1 July 2022 Back

Introducing Sway’s Head of Strategic Services

Introducing New TeamQ&A

What better opportunity to give the newest member of the Sway team – the incredibly accomplished B2B marketing strategist, Michael Friedberg – a grilling than under the guise of a ‘Q&A’ for a blog post.

ST: So Michael, what's your story? And how did you end up at Sway Tech?  

MF. I got drunk with Bob one night and woke up the next morning hungover, with a scribbled-on napkin containing the plan for world domination...well at least a way to change the game and help even more NZ tech companies to grow...and the rest is (about to be) history!   

But seriously my career to date has been a rollercoaster ride, after starting my own company, selling it and then being acquired by Computerland where I became CMO (anyone remember BizGo?), my wife and I decided to move to Auckland where I joined IBM. At IBM I cut my teeth as a B2B marketer, and through a myriad of distinct roles, covering markets as diverse as Africa, Central Eastern Europe and Asia, I learnt the importance of culture, and that listening and understanding before acting is a smart way to increase the chance of a marketing strategy being successful.   

At IBM, marketing owned the next quarter pipeline, so I soon learned how to front up to a sales team and share in the challenges of building a pipeline that yielded the revenue target. I built super strong relationships with product pre-sales, coverage and customer success teams and became accomplished in capturing demand.  

But since striking out on my own I have seen first-hand the importance of brand, as I have helped clients to grow in international markets, where brand, messaging and positioning play a pivotal role in creating demand, in reaching those buyers who are not even “problem aware” yet let alone know who you are. 

Which leads me to Sway Tech (and a napkin with scribbles on it) where I get to bring all that I know and love, to a team demonstrating that the model of how a marketing team delivers growth is changing. 

ST: What are your priorities in your first 90 days as Head of Strategic Services?  

MF. Meet with clients, work with clients deliver for clients.... you get the idea.  Coffee anyone? 

ST: How would you describe yourself in one word? 

MF. Bald.   

ST: What's your best and worst trait? 

MF: ....oh dear...reminds me of those terrible interview questions.  Best – I am an eternal optimist and find myself able to use that to imagine/vision the future and not to worry about the “how” until I need too...this has allowed me to think big and then bring that down to size based on resources and reality. Worst... I need to be around people....if I’m not I can get a bit grumpy and edgy, impatient, and far too much in my own head... as validated over 2 lockdowns. 

ST: Who do you look up to? 

MF: My son (who is taller than me!).  

ST: What is a word you say a lot?   

MF: Well last week I was talking to a CEO about a consulting engagement, after an open and honest conversation, he summed it up by saying “I need an adult to tell us what we need”. That has stuck with me, and it’s been slipping out recently, so If I say it with you now know why!  

ST: Do you have any tattoos?  

MF: Yes...2 

ST: What's the best bit of advice you have ever been given?   

MF: I’ve had some great mentors and people who have taken me under their wing. But many years ago, early on in my career, a CEO gave me this advice during a very mediocre performance review.  Oh, the indignity and injustice I felt.  The feedback was that I wasn't strategic enough and that I was too internally focussed. The advice was that I needed to be more externally facing, to build my profile outside of the business, that this would help both myself and the business. Well, I was far too busy for that! But bugger them, I would stop doing xyz (insert any excuse here) and start getting involved in “stuff”. So, I did, and 2 boards later, many years of judging at the NZ Marketing awards, countless speaking slots here I am. I did become more strategic; I did improve my world view and my goodness I did build my network and most of all I make time for reading, listening, talking, and attending.  Sometimes advice comes from the most unlikely of sources. 

ST: Where did you grow up and how has this influenced you?  

MF: Christchurch – it made me realise the world had to be more than just CHC or NZ, so it got me wanting to travel.  From my OE at 18, to many years as a frequent flyer I was driven to try and see as much as I could and lucky enough to make that reality .... plus, I will forever know what real cold is (not this pretend Auckland cold lol) 

ST: What's been the highlight of your career so far? 

MF: Hmmm... oh don't we hate to talk about our successes. I think the decision to go out on my own and build a consulting business and brand (MJF). After the safety of a 14yr tour of duty at IBM this seemed like a big step but playing to my best trait I jumped and worried about the details later. It had been many years since I had felt so alive or have learned so much about myself, about real-world marketing, about business and about CEOs. That single decision has put me on a path, a path where for the first time I can see different tracks and am open to seeing where they may lead and with whom I might journey on them. 

So, what are you waiting for?
Get in touch and take Michael up on his offer of free coffee.

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