Podcast Lucio Furlani
Feb 14, 2019

Lucio Furlani – CMO EMEA, Hewlett Packard Enterprise (Part 1)

By Matt Dodgson

Co-Founder - Recruiter & Marketer



00:01:26 Why don’t you give us a summary of who you are and the type of experience that you’ve got.

00:02:22 What can you tell me about what led you into marketing?

00:05:48 What did you learn from working on the future side of the product?

00:08:41 So how did the move come from HP to Hewlett Packard Enterprise?

00:10:00 What’s that like when you’re in the first business that’s been literally cut in half 50/50. What’s that experience like for you? How do you pick up the pieces and make success of that? 

00:12:39 And it’s a newer experience with the acquisition scenario, how can you overcome that and what sort of hints and tips can you give to people if they are facing that or going through that situation currently?

00:18:02 You talk about the digital transformation and some of the impacts that you’ve had on the business so what sort of things have you learned through taking a company from point A to point B?

00:21:55 What sort of things do you look for or would you recommend people do in an interview to succeed? 

00:24:52 The CV normally gets someone in the interview because they have got the basis of the skillset that’s required, but how can you shine? 

00:28:29 How can marketing Graduates stand out now?

00:31:10 What are the most important skills that you want to see in people you’re looking to hire?

00:33:29 If you’re in a company where speaking up isn’t necessarily encouraged, how else would someone be able to bring their opinion to a meeting or to a conversation in that type of scenario?  

00:37:35 How did you make the transition from being a manger to showing that you could strategically have a big influence on key business decisions? 

00:39:47 What sort of experience do you need to build on to make the move from the sort of head of marketing to the board or the director level?


Fiona: Welcome to Market Mentors. A podcast for the marketing leaders of today and tomorrow. I’m Fiona Jensen, a Director and Co-Owner of Market Recruitment. For over a decade, I’ve been helping B2B marketers find the best jobs with great companies. Together, we’ll discover how marketing experts reach the top and learn from their experience. Ask career related questions you can’t get answers to elsewhere. Be tough, be challenged, be mentored.

Fiona: Tap into a wealth of experience from Lucio Filani, who’s worked to across a variety of sales, marketing and leadership roles for HP and subsequently, HP Enterprise. Find out what digital transformation looks like on the inside, how important communication is to culture, and how to gain support and momentum for your ideas and what to do if you spot a business or career opportunity. All delivered in a wonderful Italian accent, with plenty of passion and appreciation of what value marketers bring.

Fiona: Lucio, thanks ever so much for joining us on Market Mentors.

Lucio: My pleasure.

Fiona: And making the time. It’s a very early breakfast meeting for me, so I like a challenge. I’m the early bird and all that. And so, what I’m keen to do is understand a bit more about your experience, so why don’t you give us a summary of who you are and the type of experience that you’ve got.

Lucio: Okay, sure. I’m an engineer by allocation. I think it’s important because when you become an engineer, your DNA, it brings out the structuring and logic in literally everything that you do. I started as a software engineer like 30 years ago so I have 30 years of experience in the AT industry. Then I moved to Hewlett Packard in 1994. I have been in marketing, in services, in sales, always with International roles, either at the EMEA level. EMEA stands for Europe, Middle East and Africa. Or global, they also call Asia Pacific and Japan for two and a half years, back and forth across dispositions.

What led you into B2B marketing?

Fiona: Perfect, really nice summary, thank you. So your engineering, sales and marketing, gosh that’s really interesting experience. I love the fact that you’ve done sales as well. That’s quite a commissural.  Why did you end up here in this lovely specialism of ours.

Lucio: It is lovely, so at some point in time, in marketing I also had an MBA. After the MBA I was really interested in strategy, thinking strategy collegiate, I think links back to my engineering background. Put the structure in place, analyse the data, try to understand and see, look for opportunities. So that’s where I decided to step into marketing because HP offered me a fantastic role which was future product marketing. So the opportunity to help the company design products that we were going to release two, three, four years down the road. Really looking into that, it was a fantastic opportunity, so you know, luck helps a lot in life. I had the opportunity, I went for it, and then again I moved back and forth between more field, short term focused type roles where you can generate; the object number one is to generate the pipeline back into more corporate worldwide roles, it’s a possibility for the HP Hewlett Packard portfolio of solutions which is more strategic also.

