“Marketing Matters” CMO Spotlight: ANA Masters of Marketing

Aired October 19th, 2016

This week’s spotlight shines on the ANA Masters of Marketing Conference, one of the annual star events where marketers come together for discussions and idea sharing. Forbes’ CMO Network Editor Jenny Rooney, live from the conference in Orlando, joined Executive Director Catharine Hays to welcome four guests: Eric Reynolds (CMO of Clorox), Jim Speros (EVP Corporate Communications at Fidelity Investments, WFoA Global Advisory Board), Joan Khoury (CMO of Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.) and Dan Briscoe (VP of Marketing at HCSS).

The core of the discussion was finding solutions for the ever-growing “talent dilemma.” Among ANA members at this year’s conference, it was identified as the number one issue: how to improve the perception of marketing for young professionals so that the industry can retain fresh talent. ANA is prioritizing a new initiative called the CMO Talent Challenge with the goal to move past merely discussing these concerns and instead, take action. One thousand CMOs are challenged to volunteer and bring their real world experiences into classrooms.

Key Takeaways:

  • To reverse the talent deficit, companies should appeal to individual values
  • Dedication to education is necessary
  • Marketing can be a prime space for innovation if the industry is willing to accommodate change
  • Communication oils the cogs of a business—whether between employer and employee, co-workers or business partners

Eric Reynolds, 

CMO of Clorox

Catharine and Jenny first invited Eric Reynolds to share his perception of the talent issue at Clorox. “The way we’re approaching talent is holistic from the top down,” he explained. “It’s not just about the learning, it’s about the values that we share with our employees, particularly the younger ones; it’s about the purpose our brand stands for beyond money.” He believes it’s important to let people be a part of something that matters.

Reynolds agreed with Catharine that viewing consumers as people is a marketing approach that energizes employees. He added that the movement in marketing towards personalization (especially in packaged goods) mirrors the increasing number of young people who want their careers to satisfy more than just their livelihood. The people approach applies through all forms of collaboration, whether it be between CMO and employee or company and agency. “More and more we’re hiring not just on capabilities, but […] partners who share our values, share our dreams, and have the same approach to people.”

Reynolds also addressed the tension in marketing between wanting space to flourish individually and needing to work as a member of a collective. At Clorox, they try to foster both ends by giving young leaders opportunities to do quick tests and learn from their mistakes (for example, through digital formats). In order for marketing to grow and change, Reynolds says “humility, learning, and education have to be center play.”

What’s your advice to someone considering marketing as a career?

Reynolds: Talk to a real marketer and get to know what they do—it’s different from what it seems.

Jim Speros,

EVP Corporate Communications

at Fidelity Investments

Next, Catharine and Jenny spoke with CMO Jim Speros, who is responsible for company-wide communications at Fidelity Investments for over 45,000 employees. He was chief marketing officer before being chief communications officer; after working in both “external” and “internal” focus, along with being a marketing leader for nearly 40 years, he has found that externally developed skills are equally relevant internally.

The bridging of external and internal skills is one way Speros navigates the talent challenge within his organization. “Over the last number of years, we hired numerous data analytics people, we’ve brought in people who are digitally savvy, [..] people who understand social media, people who understand cultural anthropology and psychology…” The value of a CMO, he felt, is the ability to bring together a team of people with the right skillsets and harness those skills to grow the company. It’s up to the marketer to configure the ideal skill set for the best results. When asked about the skills that marketers need today, he listed technical skills acquired from experience, and most importantly, “soft skills,” which require high EQ, i.e. good communication skills.

Fidelity has been pulling in 1,000 interns every year; whether they stay or not, the company tries to give them insight into the way marketing operates within a business. “Those thousand people become ambassadors for marketing, particularly if I can get them excited,” Speros said.

In addition to personally volunteering as a guest lecturer at various universities in the Boston area, Speros says the company has also instituted a “brain stretch program,” where outside speakers are occasionally invited in to stimulate creative thinking.

Some companies still view marketing as an expense instead of a revenue generator and Speros said this needs to change. “If we all band together and share our knowledge with the next generation of marketers, we will make a tremendous difference to this industry.”

What’s your advice to someone considering marketing as a career?

Speros: Come out of school with sophisticated knowledge of digital and social technology, but also having refined your creative thinking abilities. Be intellectually curious and feed your brain constantly.

Joan Khoury, CMO of

Oppenheimer & Co. Inc.

Joan Khoury, who became the Oppenheimer’s first CMO last year, was the next guest on the show. For Khoury, tackling the talent challenge involves understanding the transformations happening in the business and from that, deriving what kind of talent you will need—for example, short-term vs. long-term hires, or people with diversifying skillsets. Rather than worrying about how to collaborate with marketers who have different approaches, she believed the inherent curiosity within marketers for good storytelling would overcome such conflicts.

Listening is key to Khoury for getting feedback from a range of people, from internal leaders to customers and coworkers out in the field. Khoury described the CMO’s role as “part educator, part cheerleader, part analyst, […] part coach,” and in addition expressed the significance of mutual impact through interacting with team members and new employees. As a college student, Khoury held three internships; now, as a volunteering CMO, she wants to be a mentor for other potential marketers. Oppenheimer’s internship program is an exciting opportunity to attract young people whose values align with the company’s and, in turn, help them achieve what they want for themselves.

Khoury said she appeals to the younger generation workers by stepping back and empowering them. Providing challenges for talents, whether they are interns or strategic partners, encourages people to showcase their unique approaches to problem solving. Having some measure of control excites talents and keeps them invested.

What’s your advice to someone considering marketing as a career?

Khoury: Do it. I cannot be more excited for the field right now. We may be entering the second golden age of marketing.

Dan Briscoe,

VP of Marketing


The last guest of the night was Dan Briscoe, whose software company, HCSS, has been recognized by The Wall Street Journal as one of the top small businesses in the country. As many as 4,500 companies use HCSS software to run their civil construction operations, yet Briscoe’s team is made up of only 23 all-star marketers. The company shifted their marketing from a product focus to a customer focus and now their marketing strategy is built upon customer persona surveys, which provides continuous feedback on their software.

Just as misconceptions of marketing are fueling the CMO Talent Challenge, Briscoe said there is a similarly poor understanding of construction work across the country, despite its many rewards. He started a highly successful campaign called “I Build America,” using pathos and engaging storytelling to combat negative perceptions of construction in a way that has never been done before.

As opposed to a talent challenge, HCSS has more of a hiring challenge—there are more job applicants than positions available. Briscoe attributed their success to being able to provide meaningful work for the individual. The same ideology lies behind “I Build America” and HCSS as a whole: “It’s not so much the logic and salaries,” Briscoe said. “That’s helpful, but we’re really focusing on telling the story.” The company is wrapping up a construction intern award program that had nearly 900 students registering and competing for scholarships. The program brings in inexperienced and creative talent, after which the interns are able to try new things and learn from their failures.

Briscoe ended the show by highlighting the importance of communication once again. Through a project, The Collaborative Way, employees at HCSS are able to learn how to have a “common vocabulary,” so that no internal disputes will divert their focus from customers.

You can listen to this show and past shows on our radio show page: http://wfoa.wharton.upenn.edu/research-initiatives/radio-show/


By Gloria Yuen
English, SAS ‘18