At Marketing Trends we are discovering what drives Australia’s top marketers. In this interview, Stephanie tells us about her new and unique role as General Manager of CX & Alliances at AC3, what she likes the most about it and which B2C marketing trend she foresees shifting into “B2B land”. Read her full story here!
Career & professional background
Stephanie, how did your career in marketing start?
Honestly, I was gently pushed into it, with two hands firmly on my back! I studied business at university and never thought I would end up as a marketer. My first job was in a sales operations team, focusing on business development support.
I got bitten by the sales bug and thought I would spend my career selling. But fate (or perhaps a pushy mentor who I am forever grateful for) intervened and when a marketing role became available in the business, I made the move and here we are.
If you hadn’t pursued a career in marketing, in which other industry do you think you might be?
I think I would have stayed the course in sales for some time, but I think eventually my innate desire to create change and help the people around me grow would have led to some sort of management role.
I've always thought it's ridiculous that we expect high school kids to decide what they want to be when they 'grow up'. I think it's great that we now live in a time when it's perfectly acceptable - and expected - to change careers more than once in our working lives. Especially because I'm still deciding what I want to be when I grow up!
Could you tell us about your role as General Manager of Customer Experience & Alliances at AC3?
My role at AC3 is relatively new and unique. I was hired as the Head of Marketing when we had just over 100 staff. Fast forward five years and we've grown to a team of over 300, a much more diverse portfolio of services and the need to create more structure around our partner management and our customer experience.
It made sense for me to add those functions to my role, given the cross functional nature of all three areas. The partner piece ties in nicely with the marketing function, as we co-create most of our services and campaigns with those partners.
When it comes to the customer, we wanted someone at the executive level to have single accountability for their experience. The thing I like most about the role is that it allows me to effect real and meaningful change, while adding another dimension to my career.
Although even though I am retaining all marketing responsibility, it was quite daunting to drop the word 'marketing' from my title!
Marketing & Industry Trends
What type of impact has COVID- 19 had on your industry?
We saw a mixed impact in our industry. Initially there was a flurry of activity as businesses tried to prepare themselves for the work from home era. We also saw a downturn, specifically where we had customers in highly impacted industries such as entertainment.
Looking at the wider IT industry, we are still experiencing supply chain and logistics challenges. Given AC3 manages and secures cloud infrastructure for mission critical systems for both government and many large enterprise customers (not something you can or want to just 'turn off') we were fairly resilient throughout.
What is the most exciting trend or innovation happening in your field in terms of growth?
I might be biased, but I am going to have to say customer experience. It's not exactly new, but we haven't seen the same penetration in the B2B space that we have in B2C. I think we're on the cusp of seeing this trend shift to B2B land.
I think this gives B2B marketers the perfect chance to step into the CX space and increase their impact on revenue by having more ownership over retention, as well as growth.
As a marketer, what do you believe is the biggest challenge facing your industry in the future?
I think we will all face a major challenge in balancing data and privacy. We know consumers crave personalisation, but only with their explicit permission. It is already a fine line to manage, but I think that tightrope will become even narrower in the future.
I know that as a consumer, I expect more every day from the brands I engage with. I want an ad served to me at the perfect moment to help me solve my problem. But on the flip side, I value my privacy and will immediately disengage if I think a brand hasn't followed the best practice to obtain and maintain my data. As we see more innovation in technology and data, this challenge will compound.
Tools, recommendations & sources of inspiration
What does a typical day look like for you? How do you structure your week?
I know it's not a very helpful answer, but I don't have a typical day! I operate fairly flexibly, but without fail every week includes a team meeting with my direct reports, an executive leadership meeting and a sales management meeting.
Those are the three staples to keep me in sync with the rest of our business. I know people that are incredibly structured but that just doesn't work for me. I have recently started carving out more dedicated time to 'work', rather than hopping from meeting to meeting, which I would recommend to anyone.
What brands do you take inspiration from?
It's hard to narrow it down, there are so many! As a B2B marketer, I like to take inspiration from B2C brands. Mostly because they get to be a bit more creative and have a bit more fun.
I think Hungry Jack's are doing some pretty creative work and pushing boundaries as a challenger brand. I also think you would be hard-pressed to find any marketer who wasn't inspired by Canva. They solved a major pain point in a simple, fun and creative way. Lastly I will happily admit to enviously admiring Hubspot's content strategy.
Software and tools recommendations: what is the one software you can’t work without and why?
It would have to be a tie between Hubspot and Slack! Hubspot is excellent as a marketing tool for businesses of all sizes. Slack, on the other hand, keeps me connected with our diverse and distributed workforce in a collaborative way.
What are three resources you would recommend for anyone working in your field?
- Forrester - they have some really great content and it's often a trusted source for the C-suite. Win win.
- Peter Drucker’s Managing Oneself - unlike most of Drucker’s books which are quite lengthy, this tiny little book is quick to read but invaluable. The concept is learning what makes you tick so you can manage yourself to make a maximum contribution in your career.
- Your partners - don't underestimate the network you create from your suppliers and agencies. They aren't just working with you, they're working with many other businesses facing similar challenges. Take the time to build a trusting relationship and the ideas and advice will flow (in both directions!)