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Exclusive: Business resilience: How employers can create the right culture

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Business resilience: How employers can create the right culture

#Business #resilience #employers #create #culture

Business resilience has never been so important.

Covid and lockdowns have been followed by war in Europe and the disruption of supply chains, all set against a background of rising inflation, increasing energy bills, the battle for talent and the constant threat of cyberattacks.

How can small businesses become more resilient?

In this article, you’ll learn what resilience means for businesses, how to identify risks and what you can do to make particular elements of your business more resilient.

Here’s what we cover:

Creating a culture of business resilience

When it comes to creating a culture of business resilience, it’s worth considering that it is less a process and more of a state of mind.

It means being constantly alert for threats and being ready to respond quickly.

Resilient businesses are those that are agile and can adapt quickly, with alternative suppliers, distributors, routes to market and ways of working ready to go should they hit an unexpected problem.

Disruption can come from a wider variety of directions than ever these days, including climate change.

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In a paper published at the end of 2021, the London School of Economics argued that: “Many small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK are ill-equipped for an unpredictable future, and are making business decisions today which will ‘lock in’ future risks from disruption like floods or heat waves.”

It quotes analysis of Ordnance Survey data which shows that almost 8% (7.82%) of new business premises in England and Wales were built in medium or high-risk flood areas.

Risks facing small businesses

According to a survey produced by insurance company Allianz, based on the insight of 2,650 risk management experts from 89 countries and territories, 44% cited cyber incidents as the most important global risk with 42% pointing to business interruption such as supply chain problems.

Just as global supply chains were returning to normal following the impact of Covid and lockdown, the war in Ukraine with its resulting sanctions on Russia and then the aggressive response by the Chinese government to a new outbreak of the pandemic in Shanghai introduced a whole new world of uncertainty.

Meanwhile, new technology is constantly disrupting businesses – introducing opportunities for some and rendering the whole business model of others redundant.

Could your sector or your own business be next?

Brexit has caused legislation and regulation for businesses to evolve more quickly and unpredictably especially when it comes to imports and exports.

Difficulties with transporting goods to the European Union (EU), exchanging data and recruitment of staff from outside the UK means businesses need to be more resilient in this area.

ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) legislation is constantly changing and so is the risk of being accused of “greenwashing” or having procedures and supply chains that are not sustainable.

The use of social media by increasingly vocal and demanding customers means any business could find itself at the centre of a “Twitterstorm”.

If that wasn’t enough, there’s always the ever-present risk of fire or flood.

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Would your business be able to continue to trade if your main office was out of action or you couldn’t use your workshop, factory or warehouses?

Making businesses resilient

Businesses need to be resilient so they can respond quickly in the event of any of these threats impacting upon them.

Resilience means that even if something does go wrong suddenly and unpredictably, you’ll be able to retain staff and keep them motivated.

Neither should you need to let down customers.

This means that you’re finally up and running again, you won’t find that they’ve moved to another supplier.

Of course, your finances might take a hit but if you’re resilient and agile this won’t be a knockout blow.

Suppliers and other stakeholders in your business will see that you’re managing the situation and so they’ll have confidence in you and stick with you.

Making your business resilient requires a shared goal and a sense of direction for all staff.

When times are hard, and threats could come from any direction, it’s more important than ever that all of your team are aligned and know exactly what the company’s purpose is and what it needs to do to be successful.

This means that if a department or even the whole business gets knocked off course, you know where you’re going and you’re ready to get back on your feet to continue the journey.

It’s also important to ensure that everyone shares the same values and that staff feel supported.

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If they make a mistake caused by a knock to the business, will they get help rather than a reprimand?

If they find the changes brought about by returning to the office, adopting hybrid working or responding to an external threat are too challenging, will they receive adequate support and guidance?

Similarly, worries about rising energy bills and even concerns about the global political situation can take their toll and employers need to be ready to act to ensure that their staff are resilient themselves.

Resilience and employee wellbeing

“Employers need to understand and accept the new landscape they are in,” says Mike Jones, founder of Better Happy, an employee wellbeing and engagement consultancy.

“To thrive in this new environment, we need to put the same emphasis on our employee journey as we do our customer journey.

