On Thursday, May 18, The AMA Triangle hosted their signature event, the “CMO She-Suite Panel” that featured four dynamic female Chief Marketing Officers (CMOs). Special kudos to our astute moderator, Angela Connor,vice president of business development and audience engagement at Gelia, Inc, who provided lots of insight and laughter.
Marketing Careers are not always a Straight Path
While none of our C-Suite panelists started out in marketing, they committed to the field along the way. Maria Bartolome Winans was determined to begin and end her career in fitness. On her way to building a fitness empire, Maria took an interesting job at IBM with the intention of leaving in four years. Twenty-eight years later, she’s still going strong at IBM where she is chief marketing officer at IBM North America and Canada. She still keeps her foot in physical exercise by teaching fitness classes.
Susan Amey started out as journalist, but ended up as chief marketing officer at Durham Convention & Visitors Bureau. Sallyann Hulick originally worked in graphic design, but discovered her marketable strengths and became chief marketing officer at BSA LifeStructures. Linh Calhoun is now chief marketing officer at Replacements, Ltd, but originally considered a career in law.
The Only Constant in Marketing is the Shifting Ground Beneath your Feet
Whatever their career paths, all the CMOs agree that marketing requires a flexible game plan because it changes so profoundly. They’ve all seen the impact digital marketing is having on the industry. Maria Bartolome Winans originally thought of marketing as creative, but now science and technology are major factors. She believes that marketing campaigns need to be customer centric, data-led, performance driven and have the agility to change course.
Susan Amey recognizes the constant change in frequent algorithm changes. She believes new skills are needed to constantly change in order to stand out. Linh Calhoun recognizes the importance of metric analysis and understanding the customer when making fast decisions. She values accurate forecasting, regression analysis and talent.
Teamwork is the Heart of the Business
Maria Bartolome Winans hires good talent and believes in training them into diamond teams. These teams can work together to make decisions fast. She’s seen seismic changes in the hierarchy at IBM, where they’ve drastically consolidated their sites. Most of the former hierarchy has been replaced with teams. Susan Amey sees how working as a team brings a full array of skills together to create successful results. She sees the role of the leader is to make other leaders.
Sitting at the Table
When a company puts customers first, women bring so much to the board table because they understand so many segments of the market. Diverse messages are needed in the world where marketers need to reach lots of different demographics.
Following the Winding Road
These four leaders advise folks to identify their unique attributes, which demands introspection. And sometimes it requires stepping out of your comfort zone. Susan Amey had learned that it’s all about the people. In her introverted way, she thought she needed to come into work and keep her head down to finish projects. But a mentor showed her that she needed to interact more with her colleagues and be involved in a collaborative team. So, as a true introvert, she made a project plan to be more friendly. She eventually built stronger relationships and learned to step out of the corners at networking events.
Along her winding road, Maria Bartolome Winans learned to embrace her unique attributes. When she came to the US as a child, it took her awhile to see her Chilean culture and language as attributes. Linh Calhoun credits some wonderful mentors who built up her confidence.
Sallyann Hulick, feels it’s better to take risks than to regret not acting. Best to remember that in life, only a few decisions are irreversible. Relax, take a breath, and be confident. When mistakes are made, don’t be so hard on yourself. She adds that she would not be where she is today without her mistakes.
A Pilot is the Key
It seems like every week, we hear about a company or a board who is resistant to our groovy new ideas. The CMOs suggest a pilot project for a new idea. You need to show your C-suite that this is the way forward. Sometimes you can partner with another team to pilot a small segment. Remember to mention that their competition is doing this new method and leaving them in the dust.
Finding Your Way Forward
When you’re starting out, you may not see the whole picture. Moderator Angela Conner spoke up at that point to urge you to take the incentive see the full picture. If you want to step up your game, take a class, get volunteer experience, and put yourself out there. Sallyann Hulick tells us that we gotta be hungry, humble and smart.
Illustration by Caryn Sterling, Drawing InSight, www.drawinginsight.com