Fiona: Yeah, because that’s the longer term sell isn’t it as well isn’t though? The solution side you can’t win that overnight that’s a long journey or a long sales cycle.

Lucio: Exactly. It’s quite long between three to nine months. That’s the average ride. I think there is value, Fiona, in exactly doing this back and forth type of journey. When you’re in the field whether it’s sales, or marketing, doesn’t really matter, you’re very short term focused. There’s nothing wrong with that, but then you do not always understand or it’s a little bit difficult for you to take advantage and leverage on what corporate is sending you that’s much more longer term focus. So if you have the worldwide experience and you work in the field you can leverage the company strategy much better.

Lucio: When you move into corporate role, you’re responsible for part of the corporate strategy, but you come from the field, you know what works, you know how to communicate new ideas, new priorities to the field and to the customers. So you’re more effective in both roles if you’ve been on the other side, right?

Fiona: Yeah, no absolutely, I can totally understand it and certainly I can imagine the conversation you’d have with a salesman having done the sales job is million miles away from somebody who has never done any sales and doesn’t understand the challenges, the difficulties of that role.

Lucio: It’s the credibility.

Fiona: Yeah.

Lucio: That you have, because, and the respect for what you’re bringing because they know that you’ve done it, either on the crusades, on the field or worldwide, same.

Fiona: In the product role, that you mentioned, the future side of things, was that on the hardware side or looking into the software and move in?

Lucio: Hardware.

Fiona: Hardware.

Lucio: We were developing a new, this was 25 years ago or so, it was a pipe at the beginning and we invented new product which was a network attached scanner. That was my product.

Fiona: Phenomenal, back then, what did you learn from working on the future side of the product? Where did you spend most of your time? Was it with the customers, with the sales team, with all of them or with engineering, where did you sort of master that art would you say?

Lucio: If you say most of the time, that’s with engineering. If you say which contribution was more valuable, that was with a customer. So the role of marketing in this type of future marketing role is to bring the voice of the customer into the conversation with engineering. To understand how their needs are evolving, how new technology trends, which at the time was the internet or was email, how these technology trends will be adopted. Which now everything seems obvious but at the time it was not so obvious 25 years ago how the internet will, how quickly it will spread. Will email be, is email a good idea, will it be successful? How people will use email and so forth, and try to figure out which type of problems you can solve and the challenges are very often people are not aware of the problems that they have, because the solution is, you become really conscious of your problem when you see the solution.

Lucio: It will be like, Henry Ford said a century ago, “If I go ask people what do they need, they will tell me a faster horse.” Which is not really what Ford decided to build.

Fiona: Yeah that’s very true actually, and I think especially today in modern society people are always worried or concerned that they don’t know all the tools or they don’t know the technology essentially. But actually when you talk about that and when you give such a great example from even 100 years ago of marketing and what it’s premise is, it is always that classic skillset that you need isn’t it? It’s understanding where the problem lies, for either customer or business or team. And then trying to find a solution to that versus getting too tied up on what the next piece of technology is.

Fiona: It’s more about hang on, it’s not about that it’s about what’s the next problem and how can we help to try and solve that?

Lucio: Yeah, you need to have a little bit of an imagination, you need to know the technology and you need to know the customer, more importantly the customer processes and how an office is working as far as the digital scanner and so forth. And then you need to have the ability of connecting the dots and see around the corner because the solution that you need to work on is not necessarily obvious based on what you can analyse today. You need to see how the technology, the processes and so forth, what they can bring you to.

Fiona: Yeah, yeah, no I can understand that. So how did the move come from HP to Hewlett Packard Enterprise?

Lucio: The company decided three years ago to split, to separate, and HP was about 110 billion dollar company, doing everything from PCs, printers to the server storage that goes into the center including outsourcing so our product portfolio was ranging from 10, 20 dollar calculators all the way up to seven billion dollar outsourcing deals.

Lucio: It was very complex to stay behind such a broad portfolio so the company decided to split the business into two parts, approximately 50% each, in terms of revenue, so about 55 billion dollar each, one is now HP inc., responsibly for printers, PCs, mainly everything that goes into the office or used by individuals. The other became Hewlett Packard Enterprise, which the CEO, Chief Executive Officer as the key target customer. With everything that goes into the data center or supporting the back office type of IT.

