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2021 USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace
2021 USTOA ANNUAL CONFERENCE & MARKETPLACE
December 07-11, 2021
Since USTOA's inception in 1972, the USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace has distinguished itself for being the only travel industry event in the United States that brings together the leading North American travel companies with tourism suppliers and destinations from around the globe in ...

Beijing international travel mart 2020
BEIJING INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL MART 2020
September 06-06, 2020
A two days mega tourism event, BITM 2020 is the preferred platform for the international showcase of destinations, attractions, travel packages, products and services to delve into China's ever-expanding outbound tourism market.

Digital Travel Summit EU 2020
DIGITAL TRAVEL SUMMIT EU 2020
June 08-09, 2020
With rising customer expectations, the need for personalised experiences and the constant wave of digital innovations, it is now more important than ever that you invest in digital to remain competitive. Only at Digital Travel you will meet 300+ travel innovators from Europe's most progressive t...

THOUGHT LEADERS

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Q&A With Henson Gawliu Jr., VP Marketing, SAP

November 26, 2018 / Robin Lawlor
SHARESHARESHARE
In this Q&A, Henson Gawliu Jr. gives us a glimpse about how his career started into marketing and why he fell in love with technology. Here are his thoughts on marketing and driving customer experience.

MEDIA 7: Can you tell me about your background? I understand you went to San Jose State University and achieved your BS in Management Information Systems.
HENSON GAWLIU JR.: Obviously, I’m in marketing now, but I actually started off my career doing IT and a little bit of help desk, some Q&A, some product management for early startups. And I kind of got lucky when I stumbled into a position where at that time everyone had a website, but didn’t know what to do with it. One of my responsibilities was to figure out how to make money off of it and that’s kind of how my career started into marketing. Where I started really researching SEO and Paid Search, at the time, and I got into the digital world very early. I kind of had an interesting career, I’m not your typical B2B marketer, I have done lead generation for attorneys, I’ve done lead generation for universities and worked in the B2C ecom space and now the B2B space. 

"With marketing, there’s not a one size fits all solution and this gives us an opportunity to come up with hypotheses and to test and let the data speak."


I feel that’s really been one of my strengths, and why I’ve been so successful is that, I don’t step into any situation with preconceived ideas of how to market, I go in there and look at each unique situation and come up with a customized plan, that I can take some of my learning from every industry and really combine them into an experience that most people have never experienced before because it is a mix of all of these different industries.

Sometimes you get lucky. I was one of those people that got into it very early on and I was lucky enough to find this niche, some would say, I got into it too early, but kind of stuck with it and it has paid off.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into Marketing? Specifically, how did you get into the Digital and Demand side?

HG: I think it’s just a natural curiosity of how things work, to be honest with you. I can’t put too much into it in terms of knowing marketing before I started my career. I didn’t really think about it. I honestly was one of the ignorant people out there that didn’t know, they're always being told. What really drew me to it was just my natural, well what drew me to SEO, at least initially, was I remember the day actually I was sitting in my dorm and I was on this old site called AltaVista, pre-Google, and I remember my dorm-mate coming over and asking “Hey, have you heard of this thing called Google?” and I was like, “No”. So, I took a look at it and did a few searches and at that point my curiosity kicked in and I really wanted to understand how it worked. I think that’s how my career started into marketing really.

At least the digital aspect is just understanding how the search algorithm worked and just being naturally curious of how it came up with its queries, because before that there were search results, there were search engines out there like the AltaVistas, but it was nothing that significant. That’s kind of how I got into it. How I fell in love with it was basically how numbers driven marketing could be and I know that’s more of a recent trend over the last, I’d say, 5-10 years, but that’s what actually really drew me into this in early 2000s. It was that there’s a lot of data points that can be collected and if you piece together the things the right way you can see tangible results that equate to revenue. So that’s what got me into it early and I kind of just fell in love with it, I remember when I was younger in my career I used to always think of doing digital marketing as playing a video game all day. How do I get to the next ranking? Or how do I bring up my stats? It was kind of natural for me. One other thing, why I fell in love with it is, the technology piece.

I actually started off as a computer engineer in college before I decided to change my major going into my final year of computer engineering, and it was for an ironic reason, cause I remember I kept picturing myself in front of a computer all day. I need to work with people and I end up sitting in front of a computer all day anyway, but I just love it. The thing is I’m a problem solver and with marketing, there’s not a one size fits all solution and really this gives us an opportunity to come up with hypotheses and to test and really at that point let the data speak on where we should go next rather than just completely follow gut instinct. I played baseball my whole life, and there’s not too many times in life or career where you’re batting 300 and you gotta ten times you're successful and that makes you an all-star or hall of famer. But the way I look at marketing is, that percent can be even lower and you’re still looking like a rockstar and that’s why it was great and I got to try different things and learn along the way, and build experience. And that’s where we’re at today.

"SAP Customer experience suite helps you innovate with purpose to create better, more trusted connections across the entire customer journey."



MEDIA 7: In 2017 you won the Pipeline Marketing Award, which is a fantastic accomplishment. Tell me about the path to such an achievement and to being recognized for this.

