GSK Multi-Channel Marketing Director
Temple University MBA, Organizational Behavior
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How did you get to where you are today? What is your story? What incidents and experiences shaped your career path?

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
I've always had an interest in analytics and creative thinking. I read a book in high school called 'Confessions of an Advertising Man' by David Ogilvy that got my interest in human behavior and how advertising can affect that and then I found that advertising is a combination of creativity and then the analytics that goes with it and I thought, this is a perfect path to go down even though I ended up in marketing, not advertising, it is still a big part of my job and so that's kind of what got me started. Then I started in a company, I didn't start doing marketing right away, it was very difficult to get a job at that time in marketing so I got a job where I could do a lot of analysis and working with numbers then I started hanging around the marketing people and talking to them, and eventually, I found the opportunity and kind of grew from there.

What are the responsibilities and decisions that you handle at work? Discuss weekly hours you spend in the office, for work travel, and working from home.

Based on experience at: Multi-Channel Marketing Director, GSK
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
Most of the time, I'm in the office. Today I'm at home because I just don't have quite as many meetings today but generally, I'm in the office. I have a team now of five people, actually, six. We just hired but she didn't start yet, so it'll be six people. A lot of the time is spent on coaching them and working with them as well as helping to find strategies for bigger projects. I usually get in the office a little bit after seven in the morning, and I leave around five. In today's world, you're always checking emails all the time, and I take the train, so I'm usually checking stuff there as well. I don't travel that much, travel in spurts, and I'm speaking at a couple of conferences pending, the Coronavirus limitations right now, but I'm scheduled to speak in L.A in April and New York in April later on the topic of actually creativity and media, I call it words and music is the theme that I give it, but it's how creativity and media work together to create better marketing.

What are the job titles of people you routinely work with inside and outside of your organization? What approaches do you find to be effective in working with them?

Based on experience at: Multi-Channel Marketing Director, GSK
Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
The titles that I work with are marketing directors, senior marketing directors, marketing analysts, financial analysts, financial managers, market research and then my team is mostly multi-channel related so it's multi-channel marketing director, manager, associate that kind of things. There's also an e-commerce team that I work with internally. I'm the marketing guy on the e-commerce team, and we have an operations group that does all the website-related functions, so I work with them a lot, those guys are all analysts or IT people. The most effective way to work with any group is clear communication. It's funny, it seems obvious yet when you look and review a project that maybe didn't go as well, you find invariably that there was a lack of clear communication. What I asked from you, you interpreted differently so you thought you have given me what I wanted, but I didn't really ask for exactly that and that happens a lot, and even after years of experience you have to really be careful in how you work. Everybody's moving fast today so you have to be really clear, don't assume people know what you're talking about. It doesn't hurt to be really clear so I think that's true, like in any situation but really with my team, peers that I'm working with people above me, it's to be really clear.

What major challenges do you face in your job and how do you handle them? Can you discuss a few accomplishments?

Based on experience at: Multi-Channel Marketing Director, GSK
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
A big challenge is always about setting priorities and managing time. You try to do as many things as you can, but what I've gotten better at over the years, it is understanding what trade-offs there are so if there's a new idea that comes along like maybe a social media project or something that somebody is really hard on and said we should be doing this and we have to think but wait a minute, What's the value of it? How much time is it going to take as well as the cost? I think in the past we only maybe thought about the cost of it like we don't have a budget for that but there's a time element not only for me, but it might be for me, but also for many other people in the team. Like we have lawyers, we have IT guys that were involved, the finance people, the analytics, a lot of people could be involved in something that you have to make that decision on, and it affects them so making the trade-offs is really important and we as a team and personally are getting better at it now, but it's always a challenge. So accomplishments are really about how we've raised the level of digital and multi-channel in the company over the last five years. I work in a big pharmaceutical company, GlaxoSmithKline, and digital marketing was not a big deal five years ago. I mean, some of it's going to naturally happen as well but what we've done is had a lot of good results in learning a lot of testing so we learn what's the right frequency to communicate to our customers? What's the right mix of messages and mix of marketing channels and then communicate those results out both in the U.S and globally. The global teams don't have access to the data that we have in the U.S, so I've always felt that responsibility to share results with them so they can learn from what we're doing with better data and maybe apply in their market places. So that's the kind of stuff that we look at because it helps everybody, but we're really trying to drive the behavior and understanding how crowded the market is that you have to break through the clutter to get their attention that's not just sending out one email now and then but it has to be a really coordinated effort.

How do you inspire and motivate your team members? How do you foster creative thinking? How are ideas shared and implemented?