Fiona: I see. Your role within that, what’s that like when you’re in the first business that’s been literally cut in half 50/50. What’s that experience like for you? How do you pick up the pieces and make success of that?

Lucio: This particular case was not that dramatic, frankly, because what is now HP Inc., they were selling more to individuals or to facilities so the target audience was different. We were selling to the CEO, like I said, from the Hewlett Packard Enterprise standpoint, or to the IT staff in the organisation. There were more site facility managers or individuals and so forth. So in the end the separation was not dramatic, it was not a lot in common from the go to market, from a marketing standpoint between the two sides of the decision. We separated quite easily. It was more difficult when we decided later on to separate the outsourcing business or separate the software business, because the software business was quintessential to the value proposition that Hewlett Packard Enterprise had at the time.

Fiona: Yeah. I see. And what about the people and the teams, how did they all react? Were there any challenges there that you had to overcome?

Lucio: That was not a big deal. You normally have more challenges from the people side when you got through an M and A, an acquisition. Because then you have a culture clash, potentially, hopefully not always. That’s a big risk, because the company that you’re acquiring, the people that you’re bringing aboard make it a new culture, which if you think about it is great. But human reaction, normally is not that positive necessarily, because you see them a little bit as strangers, and on a personal level you may feel threatened by these new people coming in. Because you start figuring out that maybe there is not room for everybody here, so how will the selection be made, because now I had a role, I was happy with my role and now there is another person coming aboard from this company we are acquiring and he or she happens to have exactly the same job title. Will the company need both of us? And how will be the relationship or will the company decide that only one is needed? All these type of dynamics come into play, during an M and A. During a separation that is not the case.

Fiona: And it’s a newer experience with the acquisition scenario, how can you overcome that and what sort of hints and tips can you give to people if they are facing that or going through that situation currently, where you say obviously it’s challenging?

Lucio: So again, the culture aspects are the most critical. The ones that in the short and in the long term really dictate if an M and A is really successful or not. Everybody always looks at the numbers the business and so forth but the cultural aspect is the most critical. You need to have a plan and you need to communicate, and communicate and communicate, over communicate, to the employees; everybody is thinking right about communicating to the customers and to the departments and so forth, but [inaudible] communication to the employees, post the roadmap, what they should expect, what will happen when, which are the milestones. The more you are transparent, the more the people in the organization will not feel threatened or over concerned about what is happening. They can be worried and sometimes they are frighteningly worried quite frankly, they have the feeling that as the merge is happening with a plan and the plan is being shared so they feel treated with a lot of respect which gives them trust. I’d say good.

Fiona: Yeah, I think It is all about the human experience in those situations isn’t it? And how you approach it, so if maybe you’re concerned or you don’t have enough information or you’re not sure what the plan is then maybe go call someone and ask, would you recommend that, internally, I mean obviously you’ve talked about what the leadership should do, but if that is not happening, and you’re not in such a good position where the communication isn’t available and isn’t forth coming, is there anything that you’d recommend that somebody would do in that situation or scenario?

Lucio: In any organisation there are always people, forgot how they’re called, technically, maybe alpha people, whatever, they’re not necessarily the more senior, they can be any level of seniority and so forth that tend to be the opinion leaders of the team, opinion leaders of the organisation. This is apparently according to the literature, true always, in any type of organisation. So I think it’s quite important for managers and leaders to understand who these people are and make sure that they are on board first.

Lucio: The rest of the organisation will tend to go to them, ask for advice, ask questions, opinions and so forth. That’s a lot informal but very influential type of information.

Talking to senior leaders as a B2B marketer

Fiona: If you are a worker bee who is maybe not receiving the communication and maybe doesn’t feel confident enough to go to one of the senior leaders within the business would you recommended that they talk to, you know, the alpha person, or the thought leader or the person who tends to pipe up on behalf of the worker bees and say, “can you say, we’re not getting enough information and we’re not sure what’s going on and when are they going to tell us what’s going on?”

Lucio: That will happen anyway, inevitably, so, I think the starting point of your question is interesting, so as a leader you need to be proactive in communicating and you need to have an open door. So don’t expect, in any organisation of bigger than one individual you will have a mix of people with different personality.

