An interview with Stacey Cummings By Heather Mathewson Jelsma

23 Feb


Heather Mathewson Jelsma Supervisor, Transit Rider Experience and Education at the City of Burlington, engaged in a captivating discussion with Stacey Cummings, Marketing Director at Purolator Inc., into the realm of leadership and the three essential takeaways that pave the path to becoming an effective marketing leader.

Marketing is fun, right? We are the creative group that loves our crayons and our big thinking. We enjoy understanding the customers, having that next big idea, and putting together blockbuster campaigns. But, somewhere in the promotional swag and amazing ads (Superbowl advertisers, I’m looking at you) is the person who links the campaign objectives to the corporate strategy and puts a lens on marketing as the department that can help to achieve results. The person whose role is no longer about the tactics but about the people who make it happen. The marketing leader.

I had the opportunity to connect with Stacey Cummings, Marketing Director at Purolator Inc., to talk about leadership. She shared three important takeaways on what makes an effective marketing leader.

Understand how to convey marketing’s role in achieving corporate objectives

As marketers, we understand communication. We get how important it is to ensure that the message gets through, but do we take that same passionate approach to communication internally?

Stacey tells us that, “Marketing leadership is about conveying the benefit of marketing to leaders and decision-makers across the organization, and successfully aligning marketing results with corporate objectives.” You will need to link the projects and outcomes from the marketing team that are measurable and help drive revenue. Your mindset will need to be focused on results and understand how marketing is connected to corporate KPIs.

Challenge yourself to be a lifelong learner and people coach

It’s okay to have more learning to do – The minute we stop learning is the exact time we stop growing. Challenge yourself to identify where your gaps are. Take that finance course, pursue your chartered marketer designation (shameless plug), or download an audiobook to listen to on your commute, if you still have one.

Marketing leadership is about coaching, bringing the best out in your team. You will need to understand how to make space for tough conversations and lead through change. You need to understand that humans are not all the same. Stacey shared an a-ha moment from a workshop she attended with her team, where everyone looked at the same photo and was asked to describe what was happening – Everyone had a different response. Take the time to learn about how your experiences impact your interpretations and reactions and do the same for your team.

Recognize that how you spend your days will change significantly

As you aspire to be a marketing leader, Stacey challenges you to think about what you love about what you do now. To think about the favourite part of your current role and where your joy comes from? How you spend your days will change as you move into leadership. As you advance, it’ll be your team who does the marketing work and your role to lead them to success.

It’s okay to not be a leader. If your true joy comes from creating that next big campaign and being a part of a team, stay with your joy. If your fulfillment comes from nurturing others and helping them reach their goals, then leadership may be your calling. Many of us think that leadership is the gold standard. Grow or die, get that promotion, what’s next, I need more, most, all… Remember, the journey to leadership can be the best part, so enjoy it and learn all you can along the way.

Stacey didn’t start her leadership journey by saying ‘I want to get to this level.’ She achieved her career success through her innate ability to collaborate, engage, and develop those on her team. She understood that “leadership is not about the things you’re good at as a marketer. It’s about how you inspire others.”

Heather Mathewson Jelsma Supervisor, Transit Rider Experience and Education, City of Burlington

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