Marketer to Watch: Vasu Jakkal of Brocade

Vasu Jakkal, VP,
Corporate Marketing, Brocade

This week, we are featuring Vasu Jakkal, VP, of Corporate Marketing at Brocade, where her role includes Global Brand, Communications, Marketing Strategy, Analytics and Operations. She is a passionate marketer who is fueled by strategy, team building and making an impact. Here, she shares with us some of the things she's learned during her career, and what she loves so much about being a marketer.

1. What was your first (or favorite) job you’ve had?

My favorite job is what I do today :) We live in an exponential world full of possibilities, and marketing's role as the growth engine of the company is more critical than ever. We get to be at that intersection of art and science, to understand markets and human beings, win hearts and minds (and $), tell amazing, personalized stories and drive demand and revenue for our businesses. And I get to do that every day at Brocade with an amazing team of people.

My first real job was in Chippewa Falls, Wisconsin at Cray Research, but that’s a story for another time over a glass of wine...

2. Name one CMO or Head of Marketing who impresses you and tell us why.

That would be my boss here at Brocade, Christine Heckart! Christine is a brilliant CMO, an outstanding business and people leader and one of my biggest heroes (and that's a high bar with the likes of Stephen Hawking, Gandhi, and Steve Jobs). She has taught me how having vision and driving business strategy are pivotal for becoming a marketing leader, how provocative and inspiring stories change the world, and that we should never forget the fun factor when creating a dynamic culture with engaged employees!

I can also relate to Christine on a different level - that of being a mum. As mums and marketers, we are constantly striving for perfection, and she taught me that we need to let that idea go. Sometimes, 'good enough' is best.

3. Can you name an inflection point or particularly influential mentor during your career that helped prepare you for your current position?

I have had many wonderful mentors in my life who have influenced me both professionally and personally. One of my heroes, in particular, is Abhi Talwalkar who had a profound impact on my career. He was the CEO of LSI Corporation when I was his Chief of Staff leading strategy and marketing initiatives. Abhi is an epitome of what it means to lead with heart and, as a result, is a brilliant leader and advisor. 

A key inflection point at LSI for me was choosing between the General Manager or CMO role as my next step. It was the conversations with Abhi that played a key role in steering my career towards the CMO path, and he empowered me by giving me the opportunities to make that possible.

4. Do you have a personal mantra, words of wisdom or favorite inspirational quote?

"Be the change you want to see in the world." - Gandhi  

"Sometimes it is the people no one can imagine anything of who do the things no one can imagine.” - Alan Turing

5. How has marketing changed over the last five years? What are you excited about right now? 

Over the last five years, marketing has pivoted to playing an even more central role in driving growth for businesses. While the fundamentals of marketing haven't changed much, the way consumers understand the world around them, make choices and consume information has transformed dramatically. We have moved from an information age to a networking age and we now rely on the stories within these network orbits to make our selections.

Today, data and analytics give marketers access to intelligence that can help predict buyers and behaviors, and social media lets us create platforms, communities and reach which is exponential. We are expected to define and drive our brand purpose - have the vision and 'why' narrative so that customers, employees, partners and shareholders can understand the big picture and how we get there. We also bolster demand and deliver exceptional customer experiences. I can sum it up by saying modern marketing is at the junction of strategy and creativity like it's never been before - and it's truly an exciting time to be here!

6. Name 1 or 2 characteristics that you think are invaluable for a marketer in today's ever-evolving world.

Agility in responding to changing markets, businesses and trends and an understanding of the big picture and how to execute toward that.

7. Where do you see yourself professionally in five years? 

As a change-agent CMO leading marketing to be a growth engine for the company, driving transformation and making magic happen with an amazing team and community!

Quick-fire round:

Burrito or burger: Burrito

Central Park or Golden Gate Park: Golden Gate

Beach or mountains: Mountains

Snapchat or Instagram: Instagram

Pokémon Go or no? Oh, DEFINITELY Pokémon Go