Under Christie's leadership, and with not a little bit of
bravery, his department drove the integration process end-to-end,
with his product management and development teams rationalizing
their product portfolio and his strategy and communications teams
integrating targeting strategies and all aspects of communication
around the brand merger. "A year into the integration process,"
says Christie, "the company has achieved our major milestones and
is meeting stakeholder expectations."
In another show of courage, after having learned "the hard way"
that improving Level 3's customer experience wouldn't happen in a
silo, Christie tells me that responsibility for customer experience
strategy was moved to global marketing. Risky, perhaps, but smart.
Christie says the decision was based on his belief "that customer
experience is intrinsically tied to brand and a comprehensive view
of the customer journey."
Here's something else that I've noticed when a CMO effectively
deals with change: In addition to courage, organizational
creativity often plays a part. I call this being "artful." To
illustrate, Christie points out that in a situation like an
acquisition or responsibility shift, it's critical to understand
needs across the enterprise, especially from a cross-functional
stakeholder's point of view. To tackle these challenges within
Level 3 -- an organization with over 10,000 employees -- Christie
helped develop the CMO-CIO-CTO triumvirate. He calls this formation
a "three-legged stool," where each leader relies upon the other two
to move the business forward. "This relationship has become a
deliberate part of our operating model," says Christie.
Besides the successful CMO's penchant for crafting new
processes, thoughtfulness often helps the CMO deftly limit risk.
For example, to ensure that Level 3's new brand would resonate with
all parties (employees, customers and prospects), Christie and his
team began with the employee's perspective, knowing that their
support would be absolutely integral to the brand's long-term
After testing it for the other groups, they then launched the
new brand internally and equipped employees with a plethora of
programs and communications to engage them. "These efforts helped
to instill a sense of pride and to give them context for how
important each and every one of their jobs are to 'own it' and be
accountable to their contributions to the company, with the end
goal of enabling our customers' business success," Christie
Lastly, Christie demonstrates what I call the scientific side of
the effective CMO. That is, an innate curiosity for and
understanding of the intricacies that power smart marketing. It
also means knowing when and where to focus his efforts. When it
comes to brand awareness, Christie tells me that, being a b-to-b
enterprise, his team eschews efforts in the wider marketplace and
instead wields a variety of tools -- thought leadership, events,
social media, hyper-targeted efforts -- to drive inbound and
outbound activity. And of course, Christie pays careful attention
to the numbers. "We have evidence through our brand tracker and
campaign results that this approach is working," he says.