Software powerhouse Kinaxis announced last week that Margaret Franco has joined the firm as its chief marketing officer.When Margaret Franco’s original plan to study law didn’t pan out, she was so despondent she took “the worst job” she could find. As unlikely as it might have seemed at the time, that decision ended up setting her on the path to finding her true passion in marketing – a road that has led her to the C-suite of one of Ottawa’s leading publicly traded companies. Software powerhouse Kinaxis announced last week that Franco has joined the firm as its chief marketing officer. The native of northern England will lead Kinaxis’s marketing and branding efforts from her home base in London, where one of her top priorities will be expanding the firm’s market share in the vital European and Asian markets. Franco comes to Kinaxis from software maker Finastra. During her three-year stint as CMO of the London-based firm, she helped build an award-winning marketing team and was named one of 2022’s top 25 women leaders in financial technology by Financial Technology Report. Looking for a new challenge, Franco has found one at Kinaxis. She believes the Kanata-based developer of supply-chain management software – whose stock price has nearly doubled since early 2020 as the pandemic wreaked havoc on the flow of raw manufacturing materials and the production of key components like semiconductors – is on the fast track to a billion dollars in annual revenues. Franco can’t wait to put her skills to use in the pursuit of that milestone. “That was a huge motivator, actually,” Franco says of Kinaxis’s 10-figure sales target. “I can utilize the experience that I had with large-scale companies, but also mid-sized growth companies as well in order to build a team and a foundation that can really help Kinaxis scale. That’s really the goal.” In a career that’s seen her migrate from North America to Europe, then Asia and back to her native United Kingdom, Franco has led marketing efforts for some of the world’s most recognizable computer brands, including Hewlett-Packard and Dell, as well as semiconductor giant Advanced Micro Devices. “I have a passion for marketing because it’s very, very strategic,” says Franco, whose father, a petroleum engineer, moved the family across the Atlantic to Houston when she was a child. Still, it took her time to discover her true calling, and her career trajectory has been anything but conventional. After being turned down by her preferred law school in the early 1990s, the freshly graduated political science major from Houston’s Southern Methodist University landed a job as a receptionist at energy giant Halliburton. Not many people called Halliburton’s main desk, so one day a bored Franco asked her boss what she should do to pass the time. “He gave me the best piece of advice in my entire life, which is really what has propelled my career: ‘Margaret, just wake up every day and find a place to add value,’” she says. It’s been her guiding principle ever since. At Halliburton, Franco learned to code and eventually created a new inventory control system, analyzing and documenting metrics related to factory efficiency and poring over reports on revenues, profit margins and production costs. She eventually moved on to computer manufacturer Compaq, where her marketing career began in earnest. Franco started out developing product management software before shifting over to the marketing department. She tackled a range of roles in product marketing, pricing and strategy at Compaq, which was acquired by Hewlett-Packard in 2002, before being recruited by Dell in 2005. Franco headed up the computing powerhouse’s global desktop and notebook marketing and development department for nearly five years. Then “the lightbulb switched on,” she puts it, when she found her “north star” – becoming the chief marketing officer of a mid-sized tech company. In late 2009, she joined Advanced Micro Devices as vice-president of its 100-person integrated marketing communications department. A few years later, she was back at Dell, this time in London. For the next eight years, Franco held a variety of roles at Dell, leading the company’s branding and marketing teams in Europe, the Middle East and Africa before moving to Singapore to run its Asian marketing operations. Eventually, she returned to England to join Finastra, achieving her goal of becoming CMO of a mid-sized firm. Now, she’s ready to put all of her experience to good use at Kinaxis. Franco is champing at the bit to cultivate what she sees as relatively virgin sales territory in Germany, France, the U.K. and other European countries as well as Asia, not to mention green fields of opportunity in the consumer packaged goods, pharmaceutical, industrial and other sectors. “I have feet on the ground in Europe, but I also have experience with Asia,” she notes. “To penetrate those markets, you do need slightly different tactics from a marketing perspective.” Franco’s enthusiasm for the task is obvious. “We need for Kinaxis as a brand in the B-to-B space to really break through,” she explains, adding she wants the company “to be to supply chain like Salesforce is to CRM, like Workday is to HR. “Supply chain and what that does for all the customers that we serve has an impact on people’s lives in a really big way. It just is an incredible opportunity.”
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