“We need to invest in the whole person, lead with empathy and show our people that we are genuinely invested in their development.

“When we do this we not only attract and hold on to great staff, but we increase engagement, productivity and profits as a by-product.”

Collaboration is an essential building block in creating a culture of resilience, as is communication.

To discover how committed your teams are to the business, you can carry out some research to find your Employee Net Promoter Score (eNPS).

This scoring system helps employers measure employee satisfaction and loyalty.

Employees are usually asked to rate, on a scale from zero to 10, how likely they would be to recommend your company as a place to work. They’re then asked why they gave this score.

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By looking at how many employees gave your company a low score (from zero to six) you can work out how many detractors you have.

Those who gave you a middle ranking score (seven and eight) are counted as neutral.

Anyone who scored the company highly (nine and 10) are regarded as promoters.

By subtracting the percentage of detractors from the percentage of promoters you can work out your net promoter score.

An eNPS survey is easy to carry out and it provides you with a clear, quantitative snapshot of how your employees feel about your organisation.

Including specific issues such work/life balance, salary and training opportunities give more detailed information to help you to make informed decisions.

Carried out every two to three months, your eNPS will allow you to track concerns so you can take action quickly to boost morale and engagement, and make your company more resilient in terms of your employees.

This ensures your employees, customers, suppliers and the communities around your business know what’s happening if you’re hit with a problem and, even more importantly, what you’re doing about it is essential.

There are a number of practical actions that you can take to improve your business resilience.

9 practical actions to take to be resilient

1. Be prepared to work remotely

You should be ready to work remotely.

Already, most companies are adapting hybrid working models but employees still have to come into the office for certain tasks.

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Ensuring that technically and managerially you can continue to service customers, develop new products and carry out routine tasks such as paying bills and salaries, carrying out appraisals and communicating with suppliers are all essential.

systems and management need to be fully capable here.

2. Get your employees involved

When problems occur or times get tough, it’s more essential than ever to listen to all of your employees.

Everyone, not just the senior leadership team, has something to contribute. Those working on the shop floor or in more junior roles might well have constructive, practical advice.

Some of these ideas might come as a complete surprise to those further up the management structure.

3. Listen and learn

Related to the point above is ensuring that you’re listening to employees at all levels and communicating with them.

The challenges of the pandemic and lockdown prompted many managers to want to learn new skills so they could navigate an unfamiliar business landscape.

Continuing and expanding this learning culture should be encouraged for all employees.

4. Be clear on your business’ financial position

Being resilient means you need to have more accurate and updated knowledge of your financial position than you might normally.

Constantly monitoring your bank balance and cash flow as well as your liabilities will allow you to make better informed decisions, enabling your business to become more agile – and to be ready to pre-empt financial difficulties.

5. Take care of yourself

There’s been a growing interest in physical and mental wellbeing in many companies as employees seek to get the best from their employees and encourage loyalty.

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In times of uncertainty, it’s often tempting to let these concerns slip down the agenda.

However, it’s during these times that you and your employees need to be at your best, fighting fit.

To improve resilience, ensure nutrition, rest periods, exercise and activities such as mindfulness and mental health training are ramped up rather than being dialled down.

6. Turn setbacks into opportunities for growth

An important way to make your company more resilient is to foster an environment in which setbacks are seen as learning experiences.

Whenever something goes wrong, the following question should be asked:

What can be learned from this experience?

A no-blame culture, for instance, is one in which employees are encouraged to celebrate their successes and share their mistakes in a way that helps identify solutions and best practice.

Mistakes, though obviously not encouraged or ignored, can be seen as an opportunity to learn rather than a reason to blame.

7. Develop and maintain strong relationships

It’s during difficult times that relationships become more important than ever in business, be they with employees, customers, suppliers, local communities or regulators.

Ensuring your resilience or crisis plan includes ways of working closely with these groups and communicating effectively with them is essential.

Developing strong, constructive relationships with shared goals and regular, transparent communication will help to develop resilience.

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8. Protect and manage your supply chains – and consider suppliers too

This is an essential element of business resilience.

You can start by conducting a vulnerability audit including a risk analysis to identify the weakest links in these chains.

