Marcus Starke, the SVP of Worldwide Marketing Regions for SAP has more than 20 years of senior management experience, including several c-level positions with global marketing firms, and a successful track record of driving healthy growth and profitability. Currently, Marcus oversees all regional marketing activity for SAP globally. He is instrumental in driving overall strategy, innovation and best practices for 360-degree marketing programs, operations and campaigns. He oversees demand generation across SAP worldwide, including North America, Europe, Middle East & Africa, Asia, and Latin America.
Prior to joining SAP, Marcus was President and CEO at Wunderman EMEA (WPP Group) in London. He has been instrumental in founding and partnering two marketing services/consulting companies that were later acquired by WPP.
He has earned his degree from Baden-Wuertemberg State University and is fluent in five languages; German, English, Italian, Portuguese and French. Throughout his career, he has lived and worked in the United States, Germany, Italy, UK, Portugal, Switzerland and Brazil.
Name: Marcus Starke
Organization & designation: Senior Vice President, Worldwide Marketing Regions, SAP
Current responsibilities include: Overseeing all global Field Marketing activities for SAP in the five sales regions around the world where we execute end-to-end marketing plans. Besides, being responsible for overall strategy, operations, innovation and best practices for SAP’s Field Marketing worldwide.
My strength: My focus is on our people and making them successful. Helping empower my team so they can develop their talents to their full potential. I was fortunate early in my career to have leaders and mentors who gave me the opportunity to grow professionally and take on increasing responsibilities. The best way I can repay their support and honor them is to help my employees discover similar opportunities.
Biggest challenge faced and how did I tackle it: When I ran global marketing agencies earlier in my career, we worked with lots of well-known, high profile brands as clients. They did not become successful market leaders by settling for second best; they had extremely high expectations. In the agency world, you are only as successful as the results you delivered for your clients, so we had to continually raise our game.
Each time, I tackled the challenges by following these rules:
Served as the “success coach” for the agency team- my job was to make sure everyone was in a position to be successful.
Foster diversity of thought across our organization- we were in the `ideas business’ and without fresh ideas, we would stagnate. Everyone needed to know that their ideas and suggestions would always be welcomed, respected and considered, regardless of how disruptive, visionary or crazy they might be.
Demonstrate a “nothing is impossible” attitude to clients- plans and strategies look good on paper; but it always comes down to execution and getting the job done. One of the most important things is to stay on top of the execution phase- that’s where you can make mid-course corrections and re-calibrate your efforts to overcome any challenges or setbacks.
The big idea moment: The “big idea” actually includes two ideas: I believe that we are now seeing the true convergence of the “art” and “science” of marketing. Working at SAP, I have seen first-hand how technologies can bring more analytics and insights into marketing, from campaign planning right through to execution. Companies can analyze their data in a way to eliminate guesswork and make more informed marketing decisions and investments and thereby dramatically increase ROMI (Return on Marketing Investment).
As the “science” of marketing gets more sophisticated, it is allowing the “art” or creative aspect to become more personalized for the customer and consumer. It is becoming easier for companies to develop and deliver marketing messages and content that match the needs of the individual customer, yet will enable the company to achieve scale.
The turning point: I had a scholarship from Pirelli, the global tire company, when I attended college. During that time, I was fortunate to receive mentoring from Gert Silber-Bonz, the former Chairman of Pirelli Germany. I knew I wanted to work internationally, and with his counsel and support, he helped me land my first job in Strategic Marketing at Pirelli’s headquarters in Milan, Italy. I was immediately immersed in the unique demands of marketing a global brand in the context of a global marketing team.
It was the start of a marketing journey that has allowed me to work around the world, live in many different countries, and the experience has been invaluable. Our economy is global in nature and we have a global marketplace. The opportunity to work in different countries and meet and work with people from different cultures has been an enormous asset for me professionally in my early days of my career and has formed my culture and thinking early on.
Mantra to succeed: Marketing is a team sport. Everyone needs to see the same vision and work together in order for a team or an organization to achieve success. When everyone is aligned, engaged and motivated, you can accomplish great things.
When things fail I usually: Take a step back and try to analyze where things went wrong. I approach failure positively. It is the best way for a person and an organization to learn and improve. Failing is ok and inevitable, just make sure you learn from every failure.
Setbacks are a way to get better. The key is to take a 360-degree view of things and take corrective action. I am a “lifelong learner” and enjoy keeping my skills sharp and learning new ones; after all, you can’t always win in life!
Being a leader is: …all about helping others to succeed. I am a big believer in the two-hand approach to leadership: one of the leader’s hands should always be striving upward to reach new goals; the leader’s other hand should be devoted to lifting up his people to help them achieve their goals so that everyone can strive and be part of the success.
Home to me means: Being with my family and friends and enjoying good food, wine and conversations. My job is travel-intensive, so I look forward to coming home to the Pennsylvania area where we currently live. We have lived in seven different countries on three continents so far in my career, so my family is truly my home, regardless of where we currently live. If you really pressed me hard I would say home really is Italy, where my wife and I met many years ago, have lived for several years and come back every year to spend time in our house on Lake Como.
This article first appeared in Marketing Booster magazine