Being the first CMO: ME Bank's Rebecca James talks customer centricity

The inaugural chief marketing officer at this digital-first banking institution talks about customer engagement and technology

ME Bank CMO, Rebecca James
ME Bank CMO, Rebecca James

In the second of our profile series on the first CMOs recruited to their organisations, we speak with Rebecca James, CMO of ME Bank, who was appointed to the post in January.

James has more than 20 years’ experience in marketing and advertising and was most recently the managing director of agency, Lavender, for seven years. In this role, she led a team of 110 people and covered a broad range of clients such as Westpac, BT Financial Group, Ikea, Microsoft, Coles, Telstra and Qantas.

ME Bank was established in 1994 by several industry super funds and initially provided home loans, before becoming a fully fledged bank in 2001.

You can read the first profile in this series, DesignCrowd CMO, Dan Ferguson, here

Why ME Bank appointed a CMO

James attributes ME Bank’s decision to appoint a dedicated marketing leader both to its aggressive growth plans, as well as customer centricity. At a personal level, she says she was attracted to the company because of its current technology transformation project, which is due for completion early next year and will open up a new range of digital services for customers.

“Overall, I’ve been charged with establishing a customer-centric culture within the business and to rally the marketing and product teams to implement this idea, designing product and service experiences around our customers,” she says.

“In the context of a bank with aggressive growth plans, and which is about to take ownership of a brand new technology system, opening the bank up to offer a whole range of new digital services, it’s important to give responsibility for the end-to-end customer experience to one area of the business. Designing a great customer experience is a powerful strategic tool for realising growth. A CMO with a broad mandate brings the focus needed to achieve these aims.”

For her first year, James’ key responsibilities include helping enable customers to open their own accounts online, filling in gaps in the product range, and creating new products. She’s also tasked with raising the profile of the brand both in terms of awareness and consideration, and helping meet its growth targets.

“My top three priorities have been establishing the three-year business plan and vision for the business, ensuring we have the best team structure in place to maximise the effectiveness of the team, and ensuring we’ve got enough investment in brand and marketing to achieve our growth,” she continues.

“ME Bank is also small relative to the majors, which means it tends to be quite agile in its operating rhythm. These characteristics provide great opportunities for a CMO to get things done and to be a major contributor to the growth of the bank.”

Skills of a modern marketing chief

In order to cope and succeed in a fastly evolving business, James believes it’s vital for CMOs to be digitally savvy, as well as have the ability and agility to adapt quickly to changing circumstances. This includes admitting to mistakes quickly and moving on.

She also sees the need to engage with and instil trust from the board, as well as motivate a high-performing team, as other musts for any marketing chief.

“Generally speaking, I believe most businesses these days are evolving quickly and the same skills are needed regardless of the size maturity of the business,” James continues.

Another important attribute for any CMO is having a long-term and strategic view, and to be able to communicate that view across the business, James says.

“For me, this means being able to communicate the benefits of creating longer-term improvements to customer experience, rather than at just one point in time,” she says.

“The one exception [as the first CMO of an organisation] perhaps is ‘entrepreneurial spirit’, which is required more for a challenger organisation than a mature and established business.”

A CMO’s closest ally

Given ME Bank’s technology-led innovation approach, it’s arguably unsurprising James nominates the group’s CIO as her biggest supporter.

“It’s a real positive as this is one of the most important relationships a CMO can have,” she claims.

“Technology will define which banks succeed or not in the 21st century and will have one of the biggest impacts on our customers. An effective working relationship is of huge benefit to the business.”

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO Australia conversation on LinkedIn: CMO Australia, or join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+: google.com/+CmoAu

Signup to CMO’s email newsletter to receive your weekly dose of targeted content for the modern marketing chief.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

More Videos

More Brand Posts

What are Chris Riddell's qualifications to talk about technology? What are the awards that Chris Riddell has won? I cannot seem to find ...

Tareq

Digital disruption isn’t disruption anymore: Why it’s time to refocus your business

Read more

Enterprisetalk

Mark

CMO's top 10 martech stories for the week - 9 June

Read more

Great e-commerce article!

Vadim Frost

CMO’s State of CX Leadership 2022 report finds the CX striving to align to business outcomes

Read more

Are you searching something related to Lottery and Lottery App then Agnito Technologies can be a help for you Agnito comes out as a true ...

jackson13

The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Thorough testing and quality assurance are required for a bug-free Lottery Platform. I'm looking forward to dependability.

Ella Hall

The Lottery Office CEO details journey into next-gen cross-channel campaign orchestration

Read more

Blog Posts

Marketing prowess versus the enigma of the metaverse

Flash back to the classic film, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Television-obsessed Mike insists on becoming the first person to be ‘sent by Wonkavision’, dematerialising on one end, pixel by pixel, and materialising in another space. His cinematic dreams are realised thanks to rash decisions as he is shrunken down to fit the digital universe, followed by a trip to the taffy puller to return to normal size.

Liz Miller

VP, Constellation Research

Why Excellent Leadership Begins with Vertical Growth

Why is it there is no shortage of leadership development materials, yet outstanding leadership is so rare? Despite having access to so many leadership principles, tools, systems and processes, why is it so hard to develop and improve as a leader?

Michael Bunting

Author, leadership expert

More than money talks in sports sponsorship

As a nation united by sport, brands are beginning to learn money alone won’t talk without aligned values and action. If recent events with major leagues and their players have shown us anything, it’s the next generation of athletes are standing by what they believe in – and they won’t let their values be superseded by money.

Simone Waugh

Managing Director, Publicis Queensland

Sign in