CMO’s top 10 marketing leadership profiles of 2018

Transformation, customer-led change and digitisation are just some of the big issues our top 10 CMO Australian and global leaders have been tackling this year

Top row (from left): Lisa Ronson, Brent Smart, Chris Leong
Bottom row (from left): Jackie Lee Jones, Michael Peachey, Alison Wild
Top row (from left): Lisa Ronson, Brent Smart, Chris Leong Bottom row (from left): Jackie Lee Jones, Michael Peachey, Alison Wild

It's been a big year of transformation once more for chief marketing officers worldwide. Faced with ever-increasing pressure from the c-suite to prove their worth, drive business growth, transform and innovate go-to-market models through digital and own end-to-end customer experience, there's no shortage of work to be done to prove their value.

Thankfully, there are plenty of role models to look to across both the Australian and global pool of modern marketing leaders. And we got to talk to a whole bunch of them this year.

Here, CMO presents readers with our top 10 marketing leadership profiles of 2018 based on the most popular articles with readers.

How Schneider Electric’s global marketing chief is tackling industrial-scale transformation and IoT

“Companies goes through different missions at any particular point in time. I believe I’m writing different chapters in my role. Even if I have a five-year transformation order, I would populate things differently and move the yard stick at different speeds.”

That’s the view of Schneider Electric global CMO, Chris Leong, who caught up with CMO in an exclusive interview in early 2018.

Six years with the B2B giant has certainly taught Leong the importance of constant evolution. An experienced marketer, Leong was recognised as one of Forbes’ most influential CMOs globally for her work transforming the B2B giant from energy management products vendor with poor brand visibility and a perspective of marketing to match, to a solutions provider that leads with customers and views marketing as a competitive advantage.

It’s a big ask. The 180-year old company, which has its roots in electrical distribution, launched an aggressive acquisition strategy about 10 years ago, purchasing several software companies in the cybersecurity and IT management space. This roughly doubled annual revenues to nearly US$25 billion over eight years and saw headcount rise to more than 143,000 employees. 

Read more on Leong's marketing transformation strategy

How BBC Studios' marketing lead builds brand purpose and growth

There’s no doubt we’re living in a world where content, brand and technology are converging, BBC Studios' global CMO, Jackie Lee-Joe, says. And that’s exactly why she believes data-driven, digitally savvy and customer-aware marketers are in an incredibly strong position to help their organisations succeed.

“A lot of marketing skills we have and continue to develop are increasingly important in this converging content, brand, technology landscape,” she tells CMO. “Many of the new platforms and disciplines marketers have been developing out more than critically apply in this new world of content, brand extension and digital ancillaries. Marketers are well positioned.”

Lee-Joe certainly is, with a remit covering three broad areas of the BBC business: Brands, marketing and digital. With regards to brand, she works alongside group franchise directors to build the end-to-end brand view and commercial strategy for BBC’s global properties, a list that ranges from Doctor Who to Blue Planet, BBC Earth, Top Gear and Sherlock. This encompasses marketing and brand activity, such as running media upstream with production companies and partners as well as in-house production, to sharing marketing insights and providing brand and title development, and developing propositions that result in activations downstream.

Read more about Lee-Joe's content-fuelled marketing efforts

What AGL’s marketing chief is doing to embrace ambiguity

Finding people who can “thrive in the grey” has become an increasingly important element of any marketing leader’s recruitment make-up, AGL’s Alison Wild believes.

“The ability to deal with very high levels of ambiguity across teams is a key skillset today,” the GM of product and marketing tells CMO, pointing to the significant changes occurring to marketing thanks to digital and customer-led transformation. “It’s finding people who can thrive in the grey. Because it is ambiguous, trying and finding the right use cases that deliver the value for the organisation and customers. It’s not necessarily obvious or easy.”

Wild was appointed GM of product and marketing position at AGL nearly six months ago. The role is one of a number of restructured, executive-level positions introduced as part of an operating structure overhaul in early 2017. AGL now operates two divisions: Wholesale Markets, and Customer Markets (retail).

Wild shares her marketing strategy and team approach with CMO in this in-depth interview.

7 ways Teradata’s CMO plans to turnaround the 40-year old technology brand

If there’s one attribute Martyn Etherington is counting on to realise his ambitious brand transformation plans at Teradata, it’s bravery.

“As a CMO, you cannot have fear, you have to be fearless. You can’t blink otherwise the team senses that, other functions will sense that, and you’re dead in the water,” the recently appointed chief marketing officer says. “You have to have conviction you’re going to do this. I’ve done this a couple of time before, and without arrogance or conceitedness, I believe this is achievable.”

Etherington has been in marketing for most of his career, working for technology companies in roles internationally as well as in Europe such as Deck, Sequin, IBM, Tektronix, Danaher, Mitel, Cisco and now Teradata.  He’s also built “and had near-death professional experiences” working on three startups during the height of the dotcom boom and bust. And that’s not to mention running business divisions regionally and globally and taking up P&L responsibility along the way.

In March, Etherington took on his next big turnaround challenge: Transforming market and customer perceptions of Teradata from a data warehouse appliance technology provider 20 years out of date, to a data analytics at scale powerhouse with customers’ interests at its heart.

We chat with Etherington about the 7 ways he's planning to achieve CMO success here

How IAG’s first group CMO is using brand and creativity to fuel growth

Brent Smart believes his switch from creative agency chief to first CMO at IAG says as much about the insurance giant as it does about him.

