CMO Impact
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CMO Club Spotlight: Jennifer Francis of The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Averi Melcher
March 23, 2016

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This week, we’re turning the spotlight onto Jennifer Francis, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

Jennifer Francis, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

Jennifer Francis, Executive Director of Marketing and Communications at The Philadelphia Museum of Art

1. What was your first (or favorite) job you’ve had?

I’ve had a lot great jobs and enjoyed most my working career, but one place I really loved was The Royal Academy of Arts in London. When I started there, I had been in the field long enough to have a clear idea of what I could do and what impact I could make. On a good day, we really could be at the center of the entire art world. I learned so much, grew professionally and – most importantly – I had a ton of fun!

2. As someone who has enjoyed a very successful career in one industry, do you think it’s important for personal/professional development to expose yourself to marketing influences outside of your own vertical?

Absolutely! It is by getting outside your general stream that you learn how other people tackle the same issues you have. I used to sit on a few boards in the UK and now I belong to several organizations here in the U.S.; One of the most effective and powerful groups I’m a part of is actually The CMO Club. It puts me around the table with other people and allows me to see how marketing is approached in different companies and marketplaces. We are all a part of an essential discipline, each with unique contributions across the marketing mix.

3. You were born and started your career in the UK before moving to the United States. How has your international experience shaped your career and perspectives?

We live in a global environment, so I believe that you need to have that type of practical experience to grow in your career. Gaining that level of insight requires you to keep your eyes open and be aware of the international marketing world. Go out and seek ways to achieve this kind of knowledge – I try to attend international networking events that help me grow within my field, but you can also seek professional membership organizations that may have an international chapter for your own niche.

Marketers are expected to be able to market and sell successfully. But, until you get out of your niche area of operation and understand other markets, you haven’t really gained that perspective; you aren’t really tested and haven’t learned the full range of your skills. You master just one area, but that’s not necessarily a comprehensive overview of marketing.

If you work for a global brand, you do have an opportunity to understand the similarities and differences of other markets. Whether or not it’s in your job description, I’d recommend gaining that extra knowledge, learning new insights and understanding relevant market trends  – very few things we do in marketing exist in a silo.

4. What characteristics do you value most when hiring new marketing talent for your team?

I like to work out what the unique perspective is of that person within the area I am hiring for, and how they can add value. Knowing they have a vision is important, as is seeing and understanding it through the experiences that they have had to date.

I like to hire well. I’m not afraid of good, solid experience – I really like subject experts. What’s most important is that we share our ideals and know that we can work together to get done what we need to.

5. What marketing trend(s) are you most looking forward to in 2016? 

I’m really looking forward to getting underneath the customer journey and audience segmentation. Eighteen months ago, the museum unveiled new branding and we are still working on it. Being a nonprofit, it’s more like changing a horse in the middle of the race rather than changing things overnight.

We were proud to win the International Design Communications Award for Best Cultural Brand Worldwide last year. To continue on from the launch, we are focusing on brand engagement. We have brand champions across the organization and are empowering them to take on big projects, make the change we want to see – and the change THEY want to see. We are doing this all as a unit and focused team.

6. Name one CMO or Head of Marketing who impresses you today and tell us why.

I have four: Priscilla Brown, CMO of AXA Insurance, Leontyne Green Sykes, CMO of IKEA, Denice Hasty, CMO of Comcast, and Cynthia Archer of Sunoco.

All four are powerhouse women, and I didn’t mean to choose them just because of that. They’ve done tremendously well at going into their companies and turning around the market, increasing market shares and business for their brands. All of these women are focused, strong, committed, and humble. Within my sector, I would also need to mention my colleagues at The Met, Chicago Institute of Art, and MoMA.

7. Do you have a personal mantra, words of wisdom or favorite inspirational quote?

“How can I be the best ME today?”

That thought drives me each day. But it also lets me know that tomorrow holds the next opportunity. It’s never quite over. Providing that no one dies – you have a chance to go in, fix what went wrong and leave things better the next day.

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