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Alicia Tillman, CMO, SAP Ariba

Alicia Tillman got an earlier look than most at what goes on in the C-suite. In her first job out of school in the late 1990s, she was selected to serve as executive manager to Hal Rosenbluth, CEO of the travel management company Rosenbluth International. “I went on every trip he went on and attended every meeting he attended. The greatest thing I learned was how swift you have to be from a decision-making standpoint.” She put that to the test when she joined Ariba after an 11-year stretch at American Express, which had acquired Rosenbluth. In her first quarter on the job she orchestrated a complete rebranding of Ariba. In her second, marketing-generated new business opportunities increased 12%. By the fourth, four out of five new sales were generated by her department and deal sizes were double what they were the year before.

Marketing Strategy: Constant collaboration. Perspectives from team members and colleagues help to shape solutions that are relevant to many, not just a few. A single idea can have a much greater impact when different functional areas build on it. I believe this is crucial to breaking down silos and building a great company culture.

Winning ways: The rebranding of SAP Ariba. The objective was to breathe new life into the Ariba brand and draw on the incredible reputation and presence of our parent company, SAP. In less than four months we were ready to go with a new name, logo, and value proposition that’s more clear and relevant to our customers. This was my first major undertaking since joining the company and it’s something I’m very proud of.

Defining moment: Both of my parents were career professionals. They were extremely hard working, committed, and passionate about their jobs and that helped define my work ethic. After I was in the workforce for about three months, a role opened in the CEO’s office [where I worked] at the time and I was selected. For nearly three years, at an early and impressionable point in my career, I learned firsthand from my company’s CEO.

Trend watching: Marketers need to continuously have their fingers on the pulse of the channels their customers are getting information from. Most organizations have multiple buyer personas they need to speak to, so taking the time to define them and assemble an organized strategy to drive a strong brand message that appeals to them across channels is essential.

Marketing staff must-have: I look for energy and a positive spirit. So much of business today is done through relationships. People buy from people they like and trust. I look for people to join my team who are hard workers, humble, optimistic and believe collaboration and teamwork are necessary ingredients for success.

Advice to young marketers: Know who you are and what sets you apart. If you’re a great public speaker, get out there and speak. Focus on thought leadership. Share your perspective on topics of great relevance to your field. Companies are always seeking talent that is unique, so showcase who you are and stay true to it.

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