MarTech Interview with Aruna Ravichandran, CMO at Webex by Cisco

Aruna Ravichandran, Vice President and CMO at Webex by Cisco chats about the importance of building inclusive marketing experiences while sharing a few thoughts on today’s evolving CMO and B2B Marketing trends:

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Welcome to this MarTech Series chat Aruna, tell us more about being CMO at Webex by Cisco? How does a typical working day play out? 

I’ve been the CMO of Webex for over three years and it’s been a phenomenal experience and journey so far!

This year, in particular, has probably been the highlight of my career and I’m incredibly proud of what my marketing team has accomplished in the last ten months with the launch of our new brand – the first in Webex’s 25-year history. This global brand campaign focused on inclusivity and hybrid work and was rolled out in 23 markets. It was revealed at one of our world-class virtual events held in June.  

For this campaign, my team brought on a new level of competitive integrity like I’ve never witnessed in my career. They pushed their limits and were bold in experimenting and failing smarter. This is why I’m fortunate and humbled in my day-to-day work as their CMO. I work with fearless individuals who know how to deliver results, collaborate, think big, and have fun. 

On a daily basis, I work with this amazing team on major campaigns like this in addition to marketing out our products, and more.  

I can’t emphasize enough that my work as a CMO is truly rewarding and enjoyable due to this hard-working team. I continue to learn and grow alongside them.

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You recently led the charge in the Webex by Cisco rebrand initiative, tell us what inspired you through this process, a few challenges faced; top learnings and takeaways you’d share with brand marketers considering a rebranding project? 

When the pandemic radically changed the world of communications and collaboration, my team and I faced a tough situation… Webex, which had once been known as the enterprise go to product for videoconferencing had lost its mojo and we had to overcome some perception issues.      

To address this, the team and I identified three strategies to execute: 

First, we gave Webex a major facelift…with a new name and logo Webex by Cisco, then launching an entirely new brand system with the core purpose of inclusivity. Inclusivity was weaved into everything we did — our designs, imagery, iconography, photography and so much more.  

Why did we choose inclusivity? A big learning for us was given the pandemic – and people working remotely, we realized inclusivity had become a major concern. We believed it was a unique opportunity to make sure everyone had the same experience no matter when or where they worked. So, inclusivity became our top priority, and it shows up in all our rebrand efforts and products.   

Second, we rolled out a wildly successful global media and brand to demand campaign, “Driving Hybrid Work” with our customer — The McLaren Formula 1 racing team.  

We brought it all together and launched it to the world at our Hybrid Work. Made Real. Event.   

My advice to anyone considering a rebrand project is embracing a purpose. Because a brand with a purpose has something worth fighting for.  

What would you say about the importance of planning more ‘’inclusive’’ campaigns today, how can brand marketers make this a part of their default marketing process in a more streamlined way?   

As many of the world’s companies transition to a hybrid work model, we have an unprecedented opportunity as marketers to weave in inclusivity, not just in our campaigns, but in the products as well.   

Opportunity is unevenly distributed, but human potential is not. Technology has the potential to be the key enabler for 3 billion digital workers – including 1 billion knowledge workers and 2 billion field workers – who we can help participate equally in the global economy.   

We believe that technology and how we market it can level the playing field – removing barriers of geography, language, personality type, socioeconomic level, just to name a few. In our role as a marketer, I think it’s our job to come up with stories that cultivate emotional connections like inclusivity does. It makes people relate and fall in love with your brand… and stay with you for life.  

A few thoughts on the future of B2B marketing?  

In the future of B2B, the CMO function will be seen as a ‘growth partner’, not a marketing cost-center. The CMO function will need to have a business-outcome philosophy that is based on equal parts: purposeful storytelling and data science. As a result, CMOs will need to transform and become revenue creators, brand value accelerators, and enabler of human connections. 

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Webex is a leading provider of cloud-based collaboration solutions which includes video meetings, calling, messaging, events, customer experience solutions like contact center and purpose-built collaboration devices.

Bridging the roles of the CMO, CIO, and CXO, Aruna believes in the power of marketing as a revenue creator, a brand value accelerator, and enabler of human connection. She is an outspoken proponent of leading with a people-first approach, to shepherd business leaders towards a more innovative, culture-conscious, and inclusive way of doing business. 

As an industry expert on SaaS marketing and enterprise technology, Aruna has a track record that spans more than two decades – building SaaS and digital routes-to-market and expanding the service addressable market – for companies including HP, Juniper, CA Technologies, and Cisco. In her current leadership post as the Vice-President and CMO for Cisco Webex, Aruna oversees marketing for the $6 billion organization, as a growth engine for the company. 

Aruna has authored two pioneering books on DevOps, is a contributor for Forbes.com, and serves on multiple corporate boards. She is a multi-award honoree, including: Top 100 Most Influential Women in Silicon Valley 2016, and the National Diversity Council’s 2016 Most Powerful and Influential Woman.

She holds an MBA and MS Computer Engineering from Santa Clara University and a BS Computer Science from Bangalore Institute of Technology (BIT). She was also a graduate of the esteemed CMO Leadership program at Kellogg Business School in 2019.

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