Can you please tell us a little bit about your background?
MARCO: Most of my background has been working in IT and throughout many different parts of the world. I have over 20 years of international experience in enterprise sales, marketing, and product management. My recent role was with Zebra Technologies where I served as Vice President of Sales for EMEA. In this role, I led the theatre to a highly profitable $1.3 billion success story through a tough economic climate. Prior to Zebra I held a variety of senior positions at Motorola Enterprise, where I led the company’s enterprise business across all markets in EMEA, holding leadership positions in PSION and Symbol (prior to acquisition). I was also part of the leadership team responsible for the acquisition and sales integration of PSION into Motorola in 2012.
What is your top priority in your new role?
MARCO: My top priority is to keep Polycom on the growth trajectory and maintain the profitability of the business we have today. I will do this by identifying areas for growth and try to unearth new untapped opportunities so we can start to gain market share. Peter brought me in to lead a team that is performing extremely well in a relatively static market. My job is to come in as a fresh pair of eyes to search for new areas where we can grow.
What does the first 90 days for you look like?
1: Education. Not being a UC specialist, I want to gain a better understanding of our proposition.
2: I also want to meet the whole team, understand their roles and the structure of the organisation.
3: At the same time I will be meeting with partners, distributors and customers to gain an understanding of their view of the market and their view of Polycom.
I will try to figure out our strengths and look at areas we can draw on and where we can improve. Before the 90 days are up I will have a clear plan with ideas of how to grow and execute against.
Tell us a bit about your leadership style? What do you expect from your team?
MARCO: I am hands on – whether it is numbers, projects, issues – I look at myself as a “Mr. fix it” providing strategic direction and helping to drive the numbers, but also like to help people eliminate obstacles to achieve their goals. I like to solve problems, whether it is technical, GTM, marketing related and like to get into the detail. I have an open style, I am not hierarchal, and I want to motivate people from a personal perspective. I want them to have a leader they can trust and look to me for support. Their success is my success.
Your career in technology spans more than 20 years, how do you see video evolving?
MARCO: I like the fact that we at Polycom have a clear vision. The vision of a future work environment with people using video for meetings regardless of location – whether you are at a hotel, an airport, at home. It ignites my imagination as to how the future can and will look. If Polycom delivers the vision of collaborating across multiple platforms – through seamless communications and making video ubiquitous - to have everyone use it all the time, it makes complete sense to me and it’s a great place to be. I do believe that even though the market is more or less static in EMEA, you can attract different and new types of users. The biggest challenge is the conference phone market. The challenge there is what we are going to do with that market and how to refresh it.
Can you give us one example of how technology has changed your life?
MARCO: I am a prototype for the frequent traveler. I don’t work in an office. I haven’t worked in an office for a few years. In fact, I went to my last office five times in total… I work everywhere, including hotels and home. Technology has enabled me to work this way and has transformed the way I work. Coming to Polycom and using video day-to-day will only reinforce the way I like to work.
You’ve travelled a lot over the years with your various positions. What city has been your favorite so far?
MARCO: It is very hard to say. I have lived in many cities, including Rome, London, Paris, New York and Jakarta. Paris for me rates highly from a cultural perspective. London also has a lot to offer. Rome is a beautiful city with fantastic weather, food and culture. I would say it would be tough for me to decide between them all. Every time I visit a new city I think it might be a new favorite. If I was a millionaire I would have a lot of houses!
At Polycom, work-life balance is important. What do you do when you get some down time?
MARCO: I am firm believer in work-life balance. I enjoy being active, extreme sports and the great outdoors. One of my challenges for this year is to finish climbing the highest mountains in the world; so far I have climbed two of the eight. As part of my routine I enjoy going for a run before settling down to work. It clears my head and keeps my mind active. My weekends are also spent with my family, either in the garden or outdoors somewhere.
We all know that face-to-face meetings are the most natural and effective way to communicate. However, when you work for a global company with team members dispersed all over the world, video calls are the next best thing. As a millennial and a so-called member of the “selfie generation,” being on video has always been comfortable for me. With popular apps like SnapChat and WhatsApp becoming another regular form of communicating, video is an everyday part of my life.
But on my first day on the job, I realized how different it was to be on a video call when it wasn’t a casual encounter with my friends. I couldn’t help but continue to glance over at myself in the self-view window. How did I look? How were people reacting to what I said? Was I coming across as professional?
Flash forward six months and now I’m a mobile worker. I work from our headquarter offices, my home office, in coffee shops, or in the occasional a hotel lobby during a quick break at a conference. Even with all the benefits that flexible work and video conferencing has, it can be really easy to screw up.
Along the way I’ve picked up some quick and easy tips on how to set up a video call so you feel comfortable, confident and come across as professional. They are:
1. Get the right lighting.
Overhead lighting is the worst kind of lighting for video conferences because it makes shadows under your eyes and across the bridge of your nose giving you a tired look. Natural, soft light is best; ideally behind your web cam (directly behind it, or one on the left, one on the right) and one directly behind you.
2. Check your angle.
Are you using a web cam clipped to the top of your monitor? Chances are it’s not capturing you from the best perspective. If it’s angled down too much, you’ll put your fellow meeting-goers in the position of towering over you.
If you’re using the built in camera on your laptop, it may be too low--and looking up your nose. Adjust the height of the chair you sit in, or a good quick fix is to put hardcover books under your laptop until the angle is right. You want the camera to capture the triangle of your forehead to your left shoulder and right shoulder in the frame. A diagram here would be great!
3. Look presentable.
Even if only your face and shoulders are in the frame, you never know if you’ll need to stand up for some reason. It’s always best to be prepared! So look decent from head to toe. Wear flattering, solid colors near your face, just like television news anchors do. Make sure you’re sitting in a comfortable position so you aren’t moving and fidgeting throughout the call and distracting from the meeting. And, please, no pajama bottoms.
4. Look behind you.
Don’t forget that the people on the other end of the call have a “fish bowl” view into your environment. Junk and clutter is not only distracting, but it’s also unprofessional. Think of your workspace as an extension of yourself, how would you want to be perceived? Clean walls are best, but if you do have photos/posters in the background, make sure it’s something you wouldn’t be uncomfortable with your boss looking at. The best rule of thumb? If you wouldn’t want it in a live meeting, you shouldn’t have it in a video conference! If possible, a poster with the company logo is ideal. Would be cool to collage a few good examples. Think of folks who brand their backgrounds and ask them for a photo or screenshot them during a video call.
5. Minimize distractions.
If you’re working in an environment with other people around, creating an “On Air” sign for your office door when you’re live can help keep other people from walking in. A barking dog or a cat running through the background can be a big distraction, so it’s best to keep them out of room. If you’re working in a public area like a coffee shop, it’s best to work with your back to a wall so you don’t have “extras” walking through the background while you’re on a call.
6. Be prepared.
Video is closer to a face-to-face meeting than it is to a conference call, yet most people treat it like a conference call. Looking at your notes or squinting at your computer screen is just as distracting as if you were reading your meeting notes in front of someone face-to-face. Know your main talking points and look up, eye contact is important to show you’re listening and engaging with others in the meeting. It might feel awkward at first to stare directly into the camera eye, but alternating between this and focusing on the speaker as they talk is important to show you’re engaged.
And last but not least, be sure to turn your video camera on and preview your view BEFORE starting a meeting! Give yourself a couple extra minutes before each meeting for a test run in case you need to adjust things like lighting, the height of your computer, move anything out of the background that might be distracting, etc. Following these simple tips will set you up for a much more professional and productive meeting!
What other rules do you follow when on a video call? Have any quick tips? Comment below!