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Leadership Matters in Digital & MarTech

Earlier this year, we released the Marketing State of Play 2021, An Australian Study report in conjunction with Michael Page. The study was compiled from a survey completed by over 230 Australian marketing leaders and provides detailed insight into what is happening within marketing departments across the country. The report explores the core challenges marketers are grappling with in the current climate, prominent skill gaps within teams, and Martech and data challenges.

The findings of the report inspired the Marketing State of Play: Leadership Matters! Panel, which featured an all-women, all-star line-up from both the Marketing and Technology side of business. The panel included our very own Teresa Sperti, Founder & Director of Arktic Fox, Natalie Gray, Expert Lead, Marketing Operations at ING Bank, Rae Leong, Senior Director, Technical Services at Cheetah Digital and was facilitated by Caitlin Riordan, VP, Client Success & Services at Cheetah Digital. Discussion revolved around the current state of play in Marketing and digital, and addressed the importance of leadership in digital transformation, soft skills vs technical skill gaps, and organisational agility.

If you didn’t have the chance to tune in and want the 5 minute wrap up – we have pulled together a short synopsis of key discussion points for you:

The importance of leadership

A key focus of the panel discussion was the importance of leadership within digital transformation environments as well as when implementing marTech.

“If you really want collaboration and agility, you need to model the right behaviours as a leader. You need to be able to unblock the obstacles, provide clarity, and be actively nurturing relationships within the organisation. If marketing and IT leaders are not well-aligned, that filters thought to the teams,” said Teresa Sperti.

Natalie Gray added, “Building strong and empowered cultures comes from leadership. Most people nowadays want leaders they can learn from, but also leaders who can remove roadblocks Leadership is absolutely fundamental and that alignment in a transformation space is the key to success”.

Soft skills vs technical skills

The panel explored the importance of soft skills in this market and whilst different skills were highlighted as important what was unanimous was the increasing importance of soft skills to be effective leading change as a marketer. Modern marketers need to build key soft skills in areas including communication and presentation skills, stakeholder management, critical thinking and problem-solving skills, and teamwork all of which are required if you are to be successful in navigating the change environment and embedding transformation.

When it comes to technical skills, the panel explored the technical skills gap in areas like data and analytics. Inline with the report findings.

“We see marketing teams opting to bring in specialists which is really important, but what is often missed is building skills and knowledge across the wider team. Data isn’t the role of one person, it’s the role of the whole team to develop a data-driven approach and to do that you need to upskill people more broadly,” said Teresa Sperti.

Organisational agility

When transformation is the topic of discussion – organisational agility isn’t too far behind. The panel explored the importance of organisational agility and collaboration, and the role structure plays in breaking down silos.

"Having an agile mindset will allow organisations to adjust better to change, but it is important that it isn’t all about speed. Organisations need to ensure that there is clarity around objectives and that all business units have a common goal they are working towards," said Rae Leong.

Teresa added, “Structure is an interesting one. Organisations pull the structure lever quickly to address collaboration and agility. The reality is that structure alone can’t reduce silos and hierarchy and re-orient around the customer. If you really want collaboration and agility you need to model the right behaviours as a leader. If marketing and IT leaders are not well-aligned, that filters thought to the teams. No structural change alone will change that.

“We’re too busy trying to be busy. But what are we trying to do? To be successful in an transformation environment teams need clarity around strategy and where to place their energy. Investing time in driving alignment and creating clear focus enables teams to accelerate. Go slow to go fast,” she said.

Download your copy of the Marketing State of Play 2021, An Australian Study report here, and watch the Marketing State of Play: Leadership Matters! Panel here.


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