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Amanda Duckworth is Chief Marketing Officer at Kleiner Perkins where she provides marketing and communications support to the firm and its portfolio companies.
As CMO, how do you view your team’s role at Kleiner Perkins?
We are in the trenches with our companies, ready to act on a range of needs. We are a sounding board to refine strategy. We fight fires. We tap our network of relationships to help whenever and wherever we can. We see ourselves as part of the company’s team, working side by side to help them succeed. As a consultant, I learned from some of the best the value of under-promising and over-delivering. It’s a credo I remind myself of every day.
Why do you like working with entrepreneurs?
Entrepreneurial passion is a unique kind of inspiration. It makes you raise your own bar, to be bold, to try new things and to push harder than you’ve ever pushed before.
Part of your job is to think about branding. How important is that for new companies?
Getting the brand narrative right should be priority one, two and three. When a brand resonates, it works beyond just selling products. It will strengthen employee retention and recruitment, support the next fundraising and provide reputation insurance in the event of an issue.
Why is branding so core for you?
Early in my career, I worked on the turnaround of Carvel Ice Cream, an iconic brand that had languished after years of neglect. It was fascinating to be a part of a process that figured out what made the brand tick, and reset the clock to tick again. Seeing the positive impact on the business made me understand the power of great branding.
You weren’t born in the US. How did your early life shape your approach to work?
I’m an outlier in the Valley of engineers; my code is written in the words of Austen, Eliot and Dickens. With apologies to Ms. Austen, but “a person, be it gentleman or lady, who has not pleasure in a good novel,” doesn’t know what they are missing! For me, words matter. Really. Matter.
I was raised in the North of England, famous for Man U, fish and chips and The Beatles. It rains four days out of 10. The towns and communities were forged from the sweat of the Industrial Revolution, and it’s known for a unique kind of grit. I’ve long been gone, but the North is never far away.