This will help you focus on where you need to find potential alternatives routes and suppliers.

You can also think about diversifying your supplier base so you spread your risk. If one supplier goes down, then you’ve got alternatives to rely on.

Developing a plan to keep customers and other interesting parties up to date with any problems with your supply chain and what you’re doing to overcome them is important.

9. Invest in cybersecurity software

According to a survey by Close Brothers Asset Management, half of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK have suffered a cyberattack.

However, just over half of them (52%) have invested in staff training to help prevent attacks.

Investing in cybersecurity software such as antivirus and anti-spyware programmes as well as firewalls, which block unauthorised access to your network, will improve your cyber resilience.

A virtual private network (VPN) can improve privacy and hide your essential information.

Being proactive with business resilience

Colocation is normally used to refer to a place to host a data centre or server as part of cybersecurity and IT resilience, but it can also be thought of more widely.

It’s important to have a plan for people to work from home or from another location should your office suffer damage by fire, flood or any other risk.

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As well as the physical elements of this change in working, are your people management systems set up to cope? Do you know of alternative warehouse space?

Is there another venue nearby that you could use to continue to manufacture or fulfil orders?

For David Brennan, CEO of Nexus Vehicle Rental, being proactive and forward thinking has been an important factor in ensuring that his business is resilient.

He says: “Although today’s challenges are unpredictable, many do stem from well-understood economic trends, making it possible to engage proactively with developing challenges – if the business can correctly identify and understand them.

“Business leaders can work with advisers to prepare for worsening economic conditions,” he adds.

“If a crisis requires scaling back operations, reducing the size of the workforce, or adapting service-level agreements, it is better to consider these in advance.

“If the situation improves, these plans can be discarded but if the worst does happen, the business will be prepared and react in a calm, measured way.”

Chris Middleton is the Operations Director at Quirk Solutions, a UK-based management consultancy that has helped some of the country’s largest businesses to overcome challenges agrees.

He recommends stress testing or war gaming your business’s resilience.

Chris says: “We really focus on cognitive diversity in our sessions to maximise the perspectives and skill sets working against a problem.

“In a room of 15 people, you will probably find 11 different reasons why a plan might fail. From there you can prioritise what the most important issues are.”

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All too often, companies fixate on a risk which is one they can easily marshal the skills and resources to manage.

“What we regularly see emerge from our exercises are risks that the company has no idea what to do about,” Chris adds.

“Risks which are poorly understood require novel capabilities to address, and which emerge quickly are the ones likely to prove the most dangerous.

“By doing exercises such as this, organisations can prepare for the issues that they lack the skills to be able to deal with.”

Plan your resilience strategy now

Any company’s greatest asset is its people and ensuring they’re both physically and mentally looked after is essential to ensure resilience.

The pandemic has shone a spotlight on mental health, wellbeing and what it means to live a good life, points out Maryam Meddin, founder & CEO of The Soke, a mental health and wellness clinic.

She says: “Organisations need to develop a clearer and more honest recognition of their employees’ experience in order to provide a healthier environment with a focus on personal growth.

“The way we feel at work has a big impact on our performance. We are motivated to think, learn and create when we feel seen, appreciated and understood.”

Maryam adds: “Post-pandemic, we have an opportunity to rebuild our organisational cultures in ways that incorporate our employees in the strategic conversations.

“Through this gesture of inclusion, we demonstrate a new commitment to creating a place where partnerships are nurtured and where senses of shared purpose can begin to take hold – a place that’s sustainable and resilient to future adversity.”

Few of us like to dwell on doom and gloom and so it can be tempting to put off planning your business resilience.

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However, taking time out with your teams to identify risks and threats and thinking about how you’d mitigate them is essential.

Equally important is ensuring that people management, systems and procedures and other day-to-day aspects of running your business take into account the importance of being resilient.

And here’s some final tips from our group of entrepreneurs on business resilience:

  • Carry out regular eNPS surveys.
  • Work with advisers to prepare for economic challenges.
  • Make the most of cognitive diversity and avoid group think by seeking ideas from a wide variety of sources.
  • Create an environment with a shared purpose where partnerships are encouraged.

