when it became Ford CMO in 2020, Suzy Deering I had no idea how much her experience as CMO at eBay or Executive Director of Media, Engagement, Brand and Integration at Verizon would help her sell cars.
“What I didn’t realize was that from my experience at Verizon, there was an amazing parallel from when I got into the wireless industry, which was very early stage, to what I’m seeing now with electrification. When I look back, I think that prepared me the most, without even realizing it,” she recently explained in my Electric Ladies podcast.
She also pointed out the parallels with eBay. “Because when Covid came, the whole industry turned to e-commerce.”
Especially with the launch of Ford’s 100% electric F-150 Lightning pickup truck, she says that, unexpectedly, all her Her past experiences prepared her to be Ford’s CMO today.
here they are seven career tips taken from my conversation with Suzy Deering:
1. Be prepared to “start from scratch” in a whole new industry: As Deering’s experience shows, it’s not about starting from scratch, it’s about applying your current experience to a new industry. “Learn something from scratch and do your best,” he says. When you do, she suggests preparing yourself for the pitfalls that come with trying new things. “You’re going to make mistakes and you’re going to learn things, and then some will work, some won’t. “
2. Hear more: What usually comes with applying your skills to a new industry is humility, because you know you have a lot to learn. This humility can be a very good thing, according to Deering, because it can force you to listen differently to people with different perspectives.
3. Call a “modernization” meeting.: One of the things Deering did when he started working at Ford was to hold weekly meetings to brainstorm new ideas. “Every Friday I started this meeting called Marketing Modernization, but it was almost like an open mic meeting. I would ask, ‘What do you think we’re not doing that we should be doing? Or what’s stopping you from making some of the changes we need? It’s my favorite meeting of the week. It’s not just my team, it’s a lot of different people across the company.”
4. Become uncomfortable: Deering understands that it can be uncomfortable to leave an industry you understand well, but that’s where growth lies. “If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re not growing. And if you don’t grow, you don’t learn. And if you don’t study, you don’t advance in your career.” He also says that it is necessary to show yourself vulnerable.
5. Throw away the manual: When launching a product, don’t just follow the playbook you already have. Start from scratch. “With the F-150, we threw everything away. It’s brave to say let’s ditch this and start over and try different things than what we’ve had in the past. But it worked.” In fact, 76% of F-150 Lightning buyers are different from traditional F-150 buyers, Deering said.
Linda Zhang, chief engineer of Ford’s F-150 Lightning, reiterated how diverse consumers are for this new car and how unexpected this was.
6. “Don’t look for a position”: As career advice, Deering insists, “Don’t look for a position. I think part of the challenge is that we often think we should go after work. And the reality is you have to get the job you want to do.”
7. Identify real leaders (who probably don’t have titles): He adds that we can learn from all kinds of people at all levels of the organization. “You learn from the leaders around you, and they are not necessarily people who have titles. They are leaders at every level.”
When we finished the conversation, she added: “Our secret powers as women and which were often suppressed were empathy, vulnerability and sharing. All those things you might have thought you couldn’t have.”
Instead, she says, accepting who you really are will take you further in your career. “Because it will motivate you and you won’t let someone steal your way of thinking and you will look for all the signs that encourage and feed you.”
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