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CMO50 2022 #26-50: Caroline Raj

  • Name Caroline Raj
  • Title Senior director and head of marketing, A/NZ
  • Company ServiceNow
  • Commenced role May 2021
  • Reporting Line SVP Global Marketing, APJ and CEO A/NZ
  • Member of the Executive Team Yes
  • Marketing Function 15 staff
  • Industry Sector Information Technology
  • 2021 ranking New to CMO50
  • Brand Post

    Caroline Raj, senior director and head of marketing AN/Z at ServiceNow, made a brave call during the pandemic, and this was to lead with vulnerability.

    “The pandemic has had an impact on us all and being a leader through this time has been really challenging to support our teams along with family and friends whilst remote,” she explains.

    “Yet throughout this time, we have been expected to perform at a high level. Being vulnerable and open rather than the “everything is ok” leader has helped drive connections and further understanding with those around me.”

    ServiceNow is a technology SaaS platform company with a number of products spanning many different markets and personas. Market share is dependent on each market/product.

    Raj came to ServiceNow after an extensive career in agency, and 13 years at IBM.

    “I had spent my entire career in agencies in Australia and the UK working on some of the biggest brands around the globe. When returning to Australia after a three-year stint in London, I felt to round out my skills and experience it was time to try client side. 

    “I turned down a compelling agency role to take a chance on a fixed term client-side role. I have loved working within a business to shape their strategy, programs and outcomes. I have never looked back and have stayed client side,” she says.

    Leadership impact

    Raj is purpose-driven, and has taken great care to instil this in ServiceNow with a number of clever initiatives.

    “I love strategy and I believe a CMO’s role should be focused on the customer. However, we can’t do this alone. By embedding ourselves in the business strategy ensures marketing is aligned and delivers value,” she says.

    “I believe companies should now lead with purpose – not just profits. As a challenger brand in this market, I saw ServiceNow’s organisational purpose as a strategic imperative to stand out from competitors to attract talent, retain talent with such a tight labour market, and to drive new business models.”

    Raj built and led a cross-functional team of 10 individuals called the ‘ANZ Global Impact Council’. This team is responsible for the organisation’s volunteering and giving program, to support its purpose as a community-driven organisation. 

    To date, this has increased volunteering efforts and grants in the community by 20 per cent. 

    “October 2022 is our organisation’s “Giving month” where we are looking at every individual in ServiceNow AN/Z along with partners and our customers to give back and support our community as an organisation,” she says.

    Raj explains ServiceNow’s people are fundamental to a great culture, a great business, and how it shows up and drives great experiences for its clients. 

    “It is very easy to say there is no special formula to high performing teams, like setting the right structures, clarity on goals, roles and responsibilities and vision for the company.

    “However, as leaders most of our time should be focused on our teams, leading with empathy, and providing time and a commitment to making them the best version of themselves to take them to new heights.”

    Being a leader is something Raj takes seriously. Being authentic, having a laugh and helping to remove blockers are some of the ways she prefers to lead.

    “Post pandemic, I am focused on building employee value propositions and bringing the team together with collaboration moments such as training, planning, and sharing.

    “I am very lucky ServiceNow prides itself as a great place to work and the experience they give to their teams. It aligns so well to my values, and this only helps my team when they are surrounded by a company of people that put the ‘team’ first.”

    Passionate about delivering initiatives that increase employee satisfaction, Raj aims to:

    • Bring in new capabilities with new hires; 

    • Work with external vendors to deliver key training programs in-house to upskill team members to learn and develop them into modern marketeers – not just event marketeers;

    • Bring the team along the journey to provide input into business strategy;

    • Use collaborative methods to solve problems and work through challenges as a team; 

    • Be social – having gatherings/ lunch to bring the team together; and

    • Using the Employee Voice to keep her grounded and understand new ways to work and opportunities. 

    In addition, being a good leader is defining what bravery looks like, Raj explains.

    “Bravery for my team is consistently innovating and testing. Our market and channels are evolving so fast we want to ensure we create an environment where we encourage trying new ideas. 

    “When things don’t go to plan, we use this as a learning. We have ongoing retrospectives in our plans to ensure we always are collectively learning together. As a leader, I believe having the courage to actively ask for feedback is key for growth and should always be considered a gift.”

    Data-driven maturity

    As Raj explains, data is certainly the new gold. “We need to show we know our customers by driving value-led, personalised conversations.” 

    Raj did some significant analytics work reviewing ServiceNow’s total base of customers, their usage/adoption, NPS, current pipeline, and then created several robust segments to drive personalised communications and a better customer journey.

    At the same time, she explains marketers know the B2B buying cycle has changed. 

    “Marketing now has a much larger role to nurture and make it easier for customers to buy by providing research, content, and insights during the customer journey,” she says.

    “We have exceeded our targets in the first half for new business, and currently marketing has built over 3000 new leads already to progress and convert in our second half to meet our full year target.”

    She explains while many might think tech is an easy category to drive growth, this is not always the case if you don’t have the right go to market and client-centric mentality.

    “I’m known as “fixer” and I have a keen commercial mindset to not only meet marketing targets but to ensure the strategies and programs put in place also deliver on our business targets.” 

    In 2021- 22, ServiceNow achieved its business and marketing targets for six quarters in a row.

    “The golden moment for me comes down to the results and outcomes from a number of moments created by the team this year. Achieving business growth and exceeding the targets is the ultimate golden moment.”   

    Ultimately, Raj says data is key, but so is instinct.

    “Data is always first to ground decisions, but never ignore your gut. I have found, particularly with hiring, to always trust your gut.”

    Innovative marketing

    Prior to commencing her role at ServiceNow, Raj was directly engaged by the IBM CEO to build the customer experience transformation initiative for 4500 employees across Australia and New Zealand. 

    "With extensive experience across FSI, Utilities, Telco, and Government, I am a leader of high performing teams with considerable knowledge of transforming and evolving organisations, driving culture programs and improving digital and data analytics. My ability to drive exceptional change management meant I was the only choice for this role," she explains.

    "I built a strategy with the north star to improve the IBM ANZ NPS metric, and implement a change for the organisation around three strategic pillars:

    • Instilling customer experience into the DNA of our culture; 

    • Ensuring we are easy to do business with (process); and

    • Product improvement and customer service." 

    Powered by deep analytics, a great listening platform and a passionate cross-functional team, Raj put the customer at the heart of everything IBM did. 

    Areas of focus were identified for each pillar to drive more of a customer centric approach as a business. 

    "One of the key insights from our customers was we were not responding to issues quickly. I ran “group-think” innovation workshops using agile methodologies to tackle challenges presented by our customers and ensured we responded back to them with solutions and plans in a timely way. 

    "During this time, I achieved a significant double digit uplift in over 12 months."

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