Lucio: Some people will be more open, and not shy in coming also to senior executives, you know, skip a couple of levels, go and say “Hey, can we have a conversation, we’d like to know what’s going on?” Many people are not that comfortable, may have to do with genealogy but not necessarily frankly, it’s more the person’s style. People don’t want to ask or worried that that question may…

Lucio: So you need as a leader you need to make sure that it is as clear as possible that all questions are good questions, have an open door policy and even encourage, so something that HP, HP manager, really I think was the two founders, Bill and Dave, created as a fantastic management practice called “Managing by wandering around.” Which means that every senior manager, with whatever cadence that you think is appropriate for you, you’re encouraged to go around, have a walk, through the office and stop by people, even if it’s not your team, stop by anybody that you meet, say “How’s it going on, how’s life, what are you working on, what are your challenges?” And just have a five minute conversation with these people. That was a fantastic practice that got lost a little bit in modern days because a lot of people work from remote but it’s a bit difficult, but it’s an excellent idea.

Fiona: Yeah, lovely, that’s a really good tip, thank you.

Lucio: It’s part of the HP culture.

Being involved in change as a B2B marketer

Fiona: On your Link’d in profile you talk about the digital transformation and some of the impacts that you’ve had on the business so what sort of things have you learned through taking a company from point A to point B? What sort of hints and tips can you share with people who are maybe, setting that strategy now, it’s coming up to planning time or planning time already; and lots of people sort of are trying to convince the tanker to move one direction or another, what sort of hints and tips could you maybe share with the audience about how to get that change happening and how to lead transformation internally?

Lucio: Yeah. So with any organisation, regardless of the size, my first recommendation is be clear on what you think the destination is. Again, what you think, because you may change your mind over time as you learn more, it’s totally fine to say “look, we thought we wanted to go this direction, now actually let’s retune it.” But you need to have a clear direction set, and the best way to do it which very very few organisations do, is be very specific and set what are your KPIs. Your Key Performance Indicators.

Lucio: Which is fundamental, exactly why you want do this transformation, where you want to land and how the business or results will look like when you are there. Again, totally fine, if you change you mind, openly and transparently. Don’t change your mind in a hidden way right? Make sure that you communicate this out clearly. That’s the first thing. I like the saying that every wind is good for the sailor who does not know where to go. So that happens very very often, people start conversations, looking at trends, things happening and then they jump to “Okay, let’s roll up our sleeves and let’s start doing this and that,” without spending enough time and being clear on where they want to go. That’s very common mistake I saw all type of organisations doing that often. Because probably has to do with human nature, we tend to jump on “let’s go do.” In my opinion that’s a mistake because you get confused; it’s difficult to prioritise what’s a good action, what’s a good decision. It’s bringing you towards that direction or maybe something that’s secondary, it’s much harder to prioritise and so forth. That’s I would say my advice number one.

Lucio: Second one is, be very clear, communicate the direction and the strategy in simple terms but very very clearly, as broad as possible within your organisation. You need to treat your employees, your team, everybody in the company as business professionals and they will behave like business professionals. If you share, look, we decided we want to go this way, this is the direction, this is the plan, these are the things we will start doing to get there, we need everybody’s contribution. People will contribute. Have the conversation, you are not seeking for unanimity, but for people it’s important to have the opportunity to tell you what they think about it or to react, you want to have a consensus, not necessarily unanimity. Be open and transparent and you will be surprised by how much people will help you. Will come to you with you new idea, better ideas, about how things can be done because they may be actually much closer than you to the opportunity or to the problem or to the gap and it can be very surprising as an executive how much people can bring.

What sort of things do you look for or would you recommend people do in an interview to succeed?

Fiona: Yeah, that’s really lovely coin touch, you know I think you’re quite right, if you empower people enough then they will empower you, or the business to say see. It is shocking and surprising how a few companies really embrace that so it’s lovely to hear. So I suppose, what I’m keen to do is get a little bit of help or advice for people who are maybe going through career challenges or maybe already in that situation where they’ve decided to leave a business and they’re going through the interview processes. You maybe run into larger teams and therefore probably recruited a few people in your time I’m guessing. So what sort of things do you look for or would you recommend people do in an interview to succeed?

