“A marketer alone can’t lead digital transformation. You have to get a lot of people around the table,” says Maggie Lower, Chief Marketing Officer at TrueBlue. Collaboration, communication and fluidity within roles are all key areas of focus on the latest episode of TheEdge podcast. Maggie, a business leader who combines the art and science of marketing to drive exceptional results for global brands, shares her insights with ClearEdge Marketing CEO and Founder, Leslie Vickrey, on the transformation of the CMO role and what it means to be a “corporate athlete.”
The Transformation of the CMO
One of the things that Maggie has learned throughout her career—thanks, in part to a book called, “The Shift”—is that If you want to be highly effective and respected in a marketing role, you’d better be able to have conversations outside the functional role of marketing. Marketing no longer exists in a silo. It must be incorporated into the overall business strategy to demonstrate returns. “I’ve been brought on to drive digital transformation and that rests with every seat around the executive table,” she says.
“The CMO doesn’t get to just be the ‘CMO’ anymore. There’s so much more that’s going into that role. You sort of own the brand, but your job is to have everybody take ownership of the brand,” says Maggie. With the merging of the CIO and CMO roles, it’s pretty clear that people aren’t just going to get to be purists in their roles any longer. The idea is collaboration, all the way from the top to the bottom. And while it’s a radical shift from “business as usual” and change can be hard, Maggie says, “I think the person with the ‘C’ in their title sets the tone.”
Changing Your Path
Learning how to own and step into an opportunity hasn’t always come easy, but Maggie says she selects roles that she knows she can build upon. The roles that challenge and push you are also the ones that change you as a person, and ultimately, could set you on a path that may not be “traditional.”
“I’ve followed my own path. I don’t think anyone would have looked at my career trajectory and proposed ‘in 15 years from now, she’s definitely going to be a CMO’,” says Maggie. Acknowledging that it’s a risky way to navigate your career, Maggie says she’s selected roles based on what she could grow from. “If I thought I was going to go and work for somebody who was going to sponsor me and who was going to be personally invested in me, sometimes that outweighed what the content of the job was. If I could learn from the person in the role, if it was somebody I really respected and admired from a leadership perspective and it was something that was going to stretch me – as much as that scared me, it also excited me,” says Maggie.
Becoming a Corporate Athlete
Leading digital transformation within an already well-established organization can be an overwhelming task, but without collaboration, it’s nearly impossible. Flexibility, agility and curiosity are all key attributes executives must possess when leading change management and transformation. Interestingly, there are companies that lag behind the curve and don’t fully embrace collaboration across the aisle. Maggie, however, comes from a different school of thought.
“I was fortunate to be at Bank of America at a time when they had a very forward-thinking perspective which was that they were raising ‘corporate athletes.’ That’s something that I often get called and I’m proud of it,” says Maggie. “I’m very proud of my background as a corporate athlete.”
A ‘corporate athlete’ is someone who can step into different roles at any given time, be a true team player and understand how to work together to achieve success to win.
Listen in as Maggie details more about her lessons learned and how companies can embrace transformation from the inside.