Skip to main content
Industry Contributor 17 Mar 2022 - 3 min read

Can marketers achieve their global career dreams… from Asia Pacific?

By Leandro Perez - Vice President , Asia Pacific Marketing, Salesforce | Marketing Academy Scholar

Swapping Sydney for San Francisco was a major career accelerator for Leandro Perez. He was headhunted by Salesforce and, working closely with founder Marc Benioff, ”saw a master storyteller at work”. With international borders opening up, other ambitious marketers will now be aiming to strike career gold overseas. But now everything has digitised – is the whole OS thing even necessary?

The long-awaited opening of Australia’s borders has been an emotional trigger for me.

It makes me think of my late 20s. I took a three-month product marketing stretch assignment in my employer’s US head office, and when I was subsequently offered a full-time role there, in Silicon Valley, I said yes, again. My wife and I agreed we’d give it two years, taking our two small kids along for the ride.

While I was there, (during what turned out to be an eight-year stint!) I was headhunted by Salesforce. And things opened up for me like I’d never imagined.

In the heat of the kitchen

When you’re working in the headquarters of a leading global company, there is so much scope to grab opportunities and run with them, if you’re hungry, willing to put your hand up and put in the extra work.

I was in the epicentre of the tech world, seeing things with a global mindset. The way North Americans do product marketing - messaging, storytelling, pitching - was also an eye-opener.

Working closely and developing company narratives with Marc Benioff, founder, chairman and co-CEO Salesforce, meant I saw a master storyteller at work. Among the many things I learned, a standout was that crafting a strategic narrative is only the first step. From Dreamforce to World Tours, sales presentations to advertising, the art of repetition is paramount to success.

The road not taken

When my family and I finally left the US, it wasn’t because the excitement had fizzled. In fact, I’d recently been offered a role I almost couldn’t turn down. But we realised if we didn’t leave then, we’d have to embrace becoming US citizens - when really, our hearts were in Australia.

After I’d settled back into my Sydney life, feelings of doubt started to creep in. Should I have stayed? What would I be doing now if I’d upped sticks permanently and continued to make the most of all those Silicon Valley opportunities? I guess I’ll never know.

Some of those same feelings of doubt returned when I heard the Australian borders were opening, and I realised Australians would be able to work overseas again. It got me reflecting on one question in particular:
If you don’t do a stint overseas, can you still be a global marketing leader from APAC?

Being locked down during the pandemic, we learned we could have Success from Anywhere - be a global leader from anywhere - thanks to technology like Slack, video conferencing and other new asynchronous apps and ways of working.

We all became more mindful of colleagues working in other time zones, we got used to recording meetings, sharing video updates and generally being more considerate of all meeting attendees. Two years was long enough to change entrenched habits.

For people in the Asia Pacific, global pathways opened up, allowing us to add valuable capabilities to our CVs.

Today, there's definitely more than one way to advance your career. But I'm grateful for my path to CMO of Asia Pacific Marketing at Salesforce.

It helped me fully appreciate the work of my colleagues based in those global hubs. Now I work with my teams to lean further into the entrepreneurial spirit they celebrate at Salesforce HQ. It’s a “move fast and fix things” mentality, and my team and I celebrate learning from mistakes, actively using a beginner’s mindset in our planning.

Investing in creating global marketing leaders from anywhere
Yes, I think you can be a global leader in marketing, regardless of your location.

But if you want to go to Silicon Valley or London or Paris, then go: make it happen! Working in the US was definitely the right thing for me, in 2012.

If your circumstances mean staying in the Asia Pacific is the best option for you, I strongly urge you to make the most of all the growth opportunities available here.

 

  1. Take advantage of a more level playing field
    At Salesforce, in-person meetings are augmented by colleagues participating virtually from across the world. Anyone can ask questions, and transparency is expected across all topics. Slack and other apps have democratised access – it’s so much less daunting to send a direct message to a leader than a cold email.

     
  2. Find a mentor and embrace different ways of thinking and working
    We have a program where we pair up aspiring marketers with a range of culturally diverse mentors from around the globe. It gives our local people not only new skills, but insights into different ways of thinking. I encourage everyone in my team to access this program and I have loved seeing the impact it’s had on their work and our team culture.

     
  3. Be intentional about the training you do and invest in yourself
    The thing about going overseas is it forces you to learn new skills – it’s sink or swim.
    At Salesforce we’re trying to do the next best thing, putting together a curriculum for our CMO School. We’
    ve identified the skills marketers need to be a future CMO and we’re offering training programs on Trailhead, stretch assignments and more, to build up the next generation of global leaders in marketing

     
  4. Make the most of your networks and your leaders’ networks.
    Thanks to the connections I made overseas, I can now link my people up with senior leaders in diverse companies globally. We’re also helping our team members build networks outside of Salesforce through our partnership with The Marketing Academy. Their virtual campus offers content from influential people all over the world, and the chance to make meaningful connections with marketers.

 

And if you’re a marketing leader?

All Asia Pacific marketing leaders should be bullish about the incredible talent in their teams. It’s time to invest in building future leaders and supporting them to develop from anywhere.

For me, it’s definitely time to shelve the doubt and focus on taking the best of my international experience, using it to build and inspire my Asia Pacific team. I want to bridge that gap, and lucky for me, I have the support to do it.

 

Share your reaction (and see how others voted)

Leave a comment (you must be logged in)

Be the first to comment

Leandro Perez

Vice President , Asia Pacific Marketing, Salesforce | Marketing Academy Scholar

Search Mi3 Articles

Make it personal

Join Mi3 to receive our weekly edition and personalise your experience