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Exclusive: 3 Home Improvement Stocks That Can Renovate Your Portfolio – TalkOfNews.com

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3 Home Improvement Stocks That Can Renovate Your Portfolio

#Home #Improvement #Stocks #Renovate #Portfolio

During a bear market, home improvement stocks have historically been solid defensive plays

The housing sector is slowing down. Rising mortgage rates are having the predictable effect of cooling down demand.



MarketBeat.com – MarketBeat

Or are they? While homeowners may not be able to get the same premium they could command just one year ago, there is still an ample supply of homes on the market. And once these homes change hands, new homeowners will be ready to make their new house their own.

However, that’s not the only catalyst for home improvement stocks. Homeowners who are deciding to “love it” rather than “list it” are likely to put some money into one of their largest investments as they wait for the housing pendulum to swing back in their favor.

In this article, I’ll give you three home improvement companies that continue to generate strong revenue and earnings. And two of these companies are also members of the exclusive Dividend Aristocrat club. These are companies that have increased their dividend for at least 25 consecutive years.

If that’s the kind of balance of growth and income that appeals to you, it may be time for you to consider these three home improvement stocks.

Lowe’s (LOW)

Lowe’s (NYSE: LOW) stock is down about 30% in 2022. That’s larger than the broader market. But in the last month, the stock is showing signs of forming a bottom. And with the stock near its 52-week low, it may be time for investors to take a closer look at the stock.

The driving force for that sentiment may be the company’s earnings. In May, Lowe’s closed out its fiscal year. Revenue growth came in at an uninspiring 1% growth. But earnings were up 19%. Even if companies are heading into an earnings recession, a P/E ratio that is slightly below the sector average means it’s likely that Lowe’s will be able to post growth, albeit perhaps slower growth, in its next fiscal year.

And Lowe’s offers investors a rock-solid dividend that it has increased in each of the last 48 years. The current payout is $3.20 per share on an annual basis, and the company has averaged 17% dividend growth over the past three years.

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Home Depot (HD)

Just as investors can debate Coca-Cola (NYSE: KO) versus Pepsi (NASDAQ: PEP) among consumer discretionary stocks, they can frequently plant their flag with Lowe’s or Home Depot (NYSE: HD) when it comes to home improvement stocks.

To be fair, neither of these stocks looks like a bad selection for investors who are concerned about a recession. Home Depot delivered a strong earnings report in May 2022. Revenue was up 3.8% and earnings per share were up 5.8%. The company delivered strong same-store sales growth that was due in large part to its relationship with professional contractors.

Of the three stocks in this article, Home Depot has the largest dividend yield (2.68%) as well as the largest payout ($7.60). And while it’s not a dividend aristocrat the company has increased its dividend in each of the last 14 years.

Sherwin Williams (SHW)

Paint is one of the most cost-effective ways to give a house a refreshing update. And as we move into the fall, homeowners attention turns to finding that perfect swatch of paint to transform a room. That’s enough to put Sherwin-Williams (NYSE: SHW) on my radar and perhaps yours as well. Historically the current quarter and the following quarter are the company’s strongest in terms of revenue.

But the skeptics will point to the fact that earnings have been a mixed bag. The company has missed analysts’ expectations in two of last four quarters and in the other two the gains were on the tepid side. And I’ll concede that a mixed earnings outlook will probably bring current price targets down from their 30% upside.

That being said, SHW stock offers both growth and income which is appealing in this volatile market. Sherwin Williams dividend yield of 1% isn’t likely to make income investors swoon. But the company does payout $2.40 on an annualized basis. The company also sports a three-year dividend growth of 24.26% and has increased its dividend in each of the last 44 years.

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Exclusive: VW and Goldman-backed battery maker Northvolt gets $1.1 billion funding injection – TalkOfNews.com

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VW and Goldman-backed battery maker Northvolt gets $1.1 billion funding injection

#Goldmanbacked #battery #maker #Northvolt #billion #funding #injection

Northvolt’s most recent funding announcement comes at a time when major economies are laying out plans to move away from vehicles that use diesel and gasoline.

