The evolving marketing discipline requires a host of new skills and traits—as well as a plethora of those that have always been important. We asked the 2015 Marketing Hall of Femme honorees to cite the key skills—marketing or otherwise—and traits they look for when hiring new players for their team. Here, their responses.
Michelle Bottomley, Chief Marketing & Sales Officer, Mercer
Results orientation, gravitas, working with others as collaborative co-creators, and the ability to provide structure to unstructured situations.
Kate Spellman, CMO, Penton
Beyond the skill set and the right profile, it’s really being able to work in a matrix organization. You’re touching so much in marketing. It’s having those collaboration skills. Everyone needs to work hard today in a team and understand that other people have value.
Ashley Johnston, SVP, Global Marketing, Experian Marketing Services
I always look for passion. People underestimate passion, but I believe that’s what separates great people from good people. Good chases opportunities; great creates opportunities. Passionate people seek out answers to questions that haven’t been asked and don’t accept no or that’s not what people are asking for as roadblocks. Those responses encourage them more.
Corinne Sklar, Global CMO, Bluewolf
People who are comfortable in their skin; I’m looking for authenticity, drive, and passion. That’s over skill set. I can teach a skill, but I can’t teach passion.
Lucille DeHart, CMO, Tristar Products Inc.
I always look for someone who is passionate, well-spoken, authentic, curious, and knowledgeable in their field. I need talent that is strong, but scalable and teams that work well together with the ability to succeed cross-functionally.
Elizabeth Jackson, CMO and EVP of Corporate Strategy, HookLogic
I want to hire people who have passion and want to exceed brand and business results through strong strategy and excellent execution.
Leslie Doty, CMO, Reader’s Digest Association
I look for people who aren’t afraid to ask questions. I don’t expect people to have all of the answers. I like people who aren’t afraid to admit that they don’t know everything and aren’t afraid to find the answers that they don’t have. If I don’t know something, I’m very happy to admit that I don’t know and that I need to find out or that I will find out. That’s important and it goes with being naturally curious. [I like] people who are naturally curious, who can tell a good story, who have passion, who like working with other people.
And then, are they an adult; are they professionally mature? Those are the key attributes [and] key traits I look for.
A lot of people have really good skills, but it’s about being curious, asking questions, and being passionate about what they do—which I think is critical. I have a great team…. I love the folks who work for me, and I make sure that they’re having fun, having a good time, and are personally being able to succeed and follow the path that they want to follow, as well. It makes for a great environment.
Mish Fletcher, Worldwide Managing Director, Marketing, OgilvyOne Worldwide
I ask, “Do you identify as weird or normal?” I don’t want the same think; I don’t want the same ideas. It takes somebody with a unique outlook to come up with fresh ideas and approaches.
Blair Christie, SVP and CMO, Cisco
Today there are four [skills] that are really core. That’s what we’re trying to drive in development for our marketing and communication folks, and what we look for [when hiring]. In my business, I think that storytelling is absolutely vital. We’re constantly looking for great storytellers—people who can bring an idea to life, speak simply, touch, and inspire. The power of an emotional connection to a brand is more important than ever.
I [also] look for someone who has demonstrated the ability to work with agility and speed. They’re not the same thing. Agile is that idea that things are ambiguous and you can shift, move, and not get stuck in your way; speed is obviously moving fast because that’s what the world demands.
Being collaborative. This isn’t about being nice and this is not about teamwork. It’s truly someone who understands how to harness the skills and the insight of others to make a better mosaic. Every idea [is] a piece in a mosaic. Not everyone is collaborative and, in my world, that’s absolutely critical.
And then finally risk taking…. It’s easy to stick in your safe spot. I find myself from time to time having to really push myself out of my comfort zone. Risk taking is important.
Maly Ly, VP of Global Marketing, Sojern
Intelligence, tenacity, team orientation, and expertise. I look for smart, driven, people who are thoughtful and can execute precisely and quickly in an increasingly complex and competitive environment.
Yael Zheng, CMO, Tintri
Three main things: intellectual horsepower and curiosity to learn; drive; delightful to work with.
Natasha Raja, VP of Marketing and Customer Service, Dice
I always say hire smart; hire giants. When I hire people I want to make sure that they’re smarter than me. I want the smartest team on the planet. I’m a big believer in strong team foundation. Honestly, I don’t think that I could have been where I’ve been or I could do my current job without my team.
Don’t be afraid to hire people who are smarter than you.
Samantha Skey, Chief Revenue and Marketing Officer, SheKnows Media
Passionate, smart people.
Linda Vetter, VP of Marketing, Yes Lifecycle Marketing
Peter Schutz, the former president and CEO of Porsche, has a big line that has become relatively famous: “Hire character and train skill.” That’s the base for who we hire and what we look for because, as marketers, there’s definitely a core that you look for from an ability standpoint. But [I want somebody who] never stops looking for the next ‘next.’ I think that, at its core, is the type of person who we look to hire.
I want somebody who’s pleasantly aggressive. I want you to always be looking for something new and bring it to the organization…. I think that comes back to “hire character, train skill.” People can do jobs; they can do the tasks. But it takes character to make a successful, well-tuned organization.
Melissa Wallace, VP of Marketing, Splash
Alicianne Rand, VP of Marketing, NewsCred
I look for character first; integrity, drive, passion, perseverance. Your values as a person and how you view the world is so much more important than how you look on a résumé. I also look for naturally smart people; real problem solvers.
Lori Wright, CMO, TIBCO Software Inc.
Will and skill, but I’ll take will over skill most days, because skill can be taught.