“If you could give your 20-year-ago-self advice, what would it be?”

 May 30th. 2018


“Always seek new and unfamiliar experiences to develop a diverse background.” – Dan Ptak, Director of Marketing, Solstice.

“Tech and data analytics will be your best friends. Who could have known?” -Laura Zimmerman, CMO, Fidelity Life & Efinancial.

Study and understand how to use AI (Artificial Intelligence.)” – Peter Caron, CMO & VP Corporate Development, CellTrak.

 “Learn how to be financially savvy, it’s important to know your way around a P&L.” – Becky Chandler, Senior Director, Digital and eCommerce, US Cellular.

 “Get out of the office. Meet people in other companies and industries to broaden your perspective.” -Tony Kempa, Executive VP, Environmental Systems Design.

 “Take a year off and travel the world!” – Francis Perrin, CMO, Bel Brands USA

“Experiment more. Don’t be risk adverse.” -John Alvarado, Cellar Director, Constellation Brands.

 “Have good discipline in learning the business but don’t commit to “institutional memory.”  -Roland Jacobs, President, and CEO, AspireUp.

“Run a P&L.  Strong financial acumen enables the best marketing communication.” -Jill Kouri, CMO Americas, JLL.

 “Own the ability to tell a great story.” -Rissa Reddan, Senior VP, PayNet.

“Network and gain knowledge from outside your company to improve your approach.” – Chip Shuman, Senior VP, Marketing, Sargento.

“Be sure to develop networking and data-science skills.” – Aaron Lipson, National Business Development Leader, Founders Professional.

 “Appreciate that every experience matters, even the ones that you might not appreciate at the time.” -Julia Goebel, CMO, Benefits Express.

“Try a job experience outside your own industry.” – Jennifer Healey, VP Marketing, Kraft Heinz.

 “Chill out and don’t worry so much!” -Jennifer Daniels, VP of Marketing, Rational USA

 “Take an international job.” -Lisa Kaplan, Director of Corporate Strategy, M. Holland Company.

 “Personal: Have kids young! Professional: Run a business and take P&L responsibility. it’s the most valuable experience you’ll ever have.” – Steven Handmaker, CMO, Assurance Insurance.

 “Take all your vacation. It makes you a better executive.” – Sabrina Isherwood, CMO, Vein Clinics of America.

“Do the job you are given, but create the job you want.” – Dustin Cohen, Head of Brand and Marketing Communication, Goldman Sachs Marcus.

 “Network more.” – Mariana Espinosa, VP Marketing, JPMorgan International.

 “Don’t forget to mentor across, up, and down.” – Linda King, VP of Marketing, Rentokil Steritech, N.A. 

 “Servant and humble leadership give you the attitude that there’s always something to learn.” – Susan Bryant, Marketing & Customer Success Executive,  SzBryant Consulting Group.

 “Meet with anyone who wants to meet with you; you’ll keep an open mind to find new ideas.” – Greg Sieman, Senior VP Marketing, Oak Street Health.


Marketing Leadership During Mergers & Acquisitions


Jennifer Fondrevay, Chief Humanity Officer, Transition Strategist, Author, and M&A Integration Advisor spoke to the Chapter on surviving M&A’s. Jennifer helps companies navigate mergers and acquisitions by tapping into the human side of their businesses. She spoke candidly about her experiences and tapped into the highly-relevant, and emotionally-charged topic. Nearly everyone present had experienced a merger or acquisition at one time or another, and their individual stories were dynamic.


Key takeaways


  • Though mergers and acquisitions have stated value-creation financial purpose, ultimately success is driven by having effective integration of culture and talent. Still, 79-90% of M&A activities fail.
  • M&A brings out different leadership behaviors in people as they operate out of fear. It’s critical to proactively manage M&A situations and make them work for you.
  • M&A often looks to Finance and HR to drive outcomes, but everyone plays a role in navigating through and cultivating success afterward.
  • Marketing and branding are essential yet often overlooked as critical elements of value-creation and successful M&A actions. Branding both internally and externally is vital to defining and generating internal alignment and commitment to fuel the new company. However, Marketing becomes a “nice to have,” but not a “critical” aspect of the data-driven valuation of the company before and after a merger. Check your ego at the door.   
  • Recognize that integration is not the end, but only the beginning of building a successful M&A. A tug-of-war to win by an old culture and approach will never be successful; finding the ‘best of both’ to give new direction works.
  • Fiduciary activities sometimes act in direct conflict with effective human capital management.
  • Leaders tend to protect themselves vs. engage transparently during M&A actions, yet M&A is an ideal time to demonstrate leadership and adaptability capabilities amidst the “carnage” after an M&A.
  • Some who took new roles from outside a recently-merged organization found success by using an objective and measured approach and attitude to balance the opposing forces of “us and them.”
  • Accept M&A as the “new reality” and embrace adaptive skills, or always be frustrated.
  • Marketing will have an essential role if it helps to define the new mission and vision and shape new culture standards for the merged/acquired entity.
  •  Having a successful merger relies on all leaders to support a culture that values the human resource outcome.