Based on experience at: Multi-Channel Marketing Director, GSK
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
I try to inspire the team by sharing the vision as I look at my role as having the vision, so what is it exactly we're trying to accomplish and that we're trying to provide the best experience we can. My team, we market to physicians and nurses and other health care professionals and so we try to figure out how do we provide the best experience we can. I tell stories about that, I made presentations about that both the media team and then extended team and so you try to say, Look, here's the goal, here is what we're trying to create and be very specific about it, and you have a direction of how he might want to get there but if that changes, that's okay, it's all right if the details change if the vision stays the same. Fostering creative thinking is always a challenging thing because people are interested in it, but they don't take the time. So one of the things we're trying right now actually is developing constraints on the creative agency so that means for this particular email that you're writing, you may only be able to use 100 words, or you may have no images or one-syllable words we are talking about like we're only going to market on the weekends and things like that it's starting to show signs of developing creative thinking and it's interesting that most people will think the broader opportunity gives somebody more creative thinking but it's actually the opposite, the narrower and more focused you make the project, the better the creative thinking is because they're focused on a specific topic or challenge, as opposed to How am I going to stop world hunger? But if I can focus on my local town, people that you know like if you constrain it down to a few people or something like that, you can have a much better chance of creating an action than if you make it too big. We have team meetings regularly where we share ideas and results and when we also have offsite team summits maybe every six months and the challenge there is the follow up to that. We spend all day talking and discussing ideas, but nothing happens if you don't have a rigid follow up to it so regularly scheduling monthly meetings to follow up otherwise it just kind of goes away.

How do you set targets for your team members? How do you measure their progress? How do you incentivize them to meet their targets?

Based on experience at: Multi-Channel Marketing Director, GSK
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
The targets are really set by the business in our world. We have targets for achieving certain financial goals and financial returns. I really track my team things like, Are we getting the materials in the market on time? because if we do that, I have confidence that what they're creating is going to be good enough to meet the financial goals but if we're late and things get behind schedule, it's really tough to make things that good creatively to offset that so that's really what we track against. I don't have to incentivize them to meet the target because the company does that. We have bonus plans and things like that so I don't really do anything with that other than hold them like this is my expectation, we're going to be in the market on-time 00% at that time and right now we're about 85% but it's not bad, it's better than it was but we can do better, so it's kind of like that and that's how the discussions go.

What qualities do you look for while hiring? What kind of questions do you typically ask from candidates?

Based on experience at: Multi-Channel Marketing Director, GSK
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
In my definition of marketing and in the kind of marketing I look for curiosity, ambition, and energy. If somebody's really curious about why do people respond to this? Why do they buy in this pattern? Why do they do certain things? And you look at data and you always have this questioning mindset that's a really good thing. If you don't, it's going to be hard to really make an impact. The ambition is to, I mean, of course, you want to achieve for yourself, but you won't achieve the goal of the company and really it's about the customer's experience you're trying to create. If you really have that ambition and drive to do that, that's great. Then energy, it's amazing how many people I have interviewed over the years that are just like they are half-asleep in the interview, they're not really showing any energy, and I always looked at it like, these people are at their best right now when they're interviewing, they're not going to be this good when they start working so if this is the best they got then I'm not really sure it's going work out. So I asked things like, what motivates you? What success look like to you? What are you driven for? What do you want to accomplish? I also ask a question like, what if I gave you a statement that said we torture the data until it confesses, what does that mean to you? I would ask somebody to explain that and what I'm looking for is really getting insights out of data but being very specific. I'm always looking for specificity in answers and not general cliche type of terms.

What is a typical hiring process for a job like yours? What are the titles of people who interview? What questions usually get asked and how to handle them?

Based on experience at: Multi-Channel Marketing Director, GSK
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
For a job like mine now, you go through first the HR screening process and before that you have to meet the requirements, the basics, if you don't meet that you get screened out. Like if they want five years of experience and you only have four, it doesn't work. Then you talk to HR screening for salary and stuff like that, if you need to relocate or whatever. Then that's when I would get the candidates after the screening and what I'm doing now is, I give them a list of seven questions and they have to pick three of them to answer and send me back their written responses and it's like, tell me what makes a great customer experience. Tell me about a time when you had a challenge in marketing budget or things like that all marketing related questions and I do that for a couple of reasons, I want to see how they think and see how they write and communicate in written form, and then that makes the interview feel more like a discussion and feels a little bit more casual because I really want to understand how people think and not give me all these rehearsed answers that you might get in an interview. I don't really want that, I want them to be real and I think it comes across better in a conversation so that at the end, I've got a written document of how they think and also the verbal one on one communication. So the kind of questions, there are always different types of questions we use. I don't prefer this, but our company uses what they call the star format of questions, it's like situation, test, action, and results. So tell me about a time when you had trouble dealing with a co-worker, what did you do? And you have to go through and you kind of list this. I think that's putting people on the spot, I don't think that's really that helpful so I ask a lot of different type of questions like what motivates you? What are you afraid of? Who's your hero? Different kind of questions that can get me a little insight into the person because in the end, if you get the right person with the energy and enthusiasm, it's going to work out well, if they have all the qualifications but they're not that motivated, it's not going to work out so, you try to get that through those kinds of questions.

