Five Traits of a Modern Marketing Leader

CMO Spotlight: Rich Kylberg, Arrow Technologies

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Without a doubt, Rich Kylberg embodies the modern marketing leader. As VP-corporate marketing and communications at Arrow Technologies, a 75-year-old company, he's brought brand awareness of this $20 billion company with previously little household recognition to new places.

Rich Kylberg
Rich Kylberg

Mr. Kylberg was recognized late last year by The CMO Club for a prestigious leadership award following a successful reinvention of the company's brand. Here are five of Mr. Kylberg's traits that many marketers will recognize as essential to effective leadership:

An off-the-wall outlook

Thinking about the marketing leaders in your own life, adjectives like innovative, calculating, persistent, or, say, courageous might come to mind. While Mr. Kylberg is surely these, he describes his style as "optimistic, passionate, and entirely 'out of the box.'"

Under his purview, Arrow once offered a young German songwriter competing in a contest 1 million euros to transform her love lyrics into a ballad about engineers. It "raised eyebrows," says Mr. Kylberg. Additionally, last year, Arrow toured a racecar driven by a quadriplegic man, and also built a computer lab in a shipping container for orphans in Tanzania to showcase the company's specialties and promote the transformed brand.

Imagination

Indeed, it takes a truly creative mind to raise eyebrows in today's often-saturated consumer landscape. This is why Mr. Kylberg counts none other than famous mouse-maker Walt Disney as an inspiration to his leadership. From Disney, he came to understand the importance of "altruism, entrepreneurship, and creativity." Says Mr. Kylberg: "I can't walk through a Disney Park without being stunned by the imagination and creativity brought to bear in an effort to create happiness. And, I suppose, cash flow."

The right connections

As in many industries, a great professional network also comes without a price tag in marketing. "My peer-to-peer network has been critical to my journey," says Mr. Kylberg. These peers have "flattened" what he says are sometimes steep learning curves and kept him on course, time and time again. Another benefit, says Mr. Kylberg, is that a strong network affords him opportunities to contribute and connect to his greater community. "Participating within the best organizations in my profession (The CMO Club), our industry (IBM Amplify), and the broader business community (YPO International) is essential to keeping me relevant and connected."

Focus

Even the most effective leaders can find themselves face-to-face with failure. For this reason, the best career advice Mr. Kylberg says he has ever received is that one must "pick your battles" to "win the war." He elaborates: "I've had dozens of individual initiatives shut down within Arrow. I've seen my team grow from 6 to 70 and back down to 30." But the small setbacks help his team recalibrate. "Our main focus on propagation of the united Arrow brand continues," he says, "and only grows stronger."

A win-win-win mentality

If it weren't evident from his admiration of Walt Disney, or the racecar or the shipping container-turned-computer lab, Mr. Kylberg believes that a company's marketing efforts should render a service to others. His goal looking forward, he says, is to expand the "scale, scope and impact" of Arrow's do-goodery as the company continues to transform. "I encourage our small team of professionals to dream of what we can do in 2016 and beyond that will make life better for others," he says, "while further defining and disseminating the company brand." Spoken like a true leader in his field.

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