In partnership with The CMO Club, The CMO of the Week series profiles CMOs who are shaping, changing and challenging the world of modern marketing. For Drew Neisser's complete interview with CMO Award Winner Lisa Armstrong, click here.
It's always interesting to see the range of talent that comes home with CMO Awards. Some are veterans of the trade with decades of war stories to tell, others are maneuvering their way to the front of the pack with more than their fair share of savvy.
Someone who fits into the latter category is Lisa Armstrong, VP of Global Marketing and Strategy at global industrial manufacturer Pentair's Flow and Filtration Solutions Global Business Unit. Armstrong picked up a coveted Rising Star award at last year's event, and while she already has 10 years of marketing leadership in the information technology space under her belt, her upward trajectory continues to rise. See what she has to say about 5 topics with which every marketing leader has grappled, below.
On Getting Things Done
In her position at Pentair, Lisa is charged with driving growth initiatives and solutions around the nexus of food yield, water availability, water scarcity and energy recovery and efficiency - her roll-call of both domestic and global initiatives is lengthy. Armstrong says that making sure the marketing function gets measurable results for each initiative has been her biggest challenge, but it's one she continues to refine. "I recognized that in tandem with driving results, dedicating time and attention to building processes, sharing knowledge and developing capability will help sustain all of our new initiatives," she says.
On Adapting to Change
When I ask what Armstrong's most important lesson learned has been so far, she tells me that it's the ability to adapt. "Adaptability is a critical skill of being a leader," she says. "Being able to adapt to organizational changes, market dynamics and innovation is key to survival." The changes that occur in marketing as a business function touch every industry, as we know, and they slow down for none. It's not only flexibility, says Armstrong, but taking initiative that helps her effectively lead her team. "I keep a pulse on the market, up-to-date on new trends and am continuously up-skilling to ensure that my skills and experience are relevant for today and rightfully positioned for the future."
On Creating the Change
However, simply catching the winds of change isn't always enough to steer the ship toward success (if you'll forgive my maritime metaphors). "You know the quote," says Armstrong. "'Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.' Any time an organization or company goes through a fundamental change (growth, expansion, and/or maturity), you can't apply the same organizational model or the same toolkit." With every initiative, Armstrong re-assesses what's working, what's not and what needs to be done differently. At other times, it's the difference between tools and tasks that tips her off to the need for transformation. "I realize it's time to make changes," she says, "when I start seeing gaps in what needs to be done and the ability or capability to get it done."
On Working with the Leadership
Of course, a marketing leader can't get very far without the trust and support of his or her CEO. Says Armstrong: "The challenge for marketers is that we often face the 'what have you done for me lately' pressure, so we have to consistently maintain our credibility." Once a campaign or initiative is launched, the members of the organization (and even our customers) are looking for the next great thing. On this point, I ask her to offer a few words of advice. "A CMO builds credibility by being connected to what the C-suite and board of directors are facing each quarter and asking how marketing can help," she says. In other words, it is crucial to understand your target and offer value, something with which we're all familiar. "You can lose credibility," says Armstrong, "by proposing initiatives at the wrong time". Being in-tune with your executives can help you avoid this kind of blunder.
On What's Next
Like many of us, Armstrong has an ever-expanding list of to-do's. "Two major areas I'd like to tackle," she says. "#1 is Enabling Sales. We need to execute an actionable marketing plan with the emphasis on improving the customer buying experience to drive growth." She continues: "And #2, Marketing Excellence. I'd like to build a process and curriculum to help build a world-class marketing organization that delivers innovation, revenue and leadership talent for the entire organization." Armstrong admits this may take longer than the next calendar year, but I have a feeling this Rising Star Award-winner will help Pentair reach new heights in no time.
CMO of the Week is an exclusive Social Media Today column appearing every Thursday - you can read previous CMO of the Week columns here.