What are different entry-level jobs and subsequent job pathways that can lead students to a position such as yours?

Based on experience at: Multi-Channel Marketing Director, GSK
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
I think in marketing today, the best way to start is to start with an ad agency of some sort, whether it's a digital agency, creative agency. I just think that's such a good way to get into marketing you. It's hard to get an entry-level marketing job, like in our company we don't even have. I mean, people come in with the experience of something. So, what we've seen is people who started in the sales force and move into marketing. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn't, it depends on the individual where I think the people that have come from an agency, their success rate is much higher. I like working at an agency because you get a lot of different kinds of experience, you see a lot of different clients, big ones, small ones, easy to work with, difficult to work with. You get a lot of experience in a lot of different things in a pretty short period of time, and you also may decide that an ad agency career is what you really want and that's okay or you can say I've got this now and now I am going to work on the client-side. In fact, the person I just hired yesterday is coming from an ad agency and her background is really good. You are juggling a lot of things, you're going to manage priority, got to manage clients, it's a good experience for the kind of job she's coming into on my team. So what I have taught in the past and I always tell the students if you're interested in marketing start with an agency, it's such a good experience.

What were the responsibilities and decisions that you handled at work? What major challenges did you face in your job?

Based on experience at: Director of Customer Marketing, Rodale
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
I was in the book division, we had a book division and the magazine division. I was in the book division and we had product marketing teams that just what it sounds like they were split by category, men's health, cookbooks, weight loss, whatever there was a health publisher. So those were the product managers, they developed the books and creative messaging. My team managed the customer database and said, how do we determine which is the right customers for this book versus that one? What's the priority of the book promotions? How do we measure it? The major challenges you face were who owns the final decision? I think we should send out 1,000,000 direct mail pieces to the audience, and I think it's too much budget, we don't have it, we only want to send that 500 or something or I don't like this creative so it's a little bit of trying to figure out who owns final decision making responsibility ultimately we all reported up to the same boss, and we figured out I mean that you can have discussions and can try to sell each other your ideas and eventually you come to a conclusion but that was always the tricky part.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: MBA, Organizational Behavior, Temple University
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
It's been a while since I was in grad school but what the best parts were especially compared to undergrad, undergrad didn't have any business experience. I'm just getting out of high school, going to school, go to college and it was all I was trying to learn but it was what it was. I went to grad school at the temple at night where I was working, and every class now had more relevance, I could relate it to my company and I mean, mostly every class and you could see things like I took a risk management class and I did start thinking about company's risks now in a different way than I hadn't thought of before, I had no idea about that before, so that was the best part and, of course, the professors that have really experience in whatever topic they're talking about, they've worked in the real world which I found more valuable and the feedback I get from my students was that they liked that part of it too because it always try to bring in real-life stories or try to prepare them for the real world. So, like all the faculty resources, all that stuff is a little bit dated now, since it was like in the eighties, when I went to grad school but always having the faculty available was good. The temple resources and networking is good too so it's nothing specific, it's general, but the best part of was taking the classes at night and understanding how it helped my day job.

How did the school prepare you for your career? Think about faculty, resources, alumni, exposure & networking. What were the best parts?

Based on experience at: B.S., Marketing, Rider University
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
The best part was all of the marketing classes because I've learned everything about marketing and advertising and I remember a couple of guys, one guy was a sales director, something in the past and one guy was in advertising in New York and so that fit into my like, David Ogilvy thing like, this is cool like what's it really like to work in advertising? In those days, I didn't know how to get into an ad agency that this is like, 100 years ago, and it is so much easier today to get that chance. So that's why I'm so so biased towards that but really, those professors were the best and they challenged you and got you to think about things and gave you projects that were real-life projects and not hypothetical but they were real-life things so I really liked that.

Would you like to share something that is not on your resume? This may include your passions, facing setbacks or adversities, a unique experience, or an unexpected help.