Lucio: Happy to share, I’m sure I would be a representative of the average hiring manager. I value, skills, much much higher than knowledge. When I see job postings from any company, normally they say “We are looking for this type of individual for this role blah blah blah…” this person needs to be innovative and they need to have 10 years of experience in the same role. The two things do not go together, if you have 10 years of experience in the same role you will not bring a lot of innovation. Let’s be honest. That’s why for me skills are more important, if you’re smart, if you’re fast, if you’re analytical enough and good team work skills you will learn. The other way around is not so easy. If you are super expert on subject X Y Z, but you’re not collaborative, you’re not analytical, you’re not fast, you will bring probably a lot of value for six months, but then not so sure about longer term. That’s why I’m doing this way. So I told you…

Fiona: So the ability to learn.

Lucio: Yeah, be smart, analytical, that’s always very undervalued as a top skill. Be analytical, be smart, be fast. So don’t wait for the perfect solution. Work on the perfect enough, be balanced between perfection and time to market for whatever you’re doing, and teamwork. Unless you’re being maybe some super niche area, brain surgery, I have no idea. Then almost everything in business is done by a team. No individuals are being successful as individuals. When an individual is successful it’s because they are either good or lucky and have a great team working with them. Your success depends entirely on your team.

Interview Preparation Tips

Fiona: That’s really good. With regards to interview preparation, I suppose, apart from doing the research or anything that is there any sort of hints and tips that you provide to demonstrate that skillset because that’s quite an unusual approach but actually it makes huge amount of success, but people aren’t necessarily prepared to show that. The CV normally gets in the interview because they have got the basis of the skillset that’s required, but how can you shine? How can you bring that to life? How can they make an impact on you if they were interviewing what sort of things would help you think that’s the person who’s got the pace, the analytical skills and the ability to keep learning from me?

Lucio: Yeah, first let me underline a little bit something you said, it’s true you said that already but still I see that a lot of people not come prepared enough. Do your homework about the company you go interview for. So you know that HP separated three years ago from HP inc. and Hewlett Packard Enterprise, until recently I had people coming to me who would like to apply for an HP job. We are a different company now, so immediately that does not qualify you as a smart individual right, because, A, you don’t even know that three years ago, not last week, we separated, that’s totally unacceptable.

Lucio: So do your homework, do your preparation, understand what is company strategy. You will not know everything, that’s impossible because most of the information is not public, but do everything you can. Read the financial statement, read it deeply, read the news, maybe watch on YouTube possibly an interview that I delivered, or an interview that your hiring manager delivered or other people in the organisation delivered recently. Make sure that you know as much as you can. That’s normally, you know, likewise time, that’s why people do not normally do that enough.

Lucio: I normally ask [fair me 00:28:29] question. I know this is quite typical of big consulting firms, I don’t know how many other hiring managers like me in high tech companies do that but I like fair me type of questions. What’s important in the answer, to the question is no so much if you’re right or wrong, but how much you apply a logical thinking process to answer and even more than that what is your first reaction to the question. And sometimes it happen to me that when I was asking fair me questions, people were either scared or they close their brain. So then I’m sorry but I am not interested in [inaudible 00:27:49], so other people, by service approach the fair me question will, I don’t know the answer but let me try. Maybe ask a few qualification questions back, for me that’s very telling right, because they’re not intimidated by a surprising and challenging situation, they’re not intimidated asking questions back to you, they don’t feel that is wrong, you are interviewing me, I ask a question that seems weird. It’s not weird, it is not weird, it’s totally fine. So it says a lot about their level of confidence and their ability to work around the problem.

Skills to look for in a person and on the CV when you’re looking to hire B2B marketers

Fiona: Oh really interesting, thank you. So we’ve had a few questions from the audience that you were happy to answer, and one of the things, you might have already answered a little bit but what , now this is on the graduate level, because they’re grads, where they don’t have that experience necessarily so what do you look from the grads perspective and how can they stand out now?

Lucio: Yeah, yeah again, I value analytical skills a lot. So if you have a statistics, mathematical…

Fiona: Economics?

Lucio: Or other background that is relevant to me, especially when you’re wanting a more junior position, which frankly, during your entire career you will need to read numbers and understand numbers.

Fiona: And translate them into action?

Lucio: Absolutely. For one executive in HP, a good friend of mine, my mentor and so forth used this expression “You need to torture the numbers, until they confess.” It’s hard work but you need to be able to do that and not intimidated by crunching, reading and crunching a lot of data. I try to look into something that tells me that you can be that type of person, or if you will just go with your intuition [inaudible 00:30:01]. Again the fair me type of question helps me also [inaudible] with that direction. Then I look into your personal interests.

