Former Open Text-er Takes a CMO Job at Nuxeo

She is well-versed in matters of Enterprise CMS, Enterprise 2.0, collaboration and social media; specializes in VQA wines, weaves in candy and aspirin into one sentence and posts some of the yummiest foodie tweets out there.

Soon after her resignation, the former Open Text-er was asking on Twitter whether 6 pairs of shoes would be enough for one week in Paris, there was a chance that French bistros, Père Lachaise and walks down Canal Saint-Martin were not the sole purpose of the trip.

It’s Bloom Time at Nuxeo

Meet Cheryl McKinnon, who, as of today, is the new Chief Marketing Officer of the Paris-headquartered open source ECM vendor Nuxeo (news, site).

With McKinnon’s more than 15 years of experience in the industry, you have probably heard of her before. She was the driver behind the Open Text Bloom initiative, and held numerous posts at Open Text (news, site), most recently being the Director for Enterprise 2.0.

Before that she worked for Hummingbird, which was later acquired by Open Text. But her ECM industry origins go back to early 90s.

McKinnon has officially started at Nuxeo on September 21, 2009, with a deep dive into the ECM product family and the open source business model, as she told us in an interview last week.

While McKinnon had no prior exposure to open source enterprise content management on the resume, with a bit of learning, we should expect interesting things coming from the new CMO based at Nuxeo’s North America office in Boston.

As the new CMO, McKinnon plans, first of all, to put the right team in place (Will we see former Open Text-ers there?) “to make a big bang in the U.S.” and work on Nuxeo’s messaging across the web, print and other channels to deliver “what business and technical buyers need to hear about.” We should expect to see at least 15 more hires in sales, product development and engineering in both Boston and Paris, according to Nuxeo.

After learning the ropes of Nuxeo Enterprise CMS product (including Nuxeo EP and Nuxeo DM), McKinnon admitted she was “pleasantly surprised by the usability factor and a clean, intuitive UI.” “This is not a product you would struggle to use.”

Lessons Learned at Open Text

With virtually non-existent experience, exposure or previously declared affection for open source, McKinnon sure did learn some lessons from the proprietary enterprise content management space that should translate well into both French and doing business the open source way. "There's only so much you can learn in one place. The more that you wait, the more time that you waste." (This quote belongs to Madonna, not Cheryl, as quoted in McKinnon's Twitter feed.)

Here are the top three lessons learned from her Open Text days McKinnon shared with us:

  1. “The incredible power of social media,” as fueled by the Open Text Bloom initiative, when McKinnon “made it a point of diving in and getting deeply involved in all social networks and walk the talk.” While “living it,” she “was struck by social media as the incredibly powerful way to go to market; especially, for new, small companies in new regions… [given] the power to articulate your messages to the right community, to the right audience.
  2. People are looking for simplicity.” This is driving the need to “have a clear focus on company and product, [while delivering] consistency in what they do and don’t do.” As McKinnon adds, it might be “hard to come to a crystal clear message” in big organizations. We’ve seen this happening first hand with Open Text. Leaning towards “agility and leanness” as Nuxeo’s focus is a smart move for McKinnon.
  3. The desire to do more with standards, which may not be as easy in a bigger organization, but should be more feasible under Nuxeo’s roof. Think CMIS and Apache Chemistry here. McKinnon is not a newbie to the standards world after years of sitting on AIIM’s standards board.

Why Nuxeo?

Quite a few of you are probably puzzled as to why someone would leave a position on the growth track at one of the ECM giants. McKinnon has the answer; she is a “big believer in leaving at the top of the personal game.” The last year of her career at OTEX “was the most fun and fulfilling,” due to being able to learn new products, explore social media and start writing again. But it was time to “take all lessons learned and apply [them] to a company on the brink of making a jump to the next level.”

In addition to that, Eric Barroca, Nuxeo’s CEO, “reached out and painted a picture.” No, he didn’t exactly DM her on Twitter, but this level of personal recruitment made McKinnon feeling “obliged to return the call,” even though she returned none of head hunters’ calls.

Personal attention is still valued in the revenue-driven corporate businesses. If you don’t find and nurture the talent, someone else will. In the case with McKinnon, she rightfully attributes (at least partially) her decision to the CEO’s effort to read her blog and follow her contributions. “Quite proud to be recognized,” she said.

We wish McKinnon well and look forward to hearing more from Nuxeo in these increasingly interesting times for the open source ECM industry.