HG: I guess I was an early adopter of Bizible, which is a marketing attribution tool. I kind of went into it earlier about people not being very data driven until recently. And attribution is one of those new trends about being data driven and not just measuring the success of marketing based on the number of leads, but really taking it to the next step and measuring our success on also pipeline, and even further than that, revenue. Once again, I was an early adopter of that platform and getting into marketing attribution, I was able to give some early insight as they were building that product out and was even on their customer board, so it was great to get that recognition. It’s just fun to be able to see these different companies, you know new technologies and new companies come up the ranks. They were just acquired by Marketo and Marketo was acquired by Adobe, so it’s great to see them kind of succeed off of where I first started with them years back.

MEDIA 7: You founded Henny G Consulting in 2001, you have been working in digital marketing for a very long time and it’s proven by how much you have accomplished. What was your first job/ campaign/ client? Something you remember from the very beginning?

HG: Early on it was just helping people setup very simple websites and optimizing it a bit to help rank better on Google. I saw an opportunity there and it was ahead of its time, I’ll admit. Trying to sell SEO in the early 2000s was like trying to sell a snake oil, or water to a whale, or ice to a polar bear, I mean it was not easy, but it was great. There were some people that were visionaries and very early on. I wouldn’t say that I was selling an SEO service but I was helping them build their websites and then training them that there’s more to a website rather than using it as a calling card.

"Attribution is one of those new trends about being data driven and not just measuring the success of marketing based on the number of leads."



MEDIA 7: Have you always lived in the Bay Area of Northern California? I read that you enjoy fishing, swimming and watching sports, rooting for the Bay Area teams. How do you balance work and life?

HG: Born and raised in San Francisco, I went to high school in South San Francisco and then to San Jose State for college. I actually was close to moving out of here and spent one night in the dorms at San Diego State before I decided, you know what, I need to move back up here and I love San Diego, but when you are born and raised here, it’s hard to leave. It can be difficult at times, but to me family will always come number one and work will always be there, but I will tell you, it makes it a lot easier when you love what you do. It’s not like I’m going to lock myself in a room for two hours at night and not spend time with my wife and my daughter just thinking about work. But you know, when I do have spare time or I’m vegging out on the couch or what not, sometimes I admit, I’ll kind of think about my next day and how to plan my week and things like that. To me, I’ve learned over time to kind of draw that line between work and family time and once that time hits, I’m fully devoted to the family, then once I’m in the office, I tend to get in early anywhere from 4 to 5 in the morning every day, then I’ll speed ahead with work.

I have a global team, with team members in Australia, Singapore, India, Germany, London, East Coast of the United States, and out here. Even when I get home, I try to answer emails, but I’ve learned over time that I need to call it quits and just spend time with the family once I hit that certain time. When you love what you do, it’s hard to put it away, but at the same time I love my family so much, you kind of have to remind yourself that your family should come first and the work will always be there.

MEDIA 7: As the newly named Global Vice President – Head of Digital & Demand and the VP of Marketing – Head of Digital & Demand at SAP, that’s a lot on your shoulders, what’s next for SAP? What changes or improvements do you plan on making? What direction are you looking to take this part of the company in?

HG: I mean for us it’s continuing to drive the customer experience and put the customers at the forefront from a digital, demand and even a marketing operations side. I’m trying to make that user experience as seamless as possible. With more cohesive messaging, their journey that they experience from seeing our act for the first time to visiting our website, seeing a demo through one of our sales people, even after they convert, their experience with the rest of the organization should all be cohesive.

That’s my goal, to continue to create that cohesiveness that reaches across all of our digital properties and all the digital marketing channels that we promote through and really make things easier for our customers and make them love being a customer of SAP for years to come. That’s one of the reasons why SAP acquired CallidusCloud, to connect the back office to the front office and create a seamless journey for those customers. I have pride in doing that from a digital and demand standpoint as well. It’s exciting times for SAP and customer experience group here.


About SAP


At SAP, our purpose is to help the world run better and improve people’s lives. Our promise is to innovate to help our customers run at their best. SAP is committed to helping every customer become a best-run business. We engineer solutions to fuel innovation, foster equality, and spread opportunity across borders and cultures. Together, with our customers and partners, we can transform industries, grow economies, lift up societies, and sustain our environment.

SPOTLIGHT

SAP

SAP is a global software application vendor. SAP is the market leader in enterprise application software, helping companies of all sizes and in all industries run at their best: 77% of the world’s transaction revenue touches an SAP system. Our machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), and advanced...

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EVENTS

2021 USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace
2021 USTOA ANNUAL CONFERENCE & MARKETPLACE
December 07-11, 2021
Since USTOA's inception in 1972, the USTOA Annual Conference & Marketplace has distinguished itself for being the only travel industry event in the United States that brings together the leading North American travel companies with tourism suppliers and destinations from around the globe in ...

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BEIJING INTERNATIONAL TRAVEL MART 2020
September 06-06, 2020
A two days mega tourism event, BITM 2020 is the preferred platform for the international showcase of destinations, attractions, travel packages, products and services to delve into China's ever-expanding outbound tourism market.

Digital Travel Summit EU 2020
DIGITAL TRAVEL SUMMIT EU 2020
June 08-09, 2020
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