CRN Exclusive: Fortinet Names Former Avaya Exec As Head Of Marketing

Fortinet has named former Avaya executive Stacey Wu as its new head of marketing, as the security vendor continues to look to double down on its marketing strategy.

Wu now serves as senior vice president of global marketing at Fortinet, starting earlier this week, the company told CRN exclusively. She previously served as vice president of marketing and demand generation at Avaya, a position she held since July 2014.

Before that, Wu held marketing leadership roles at Symantec, Check Point Software Technologies and NEC.

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In an interview with CRN, Wu said she decided to leave Avaya and come to Fortinet because, after a long career in security, she wanted to get back to working in marketing at a security company. Second, she said she saw Fortinet had a strong network security story that she found compelling to help define the security industry.

"Being the number one player means you set the agenda charging forward and you drive innovation. That company value and the vision fits me," Wu said. "Going to security fabric is a new growth area and … you will see a lot of players coming in. Fortinet has been doing both [network and security] and that gives us a great head start."

Wu replaces former CMO Holly Rollo, who left the company March and has since taken a position as CMO and SVP at RSA.

The appointment comes as Fortinet continues to invest in marketing, one of its key strategic initiatives. On Fortinet's most recent third quarter earnings call in October, company executives said it is looking to ramp up the productivity of its sales and marketing investments. CEO Ken Xie said that push has continued while the company looked to fill its top marketing role, which has been vacant since March.

"We are still aggressively looking, but at the same time we also like to say we're keeping investing and improving the current marketing engine structure there and the digital marketing and digital engine…[We're] building the structure ourselves right now," Xie said.

In an email statement to CRN, Xie said Wu's appointment shows Fortinet's commitment to furthering its investment in marketing.

"With the addition of Stacey’s role to Fortinet’s senior marketing leadership team, we are reinforcing our commitment to attract top marketing talent with the right skill set and focus needed at this time to propel us to the next level of growth as a company," Xie said. "Stacey and her team will develop best-in-class customer-focused marketing campaigns that create brand preference, generate demand, and accelerate customer acquisition and sales productivity for our global market opportunity. Fortinet has superior technology with our Security Fabric, and we will continue to enhance our marketing programs to ensure that our partners can lead with us.’

Partners said they were excited to see Fortinet make a new top marketing hire. Peter Kujawa, president of Locknet Managed IT Services, a division of EO Johnson Business Technologies, said Fortinet has ramped up its investments noticeably in marketing over the past year, and he is starting to see that pay off with clients.

"[Fortinet has] some gains in their messaging, so hopefully [Wu] can come in and pick up on some of the work that’s already been done and accelerate it," Kujawa said.

Kujawa said he had seen particular traction with his customers around Fortinet's Security Fabric messaging, where the company pulls together all of its products into a single platform.

"I think the messaging off of that resonates with what is going on in security today. I think the concept of that was really good and it is taking hold in the marketplace," Kujawa said.

Wu said she plans to focus on driving three key areas at Fortinet: digital marketing, lead generation, and partner enablement. Those marketing pieces will work together in concert with products, services and sales to drive Fortinet's Security Fabric vision, she said. Much of that vision is already in place at Fortinet, she said, and Wu said she would leverage her extensive marketing background to help take it to the next level.

"We will execute marketing strategy that is in place. We have a strong team already keeping the day to day operating going. Things are in motion. I consider my role to orchestrate all the gears in motion, so we get a multiplier effect," Wu said.