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CMO50 2016 #26-50: Suzana Ristevski, GE A/NZ

  • Name Suzana Ristevski
  • Title Head of strategy and growth, A/NZ and Papua New Guinea (retains CMO role)
  • Company GE
  • Commenced role July 2015 (been with GE for 12 years)
  • Reporting Line CEO
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 8 direct reports
  • Twitter @suzanaristevski
  • Industry Sector Manuacturing and utilities
  • 2015 ranking 26-50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    GE’s head of strategy and growth for A/NZ and Papua New Guinea, Suzana Ristevski, takes her responsibility for fostering marketing talent very seriously.

    In fact, her proudest moment in 2016 was the announcement that a member of her team was promoted to head of marketing, Asia-Pacific for the digital business. That made three internal promotions in 12 months, including two overseas roles.

    Ristevski is part of a global GE initiative responsible for identifying new competencies required by marketers to ‘create, shape and curate’ the market. This is being achieved through a range of creative and strategic platforms including predictive analytics.

    “The vast diversity of GE’s portfolio – which includes everything from aviation to mining, oil and gas, energy and healthcare – brings with it a unique set of challenges and opportunities as it means the GE marketing function needs to be able to adapt to changing environments and business needs,” she says.

    “We’re executing a number of pilots in GE businesses as diverse as Healthcare Life Sciences to Oil & Gas Measurement & Control, which will enable marketers to use predictive analytics to determine outcomes as basic as ‘next-best call’ for the B2B sales team, to identification of what pharmaceuticals will most likely be FDA approved.”

    Multiple internal strategies have also been put in place to ensure the marketing function is equipped with the right skillsets and strengths to operate in a complex environment. For instance, a number of hires in the past 12 months have allowed the team to draw on strengths from different backgrounds, Ristevski says, while helping to marry creativity with strategy, data and analytics.

    In addition, over the past 12 months, the team has received external training on presentation skills, outcome selling, outcome marketing and productivity and internal training on change acceleration process, fastworks and leadership.

    From the CMO50 submission

    Innovative marketing

    Like many companies today, GE is no stranger to disruption. To fight back, GE created a startup within its own walls to force disruption upon itself.

    Current was launched in 2015 and is a first-of-its-kind energy startup. It combines energy hardware, such as GE’s LED and onsite power businesses, with the digital backbone of the group’s industrial strength Predix platform, to make power simpler and more efficient for customers.

    Ristevski was responsible for the launch of the Current business in A/NZ and leading the customer engagement strategy. This saw her working directly with customers, from leading supermarkets to energy ‘gentailers’, to present the vision of the new business and its benefits. This customer-led approach saw tangible commercial contributions including a strong pipeline of identified opportunities and leads.

    Ristevski also led workshops across a range of customers to shed further light on customer painpoints for the region and the potential solutions GE can offer. The workshops resulted in major contributions to the business, leading to memorandums of understanding with several major firms and the identification and coordinated pursuit of shared opportunities.

    Data- and technology-led approach

    GE is undergoing the biggest transformation in the company’s history, aimed at becoming the world’s leading digital industrial company. Today, the group is among the top 20 software companies globally, and it plans to be in the top 10 by 2020.

    This transformative change is being underpinned by GE’s industrial strength data analytics platform, Predix, which draws meaningful insights from big data generated from machines. But tech can’t act along. The transition from a big metal industrial company to that of a digital industrial conglomerate also requires a cultural shift at every level of the company.

    Ristevski is leading this cultural shift within GE A/NZ and Papua New Guinea via a multi-channelled campaign targeting internal and external stakeholders. Internally, she chairs the GE commercial council, which brings together marketing and sales executives across the businesses to align on a ‘One GE’ approach that’s digitally-led.

    She’s also been the driving force behind development of employee app, GE Store, which seeks to connect employees with each other across the businesses as well as be the source of information for all products and solutions.

    Externally, Ristevski has further supported GE’s brand positioning and thought leadership in digital industrial by engaging in media, speaking platforms and digital storytelling.

    Customer-led approach

    Ristevski describes herself as a “relentless advocate for better understanding GE’s customer base, its value proposition and serviceable addressable segment across all GE industries”.

    As CMO, she combines intimate knowledge of the business with extensive data and analytics, using self-sponsored market study initiatives across key business units, including oil and gas and energy and mining, to ensure GE’s industrial businesses are armed with a deep understanding of the landscape they operate in and the opportunities that exist for growth. This business-level intelligence has been critical in helping GE understand its customers in an increasingly volatile environment.

    Ristevski is implementing data-driven insights to lead timely and relevant discussions with customers focused on solving their painpoints. This is about shifting GE’s go-to-market strategy transition from a product sale to solution-based approach.

    Ensuring customers are at the centre of every business decision is a practice that’s gaining ground in GE. For example, the company is engaged with a major oil and gas customers to better manage and reduce spare parts inventory, a major source of expense. To help, Ristevski is working to reduce inventory costs by giving them access to stock via a digital marketplace, rather than them carrying stock on site.

    Creativity

    Ristevski says creativity requires both belief and action. To help foster creativity across her team, she’s consistently advising on approaches not only to show how a story is crafted to best resonate, but also to how GE’s marketing function can leverage creative channels to get the message out. She refers to this as “gaining mind share before market share”.

    The Fastworks business methodology has been vital in improving marketing’s efforts and ensuring teams take fail fast, fail small, and pivot.

    As part of championing this program, Ristevksi led behavioural and cultural change across the organisation that made is OK to fail. It’s this freedom to fail that drives creativity across all functions and businesses, she says.

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