Us Canadians are always a bit sensitive about our own kind drifting south of the border to work for an American company – especially when we know that person is talented.
But you’ll have to forgive Montreal-born Marie Hattar, the CMO of Check Point Software Technologies, who left to California after completing degrees at the University of Toronto and York University. She did so for love, she says, and because her husband argued (justifiably) that the weather is better in California.
Hattar is a rare breed, an engineer that’s now in an executive role responsible for marketing at an Internet security software firm. Hattar says that marketing is a mix of art and science, and her role at Check Point allows her to tap into both the artist and scientist within herself. Having a technical background is helpful to Hattar in several ways, she explains, especially given that she’s able to have a real grip on the subject matter of the company that she’s marketing.
During our conversation, Hattar talks about carving out a niche for Check Point in a crowded market place for cyber-security software. Being up against some big brands (in the security world, you might think about the yellow brand and the red brand) that are consumer focused, Check Point wins business by focusing on the firewall aspect of security that is so important for businesses. By focusing on the business-to-business market, Hattar is able to communicate the security value her company has to offer. Given recent incidents that have attracted front-page headlines around corporate IT security, it’s becoming a more top-of-mind issue for many businesses.
Take the Sony Corp. hack for example, in which hackers released several major mass-market movies ahead of their debut in theaters, and was able to scare several theatre chains away from screening The Interview starring Seth Rogen and James Franco. Hattar says that this is proof the concept of security shouldn’t be relegated to the IT organization alone. Line of business executives should be thinking of security before there’s a breach, she says. Not just marketing, but every decision maker within a company has a vested interest in ensuring corporate security, she says.
Hear more of Hattar’s take on the Sony hack, how she approaches marketing in a competitive market, and how marketers can create a worst-case-scenario disaster plan in the event of a security breach. Just watch the video above. Also, check out more of our Head Honcho Hangouts with other executives.