To prepare for Internet Strategy Forum Summit West July 24th at The Governor Hotel, I’m hosting a series of interviews with keynote speakers for this year’s theme, Titans of E. My second interview is with Katherine Durham, Vice President of Marketing, Imaging & Printing Group, Americas at Hewlett-Packard.

Q: Please give us a brief background of your career; how did you end up where you are today?
A: My career began in public relations, followed by a three-year stint working for a municipal government as the assistant to the Mayor and Land Use Director.  I then moved into technology, where I’ve been since 1996.   I was with two technology start-ups.  The first, PrintPaks, was based here in Portland.  We developed multimedia software kits for families.  That company was acquired by Mattel, and I became the general manager of that business, developing software for American Girl, Barbie and Hot Wheels brands.  I later joined Kibu, a community based online and offline experience for teen girls.  This was “social media” before the term existed.  I joined HP in 2000 and have since held positions within the Americas marketing organization. Prior to my current role, I was the director of business planning of Market Insight and Operations for HP Americas, where I focused on the re-architecture of the market insight team to deliver more differentiated customer insights. I established technology adoption lifecycle (TALC) for the region and built a global delivery team in India.  I also served as the Director of Communications for the HP Imaging and Printing Group’s (IPG) consumer and commercial business as well as HP Personal Systems Group’s (PSG) consumer businesses where I was responsible for advertising, in-store execution, online communications, events, and more. I also served as the e-marketing manager and North America brand manager for IPG Marketing in the Americas region.

Q: What will you be speaking about at ISF?
A: At ISF, my goal is to answer some of the key questions on marketer’s minds: What social media tools are out there? How do we use them? Do they really work? As social media thrives and consumers are increasingly connected, a marketer’s decision to ditch traditional marketing practices for new online or mobile methods isn’t as simple as that – it shouldn’t be viewed an “either/or” situation when both are the answer. In my experience at HP, the most effective approach to navigate the rapidly evolving marketing landscape requires a little creativity and the right mix of new and traditional marketing practices. Marketing novices, professionals and seasoned practitioners alike will learn how to navigate the rapidly evolving space through a few real-world examples.

Q: What advice would you give to marketing professionals just starting out?
A: Cultivate an insatiable curiosity.  Read, watch, listen, participate.  Get online, get out in the world.  Marketers can’t be on the sidelines.  Don’t wait for authority to be given to you.  Leadership has nothing to do with title or tenure.  Take the lead and win with ideas and cultivate your skill at presenting them persuasively.

Q: In terms of future trends, what do you see happening in the technology industry in terms of emerging Internet technologies?
A: The ability to personalize and customize content is taking marketing back to where it began – the corner store when Mrs. Higgins walked in and the clerk saw her coming.  He put her five pounds of flour, potatoes and a licorice stick on the counter because that’s what she picks up every other Tuesday.  Internet technology is enabling companies to know their customers and deliver the right information to the right person at the right moment.

Q: What are a few of the unique challenges you believe mid-to-large corporations face in regards to implementing Internet strategy?
A: Because the Internet is a part of every team’s marketing strategy, mid-to-large corporations can go after it in different ways; resulting in a silo effect and less than ideal customer experience.  This could be unknowingly buying the same key words (and potentially bidding against each other), or arguing over who gets the top billing on the home page. Maintaining clear goals, governance models and flexibility for the business units is critical.