What does it mean to be a marketing leader in today’s world? That’s the question I’ve asked myself—and several of my fellow marketing leaders—over the past few months.

In a year that’s brought us a global pandemic, ongoing political and social unrest, numerous natural disasters, and massive shifts to the way we work, learn, and live our day-to-day lives, I expected our conversations to focus largely on agility. After all, 2020 has shown us that agile marketing has been able to succeed where traditional, slower marketing methods have failed.

What I got instead were numerous insightful conversations from marketing leaders that reflected their personal experiences. And I realized that the people I was talking to had so much more to offer beyond their thoughts on agile marketing; these people have learned a lot of hard lessons along the way and we can learn a lot from them.

Today is the launch of a new Thought Leadership series on the Cisco Partners blog that features the incredible conversations I’ve had with those marketing leaders. Particularly in this post-pandemic world, we have heard from many of you in our partner marketing community that you yearn for connection and inspiration in your day-to-day work. For many of us, we’ve gone from near-constant in-office interactions, face-to-face meetings, and live events to only seeing our peers through our screens. While there’s still a lot to be said for in-person interactions, we’re using technology as best as we can to still maintain some form of normalcy.

The conversations you will see might be through Webex, but they are face-to-face, and perhaps even more authentic than these conversations might have been in the past. Because we’re all yearning for a connection right now, and realizing just how important it is to share stories; both our own and our partners’. Our goal with this series is to share a different and deeper perspective of the channel industry’s top marketing executives, how they are leading their teams in uncertain times, and inspiring you with the marketing best practices of their organizations.

I’m very excited that our first conversation is with Ruth Rowan, CMO at NTT Limited.

Ruth was the first marketing leader I met when I joined Cisco’s Global Partner Marketing team two years ago. She has been an inspiration both personally and professionally since.

Ruth has a very impressive international track record—having held several different global and regional roles in Europe and AsiaPac, including working in Hong Kong for over five years, which Ruth said was an extraordinary learning opportunity.

Currently, Ruth leads the global marketing organization at NTT, and in 2019 oversaw the launch of NTT Limited, which was an 18-month project that involved integrating 31 international technology expert organizations. Little did NTT—and Ruth—know that their first year as an official organization would be spent bringing 40,000 people together and then pivoting to a digital workforce due to a global pandemic.

The lessons Ruth’s learned in her 25+ year career helped her lead her team—and NTT—through not only a huge transition as a company but also as a marketing organization.

Here are my 3 key takeaways from our conversation, but I invite you to watch the interview in its entirety, as Ruth had some amazing insights you won’t want to miss.

1. Ruth on global insights/global impact: Having operations in every country acted as an early warning system for the impact Covid-19 would have on the rest of the world—and NTT Limited.

Watch Ruth talk about how NTT’s global reach helped them better prepare for the pandemic.


2. Ruth on virtual sponsorships: Being proactive and agile has enabled NTT to help the Tour de France go virtual.

NTT decided not to have personnel on-site long before the Tour de France made the call to go virtual. But when they did, NTT was prepared.


3. Ruth on technology for good: Rhinos. Tracking devastating diseases. Dementia. All things NTT’s helping tackle.

Marketing is critical in making the connection between an organization and its purpose.


You can watch the entire interview with Ruth where we chatted about her journey, agile marketing, and what she’s been binge-watching. You can also learn more about our global strategic partnership with NTT here. And be sure to join the conversation on LinkedIn!

Stay tuned for our next marketing leader, Jim Krueger with Veeam, on December 1.


Boon Lai

Vice President

Global Partner Marketing