CMOs should be on board: NRMA CEO

'We can only create efficiencies and productivities and M&A for so long,' says Tony Stuart

The men behind the NRMA Jumpstart accelerator. From left to right: NRMA GM corporate strategy, Michael Pastega; Slingshot co-founders Craig Lambert and Trent Bagnall; and NRMA Group CEO Tony Stuart. Credit: NRMA
The men behind the NRMA Jumpstart accelerator. From left to right: NRMA GM corporate strategy, Michael Pastega; Slingshot co-founders Craig Lambert and Trent Bagnall; and NRMA Group CEO Tony Stuart. Credit: NRMA

Every listed company should have a marketer on their board supporting the CEO, according to Tony Stuart, CEO of the National Roads and Motorists' Association (NRMA).

“One of the sad things in Australia right now is that there are not enough ex-CMOs on listed company boards,” Stuart told CMO Australia at a Sydney launch event for the NRMA startup accelerator, Jumpstart.

“We have too much around compliance and governance and not enough around revenue generation. Good CMOs are ultimately looking to generate incremental revenue for a company, which is the lifeblood of a company.

“We can only create efficiencies and productivities and M&A for so long.”

Stuart comes from a creative marketing background and carries that interest into his job as chief executive.

“I’m a chief marketing officer dressed up as a CEO,” he said. “There are not many of us, because most [CEOS] come from engineering, investment banking [or] finance backgrounds, and usually the marketing guys get beaten up on the way through as the spenders, or too creative to run a company.”

Related: Marketers need to work harder at talking the boardroom talk: Report
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NRMA’s Jumpstart, a 12-week program offering $30,000 and a workspace to each successful startup applicant, is intended to bring innovative new services to NRMA members, but Stuart said there is a marketing aspect to this as well.

He said the program will look to invest in startups that can address three major objectives of marketers: To attract customers, retain existing ones and generate revenue through cross-selling. “Accelerator programs are ideal for those three things.”

Related: Brands need to seek startup soul mates
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Stuart indicated that the Jumpstart program will help NRMA reinvent its 94-year-old brand for the 21st century. The business is also spying a possible expansion of its roadside assistance program for the modern age.

“We are seriously looking at emergency computing assistance,” Stuart said. “Over time we should recruit digital technicians who are this century’s version of roadside patrols.”

Stuart believes NRMA is well placed to enter that space as a trusted neutral brand.

“When a computer breaks down at ten ‘o clock at night, and a child’s doing HSC [and] mum and dad are out, who do you ring?” asked Stuart. “Not Ghostbusters. Ring NRMA.”

Pictured: The men behind the NRMA Jumpstart accelerator. From left to right: NRMA GM corporate strategy, Michael Pastega; Slingshot co-founders Craig Lambert and Trent Bagnall; and NRMA Group CEO Tony Stuart. Credit: NRMA

Adam Bender covers digital marketing and emerging technology for CMO and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

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