2020 has been a challenging year but with those challenges, there have also been many lessons learned and ah-ha moments. A group CMO Club members were kind enough to share their top advice for other leaders from this past year. 

Ben Buckton, Chief Marketing & People Officer, Shakespeare Martineau

Shakespeare Martineau is a top 55 law firm that works with blue-chip companies, leading organisations, high street brands, and individuals across the world. 

Stay true to your purpose and your culture – your plans can (and should) change or pivot, in response to external or internal opportunities or challenges (and there have been a few over the last couple of months). However, never forget to focus on the people, and the rest will follow through.

David Postill, SVP, Marketing and Customer Experience, AGI – Ag Growth International

AGI is a global agricultural and food processing equipment and technology solutions business serving the world’s food infrastructure.

It’s clear that there are few factors that impact the success of a business more than effective leadership. The mark of a good leader is the ability to not only help employees’ transition into their “new norm” but enable them to emerge from this crisis as a more cohesive, agile team.

Indeed, how we treat our employees now and the culture we choose to foster will be remembered far longer than any brand strategy or marketing campaign. More importantly, however, in our current environment, business can be a transformative force for good. As we guide our teams through these challenging times, we have a responsibility to lead with empathy and be intentional about decency.

Suneeta Motala, Chief Marketing Officer at AfrAsia Bank Ltd

AfrAsia bank specialises in private banking, corporate banking and global banking solutions while capitalising on its core pillars including  customer focus, teamwork, innovation and sustainability.

It should not be only about what “I” can or want to do; it’s always a WE that yields success on all fronts!  It’s crucial that your vision be painted in the minds of your whole team: from the tea lady to your board director. At times, this vision may change, and that is perfectly ok, but what’s important is that it needs to be understood by each and every team member. Knowing where we want to go and what we want to achieve gives a sense of purpose to people and each individual is then motivated to bring to the table his or her contribution in helping you achieve your goal. This gives rise to a sense of self-empowerment, which is critical to any organisation’s success, especially, when we need to be agile during circumstances like the COVID-19 pandemic. To facilitate this empowerment, the most important aspect is concise, regular, and transparent communication.  Involve your people, listen to them, motivate them, reward them, and create unity in all interactions. My experience has always taught me that success follows when you have a passion for people’s success and have that unique obsession to make them better versions of themselves.

Don’t always play it safe, do the unexpected when you can! Your team will be motivated to follow in your steps if they see you leading by example instead of painting a nice picture with words. One common team, one common vision, one common service language, and one common promise – this is what we should aim for.

Doug Zarkin, VP, CMO, Pearle Vision

Pearle Vision is an American chain of eye care stores. It is one of the largest franchised optical retailers in North America, acquired by Luxottica, an Italian eye wear company, in 2004.

Don’t let the quest for perfection stand in the way of celebrating progress.

In a results-oriented craft such as marketing, the focus is on achievement, goals, KPIs and if you come up short the dialogue centers on the miss. However, the craft of marketing is also both an art and a science, and as such, while you may occasionally come up short, you may have actually moved a lot further than you think… so as long as you apply the learning from the miss and build on that insight gained to push even harder the next time.

JD Dillon, VP Marketing, Enphase Energy

Enphase Energy, a global energy technology company, delivers smart, easy-to-use solutions that connect solar generation, storage, and management on one intelligent platform.

A year ago, our company was going great, the economy was humming, and life was (retrospectively) fantastic. More recently, I consciously begin every meeting with something positive. I also send out a weekly message designed to bring my team “up the mood elevator.” It turns out, I should have been doing this for years and will absolutely continue these practices for years into the future.

Muriel Lotto, Head of Global Brand & Marketing, Western Union

The Western Union Company is a global leader in cross-border, cross-currency money movement.

The one word that comes to mind thinking of this past year is FLEXIBILITY, whether that be in terms of making changes in where and how and how much to invest in marketing, what Covid and non-Covid related messages to communicate to our existing and prospective consumers, or accommodating working from home practices whilst juggling childcare and technology demands. Navigating the short-term constraints or changes in our environment whilst keeping a north star on our longer term goals and strategy has been interesting and challenging and we’ve all had to flex muscles in different and new ways. For me, this has required more flexibility and adaptability than ever and I will take this newly acquired approach forward in a positive way.