Marian Merritt

Marian Merritt

Internet Safety Advocate, Symantec, Consumer Group


Work at Symantec

Prior to working for Symantec, what was your first experience with its products?

My first experience with Norton products was one in which Norton Utilities saved me from a potential disaster. I was in my first job out of college as a market analyst for a medical device manufacturer and had created an enormous database (to predict Medicare reimbursement rates for every hospital in the United States.) One day, I needed to format a new box of floppy disks (remember those days?) The command was “format a:” Unfortunately, somehow I managed to enter “format” and when the prompt came back asking if “I really wanted to do that”, I hit return. Oy. I was formatting my entire hard drive!!

That’s how I was introduced to Norton utilities – I recovered almost everything on the hardrive.

I hit ctrl+break, stopped hyperventilating and went down the hall to the lab where the programmers sat. (Our devices were driven by microchips and programmed via telemetry.) Someone handed me a box with a picture of a life preserver on it! It was Norton Utilities!

I was saved (and so was my job!)

How long have you been working for Symantec and how did you join?

I joined in April of 1997, ten years ago. I found a position advertised on “Monster.com” and called Henri Isenberg (an old friend) to learn more about the company and the job.

What was your first job at Symantec?

The first consumer senior product manager for Norton AntiVirus. We had all the developers.

You’ve been with Symantec for an extended period of time, what has kept you here?

Symantec is a great company for me, especially as a working mother. I’ve always found I could balance my work/home commitments, even occasionally working from home. My job responsibilities continually change, about every two to three years I’m doing something completely different. I went from managing a single product, to managing the entire development team (a short-lived experiment), managing product and regional product managers, then working on a company-wide initiative to overhaul our websites. Now I’m in a completely new role, almost conducting an experiment to help our brand awareness among the general consumer audience. I always feel like I’m learning new skills and providing new value to the company. And I’ve always been fortunate to work for incredibly talented individuals, who had totally different management styles but always valued creativity, passion and intelligence in their teams.

Symantec is a company that allows me to take risks. I’ve been presented with many new challenges and had the opportunity to play different roles over the year. The best thing of all, everyday I need to ask somebody for their expertise and I have yet to have an instance were someone at Symantec is unwilling to share his or her expertise. That speaks for itself.

25 years of your life

What were you likely doing in April 1982 when Symantec was formed?

I was a freshman at Boston University, studying business management. I lived in the same dormitory as the ice hockey team and quickly became a big fan of the sport, holding season seats for all my four years!

What technological advancement has most changed your life since 1982?

My children would say TiVo. But really it’s the Internet. This access to information changes everything I do from finding a restaurant in a new city to researching a new washer and dryer and getting other consumer opinions. I can’t believe when I graduated college I had to send printed resumes to prospective employers and the amount of fuss about picking the right font and paper from a professional print shop!

Funniest thing that has happened to you during the past 25 years?

Dancing next to Bill Gates at Comdex one year.

Most memorable pop culture experience during the past 25 years?

I went to the US festival in 1983 sponsored by Steven Wozniak. It was equivalent to the Woodstock concert of its day. The lineup of musicians was phenomenal: U2, Los Lobos, Berlin, Quarterflash, Stevie Nicks, David Bowie. It was a great experience.

Favorite vacation in last 25 years?

They’re all good.

On a more serious note, where do you want to be 25 years from now?

Enjoying grandchildren and possibly working part time.

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