Karen Quintos – CMO, Dell

Karen Quintos

The woman at the helm of marketing for Dell shares success secrets, including the use of Facebook to promote your company.

By Nichole Nichols

[Editor’s note: At the time of this interview, Quintos was VP of Marketing at Dell.]

If your company doesn’t have presence on Facebook, you’re missing a great opportunity to promote your company for FREE. Karen Quintos, vice president of marketing for the global public business unit at Dell, offers online social media tips to help boost your bottom line – plus success secrets straight from the corner office.

PINK: How are you motivating your team during these tough economic times?
Karen Quintos: I believe very strongly in communication, communication, communication. I believe people are scared of the unknown. They are scared of what has happened globally very quickly. We spend a lot of time talking about values and goals. I instill trust and stability and at the same time a sense of urgency in how they respond to challenges. Great business leaders have the vision of where they want to go, but they have a 360-degree view that says, “I know what my competition is doing, I know what my customers want, and I can seek out emerging trends that are out there.” So we spend a lot of time really staying focused and maniacal about that.

PINK: How do you define “success”?
K.Q.: I think success is a very personal thing. My definition has changed many times over my life and my 20-plus-year career. [When I first got started] it was how fast could I get promoted, was I making a good salary, could I buy my first house? [But now] I’m highly motivated by making a difference, helping the community and leaving a legacy that I can be proud of. I am and have been on numerous nonprofit boards. I’ve been a Meals on Wheels volunteer. I’ve been a CASA [Court-Appointed Special Advocates] volunteer. They work with abused and neglected children, and I’ve been on their board. I tend to spend my time in areas that are very closely aligned with my areas of passion, which are educating our youth and helping disadvantaged children, in particular children who are abused and neglected. I just fundamentally believe that no child deserves to be brought into the world in an unsafe environment. And I have three children, so it’s just natural that I also spend a lot of time around them.

PINK: Can you tell us about a time in your career when you failed?
K.Q.: I think the biggest mistake that I’ve made was taking a job with another company that was not a good cultural fit with me. I think we underestimate how unbelievably important it is that you work for a company that shares the same values, principles and priorities that you do. It was professionally a very maturing time for me. I don’t have any regrets about it. I think it’s something that’s made me a better leader, but as I’ve moved into different companies and as I came to Dell, I spent a lot of time researching the culture. Take the time to research the culture and make sure the culture fits with who you are – [things like] what you stand for, what makes you hum, how you like spending your day, the type of people you want to work around and the philosophies of the leadership team. That becomes very, very important to how you can be successful there.

PINK: What is the best business advice you’ve ever received?
K.Q.: When I stepped into my first people management role, my boss said that if you treat people like you want to be treated, you will never fail. And to stay one step ahead of the competition.

PINK: What advice do you give to women you mentor?
K.Q.: Have strong advocates, and network. Know how to brand yourself. Women aren’t the ones beating their chests and asking for promotions. Just like we work on the Dell brand, work on your self brand. For anybody who is moving into a new job, take time to lay out, articulate and document what your strategy is, what your vision is and what you want to accomplish. Take your story to your key stakeholders that you have within your business and tell them you need their help to be successful. In an existing role that you’re in, take the time to meet two new people every single week. Just do it. Write down over the next quarter who the people are internally and externally, because there are a lot of external networks you need, and introduce yourself to them. Talk about something that is mutually beneficial to both of you. [You’ll] build your network and, at the same time, your brand. They’ll know who you are, what you stand for and what your vision is. You need to take the time to pick the right boss. A good boss can be the reason you get out of bed to go to work. Not everyone gets to pick, but when you do, pick the right one. Interview them on what motivates them and how they motivate employees. Think about whether or not they share the same philosophy and values that you do.

PINK: How did you get to where you are today in your career? What have been your secrets to climbing the ladder?
K.Q.: I’ve worked for several successful companies. I’ve never been afraid to take risks that others would shy away from. I rely consistently on hiring the best people and building a very strong network both within and outside the companies I’ve worked for. It really is about the talent that you retain. Hire and retain the best talent as you move up the corporate ladder. You learn early on that you can’t do it by yourself. And you need strong advocates that can go to bat for you. Differentiate yourself and continue to give back to the business.

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