MOUNTAIN VIEW, CA: Marlena Fernandez's first month as Veritas' vice president of corporate communications ended in a trial by fire.
In early October, CFO Kenneth Lonchar left Veritas after the storage software company discovered he falsely claimed to have an MBA from Stanford University. The press immediately swarmed, smelling the blood of another potential corporate scandal in the water.
But Fernandez defused the situation quickly.
"We wanted to treat the issue with the most sensitivity we could," said Fernandez, who most recently served as senior director of corporate communications at Loudcloud. Prior to that, Fernandez worked as a VP at Access Communications, and served as senior PR manager at Oracle.
"We wanted to be as forthright and honest with the public as possible," said Fernandez. "We announced it quickly, and did our best to desensationalize it. I think it's a great example of Veritas sticking to message."
"Sticking to message" is Fernandez's focus. While the company has done a good job promoting its products to the information-technology professionals who will implement them, Veritas needs to focus on explaining the value of the Veritas brand to the C-level executives who control budgets, asserted Fernandez.
"We are really going to focus on expanding the visibility of the company," explained Fernandez. "Veritas is the largest software storage company, and the only people who know about it are IT people."
Fernandez said she also would develop Veritas' corporate communications with more of an international focus, so that not only are messages relevant to foreign audiences, but also so that the messages heard in the United States are the same as those in Europe and Asia.
Fernandez said she joined Veritas so she could work for its chief marketing officer Jeremy Burton, with whom she worked at Oracle. She also liked the challenge of trying to build its corporate communications and PR, which didn't receive much attention before Burton arrived, Fernandez explained.