Lucio: For example, I remember that years ago I hired a person, I was really impressed by her because I she was a volleyball coach to younger girls. So I start digging into that and I say “which problems do you have when coaching the team?” She was very so clear and gave so many insights into how to be a good coach, how to make sure that everybody on the team could play at their best level. That was fascinating, it was telling me a lot about this person’s ability, not only a team member but the potential to become a team leader, because she had all the skills and she practiced the skills even if in a totally different context. So curiosity also, how much you are looking into traveling, or exploring in your personal life, that’s also important.

Most important B2B marketing skills when hiring

Fiona: So having the bigger picture of the person counts a lot so I think often people become a little bit concerned with over sharing, maybe giving too much away or talking too much on a personal level but on the graduate side I suppose every string is adding up to the bow which is what people are going to be building on at that stage, so really good advice. What are the most important skills that you want to see in people you’re looking to hire, you’ve talked about the analytical of course side, and maybe the leadership side, but maybe if they’re going to be a specialist within the team, what sort of things do you measure then?

Lucio: Judgment, is another element, like we said before the ability to see around the corner, the ability to see the consequences of what I am doing today. Look a little further down the road, a little bit of a longer term perspective into what you’re doing. Looking for people who have a high degree of confidence, self confidence and talk assertively. Not always, you need to…[inaudible 00:32:37]; exactly, yeah exactly. When you know your stuff, you need to make sure your voice is heard when you’re talking, you’re way more junior within the meeting room so you need to make sure that you’re the expert, right? So you need to have the confidence, the tone and the assertiveness to do that. That’s another, difficult maybe to read it from the CV you know but there are maybe ways to kind of clues of this attitude from an interview.

Fiona: I suppose that’s around the sort of questions that you ask isn’t it, talk me through a challenge that you have had in your role and how you overcame it, or …

Lucio: Exactly, situational type of questions. Role playing even possibly.

Fiona: What I particularly like about you Lucio, is the fact that you get the impression that every voice will be heard in your team or in those companies that you’ve worked for but that is not always the case, unfortunately, so it’s tricky I think, because, with regards to communication as you say, it’s great if it’s coming down as well as going up but that’s not always the circumstance. So if you’re in a company where there is quite a hierarchy and speaking up isn’t necessarily the status quo or encouraged, how else would someone be able to bring their opinion to a meeting or a to a conversation in that type of scenario? Have you got any hints and tips for handling that type of really difficult situation?

Lucio: Yeah I guess there might be companies where really higher level management do not want to list, and then I would ask myself if that’s the company I really want to be in, honestly speaking.

Fiona: Absolutely.

Lucio: In any type of job or role, company or whatever, I think you always need to be ready to leave. Because that’s an important state of mind. Other than that, it think that if the company is successful what you just said cannot be true. I don’t believe there are many companies with long term success where management is not open to good ideas coming from anybody in the organisation. It just cannot happen, it’s contradictory [inaudible 00:35:11]. However, I believe that the company culture of the management style of course is very different. So you need to find your way, what is the right way in this company, with this culture to build support for my ideas?

Lucio: That’s probably there are different ways to do that. [inaudible 00:35:32], I found quite good at some points in my career but what one data point so every company might be different. Move step by step, first of all make sure that you have the facts covered. That you’re fact based in whatever proposal you have, second make sure that you can express it in very very simple terms. Make sure that it’s tight in strategy, strong connection with one or two things that are very relative to the company or very relative to the top executive you want to present it to.

Lucio: So these three things needs to be true. Okay? Fact based, relevant and linked to the strategy. And then, if you do not have immediate access to this person or you think that this person may be not open maybe at this particular point in time because maybe he or she has bigger issues, then maybe try to build your way together and talk with other people in between and say “Okay, I have this idea, I prepared this case, what do you think about it?” So you continue to incorporate feedback and when you go to the next person and say “Look, I just spoke with Fiona, I shared this idea and she likes it very much.” So the second person will be more to “I know Fiona, I think Fiona is brilliant executive, so if Fiona likes it I already start with probably I will like I too.” Right? So you build your step by step your journey to get where you want to.

