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Heidi Melin joined Polycom in September 2007 as senior vice president and chief marketing officer. She is responsible for Polycom's high-touch marketing strategy which includes global branding and corporate identity,[…]

Heidi Melin says great leaders foster an environment for ideas.

Heidi Melin: Heidi Melin, chief marketing officer for Polycom. Question: What makes a great business leader? Melin: I think great business leaders actually allow others to bring their ideas to the table so people that can empower and also motivate. Being a leader is part being in… being in aspiring to other people and allowing them to bring their ideas forward. So I think leadership means being able to help empower folks bring their ideas to the table. I would say, I have done that ongoing in my career, I’m always looking for young talented folks that is interested in being… being aggressive about their career and following their heart and looking for opportunities. Those are folks that I tend to seek out and want to help mentor and foster their ability to move up within an organization. I think that Polycom does a really good job of doing that in looking for folks, giving them an opportunity to move into roles that maybe expand their experience base and that’s something that… that not all companies allow… allow employees to do, is to really come in, do a job that… that maybe they’ve never done before and giving them a little bit of… of an opportunity to stretch beyond their experience and that’s something that Polycom does very well.

Question: How does management differ from leadership?

Heidi Melin: I think that management is more about control and forcing people to go a direction. I think leadership is about inspiring people to follow you. Question: Who has taught you the most about marketing? Melin: I think that from a marketing perspective, a lot of it has gotten intuition but at the same time, it’s also listening to your customers and I think from a marketing perspective where you think marketing is a science, well, it’s really more about listening to customers and understanding what they need so that we can sell them, what they need to [solve] their business issues. So, I would say, customers have helped me the most to learn about marketing. Question: What is a significant marketing challenge you’ve faced? Melin: I would say as far as challenge, being involved in a crisis situation where communications became very important and being able to motivate people through a crisis, whether it be a hostile takeover, whether it be a change in leadership, communications play a very critical role in being able to motivate and inspire people to keep going and that would be a challenge that I have faced personally and the challenge that is important in developing in my career. I think in being able to find the right talented people to work with, that is certainly a management challenge but I think any leader faces… and faces on an ongoing basis, making sure that you have the right players on the field when you need them and that would be a management challenge that almost every leader faces. Question: Heidi Melin on Advice to Corporate Climbers Melin: I would say looking for opportunities, a lot of change happens within a large enterprise in a company and sometimes you see that change as being… being maybe a concern if there’s a leadership change but sometimes, if you are a junior level person in an organization that change represents an opportunity for you to step up. To step up and take on more opportunities and to step up and take some initiative to do things that you might not have thought that you have the opportunity to do before so I would say watch for change and look for those opportunities where you can shine.

Heidi Melin on the Work-Life Balance

Heidi Melin: I think that balance is actually impossible. I think that anyone says that have a balanced… a balanced life between work and career and family is probably… probably as not completely balance because I just don’t think it’s achievable at all times. But actually, technology enables me to be personally more balanced because I do have access through my… my smart phone or my Treo device to my e-mail at all times. And I actually look at that as a very positive thing because I’m able to check my e-mail, you know, when I first get up in the morning or before I tuck my kids in at night and I’m able to prioritize because I have access to information at all times. I know there are people that feel like that is… that is challenging and feels… feels cumbersome? But for me, the access to the information helps me bring some more balance into my life.

Question: How are you approaching the current economy?

Heidi Melin: Actually, Polycom is very very well positioned in this economy because one of the things that we bring in to the table is the opportunity for our customers to actually save money on reducing their travel expenses. So, with the rising fuel cost and increase in travel expenses, our technology from a collaboration standpoint through video and telepresence actually has brought an opportunity for companies to reduce their overall spend and that’s a real great place to be in a struggling company. As companies look at their travel expenses and really start to dig down into where they need to cut back, this is an opportunity to cut back on costs as well as to help the environment.