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Inspirational Woman: Victoria Grey | Chief Marketing Officer at Nexsan

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Victoria Grey is Chief Marketing Officer of Nexsan and is a seasoned data storage industry expert.

Victoria has been instrumental in building some of the most innovative and progressive marketing teams in Silicon Valley, winning accolades and awards for her marketing acumen and creativity. Victoria has over 20 years of experience in technology sales and marketing, with a specialty in the infrastructure market. She joins Nexsan from Gridstore (now HyperGrid) where she was Chief Marketing Officer of Worldwide Marketing. While at Gridstore she lead the marketing efforts for the company’s launch into the hyperconverged infrastructure market, resulting in a year-over-year growth of 343 per cent.

She also spearheaded a program of co-branded e-communications in support of partner marketing initiatives and programs. Victoria has held a number of senior positions at market leading companies, including Quantum, EMC, and Legato. She was also named a “Woman of the Channel” in 2013, 2014, 2015 and 2016, and ‘Channel Chief’ in 2015 and 2016.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

No, I always resisted life planning and instead preferred to follow what intrigued me at the time. Early in my career this meant I declined to take a standard big-company job that would have meant sitting in a corporate office instead of being in the field. Instead I chose to stay close to customers and partners. I can’t say if my career would have flourished more had I planned, but I have always been happy with my choices.

Have you faced any challenges along the way and if so, how did you deal with them?

I think subtle and not-so-subtle sexism has frequently been an issue. This is now getting a lot of attention in tech, but it did not when I was starting out and advancing in my career. My response was to be the ultimate professional, and to focus on being competent, prepared, and willing to go head-to-head with challengers.

What advice would you give someone who wishes to move in to a leadership position for the first time?

It’s old advice but still good: emulate what you aspire to become.  Look, talk, behave, and advocate as though you are that leader now; you will advance.

How is your own company/organisation improving diversity and balance?

As a small company, at Nexsan it is less about programmatic methods of advancing diversity and more about recognising performance wherever it appears. Everyone in the organisation plays a vital role and has exposure at all levels. I also think including women at the executive staff level helps aid in diversity of thought and contribution. We are also a very distributed company; one of the side effects of this is little attention on “regular” work hours; I have staff, both men and women, who juggle parenting responsibilities with work and I hold them to their objectives, not specific hours of the workday.

How do you manage your own boss?

By anticipating his challenges and trying to assist. I run my department effectively, supporting the organisation’s objectives, and by not being a problem!

On a typical workday, how do you start your day and how does it end?

First thing – feed the dog!  She’s a very spoiled little cockapoo that I indulge.  At the end of the day my partner and I usually share a bottle of wine and make a Blue Apron dinner together – honestly these pre-packaged fix at home dinners are the best thing for working people that still want a healthy meal.

What advice can you give to our members about raising their profiles within their own organisations

Every organisation has its issues and challenges, and one of the behaviours I’ve observed repeatedly that has harmed careers is venting. Everyone vents occasionally, but focusing too much on the problems and complaining is a barrier to advancement. People that aspire to advance need to focus on the good things and how they can contribute to success. Also stepping up to projects that give exposure to higher levels in the organisation helps to raise your profile.

How have you benefited from coaching or mentoring?

Yes of course. Sometimes this took the form of formal feedback such as annual reviews and other times informal advice from an executive. One time when I had moved into a completely new area of the business and was nervous about my own capabilities, I had a senior VP tell me I wasn’t giving my team credit and they resented it. I heard that loud and clear, and since then have always endeavoured to ensure my team gets the praise they deserve.

Do you think networking is important and if so, what 3 tips would you give to a newbee networker

Yes, my top three tips would be:

  1. Cultivate friendly work relationships – you’re going to need them and most industries are surprisingly small when it comes to reputation.
  2. Keep in touch – not only when you need a job.  This is the hardest, it takes time. Go to lunch, meet for coffee, drop a note when you find out about a promotion. Connect on social media.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask for help.  Most people love to help others; ask for advice, or introductions.
What does the future hold for you?

 I love what I do and hope to keep doing it for a long time. I no longer aspire above the level I’m at in business; instead I am looking for new skills, experiences, and challenges within my area, marketing.  Fortunately, marketing is undergoing a sea change that has been developing for some time, with the growth of metrics-based marketing, and new tools and data analytics there is always lots to learn and that is keeping the job fresh for me. I look forward to this new world every day!

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