“Surely it says something about the type of CMO they want here and the marketing they want. I’m definitely a creative-led CMO; it’s my experience and what I bring to the business,” Smart tells CMO.  

Of course, there’s also Smart’s desire to do great work with cultural impact. “I thought if I could be on this side, I can make this great work, creativity and bravery happen,” he says. “It’s a somewhat naïve view, but I hoped to make a bigger difference going into marketing. I knew there was an appetite at IAG for it, despite what looks like a conservative, risk-averse insurance company.”

Smart’s remit upon joining IAG was clear: Transform marketing to drive growth. He describes the purpose-led vision overseen by IAG CEO, Peter Harmer, as one of disrupting the business before it gets disrupted, and using data, digital and creativity to transform into a customer experience-oriented organisation.

“So many businesses have been through restructuring, consolidating and cost cutting. But you can’t cut your way to growth,” Smart comments. “It might work as a short-term profit strategy but not a long-term one.”  

Smart talks through his brand plan with CMO in this in-depth interview

CMO50 2018 #1: Lisa Ronson

Lisa Ronson’s three-and-a-half years with Tourism Australia is a true CMO evolution story that culminates in the launch of the US Super Bowl campaign, Dundee.

Spending $36 million in a single market was brave, and Dundee was without doubt the riskiest campaign ever run by the nation’s promotions body. It was a deliberate step towards bigger, bolder and more impactful marketing, and its success or failure sat right on top of Ronson’s shoulders. Get it wrong, and the backlash would have been significant.

But as she says herself: “I kept firm to my belief that as marketers, we need to back ourselves when we have a great strategy and great teams”.

Read more from the CMO50's number one in 2018 here

Domo CMO: Success lies in c-suite thinking, not marketing

One of the first lessons Shane Atchison learnt joining Domo was marketing leaders don’t talk about agencies very often.

“I sit with the CEO, CFO and head of product and the first thing that was clear was we don’t talk about agencies. That’s hard to learn as an agency person,” he says, referencing his 25-year career one the agency side of the fence.

What’s more, Atchison doesn’t see himself as a CMO when he deals with the c-suite. “We don’t talk about marketing either. It’s all about business; the lines are blurred. What’s financial, technology, sales, infrastructure – we are blurring all these communities,” he tells CMO. “I’m a business person who has responsibility in the marketing realm. My job is to grow the business and make employees, customers aware and happy with what we do.”

Now as CMO of Domo, Atchison has two clear missions: To build brand awareness, and to win at the enterprise end of town.

We delve into Atchison's plans in this exclusive interview.

Hitting the ground running at Suncorp

There has been no ease-in period for Mim Haysom, Suncorp’s CMO/EGM brand and marketing of just three months. Haysom has already helped deliver a new app, and is leading the marketing to bring 12 separate brands together under the one Suncorp Group.

But this is hardly surprising both for Haysom, who was the previously the general manager of M&C Saatchi, nor for Suncorp, an organisation which has been dedicated to transformation over the past year.

“Suncorp is on quite the journey of transformation, I’ve been impressed with how innovative the business is and how quickly it transitions to delivery on the overall strategy,” Haysom told CMO.

Haysom leads Suncorp Group’s marketing function, with a team of 120 across Brisbane, Sydney and Melbourne, around three key responsibilities: Business, brand and team.

The strategy is to roll out Suncorp as the master brand nationally, and to shift from operating as 12 separate brands, to a group of brands that provide meaningful value to customers. Suncorp owns the AAMI, Bingle, GIO, Shannons, and APIA brands, among others.

Haysom tells us more in her first interview as CMO here

The strategy behind Cash Converters brand and customer experience reboot

Cash Converters is aiming to perform a hat trick: Focus better on customers, enhance digital capabilities across sales and marketing, and beef up brand awareness.

That at least is how CMO, Alice Manners, sums up the sweeping business and digital transformation occurring across the Perth-based retail pawnbroking company.

“2017 was a year of transition for Cash Converters,” the former IAB CEO, told CMO. “There is a completely new leadership team in place, led by CEO, Mark Reid, and this restructure with the new leadership team is focused on full business transformation.”  

To get there, the first step has to be putting the customer at the heart of everything that the company does. To help, Cash Converters kicked off a local customer engagement program, called GEM internally, and is focusing on transforming digital capabilities across all website platforms in sales and marketing.

It is also rolling out Adobe’s marketing technology offerings in order to build a single view of customer for its marketing function and better personalise engagement across channels and touchpoints.

Manners details the full plan in this in-depth chat with CMO

What Salesforce APAC's marketing leader is doing to build customer and employee connections

The onus is on marketers to better understand technology at their disposal because it is technology providing the ability to interact with customers in new ways, Salesforce’s CMO for Asia-Pacific, Michael Peachey, says.

“It’s the tech creating these touchpoints with customers. You have to have a good understanding and knowledge of the way tech and systems work to create these new experiences,” he comments. “But that’s also what makes it exciting – what better time to be a marketer when there’s all this innovation available to you.”

Peachey was appointed Salesforce VP and CMO for Asia-Pacific marketing in November after spending the previous seven years in the software vendor’s US headquarters.

“What struck me was the level of customer advocacy for the brand and the excitement and passion our customers had around what they were doing with our products,” Peachey recalls. “That changed the game for me as a marketer and made me excited to help share these stories.”

We talk further with Peachey about the marketing's opportunities and challenges in this interview.

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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