Mikael Sjoberg | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Electric vehicle battery maker Northvolt on Tuesday announced a $1.1 billion funding boost, with a range of investors — including Volkswagen and Goldman Sachs Asset Management — taking part in the capital raise.

In a statement, Sweden-based Northvolt said the $1.1 billion convertible note would be used to finance the company’s “expansion of battery cell and cathode material production in Europe to support the rapidly expanding demand for batteries.”

Other investors in the raise include Baillie Gifford, Swedbank Robur, PCS Holding and TM Capital.

Northvolt recently said its first gigafactory, Northvolt Ett, had started commercial deliveries to European customers. The firm says it has orders amounting to $55 billion from businesses such as Volvo Cars, BMW, and Volkswagen.

Gigafactories are facilities that produce batteries for electric vehicles on a large scale. Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been widely credited as coining the term.

Read more about electric vehicles from CNBC Pro

Northvolt’s most recent funding announcement comes at a time when major European economies are laying out plans to move away from road-based vehicles that use diesel and gasoline.

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The U.K., for instance, wants to stop the sale of new diesel and gasoline cars and vans by 2030. It will require, from 2035, all new cars and vans to have zero-tailpipe emissions. The European Union — which the U.K. left on Jan. 31, 2020 — is pursuing similar targets.

As the number of electric vehicles on our roads increases, the competition to develop factories capable of manufacturing EV batteries at scale is intensifying, with companies like Tesla and VW looking to establish a foothold in the sector.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Northvolt’s CEO and co-founder, Peter Carlsson — who previously worked for Tesla — was bullish about the future. 

“The combination of political decision making, customers committing even more firmly to the transition to electric vehicles, and a very rapid rise in consumer demand for cleaner products, has created a perfect storm for electrification,” he said.

According to the International Energy Agency, electric vehicle sales hit 6.6 million in 2021. In the first quarter of 2022, EV sales came to 2 million, a 75% increase compared to the first three months of 2021.

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Exclusive: Activating Purpose Inside One of America’s Largest Banks – TalkOfNews.com

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Activating Purpose Inside One of America’s Largest Banks

#Activating #Purpose #Americas #Largest #Banks

In 2022, Purpose has moved from the periphery of company strategy to its core. The Purpose Power Index 2022, the first empirical study of Purpose based brands, confirms that Purpose significantly contributes to increasing people’s willingness to buy from and work for a company. 

Despite this growing understanding, a big challenge remains. Only 10% of CMOs have activated their Purpose inside and outside their organizations (Kantar). And among those who do, recent studies indicate that 80-85% of Purpose initiatives fail in execution. 

So, who is doing it, and doing it well?

Vinoo Vijay is Chief Marketing Officer at Truist, one of the largest commercial banks in the nation. He also happens to be one of the top CMOs in the country who is activating the company’s purpose effectively. This interview puts Vijay at the center of activating purpose. He agreed to talk to me, and he relishes the opportunity to pass on what he has learned in the process. 

1.   What is Truist’s Purpose?

Our purpose is to inspire and build better lives and communities. This purpose has been our core grounding from the inception of Truist three years ago. It’s clear to us that scaled modern banking is just table stakes.  What drives us, and makes us distinctive, is our absolute commitment to our shared purpose, mission, and values. Our belief is that a reimagined combination of touch and technology, combined with our deep teammate, client and community focus, puts us on the path to live our purpose every day.

2.   When you were considering the offer to come to Truist and how did you know you’d be collaborating with leaders who believe in building a purpose-driven bank?

Your question includes an important and correct assumption. I had no interest in being the CMO of just another bank. I had already served as CMO at TD Bank, as well as created and ran brand and marketing at Ally Financial.  What was, and is, important to me is having an active and positive impact on colleagues and communities, and it was obvious as I spoke with Truist leaders that they were deeply driven by purpose. Even now, we center our work in purpose. It’s a constant reminder of our why.  And because we are a wholly new brand and reimagined bank, we have an incredible opportunity to translate our purpose intention into a genuinely different kind of banking experience.

3.   Knowing that Truist’s Purpose is larger than simply increasing the number of new checking accounts, why does it need a purpose?

