Hi, I’m Pamela Sufi. I live in Oakland, CA on the shores of the fabulous Lake Merritt. Sports fans know Oakland as the home of the Golden State Warriors, Oakland Athletics (A’s), and Oakland Raiders. Tech folks know Oakland as the fourth most expensive rental market in the U.S, thanks to Pandora, Uber, and all the other nearby tech companies in both San Francisco and Silicon Valley. You’ll hear about Oakland in some blog posts as well as my family and friends and even occasionally see pictures of them as I use my real life to illustrate a point I’m trying to make.
My career has been somewhat atypical of modern marketers. Today I work at a Fortune 25 tech giant (hint, hint, think 2001’s HAL) as basically an in-house consultant on how to transform marketing. However, I started off in the world of food, wine, and high end luxury goods, trying to build my agency clients’ brands via public relations (PR). (My girlfriends really liked this part of my career because thank you gifts from my clients came in the form of cases of wine or champagne that they had to help me “get rid of”.)
Slowly, this morphed into working for high tech, eventually landing me at the largest agency in the world at the time, Burson Marsteller. It sounds like a strange transition but recall that high tech consumer electronics and consumer software – especially in the past – often come with really high price points. That’s why branding high tech electronics and consumer-oriented software instead of luxury goods and fine wines wasn’t as big a leap as it sounds.
High tech was interesting and I was good at understanding new technology in a way that didn’t make developers and engineers sneer at the “flack” assigned to promote their products. Eventually, these comfort level led me to shift from exclusively business-to-consumer (B2C) to mostly business-to-business (B2B). I left agency life to build a full-service in-house PR department (partners, customer references, you name it).
This allowed me to work on employee communications, investor relations, and especially acquisitions. Having done so much in these related areas, though, I wanted to do even more and decided to go to school at night and move into more general marketing communications.
The timing was great here because I was able to join the state’s newly consolidated judicial branch and help the explain to internal and external folks how things would be changing now that all the state’s county courts would be managed under the same rules and systems so that justice could be uniform across the state. Talk about marketing transformation!
Plus, there were so many different communication needs for the courts that I had the chance to do everything from hosting a satellite TV program highlighting best practices across the state to supporting employee relations for freelance court interpreters. The challenge of communicating such historic changes felt pretty historic sometimes but the people were fantastic and all pulled together to make it happen.
The economy shifted and suddenly high tech was hot again and I jumped back in with both feet, working for fiber optics giants such as JDSU, Linux cluster leaders, and other complex technologies at companies of various sizes and levels of maturity. This let me sink my teeth into many elements of marketing, including sales support, product launches, advertising, lead generation, and even more acquisitions.
I moved back to consumer electronics when I joined Leapfrog – which, just so we’re clear, makes educational electronics products, not toys. The kids in my life still get smarty gifts from here on a regular basis. Personally, I got to dive into the world of product packaging, catalog creation, and all sorts of online and offline marketing. This deep dive eventually led me to join Coremetrics, a marketing analytics firm that sold leading-edge marketing software to leading-edge marketers in retailer, financial, and other vertical markets around the globe.
My job was to build the customer marketing function from scratch. Needless to say, working with these customers and being immersed in the world or marketing software was a wonderfully challenging experience. Eventually Coremetrics was purchased by IBM, though, for a while we were able to stay in our small universe with other leading marketing firms IBM later acquired. Now, I work at corporate headquarters helping IBM transform its marketing.