7 shocking profession recommendation from Ford’s CMO
Ford’s current CMO says that, unexpectedly, all her career experiences prepared her for the role she holds today.
when it became Ford CMO in 2020, Suzy Deering I had no idea how much her experience as director of marketing at eBay or as executive director of media, engagement, brand and integration at Verizon would help her sell automobiles.
“What I hadn’t realized is that from my experience at Verizon, the parallels from when I entered the wireless industry, which was at a very early stage, with what I see now with electrification is unbelievable. When I look back, I think that’s what prepared me the most without me realizing it,” she recently explained on my Electric Ladies podcast.
She also highlighted the parallels with eBay. “Because when Covid came, the whole industry went e-commerce.”
Especially with the launch of Ford’s 100% electric F-150 Lightning pickup, she says that, unexpectedly, all her Past experiences prepared her to be Ford’s CMO today.
Here they are seven career advice taken from my conversation with Suzy Deering:
1. Be willing to “start from scratch” in a whole new industry: As Deering’s experience shows, this is not about starting at the bottom, but about applying your current experience to a new industry. “Learn something from scratch and give it your all,” he says. When you do, she suggests preparing 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 in 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 make you listen differently to people with different perspectives.
3. Call a “modernization” meeting: One of the things Deering did when he started at Ford was convene a weekly meeting to look for new ideas. “I started this meeting that was called a marketing modernization every Friday, but really, it was almost like an open mic type meeting. I would ask, ‘What do you feel we’re not doing that we should be doing? Or what’s stopping you from making some of the changes we need to make? 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. Get uncomfortable: Deering recognizes that it can be uncomfortable to walk away from an industry you have a deep understanding of, but that’s where the growth lies. “If you’re not uncomfortable, then you’re not growing. And if you’re not growing, you’re not learning. And if you’re not learning, you’re not advancing in your career.” She also says that it is necessary to show yourself vulnerable.
5. Throw away the manual: When launching a product, don’t just follow the manual you already have. Start from scratch. “With the F-150, we threw everything away. It’s bold to say let’s throw this away and start over and try different things than we’ve had in the past. But it worked.” In fact, 76% of F-150 Lightning customers are different from traditional F-150 buyers, Deering said.
Linda Zhang, chief engineer of Ford’s F-150 Lightning, reiterated how different consumers are for this new car and how unexpected this was.
6. “Do not seek the position”: As career advice, Deering insists, “Don’t seek the position. I think part of the challenge is that we often think we should go after the job. And the reality is, you have to get the job you want to do.”
7. Identify the real leaders (who probably don’t have the titles): She adds that we can learn from all types of people at all levels of the organization. “Learn from the leaders around you, and they are not necessarily people who have titles. They are leaders at every level.”
As we ended our conversation, she added: “Our secret powers as women and that have often been suppressed are 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 will not let anyone steal your mindset and you will look for all the signs that encourage and feed you.”