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Fortinet Nabs Marketing Exec Holly Rollo From FireEye For Its CMO Spot

As chief marketing officer, Rollo is charged with diffentiating the vendor's brand in a crowded security messaging market.

Fortinet has hired away marketing executive Holly Rollo from FireEye, adding Rollo as its new chief marketing officer and charging her with taking the vendor's brand to the next level in the face of a crowded market for security messaging.

The CMO position is a new one for Fortinet, the company said. Fortinet's marketing efforts were formerly led by Luanne Tierney, who served as vice president of marketing until leaving the company for Proofpoint in June.

Rollo had served as vice president of corporate marketing of FireEye since February of last year. FireEye declined to comment on the move. Rollo has held a variety of additional marketing leadership positions over the past 25 years, including at Cisco, SAP and IBM/Tivoli.

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From those roles, Rollo brings with her a history of brand repositioning, marketing organization transformations and helping vendors evolve to new business models. What appealed to her about Fortinet, she said, is that the company is ready to take its messaging to a more mature level but already has a solid marketing and technology foundation in place.

"A lot of great work has been done [at Fortinet] ... and a great foundation has been laid," Rollo said. "I think that really taking it up to the next level is what I'm here to do."

Rollo said she has been charged with evolving Fortinet's competitive position by transforming its marketing engine. The challenge Fortinet faces right now, she said, is that while security awareness levels are at an all-time high, there is a lot of competition for air time among vendors and not much differentiation in their messaging.

"In general, the security market is very noisy right now. I think that everybody is trying to put out a lot of messaging and that is not unique to Fortinet. I think a lot of companies are challenged with that. I want to make sure [Fortinet] has a crisp positioning strategy and we are communicating a lot of the market differentiation," Rollo said.

Mark Miller, partner at Farmers Branch, Texas-based M&S Technologies, a Fortinet partner for more than 10 years, said the move to bring Rollo on board is an overdue one for Fortinet, which he said has extremely strong technology but has historically struggled to get the word out about it against competitors such as Palo Alto Networks and FireEye. He said the partner community, himself included, has been pushing for this type of quality executive addition for quite some time.

"Fortinet has historically had very weak marketing, as far as I am concerned," Miller said. "To me, I feel that this is a huge step in the right direction. It's clear with this move that they are obviously ... willing to invest more in marketing, and hiring Holly shows that they are serious about it. They want to bring their message to the next level."


For partners, that improved messaging and brand awareness will translate into easier sales, Miller said.

"For us as a partner, it will help us get our foot in the door faster when you're calling representing a product that is known and respected in the industry," Miller said. "I think it's just going to make ... doing business much easier."

To accomplish that goal for partners, Rollo said, she will first be working to focus messaging more around the C-suite audience, instead of just around the technology. Second, she will make sure the sales and marketing organizations are built to scale and achieve the highest possible global ROI. Finally, she said she will be working with sales and marketing to build a more long-term strategy instead of working quarter by quarter.

As part of its marketing push, Fortinet also recently added Oracle CMO Judith Sim to its board of directors.

For partners, Rollo said, she will be focused on getting more valuable information into their hands and extending the tools and resources available to them. She said Fortinet will be rolling out specific plans around its new messaging and marketing plans in January at its partner event.

PUBLISHED SEPT. 22, 2015

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