Paul Davies: consumer marketing director, Microsoft
Paul Davies: consumer marketing director, Microsoft
A view from Paul Davies

Microsoft consumer marketing director: Getting things wrong is natural

Paul Davies, Microsoft's consumer marketing director, shares his career advice.

Pay it forward

I believe in the power of reciprocity. I have learned so much from the brilliant mentors and coaches who I have had the pleasure of working with.

I try to approach every challenge as an opportunity to learn and grow – never assuming I know the answers and approaching my work with humility and respect. So much so that I think it is important to pay it forward (if not an overused Americanism) and continue the circle of giving back by sharing knowledge, approaches, techniques, ideas and solutions. What better legacy to create than to share those moments when you made a critical learning (or a terrible mistake you would rather forget) to help another in pursuit of their own ambitions?

The power of networks

They say "It’s not what you know, it’s who you know", and it has never been more true than in today’s digitally connected world.

I was late to the networking game and was never very good at it in the early days. Networking is a real art to master but, with a bit effort, it stops feeling odd or awkward quickly and becomes second nature.

With tools such as LinkedIn, it has become so much easier for marketers to connect with one another and share.

I continue to meet so many fascinating people on my journey – some I may never meet again but most I continue to bump into time and again on the circuit.

Advertising is a small bubble and we are a small group of like-minded people. I take pride in and benefit from working with such a talented community.

Stay curious

When hiring, I always look for people who are interested in the world and how things work. People who aren’t afraid to put themselves out there and to learn from experience.

I think curiosity is a critical trait for marketers. It helps us to ideate, problemsolve and find inspiration in unusual places. The future of work is one where we will manage a portfolio of roles, drawing insight from one to apply to the other. Partly driven by technology, we will move away from the nine-to-five and towards task completion, where time is our greatest resource and we can satisfy our curiosities through multiple careers.

With an open-minded approach, it’s an exciting future.

Fail fast, learn and progress

I believe it’s important to foster a real sense of team and create environments where people can create their very best work. This means removing the fear of failure and any perceived consequences of that.

Getting things wrong is just a natural and expected part of progress. I believe smart risk-taking should be encouraged – it leads to innovation and competition, and creates momentum behind brands. But marketing leaders must protect their teams to unlock this.

It’s a case of wrapping our arms round our teams and encouraging an ideas-led culture where people can get creative. Fail fast, learn faster.

Right brain, left brain

There has been considerable interest in marketing technologies that drive efficiencies and automated techniques that increase productivity and speed to optimise performance. It is transformational progress for the marketing industry but it does risk marginalising the art and craft of our jobs.

Technology plays such a critical role for all marketers as it drives performance improvements and unlocks great efficiencies, but not at the expense of human creativity.

Machines are good at finding patterns in data at speed, but humans are best at imagining big ideas and crafting incredible work. The magic happens when left-brain logic meets right-brain ideas – that’s when sparks can truly fly.

Paul Davies is consumer marketing director at Microsoft. He leads marketing activity for brands including Windows, Surface, HoloLens, Office, Bing, MSN and Edge. Davies is chairman of the ISBA Executive
Committee and a board trustee for immersive-theatre company Punchdrunk.