The Person Behind The Brand
Liliana Torres is the Global Marketing Director for Demand Generation Industrial Solutions, GE Power. She leads a team of global demand generation marketers responsible for developing, adapting and executing outcome-based marketing programs to increase market awareness, generates demand, accelerates pipeline, activates partners and grows sales.
In February 2011, she joined the GE Energy Industrial Solutions team as a Marketing, Spec Engineering and Channel Director for Latin America. She and her team transformed GE’s marketing from a cost center to a revenue center through marketing automation and the intersection of traditional marketing with digital marketing, with the ability to show results, metrics that matter and a direct revenue pipeline to sales.
Liliana, a native of Bogota, Colombia, lives outside Miami Beach with her Husband, Javier, and their two daughters, Isabella, 8, and Mariana, 4.
CMO Club– What was your first marketing job?
Liliana Torres– “My first job was an internship as a commercial analyst in a valuables transportation and cash management company called Brinks. I ended up working there for nine years.”
CMO Club– What learning experience did you carry away from that first experience that you still use today?
Liliana Torres– “I think that the most important thing that I carry with me is to get the voice of the customer. My first-ever assignment was to research the door-to-door transportation of precious metals, precious stones, and jewelry from Colombia to the rest of the world. There wasn’t much guidance about where to start, so, instead of talking internally within the business itself, I went directly to the customers. I found out first-hand what they were doing, how they were doing it, what the competition was doing, and what their actual needs were. That, to me, was very powerful and gave me the fuel to go after marketing based on what the customer needed and design a program based on that.”
CMO Club– What are the three most essential components for your personal and professional success?
Liliana Torres– “Number one is my discipline, if you want to achieve something in life, you need to set your dream, your goal, and take action on that. Consistent discipline helps you to drive that, take the little or big steps that help you advance towards your dream. Number two is my attitude, I’m a positive person, I enjoy life, and I love what I do. Those are the working values that were given to me by my parents. My mom passed on the positive attitude. I always think about the ways to solve a problem, not about the ways to make it worse. My dad, a Colonel in the army, gave me the discipline side, to have that dream, but to have the ability and the discipline to put it into action. Number three is the capability to connect the big picture idea with the small actions needed to get to the other side. A great strategic plan, especially in marketing, doesn’t go anywhere if you don’t have the tactics to make it a reality. You end it up handling hundreds of campaigns without driving any real business impact.”
CMO Club– Can you share one of those tactics you use?
Liliana Torres– “A good marketing strategy has to be focused on connecting the dots, not telling your customers different stories from different parts of your marketing and product organizations. It demands honestly from all areas of the company that interacts with customers. Everything has to be connected. You need to tell a consistent and relevant story through all the different touchpoints of the buyer’s journey, especially in industrial companies, which sometimes have a very disconnected marketing story.”
CMO Club– Name an experience that prepared you for your current position.
Liliana Torres– “When I was the Director of marketing, spec engineering, and channels for Latin America, we decided to automate marketing. I was becoming frustrated by the constant cuts in my budget. I made a promise to the CFO at that time. I said, “give me one year, and I’ll show you the money.” My team and I started the process from scratch and, after two years, were able to have the processes, systems, integration, and data to visualize effectiveness and show the pipeline that we were generating. Of course, it took us more than one year, but now I have the privilege to lead this exact transformation at a global level.”
CMO Club– What characteristics do you value most when hiring new marketing talent for your team?
Liliana Torres– “Number one for me is attitude, again, someone that is positive, energetic, and ready to change the world. I love that type of person. Of course, I am also looking for someone that is very focused, that is curious, willing to go and ask questions, that is not afraid to ask why. If someone is willing to ask why I know they are not just going to be Ok with whatever anyone is going to tell them.”
CMO Club– What technology are you looking forward to using or implementing for your brand in the next six months?
Liliana Torres– “At this point, we have three main platforms that we need to make sure work properly regarding interfaces, data reliability, and reporting, so we are concentrating on making that happen for the remaining of the year. The three are Marketo, SFDC, and Hive9.”
CMO Club– Which book would you recommend to your fellow CMO Club members right now?
Liliana Torres– “The age of agile by Stephen Denning. This book is excellent because it explains, through case studies, how agile management works across different type of industries.”
CMO Club– What impact did it have on you?
Liliana Torres– “I’m an engineer, so for me being an engineer, I was planning and over-planning everything in the early stages of my career, and I discovered that life doesn’t work that way, that business doesn’t work that way. You need to be flexible, and you need to be agile. So now it’s not just to design a plan and wait until it finishes, that you have everything contemplated and perfect in your plan, no, it has to be just good enough, minimum viable product as we call it, you try that and, if it doesn’t work, you move fast. You can’t wait for the great, beautiful plan to emerge because things change. You need to adjust.”
CMO Club– Name a Head of Marketing who impresses you.
Liliana Torres– “Beth Comstock former Vice Chairman and Chief Innovation Officer for GE has been my inspiration for many years. She was named GE’s first Chief Marketing Officer in more than 20 years. She led the creation of the Ecomagination and Healthymagination innovations that created better and more sustainable products. She brought marketing back to GE, a company that at that time (2003) was very operational and finance-driven.”
CMO Club– What are some of your passions?
Liliana Torres– “Since I had my children, they become my priority in life, give them the values, example, and tools they need to grow happy and fulfill their dreams.” If you look around, not all the kids have that possibility especially kids that have cancer, that’s why today one of my passions is about helping St. Jude Children’s Hospital. I’m committed to helping as much as I can for this cause, all of those beautiful boys and girls deserve an opportunity. Besides this, I feel very passionate about traveling with my family. I want to show my kids that the world is beautiful, that there are so many cool places, that they need to be humble, to learn and adjust to different cultures and different situations.”
CMO Club– Any advice for young CMO’s?
Liliana Torres– “That they need to learn as much as they possibly can about digital marketing and marketing automation. There are so many things out there that can help you be more effective and provide results that will get you a seat at the table.”
CMO Club– Is there something that CMO’s can do to make the world a better place?
Liliana Torres– “When you are early in your career, you are lucky if you find a job aligned with your purpose, you are just trying to find your way in the professional world, but, you get to a certain point that you need to have a purpose. I think the new generation, Millennials, they are coming more and more in line with that. For me, I have been working in industry-based companies for all these years, in both security and now electrical distribution. It can be difficult to see the human impact and purpose about these industries, but when you think about it, when I was in security, it was all about peace of mind, for fathers, for mothers, for owners of businesses, to be safe and secure. That was the driving force behind what we were doing. Now in electrical distribution, it’s all about the power to do everything that families want to do, to electrify their world. Without that power, that ability to use that power to achieve their dreams, what would we do? The products that we sell, they are not the most fashionable, not the most beautiful, but they are so important, so necessary to everyone around the world.”