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CMO50 2022 #26-50: Natalie Lockwood

  • Name Natalie Lockwood
  • Title VP, head of marketing
  • Company Visa
  • Commenced role June 2021
  • Reporting Line APAC marketing lead; group country manager, A/NZ and South Pacific
  • Member of the Executive Team No
  • Marketing Function 10 staff, 6 direct reports
  • Industry Sector Financial services
  • 2021 ranking New to CMO50
  • Related

    Brand Post

    Late 2010, Natalie Lockwood, VP and head of marketing at Visa, found her husband’s company were relocating him from Singapore to Vietnam. This could have been a career boon or a career bust for Lockwood.

    “As I explored job opportunities in Vietnam, I had the option of pursuing a marketing role in a global consumer bank, or a client director and business development role with a small digital and direct marketing agency with offices across south-east Asia,” she explains.

    “I had only ever worked client side for large corporates, so the first option was the natural fit for me. However, I recognised it was an opportunity in my career journey to adopt a growth mindset and step out of my comfort zone. 

    “So, I pursued the role with the greatest growth opportunities and took the agency role. It was the right decision as I gained valuable agency experience, developed new skills and learnt so much from working with a diverse group of entrepreneurs, agency talent and clients. My agency experience was a key contributor in securing my first role with Visa as head of client relationship management.”

    Innovative marketing

    With a deep payments marketing background, Lockwood was appointed to vice president, head of marketing for Visa in Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific in 2021. Within year one, she led the creation and implementation of a new offering, which doubled targets, improved engagement with clients and more closely aligned marketing to the business strategy.

    Visa is a B2B2C organisation. Success relies on a strong partnership with clients who distribute products and solutions (financial institutions, fintechs, digital partners) and those who accept the use of those products (merchant partners).

    “As one of my first initiatives as CMO, I introduced a marketing services offering to our suite of advisory services and led the development of expanded services for our clients/partners. Our ‘on behalf of’ marketing services utilise our payments marketing expertise to help address our clients' challenges or maximise opportunities,” Lockwood says.

    “Introducing our new marketing services offering for our clients and partners, which are ‘on behalf of’ services which utilise our payments marketing expertise, is truly rewarding to see the Visa marketing team deliver growth for our clients and help our clients with challenges and/or opportunities.”

    Business smarts

    Lockwood has focused on demonstrating the role marketing can play in helping the business achieve growth and annual metrics, including whole-of-business sponsorship leverage.

    “Visa is the exclusive payment service provider and global partner of the FIFA Women’s World Cup 2023. We’re proud to be one of the most active sponsors of women’s football and through our sponsorship of the tournament and other leading women’s football organisations around the world. Visa strives to be a catalyst for change and contribute to the growing recognition of women’s football. 

    “With Australia and New Zealand being host markets for this great global sporting event, I am helping to shape the strategic agenda by ensuring we approach this as a whole-of-business opportunity, which will deliver key initiatives to drive acceptance, payments innovation, social impact, and create opportunities for thought leadership, client and employee engagement. 

    “It’s a wonderful platform for our marketing team to partner closely with colleagues across our business to deliver great business outcomes, as well as brand outcomes.

    "In addition, I also lead the Women’s Network Forum at Visa for Australia, New Zealand and South Pacific, which aims to provide personal and professional development opportunities for our team through regular networking sessions, including fireside chats and 'ask me anything' sessions.”

    Customer-led value 

    Lockwood led the creation of a new acquisition marketing service, and a return to travel marketing.

    “I led the creation of a new marketing service to develop and manage acquisition campaigns on behalf of our clients. The uniqueness of our offering is our payments marketing expertise combined with harnessing the power of Visa’s data insights, with over 3.9 billion cardholders worldwide and more than 80 million merchant locations.

    “At Visa our mission is to connect the world through the most innovative, reliable, and secure payment network, enabling individuals, businesses and economies to thrive. As borders re-opened in March 2022, selecting the right time to re-launch our return to travel marketing and positioning Visa as the best way to pay for international travel was challenging due to changing border restrictions, other countries requirements, and airline availability.

    “The team and I utilised our ‘travel recovery indicator data’ to recommend to the business when we should launch our international travel campaigns and which destinations to focus on. The ‘travel recovery indicator data’ was based on data insights from transactions with airlines, combined with card transactions at point of sale locations by key corridor destinations.”

    Commercial and growth acumen

    One trend the pandemic accelerated was the shift to digital commerce and consumers expectations for seamless and secure digital payment experiences. To capture this continued growth and opportunity, Lockwood’s marketing efforts focused on driving engagement with Visa credentials in the digital environment, as well as partnering with key merchants to drive online spend on Visa for key retail and gifting spend occasions.

    Leadership impact

    “FY22 was a reset year for the marketing team, transforming what we do and the ‘how’ we do it,” she explains.

    There are five key leadership actions she has taken to help drive this change, build a high performing team and culture, and ultimately increase engagement:

    1. Clear goals and expectations: Establish clear annual goals because what gets measured, gets done.

    2. Quarterly team reviews: Two weeks after the end of each quarter, the team has a meeting to step away from the day-to-day and review progress of the quarter, score each other on each goal metric and agree what they need to focus on for the next quarter.

    3. Individual big five focus: For the quarter ahead each person identifies their top five priorities of what they want to achieve next quarter. This helps keep the focus on where the value is and where they invest their time and effort, versus getting distracted with ‘busyness’.

    4. The team conducts ‘retros’ on key initiatives: What have they loved, loathed, longed for and learnt. “This has been key for us, as we reflect, adjust and optimise as we progress through the year,” Lockwood says.

    5. Quality development plans to ensure team members understand how the experience they are getting through their efforts is helping to progress them personally and professionally, as well as identifying key activities, education, coaching/mentoring, and stretch projects to support growth and development. “I conduct quarterly development plan check-ins with each team member,” she says.

    “Bravery is an interesting quality as it’s natural to fear failure when we aim high, but it is having the courage to embrace the risk versus inaction or accepting the status quo. Bravery is also putting the brand/business first by making tough or unpopular decisions and feeling comfortable having direct and constructive conversations. It is also having the willingness to re-set or pivot on decisions as needed.

    “I encourage the team to aim high with continual optimisation of our marketing efforts and encourage a test and learn culture, as failings can be the best lessons. I believe in the importance of our regular retros to discuss what we liked, learned, lacked or longed for at the end of projects. I also encourage the team to share any bad news or set-backs early, so we can solve problems together quickly.”

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