RALEIGH – Red Hat announced that its chief marketing officer, Tim Yeaton, will be stepping down in 2022 and veteran Hatter Leigh Day will take over the role of senior vice president and chief marketing officer.

Day joined WRAL TechWire reporter Jason Parker for a brief conversation about her background, experience, and vision for the company, which was acquired by IBM in a $34 billion deal in 2019.  A lightly edited transcript follows.

Jason Parker, WRAL TechWire (TW): Can you tell us about your career in technology and the pathway you took to executive leadership?

Leigh Day, senior vice president and CMO, Red Hat (Day): I started in tech with a computer gaming company. In 1999, I saw Red Hat on the news, and they were getting ready for their IPO, so I looked over there. I’ve done many things at Red Hat. I started a digital revenue stream when I first got there, to supplement our then box-product revenue stream. I then worked in various marketing roles as we moved into the enterprise. I’ve led communications at Red Hat, I brought the communications function inside of Red Hat, instead of using agencies, and I also followed suit with our creative agency, also bringing that in-house. That’s called our Open Studio. Most recently, I’ve taken on our digital marketing, and that’s going to be a big area of focus heading into 2022.

TW: What does it mean to you personally to step into this role and join the leadership team?

Day: It’s a huge honor. I am very grateful. I’ve been with Red Hat for 22 years. I was employee 139, so I’ve seen Red Hat grow from its absolute infancy into what we’ve become, which is the leader in open hybrid cloud technology with over 18,000 associates.

TW: Red Hat was acquired by IBM in a blockbuster deal.  Can you tell us how Red Hat is changing under IBM, following the acquisition?

Day: Red Hat has remained neutral. That being said, we have a lot of support from IBM to grow and scale. We have still made acquisitions, such as Stackrocks recently, and continue to forge ahead. We join forces with IBM where it makes sense, but we also have other partners in the cloud computing space.

Red Hat marketing executive to step down; veteran Hatter to replace him

TW: Following the acquisition, it seems many of Red Hat’s executive leaders are leaving the company.  What’s the state of the leadership team and how is the company prepared for the future?

Day: As our current CEO Paul Cormier says, if there weren’t changes, he would be worried. In Tim’s case, he’s done a great job, he’s done a great service at Red Hat, and he’s retiring, and glad to be retiring. It’s hard work at Red Hat, and he’s had an amazing career. That explains that change. And Jim [Whitehurst, former CEO], I think, is just interested in trying new things as an executive.

TW: What’s your vision, and the current leadership team’s vision, for the future?

Day: One of the words that I am using a lot as I’m developing the vision for the coming year is “precision.” We’ve been doing a lot of mass marketing, trying to appeal to a broad base of people. But now, with our implementation of technology and our focus on digital experience and customer experience, we’re able to deliver really highly sophisticated personalized experiences to our customer base. It’s really about precision and getting to know our customers individually, meeting them on their buyer’s journeys where they are, with the right assets and the right experiences that help them along their journey, and again, getting to be more precise, and focus on precision with that. We’re looking at patterns that work, and a lot of those patterns are identifiable with how customers interact with our digital properties and how they interact with us in the event space and many other channels. We have really sophisticated nurture plans in place. It’s a focus on precision and a focus on smart technology implementation to help us on the way.

TW: What are the objectives that you’re seeking, and the projects that you’re planning to initiate or change?

Day: The main goal is to support our growth. Red Hat is getting into new spaces such as edge computing and cloud services. We have a huge focus on customer success. Supporting those three main company objectives is definitely our top priority?

TW: What trends, emerging or accelerating, will be important to the company and in the industry in particular?

Day: What we’re seeing is a huge build up in customers wanting a multi-cloud or hybrid cloud approach, so our partnerships with Amazon and Microsoft are really important in that case. Making sure that we’re partnered really closely with the hyperscalers, and that’s going to really fuel our cloud business as well.

TW: Thank you for joining us, is there anything else you’d like to add about the company or your role?

Day: It’s a big job, there’s a lot of excitement, and I’ve got the drive to make sure the company is successful.