CMO Impact
Achieving Personal & Career Success

How to Successfully Change Industries in your Career – A Summit Panel with Alison Lewis, Dermot Boden and Eric Leventhal

April 03, 2015

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For many of my fellow millennial professionals, changing industries feels… normal. We are, after all, the ficklest generation; feeling most content when we are challenged by growth and change. But our ability to drift from one industry to the next is a luxury of the young(ish). For most established marketing professionals, making a leap from say, pharmaceuticals to consumer electronics to banking (in the case of Dermot Boden, current Chief Brand Officer of Citigroup) is incredibly challenging.

At the recent CMO Club Spring Innovation & Inspiration Summit in New York, attendees had the opportunity to hear from industry chameleons Dermot Boden (formerly of LG Electronics and Pfizer) and Alison Lewis, the current Global Chief Marketing Officer at Johnson & Johnson (and former CMO of Coca-Cola) during a Changing Industries in your Career – Ideas for Success panel discussion led by Eric Leventhal, Global Head of Consumer Packaged Goods & Durables Practice at Spencer Stuart.

Neither Alison nor Dermot made their industry career changes without considerable thought and planning.  Here are some of their tips for how to change industries and come out on top:

  • Embrace change – It’s not always easy to leave a position and/or industry. The first step is being willing to make that jump and embracing change.
  • Focus on your career: Look outside of your company to focus on your career. What’s the most beneficial choice for your own growth and success?
  • Take time to evaluate an opportunity: For Alison, the most important factor is company culture. Ask yourself: Culturally speaking, do I fit in? “Culture will trump strategy, eat strategy and strong arm strategy no matter what strategy you put in place. Culture is unbelievably important.”
  • Get back to basics: Dermot believes you should approach a role at a new company as if you know nothing besides the marketing basics. Ask for help. Allow your new colleagues to teach you what they know.
  • Expect the Unexpected: According to Dermot, the recipe for success is: Passion + A Little Bit of Fear + Expecting the Unexpected. 
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