Fiona: So I builds your fan base or community around the idea if you can’t get it on the table in the first place? Yeah. That’s really clever.

Lucio: And at the same time you also incorporated very good feedback because …

Fiona: Yeah absolutely you’re on the right track.

Lucio: Yeah, you will not say, “Oh I like it entirely 100%.”

Fiona: It’s like testing the water,

Lucio: Yeah, exactly.

Moving from Marketing Manager to a more strategic role

Fiona: Make sure it is the right temperature. Perfect. How did you make the transition from being a manger to showing that you could strategically have a big influence on key business decisions?

Lucio: First of all it’s not that I am a particularly humble person but luck is very important, also very important, you need to be given the opportunity at some point in time. What depends on you as an individual is to understand when you’re being given an opportunity. Which is, sounds obvious, but your opportunity does not come, normally does not come in the form of “Hey Fiona, we are looking for a new CMO, or a new head of something, we thought of you.” It may happen, [inaudible] right?

Fiona: Quite right.

Lucio: But the opportunity normally comes in a more subtle way. Like, there is a problem in the company or there is an opportunity in the market, nobody is coming to you and ask, “Hey Fiona, can you help,” but you spot the opportunity or you spot the company issue the company is struggling with and you independently come out with either a solution or a new way to address it, a new idea and you build support for your idea and you make the proposal. You push his forward, so what I think I’m trying to say is that…

Fiona: It doesn’t get given to you.

Lucio: Exactly, it may happen but it’s unlikely that somebody calls you and tell you,

Fiona: Now’s your time.

Lucio: Yeah, you need to find your way, right? If you like another way to say that I guess is leadership is not an entitlement. You need to build it for yourself If

Lucio: you want, because,

Fiona: It’s not for everybody.

Lucio: Totally acceptable right? Maybe it’s not in your interest to become a leader in your organisation that’s absolutely fine okay? You can be a super successful human being with out becoming an executive.

Fiona: Probably quite a happy one.

Lucio: Absolutely. Absolutely yeah.

Experience you need to build on to make the move from head of marketing to the board or the director level

Fiona: I understand. So I suppose the next question kind of leads on from that which you’ve probably answered again, but what sort of experience do you need to build on to make the move from the sort of head of marketing to the board or the director level? How does that change occur, is there any difference or is it just a continuous journey of adding value and spotting opportunity?

Lucio: I would say two things. The first one is attitude, and I’ll comment on that. The other is the ability to challenge. At the board level, you are not just an expert in wherever you come from, like his would be marketing, you are a board member at 360 degrees. So you are definitely welcome if you have an opinion on anything that is being discussed. Whether it is HR, sales, strategy, M and A, financials, supplies, anything right? This comes from your experience and comes from the fact that you have gone through, maybe not as a [inaudible] but you have been participating into conversations where million different topics were attached so you saw mistakes that were made in the past, brilliant ideas that were made in the past and this is all somewhere in the background of your brain and that’s fundamentally mainly what is expected at the board level.

Lucio: You come with challenges, you come with good questions that are challenging the board or the executives on new ways, different ways, simply ask good questions that is fundamental.

Lucio: On the attitude, I believe that always, attitude is as important as your knowledge, again, skills are fundamental but as you progress your career, attitude becomes more and more important. At some point in time you will not be the most knowledgeable person on whatever your team is doing, marketing or let’s say today digital marketing is a really hot topic. I am not and I don’t think I can ever become the best digital marketing person on my team. I will have experts and I will expect that there will be people with way more knowledge than me on many many different topics right? As an executive I am supposed to listen to what people are bringing to me, make sure that I help people to be successful, make sure that I put the questions and the opportunities in the right way. Good judgment in prioritising, good judgment in understanding when is the right moment to make a proposal, when is right the moment to hold a little bit, how to build influence within the organisation. A lot comes from your teams knowledge, your teams ability to deliver, but a lot of it comes from how good you are in framing and phrasing the opportunity with the right people at the right moment. I call it attitude, maybe it’s not the perfect word.

Fiona: It’s quite enough definitely in itself I think you’re right.

Fiona: Well that’s all we have time for this week, join us in two weeks in part two as we gain even more insights and advice from Lucio, if you’re enjoying this podcast please leave us a review in itunes. We’d love to hear your feedback.