Thursday, January 14, 2016

Thoughts on Leadership for Future CMOs

By Michelle Sutton, MBA Class of 2016

Lisa Zoellner, CMO of Golfsmith, came to our Marketing Fellows Session to discuss “Thoughts on Leadership for Future CMOs.” Prior to becoming CMO of Golfsmith International, Lisa was CMO of Gold’s Gym, and prior to that, she worked in a variety of roles at Blockbuster. She provided us with ten lessons that she wished she had known before beginning her marketing career. Several of the lessons centered on collaborating with others: build relationships, learn the art of influence, expect and thrive in chaos, and find strong role models. She emphasized that in marketing, many key cross functional partners have an impact in your daily job. In order to succeed as a leader, you have to influence them. She recommended the book “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie and provided a great African proverb for us: “If you want to go fast, go alone. If you want to go far, go with others.” As Marketing Fellows, we have already begun to learn this in both our practicum projects and summer internships, but Lisa’s way of explaining how she has learned to collaborate effectively with others left an impression. It’s important for us to value each and every one of our classmates and colleagues because they bring expertise in certain areas, as well as a diverse skill set and experience to the team.

Lisa also mentioned that after we graduate, titles and grades won’t be nearly as meaningful as the results we produce in our job. We need to focus on delivering value and applying everything we learned in school to our new jobs! When she was discussing the jobs she held after graduating from school, another lesson that she gave was that lateral moves can take you forward. A career path is not always straight. In marketing, there are so many different areas that it’s important to learn them all. Taking lateral roles can help you become both more creative and more analytical. She also reminded us to trust our instincts in our careers going forward. This can lead to making sound decisions. Lastly, she told us that she is still learning. We will all be wrong at some point and you just have to take the issue head on and handle it. Finding great role models can help you continuously learn because you will be inspired by those people and they can share their knowledge with you. Overall, it was a very valuable session for us! Lisa gave us a lot of good reminders as we prepare to enter the real world again after graduation.

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