what people are saying and what is trending in our industry and the world at large.
What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?
Twitter — It keeps me connected to the world.
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
I check my text messages to make sure everyone in my world is safe and sound.
Take me through your typical workday.
My work day is interspersed with several meetings with our executive leadership team, as well as members of my team. I spend a lot of time in small group and one-on-one meetings in which we talk about big projects. Typically, I’ll also have a number of meetings lined up with our customers.
What has been the most exciting work development during the past year?
Joining the Sprinklr team. I’m honored to have the opportunity to work with the likes of Ragy Thomas, our CEO and Founder, and Carlos Dominguez, our President. They’re really special people. It has been made extra special by the way we do things at Sprinklr and the humanity of the people who lead the company.
More specifically, I think the most exciting part has been to see the way the market has responded to our value creation system, and how we have evolved that system as we’ve grown as an organization. Showing our customers the path to customer-centricity has been very satisfying.
What does your office look like?
I have a stand-up desk. On one of the walls in my office, I have a picture of the word, “Noise.” I am a big believer in reducing noise, as there is so much of it.
On the other [wall] is the first value roadmap we created here at Sprinklr, which outlines the customer-first strategy that we believe brands must employ to succeed in the social media age.
The most sentimental object is a book I bought in East London called “I Lived in London for 86 Years.” The book demonstrates what it’s like to be able to truly know a person and uncover insights and feelings. It spoke to me – there were a number of personal and professional takeaways.
The whiteboard is also an object in my office that I value a great deal – it’s useful in sketching ideas, and it’s an important step in turning ideas into reality.
How many miles have you traveled in the last 12 months?
I have traveled 100,000 miles or so in the past 12 months. The most memorable trip in recent years was a nine-day trip to Camogli, Italy, where we were able to enjoy some incredible food and immerse ourselves in the culture.
There’s an expression in Italy when people are heading home after their vacation which translates to, “Good luck re-entering your work life.” This trip was the first time I truly felt like the reentry was hard.
The work we do is intense, and we put in long and hard days. In the midst of that, to be able to have this sort of a break made it a very special trip.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
What keeps me up at night is thinking about how to align our marketing efforts with our company goals and how we execute at the highest possible level.
Can you tell us about a campaign or work project you’d like to do over?
I could have handled the redesign process of our website a lot differently. A website touches the whole company, so there were a number of voices and owners in the process.
In hindsight, we could have brought a lot more clarity to who was responsible and what resources we had available. I would have created a cross-functional team and created more clarity across various teams.
At the end of the day, we got caught up in the alignment of all those things.
Tell me about the people who have been most influential in your career.
My dad, Salvatore Butta. He was an entrepreneur who started his own business, an animation studio called Cel-Art Productions that helped create and produce television programming.
He always had a lot of integrity and sometimes had to deal with people who didn’t hold themselves to the same standard. But he never succumbed to bending his own moral compass. He also had a healthy respect for people’s contributions and opinions.
These are all qualities I’ve tried to emulate in my career.
What traits does a person need to succeed in your position?
A CMO needs to have leadership skills — which means you need to not only lead people who work for you, but also demonstrate leadership and generate ideas across groups. You should be able to influence work involving people whom you have no authority over.
It’s also important to always be a student and have passion for what you’re doing. At the same time, you need be able to adjust when required.
Finally, focus is also key to my position.
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
I am a second-generation immigrant whose family came over from Italy. I grew up in a classic Italian household that was in the process of becoming American.
Why did you go into marketing?
I got into marketing by way of advertising. I was an English major and really enjoyed writing and exploring literature, so advertising seemed like a good fit.
Ideally, I wanted to get into video production and make documentaries, but at the time, those jobs were few and far between. So, for me, entering the advertising world was the right career choice.
What other career would you like to try, and why?
I would like be a documentarian. I would also love to be a teacher. I have lectured at schools like the New York Institute of Technology, Columbia University and would love to be an adjunct professor at some point.
What’s the last business book you read, and what did you think of it?
I am reading these short story books that are part of the “Making Sense” series. I like them because the short story style is a more appealing and compelling read for me.
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign or video caught your eye recently?
The work that IBM is currently doing is really smart and it has been consistently smart over the years. I am also a fan of Nike’s work — What I like most about them is their ability to tap into the athlete in all of us.