The C-Suite Speaks: Cotopaxi, Esprit, TD Bank and Homedics Offer Career Advancement Tips

Posted on by Kaylee Hultgren

If there’s one part of the business that’s connected to the consumer, it’s the marketing department. Closely monitoring shifting consumer behaviors, eyeing critical trends in the marketplace and the culture in general, and deftly communicating the value of your brand to potential customers are all table stakes for any modern marketer with C-suite aspirations.

Indeed, according to a recent PwC survey, meeting customer expectations for their brands, products and services is the biggest concern for CMOs, with 37 percent listing it as one of their top three issues. So in recent conversations with some of the best and brightest in the industry, we inquired about what it takes to land that coveted role, and how to turn those aspirations into reality.

Brad Hiranaga, Chief Brand Officer, Cotopaxi: I think for marketers that are coming up, if there’s a way to have experiences on both types of brands, legacy nostalgic brands that you learn a ton of stuff on in addition to smaller, digitally-native brands that are built that way, it’s important to have both those types of experiences. Because otherwise, you can eventually pigeonhole yourself into being just a performance-based marketer, or just a big brand marketer.

When you step up into CMO roles and C-suite roles, you don’t have to be necessarily an expert on every single thing, but you have to understand how all of those parts fit together for the bigger picture of what you’re trying to drive. You have to understand the consumer and where technology’s going. So being curious and constantly reinventing yourself and your skills is crucial. [Read more from Hiranaga here.]

Ana Andjelic, Global Chief Brand Officer, Esprit: I would recommend a strategic and holistic approach, which means looking at where the marketing connects with merchandising, where merchandise connects with design, where brand connects with the product, and where all of the above connects with physical retail and the experience. Look at the entire brand experience. That’s your job. Sure, you can use data, but why? To connect better with merchandising, to give direction to design the product better, to set the price. I recommend a holistic view in this role. [Read more from Andjelic here.]

Kristen D’Arcy, CMO of Homedics: The conversation that I’m hearing in the industry is about the cookie-less world and how do you build up your first-party data so that you can learn a lot about your consumers’ market in a personalized way. That’s number one. Number two is social shopping. That’s something that a lot of people are discussing right now. And then three is, what is the role of influencers more broadly? Going back to our strategy, which was mass diversification in terms of where we put our media, what role do influencers play in terms of helping drive sales online? [Read more from D’Arcy here.]

Tyrrell Schmidt, Chief Marketing Officer, TD Bank: Sometimes people think about their career in linear ways, like “I need to move to the next level.” It’s also about understanding what experiences you need to get to the C-suite. Be open, be willing to try new things. It doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to stay in that role forever.

I urge people to think about “the what and the how.” What you deliver is important. Taking accountability for your area is critical, but it’s also the “how.” I’m a big believer in building relationships. As companies look to build more agile structures, being able to work with different groups of people on aligned goals and aligned KPIs and outcomes is important. [Read more from Schmidt here.]


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