Summarized By: Jeff Musk on Fri Mar 06 2020
So I always get the feedback that I like to challenge the status quo and I think, I put that on my LinkedIn profile a couple of years ago, when we were going through rounds of layoffs and I thought, Okay. I don't know if I'm going to get it right, I didn't but I made it through but I thought if I do and I need to be looking for a job, I want to work for a company that understands who I am and wants somebody like me, I don't want to just take any job and then find out that's not what I like. So I like the challenges that are like trying new things all the time, innovation. There's a part of my job right now that there was a philosophy that the company has that nobody knows where it came from and how do we handle the website and we have found out through a little digging. Somebody made a decision more than 10 years ago, don't know if it's still true today or not so it was like, Let's challenge it. Why are we going to just do this without understanding what the rationale was? Because things may have changed, it may have just been a decision we didn't agree with so you learn to always look at things a little in a challenging way like, do we really need? And sometimes the answer is, Yes, we're doing fine, it's exactly what we should be doing. But it could also be no that made sense 10 years ago and it doesn't make sense today. So I look for those kinds of things and I really look for ideas that are things that we've never done before, but that makes a lot of sense. So I've got a very big project, that's just kicking off now in that kind of space and I think this could be really big, it's getting the whole team together of like analysts and tech people and marketing or creative people and I'm really excited about it because it could be really big. We'll see, never been done before maybe it'll bomb out, I don't know. I've gone through many layoffs, I've made it through all but one, I think it's probably 15 years in my career I made it through all but one and the one I ended up staying with the company, I had enough time to find something else. Those things create even when you survive them, it's a little bit of adversity but what I learned is your reaction to a layoff if you survive it, you feel bad for the people who didn't make it for sure. But you have to get over that in a couple of days because they're not coming in, you can't bring him back, so then you have to decide that, All right, "I'm just going to head down, not going to make waves, I'm just going to try to survive for a while", or you can say "this is a real opportunity, fewer people means there's probably work I can pick up and drop off some of the less productive stuff, pick and add to my value to the organization and make me a better candidate to advance", and that's what I've done. You turn that adverse situation into something positive just by attitude and by looking out for what you can do best. If you truly are put off by the fact that I can't work in a place like this, it lays people off like this then you should leave. Just don't hang in there just for the heck of it, because they're paying you because that's not a good situation. So those are the kind of things that I try to look for, you get bumps in the road in your career and how you react to them is always a challenge. I always think, take it there to feel bad for yourself and then move on but you can't linger. I like following sports because athletes are so good at that, they miss a shot in basketball, they forget about it right away, they miss the field goal in football, they can't linger. The same thing is in marketing or any kind of field, you have to let the past go because otherwise, you dwell on it and then you miss opportunities.

Do you have any parting advice for students hoping to get to a position such as yours? What 3 dos and 3 don'ts would you suggest?

Based on experience at: Multi-Channel Marketing Director, GSK
Summarized By: Jyotsana Gupta on Fri Mar 06 2020
Especially for students that are coming out, you got to try things. It's cool if you find something out of school, you know exactly what you want to do and that's your career. There's no better time than then right out of college to try things. I just wrote down a couple of notes like, find your passion, what you're really passionate about like what I'm doing, I don't consider it a job, I think about it all the time and that's what you look for. I think being yourself too, especially if you go to like a big company, the temptation can be like a corporate citizen speaking in a different way, I think it's always good to be your own self and grow this uniqueness that is you. We're all different in some way so what's the difference between you and the person next to you? Like, this guy's really good with the analysts and creative together that's the value or whatever it is that makes sense. I also think about what I mentioned to start with is communicating clearly. I see this from young people all the time, it's almost like you have to eliminate the first three paragraphs of the email because they haven't gotten to the point yet. Like it's okay, you can do it politely and professionally, but just be really clear, like short sentences, small words so there's no misunderstanding. The last thing on that side is to continue to learn. Learning doesn't stop when you graduate from college. I like to read, I read a lot of books on kindle and all that stuff, and I think it keeps my mind going also know that it doesn't work for everybody, but whatever way you learn, you need to continue to do that best, whether it's audiobooks or going to movies or something that keeps your brain going because you don't want to be in a rut. Somebody told me once, Do you have 10 years' experience or do you have one year experience 10 times? Are you really growing? And don't on that is don't fake it. If you don't know the answer to something, just say you don't know, don't try to like be as the person asking you because it's obvious, I mean you see that when you teach, you see that all the time. Students don't know and start talking around circles, and it's like, just say that you don't know, it's ok. Don't be generic, don't be just like everybody else, be your own person. I see this all the time, you go to a meeting and everybody gets in, puts up their laptop and starts like half paying attention to work and I think, Why wouldn't it be cool to be the other person who's not doing that, really paying attention, contributing, learning more, be that person. Don't be the same as the row full of laptops. Then finally, don't be unprepared, always be prepared, because if you go to a meeting like Well, I didn't have a chance to do that, that's not professional. So in the end, it's about being a professional, and I always took that as like the best compliment my manager could ever give me whatever manager was is that this guy's a real professional because it means so many things that if you do that, then I think everything else falls into place.