INTERVIEW WITH AN AMBITIOUS B2B MARKETER. VOLUME 4
Deborah Lewis, Director / Brand Programs for Infor
Deb Lewis is the Director, Brand Programs for Infor, the third largest enterprise software firm in the world. Deb is a very successful marketing executive with demonstrated ability in the creation and execution of global marketing strategies, campaigns, sponsorships, events, and programs, which accelerate company growth and improve competitive advantage.
Infor is a global company that provides cloud-based enterprise software products for every aspect of business. Over 68,000 organizations worldwide rely on Infor to achieve business-wide digital transformation.
Digitent: What role do you think ambition has played in your journey to becoming a marketing leader like you are?
Deb: You have defined ‘ambition’ as a strong desire to achieve something and requiring determination and hard work, and my comments flow from that definition. Ambition has three components: loving the work that you do (and I do!). The next is love the people on your team — meaning enjoy them, enjoy the diversity of thought, enjoy the inclusion. We think better when we work with people who think a little bit differently than we do; it’s not just one idea that’s going to win. It’s the layering on the ideas of others. The last component is to believe in the brand, the company you work for, and what it stands for. That can pull you through those tough moments. Those three components are the underpinnings of ambition and the keys that have helped and guided me in my career.
Digitent: Do you feel like you are an ambitious marketer? Do you think your marketing organization is ambitious, and how do you set goals and create ambition for your marketing teams?
Deb: Yes, there are huge ambitions with Infor marketing today, and there’s a significant ambition to become a modern marketing machine. An important pivot point is working with sales so that they understand the change, and its many implications for how business is now done. That’s very new for a lot of people within sales and there’s an important change management component with that. My team looks annually at our goals. We align our goals quarterly for each member of the team who runs a particular aspect of the programs we have in scope and we do our best to align that to the overall marketing and business objectives of the company.
Digitent: What’s your team like? Do you have a group of ambitious folks that you work with and do you think that ambition is a trait that you look for in the growth of your team?
Deb: Is ambition a trait or an attribute or a component of drive? Drive begets ambition. And with drive you need skills, you need smarts, you have to have an instinct for what’s going on and what’s right, and that all influences ambition. When I work with our teams, I do want to make sure they have the right drive and structure, over ambition, but when you’re in a hiring mode you’re looking at accomplishments, a retrospective view does speak to individual ambition.
Digitent: Philosophically as you look at your team, what advice would you give to a rising marketer when you’re talking about ambition? Would you say ambition is a good thing, or bad thing?
Deb: Ambition is a good attribute. It showcases your drive. My advice for a rising marketer? I’d say ‘don’t hold back at all, just go for it.’ Don’t expect others to shout out for you. Just grab onto the challenge and go in the direction that interests you; working with people that you like, doing work you love and work where you believe in the company.
Digitent: Do you have ambitious goals or audacious goals? And how do you measure success in your organization? Everybody’s got their analytics, is it sales? Is it other metrics?
Deb: For marketing, particularly in the enterprise software industry, sales targets are key metrics. Everyone is looking at the return on our investment for the marketing dollar. That could be tickets that we have as part of a sponsorship, or an investment in display advertising or TV advertising. Other metrics for brand are brand studies and brand lift and how our activities and perceptions in those areas shape us up against competitors in the market.
Digitent: Is there anything right now that you could point to that was hindering your ambitions in the past? Something you had to overcome, a case study in a way, a hurdle you got over?
Deb: Marketing, like many other disciplines, is under a huge revolution in skill sets because of technology and the availability of data and more data analytics required in our roles. When I started out in the marketing world it was all about creative: how creative could you be? What was the secret sauce message? What was the look and feel? And now it’s all about impact, reach, show me the return on your investment. When I think about the arc of that it has a huge impact on what people are able to accomplish, and what we think we need for skills to make us relevant, smart, and viable in the market.
Digitent: So is there anything else you want to add to your story here about ambition or your point of view?
From a personal view, throughout my career I have always reached out for what I need, whether that’s support or learning or training or whatever it is I needed in order to slingshot ahead and stay relevant, smart, and current. You need to reach out and seize it