The other day I had the opportunity to meet up for a drink with Marcus Starke, Global CMO of CIENA.
Marcus is a true global citizen with work experience in several continents. Marcus is the breed of CMOs who think business first and marketing second. He started his journey as a successful entrepreneur in his native Germany and then held executive leadership positions in different countries and industries – including consumer products, consulting and now IT. Marcus is a rare CMO who has truly experienced the world in all its shades and shows empathy for people and passion for his beliefs.


Marcus Starke

I wanted to find out from Marcus how marketing plays an ever more important role in today’s digital economy and what his personal interests are. So let’s get started.

Recently you wrote in your blog about the expected rise in IT spend for the CMO? No doubt, there is a change. In your opinion will the Marketers move more into the IT department or will the Techies become the new CMOs?

Both. IT departments will see the influx of more business focused people to become more business and customer focused organizations. And Marketing has already begun to hire techies, such as analysts, to dive through massive amounts of data and extract information and insights.

Globalization is key for today’s success? How diverse must a Marketing Team be in your eyes and what are the main diversity factors – culture, expertise, age, gender…?

Diversity is key. Diversity both in terms of gender, age, nationality, culture etc. but also in terms of background, expertise, skills, diversity of thinking and approach. The more diverse teams are the stronger they are.

We hear a lot about H2H (Human2Human) and that B2B Marketers must adapt to the new area. From your perspective, is it really time to communicate in a B2C way to B2B audiences? What are your thoughts on this topic?

It is overdue. The distinction makes no sense. In the end you always sell to people, not to brick and glass buildings. You might have a more complex product or service to sell but you still need to engage with people and entice them. It is proven that especially in B2B the people factor is huge. Humanizing your brand and your Marketing is key.

How do you hire?

A mix of experience, skills and track record and young talent with great potential. In my experience mixed teams are great where the more mature can mentor and guide the younger ones and help them grow. I am a big believer in empowerment and stretch assignments.

What do you recommend to Millennials?

It is right to be ambitious and pushy. But recognize that you have to earn respect and trust through achievements. It has always been about hard work and sustainable performance. Given the times in which you start your careers you have great opportunities and chances. Use them!

How do you align marketing and sales?

Simple: ongoing communication and collaboration and most importantly shared goals and KPIs

3 Do’s and 3 Don’ts in Marketing?


  • Track and measure everything you do so you can constantly learn and improve
  • Balance the Art of Marketing and the Science of Marketing
  • Be focused on people always, whether they are employees, customers, partners or else


  • Don’t assume Marketing is the most important thing for everyone
  • Don’t use Marketing buzzwords
  • Don’t assume most people understand what Marketing is

What did you “google” last?

Christmas gifts for women who already have everything

Either or

Beach                                  or                        Mountain
Soccer                                or                        Football
Design                                 or                        Art
Beer                                     or                        Wine
Churrasco                           or                        Sushi
Jean-Michel Basquiat          or                        Keith Haring
CNBC                                  or                        Al Jazeera
Uber                                     or                        Taxi
Uniqlo                                  or                         Ralph Lauren
French Fries                         or                         Salad
Flip Flops                             or                         Sneakers
Sail Boat                              or                         Motor Boat
Wind                                    or                         Rain
Mickey                                or                         Goofy