Aptean welcomed veteran marketing expert Leo Tucker as the company’s new Chief
Marketing Officer. We sat down with Leo to chat about his background,
his early impressions of Aptean, and how he spends his time outside the office.
Q: Leo, can you
start by telling us about your background and the path that brought you to
Leo: I’ve been
fortunate enough to work with technology companies for more than 20 years. I’ve
worked with some of the largest companies in the world, like IBM, as well as mid-sized
companies like Aptean. I was a product manager in the late 90’s, and grew my skillset
to eventually manage every function of marketing, from lead generation, to
product marketing, to communications and more. Immediately before joining Aptean I served in a similar
capacity as the global head of marketing for PGi, so I’ve been fortunate to run
all aspects of marketing globally over the course of my career.
Q: What inspired
you to pursue a career in marketing?
Leo: After I graduated
from business school in the mid ‘90’s, it was apparent that technology was
going to be a great place to focus my career. I had the opportunity to work at
IBM, which gave me my first exposure to technology products and services. After
that, I joined an Atlanta-based company called S1 as a product manager. The
role I had was 98 percent product marketing.
It required me to understand each product’s key differentiators, what
message resonated for each product, who we should be concerned with from a
competitive perspective, and which new markets we should enter. I found the products interesting, but I fell
in love with the strategy behind all of these questions – and I realized that’s
where I wanted to focus my career.
Q: What excited
you most about the opportunity to join Aptean?
Leo: When anyone is
trying to decide whether to join a company – whether they are fresh out of
college or well into their career -- it comes down to the team. From top to
bottom, the team here at Aptean is top notch. Kim Eaton is a fantastic leader,
and the vision for the company and the business model is fascinating. I’m
especially impressed by Aptean’s focus on how to make strategic acquisitions
that create a whole that’s greater than the sum of the parts for our customers.
Another exciting thing about Aptean is
that under Kim’s leadership, the company has become even more customer-centric.
Every company talks about putting your customers first, but I’ve rarely seen it
put into action the way it is at Aptean.
Q:You’re still getting your “sea legs” at
Aptean, but in these early days, what are your initial observations about the
company and the CMO role?
laser focus on the customer that Kim introduced means that we have spent less
time in recent years on what you might call traditional lead generation. Aptean has great products and customer
relationships as a result of this strategy, so customers are choosing to stay
with Aptean and expanding the business that they do with us. This has been exactly the right strategy for
Aptean. But we’ve reached a point where we
need to spend some cycles reinvigorating our demand generation function to add
new customers as well. In addition, the brand hasn’t been refreshed in a while,
and the time has come to think more deeply and creatively about how we tell our
story. It’s going to be a really fun
Q: As a marketer,
you work alongside technical experts and need to speak their language. How do
you stay current on technology in order to convey the value of products to
Leo: At the end of the
day, it comes down to understanding who your buyers and your users are – and
then communicating in a language that makes sense to them. In my career, the buyers and users have been
on the business side, so I’ve had to understand their business challenges and goals,
and how to translate technical features to address their goals and challenges. So
I’ve always seen the marketing role in a technology company as being the
translator – translating technical capabilities into solutions.
Q: One of Aptean’s
strengths is that it provides products to customers across a broad number of industries. Is it challenging as a marketer to keep up
with so many different industries and truly understand each customer?
Leo: From a marketing
perspective, it has to be a two-level approach. First, we need to have a strong corporate
identity that can serve as an umbrella across all of the different products and
services that we offer and to all of the different industries we serve. Second,
we need to translate this identity at the product level and apply the right
messages to individual business challenges that we’re trying to solve. And of
course, it means that our marketing team has to stay very closely aligned with
our product team so that we’re always synced upon how to convey the value of
what we do to clients, and also relay customer feedback as we continue to build
and iterate on our products.
Q:As fast as the tech industry changes, how
do you balance the need to deliver the products that customers say they need
today with investing in the products you believe they will need tomorrow?
Leo: It’s a critically
important question, and a balance that many, many companies struggle with. Our basic approach at Aptean is to start with
understanding the business challenge we’re trying to solve for our customers. If a new technology is cool – but we can’t
envision how it will help our customers today or in the near future - it tends not
to be our top focus. It’s tempting to
place big bets on emerging technology to stay ahead of trends, but if you can’t
draw that clear line between what you’re investing in and how it will tangibly
help your customers, you’re not going to be successful. We also take special
care to look at some technologies in the macro sense – to identify the
capabilities that we need across our products and across all the industries we
serve – but we primarily think about how to apply our technologies to specific
client needs and use cases.
Q: Let’s talk
about culture. What kind of company is
Aptean? What’s it like to work there?
Leo: One thing that
became apparent from day one is how well-communicated and understood Aptean’s
vision and priorities are across the company. It’s so common in companies of
Aptean’s size, and particularly with Aptean’s complexity, for there to be confusion
about priorities, strategy, and how everything fits together. Kim and the executive team have really
excelled at conveying the vision at the companywide level. And this takes away roadblocks, because we
are all clear where we’re going. So as a result of that, the culture is extremely
collaborative. And there’s a tremendous amount of energy. When everyone knows the
direction they’re heading, it really lends itself to productive conversation. And,
from a purely personal perspective, I felt welcomed and comfortable at Aptean
right away. There is a great warmth and
camaraderie here that I’m excited to be a part of.
Q: You are active
in the Atlanta-area community. Tell us about your work with the Atlanta
Leo: It’s been a real
honor to be on the board of the Children’s Museum for six years now. We’ve just completed a multi-million dollar
renovation, and it’s a jewel of downtown Atlanta. My children were frequent visitors to the
museum when they were young, so when a friend asked me to join the board, I was
excited to do it. Not surprisingly, I was asked to help with development and
marketing, which has been a lot of fun. The museum really focuses on learning,
through structured and unstructured play, and I’ve seen the tremendous impact
is has on the community. There’s also a good lesson there about volunteering in
ways that leverage your skills to help others. There are endless ways to make a
difference, but I find that if you focus on the things you are best at, you’ll
have the greatest impact and enjoy yourself.