Next-generation CMOs reveal keys to cultural success

2016 Marketing Academy recruits share their lessons learnt around leadership through the nine-month program

Fostering strong culture, delivering a new approach to millennials, and demonstrating vulnerability to create connections are some of the key lessons learned by 2016 Marketing Academy scholars after a nine-month journey of learning.

During its showcase lecture series in Australia, attendees heard from 30 emerging leaders in marketing, media and advertising on how they are approaching culture, harnessing passion and driving energy to create authentic leaders of tomorrow.

The Marketing Academy is a non-profit, voluntary organisation run by Marketing Hall of Legends (UK) that aims to develop the leadership capability of professionals from the marketing, media, advertising and communications industries through mentoring, coaching and experiential learning. The Academy is in its second year in Australia and will launch in New York and Dubai next year.

Marketing Academy founder, Sherilyn Shackell, who kicked off proceedings for the lecture series, said the program is pivotal in championing marketing.

“The reason why we exist is we truly believe that, at its best, marketing can simply change the world. It influences how people think, the decisions they take, the choices they make. We also believe that leadership, at its best, is about influence,” she said. “If you are in a position of influence over anybody in your life, then you have the choice to become a fabulous leader.

“It is our intent that the boardrooms of the world put customers at the heart of the decisions that they make. And that’s why we spend so much time inspiring and developing the talent that will lead these boardrooms of the future.”

One such talent is group marketing manager at Meat and Livestock Australia, Andrew Howie. During the panel discussion, Howie said fostering great culture is at the heart of successful companies and marketing vision.

“Having worked agency and client side, culture for me has been everything or nothing,” he said. “It has been inherently in the people or designed by the organisation. Culture is the invisible force that drives brilliance and is so much more than a contrived process.”

Fellow 2016 marketing academy scholar, Gabriella Conlon, head of consumer marketing, A/NZ at Google, said a peer-based hiring process that has an emphasis on feedback and endorsement fosters a strong culture and eliminates the need to do policing. “Far and away the thing that has the biggest impact on culture is thoughtful hiring,” she said.

Marketing Academy scholar and marketing director of Edgewell Personal Care Oceania, Rachel Pullicino, said co-creation and empowerment, particularly with the future generation, is the way to foster a relevant and valuable culture.

“Co-creation is a really powerful way to bring culture to life in your organisation,” she said. “It is one thing to set value and behaviours but it is really something different and important for the people in your team to embrace it, live it every day, and it really becomes the heart and soul of the organisation.”

Accountability is key to delivering a strong and positive culture, driving it forward and making it stick, said marketing manager of Huggies at Kimberly-Clark, Burcak Sezer.

“It is easy to say we are going to have great positive culture that has values such as authentic, innovative and teamwork, but people have to live it every day and demonstrate the behaviours that go along with it,” she said, explaining there are ways to make people accountable.

“One way is making it visible. Taking ownership and accountability - doing what you say you are going to do and doing it consistently.

“The second part is tracking progress and talking about it and what your goals are. Talk about what you’re trying to achieve, but also why you are trying to achieve - and then celebrate those successes along the way. On the flip side of that, I think you have to call people out when they are not demonstrating the right behaviours and making some of the tough decisions shows people that you care and that you are serious about it.”

The third and final key to driving successful culture, Sezer said, is modelling it. “As leaders, we have to literally walk the talk every single day and make sure we are actually doing what we’re telling people what they need to do. “

Head of brand and communications, eBay Australia, Tracy Hall, said the way to future-proof culture, in the age of diversity and constant change, is to adopt an agile way of working, and boost communication.

“The only constant is change and change is happening at such a rapid pace. It is great that a lot of organisations are focusing on culture, more than ever before, but what I’m interested in is how we are thinking about cultures of the future, or organisations of the future and how culture impacts that,” she said. “As we move to more agile and flexible working environments, where our teams may not necessarily be in the office, how do we use technology to enable culture? And how do we as leaders create the culture of the future of organisations?”

For One Green Bean managing director, Claire Salvetti, the key to culture is self-awareness.

“What we need people to do is to recognise and understand their own emotions,” she said. “And also to know that they have the power to control those emotions, and that is something that is often forgotten in leadership. It is not just self-awareness. It is social awareness. You need to be able to recognise and understand other people’s emotions. If you can do that, you can influence and inspire them.”

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

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