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For the longest time the key focus and message of banking was around security. Imagine the imposing bank branch with six-inch thick walls protecting your money. That era was followed by one that emphasized scale. The sheer power of size. Think 60-story buildings. And for the last 15 years or so, the industry focus has been digital utility as digital became ubiquitous. Maximizing utility within our mobile six-inch screen. In the last couple of years, we are seeing a shift towards a focus on the communal. What I mean by that is, we’re recognizing that we don’t live in a vacuum. That we have shared experiences. And our actions impact others, and the actions of others impact ours. Think six degrees of separation multiplied. Our collective wellbeing is inexorably linked. This era demands that we find and create shared, common purpose beyond ourselves. In fact, we crave it. Whether as a teammate, or as a client. So the question now is not whether we need purpose, but how well can we deliver on purpose for our teammates, clients, and communities. Just as security, scale, or digital utility was the hallmark of our past, purpose is the blueprint for our future.

4.   Communicating that purpose must be challenging. In a new study, less than 25% of CMOs are not activating the company purpose; what’s been your strategy? 

Challenging, yes. Impossible, no. Activating purpose presented wide open whitespace for Truist. Banks do well meeting the functional banking needs of clients and communities. We get the functional job done. But the emotional needs. The more human needs. The needs that, if met, reinforce trust and commonalities. That inspire and build better lives and communities. Those needs aren’t typically being met by financial services providers. We knew that if we could find a way to both reinforce internally and, establish externally, our legitimate claim of being a more purposeful bank, we could stand apart. To your point, however, the language and visualization of purpose can lack believability and feel trite. It’s easy to be cynical about emotional attributes. Truist’s approach has been to go at it from the inside out starting with leadership. Our Truist Leadership Institute specializes in leadership development that focuses on the whole person and how their beliefs, especially their purpose, influence their leadership style. Leaders are tasked with not only identifying their purpose, but writing it down and leading from their personal purpose.

As we thought about how to translate our intention into an external narrative, we looked at language we already use internally. One of our key values is Care. Care is an encompassing word. It’s intentional. It’s focused on others. It alludes to a belief in and departure from industry indifference. It speaks to how we show up for teammates, clients, and communities.  So we leaned into that word, and framed our position that “When you start with Care, you get a different kind of bank.” And we believe that to be true.  Care can affect how people experience the brand.  And if we can apply the power of a safe, scaled, digitally capable bank – with Care – then we will create a different kind of bank. That promise is how we think about our strategy, our experience development, our teammate development, and a  vibrantly local community approach.

5.   Truist today is everywhere, on TV, on billboards, on social media, on sports stadiums, how important is it to build your brand?

We are a new brand. And our scale demands we are in the top 3-5 bank brands in terms of awareness and consideration. Given there are several industry brands that have close to 100% awareness, we have our work cut out for us. As we journey there, our approach is to lean into what makes us unique – our purpose, a relentless pursuit to activate our purpose through Care, our focus on human touch and technology, and our vibrantly local emphasis on community engagement. 

6.   It seems like the CMO function is undergoing change.  What do you see in the future of Marketing and the role of a CMO?

I’ve been in the marketing function for almost 30 years and have been head of marketing or CMO for more than a decade. The marketing function has gone through a couple of key evolutions and is going through one now. Thirty years ago, the big shift in marketing was enabled by the emergence of relational databases. That put marketers on the front end of direct marketing acquisition strategies.  The emergence of digital was the next transformational moment, driving marketers to become CRM and client experience champions. Now, I think the shift is toward deepened integration of brand and purpose. Marketers need to be the champions of purpose, always connecting the work to the deeper “why.”

7.   So when you’re sitting around the table with Bill Rogers, the CEO and Chairman of Truist, talking about strategy and what to do next, what keeps you centered? Do you think about the purpose on a daily basis? 

I do. My personal purpose is to elevate the power of care and joy in my daily life. For me that means using every interaction to exchange a little bit of care, a little bit of joy with whomever I am with. I find the more honest and authentic I am, the better my chances are of having interactions that result in successful exchanges of care and joy. At the end of the day our lives are made up of millions of individual moments. The more of those moments have heart and happiness, the more I think our life is one well lived.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.
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