Asendia USA: developing a key partnership with Adore Me
Asendia USA is the US arm of Asendia, one of the world’s leading parcel and mail shipping providers.
Founded in 2012 as part of a joint venture with La Poste and Swiss Post, Asendia specializes in international shipping of packages, business mail, direct marketing materials, and publications. Asendia offers high quality B2C global delivery solutions for its customers. The organization is present in 17 countries across Europe, Asia, Oceania, and the US and provides a diverse range of ecommerce and mail solutions to empower businesses to grow across borders.
Gary Shunk is Asendia USA’s Senior VP of Marketing, Pricing and Partnerships, with additional responsibilities in Sales and Key Accounts/Customer Care Management. “My experience in the logistics sector goes back 39 years,” he says. “I started out in sales and then went into management with FedEx back in the 1980’s. It was at FedEx that I benefited from solid sales management and leadership training. I left FedEx in 1989 to become an entrepreneur and have since contributed to the growth and development of the organization we are today.”
With such extensive experience, Shunk has observed the transformation of e-commerce first-hand. “Global eCommerce has become a fantastic opportunity for growth, but can be challenging in the world we live in today,” he says. “The customs, security changes, and guidelines for shipping internationally require the ability to adapt to constant changes. Flexibility with choices, while ensuring security and customs compliance, is how we help companies achieve their goals. Parcel shipping is 60% of our business. Asendia’s strategy had to change in order for us to succeed, and that is what we did. Transporting sold products versus mail or printed matter is much different in many ways – and, as everyone now knows, speed and visibility are critical to the customer experience. Transportation companies have had to improve and expand their scope and coverage. Asendia is doing just that through expansion of facilities, acquisitions, improved automation, increased tracking capabilities, and above all employee safety. The e-commerce industry demands reliability and ease of use, and our strategy is to ensure we continue to provide both as one of the top players in the industry.”
Having established a key, strategic relationship with Adore Me, Shunk believes that collaboration has been influential. “Adore Me began with a strict interest in the US market, but quickly saw the opportunity to grow their subscription model business into other English-speaking countries,” he says. “Because of the trust we have built in each other’s people, systems, and capabilities, we are successful at working together and finding creative ways to adjust services. This flexibility allows us to find cost-effective solutions that meet the expectations of both organizations.” Shunk understands the importance of an individual approach and believes it is vital to create custom solutions for each customer. “We understand that one size does not fit all, so we make a point to work with each customer to create a customized solution that suits their business plan,” he says. “Some may want the most economical method for international distribution because their product value is low, and high international shipping costs on low-value orders can deter consumers from shopping outside their home country. Others want speed, and cost is not as critical. Almost all retailers want to be able to have the tracking visibility their consumers expect and the data that supports the performance.”
With COVID-19 disrupting organizations globally, Shunk affirms that employee safety has become critical. “We’re very fortunate to have the operations managers and operation workers that we have because they’ve gone above and beyond,” he says. “The pandemic has brought people closer together as a team. Communication has been positive and we’ve worked extremely hard. All six of our operating facilities have been able to stay open, but it has changed the way we manage our employees and how we remotely manage the company.”
With the future in mind, Shunk has a clear idea of what he expects the next few years at Asendia USA to look like. “As the ecommerce industry continues to grow and adapt to the ever-changing needs of consumers, Asendia looks forward to continuing along on this journey with our customers to help them evolve with the changes and enjoy long-term growth and success with both domestic and international sales.”
Marketing matters: from IBM to Kyndryl
Prior to joining Kyndryl as Chief Marketing Officer, Maria had a 25-year career at IBM, most recently as the tech giant’s CMO where she oversaw all marketing professionals and activities across North America, Canada and Latin America. She has held senior global marketing positions in a variety of disciplines and business units across IBM, most notably strategic initiatives in Smarter Cities and Watson Customer Engagement, as well as leading teams in services, business analytics, and mobile and industry solutions. She is known for her work with teams to leverage data, analytics and cloud technologies to build deeper engagements with customers and partners.
With a passion for marketing, business and people, and a recognized expert in data-driven marketing and brand engagement, Maria talks to Business Chief about her new role, her leadership style and what success means to her.
You've recently moved from IBM to Kyndryl, joining as CMO. Tell us about this exciting new role?
I’m Chief Marketing Officer for Kyndryl, the independent company that will be created following the separation from IBM of its Managed Infrastructure Services business, expected to occur by the end of 2021. My role is to plan, develop, and execute Kyndryl's marketing and advertising initiatives. This includes building a company culture and brand identity on which we base our marketing and advertising strategy.
We have an amazing opportunity ahead at Kyndryl to create a company brand that will stand apart in the market by leading with our people first. Once we are an independent company, each Kyndryl employee will advance the vital systems that power human progress. Our people are devoted, restless, empathetic, and anticipatory – key qualities needed as we build on existing customer relationships and cultivate new ones. Our people are at the heart of this business and I am deeply hopeful and excited for our future.
What experiences have helped prepare you for this new opportunity?
I’ve had a very rich and diverse career history at IBM that has lasted 25+ years. I started out in sales but landed explored opportunities at IBM in different roles, business units, geographies, and functions. Marketing and business are my passions and I landed on Marketing because it allowed me to utilize both my left and right brain, bringing together art and science. In college, I was no tonly a business major, but an art major. I love marketing because I can leverage my extensive knowledge of business, while also being able to think openly and creatively.
The opportunities I was given during my time at IBM and my natural curiosity have led me to the path I’m on now and there’s no better next career step than a once-in-a-lifetime-opportunity to help launch a company. The core of my role at Kyndryl is to create a culture centered on our people and growing up in my career at IBM has allowed me to see first-hand how to prioritize people and ensure they are at the heart of progress in everything Kyndryl will do.
How would you describe your leadership style?
I believe that people aren't your greatest assets, they are your only assets. My platform and background for leadership has always been grounded in authenticity to who I am and centered on diversity and inclusion. I immigrated to the US from Chile when I was 10 years old and so I know the power and beauty that comes from leaning into what makes you different from other people, and that's what I want every person in my marketing organization to feel – the value in bringing their most authentic self to work every day. The way our employees feel when they show up for themselves authentically is how they will also show up for our customers, and strong relationships drive growth.
I think this is especially true in light of a world forever changed by the pandemic. Living through such an unprecedented time has reinforced that we are all humans. We can't lead or care for one another without empathy and I think leaders everywhere have been reminded of this.
What’s the best leadership advice you’ve received?
When I was growing up as an immigrant in North Carolina, I often wanted to be just like everyone else. But my mother always told me: Be unique, be memorable – you have an authentic view and experience of the world that no one else will ever have, so don't try to be anyone else but you.
What does success look like to you?
I think the concept of success is multi-faceted. From a career perspective, being in a job where you're respected and appreciated, and where you can see how your contributions are providing value by motivating your teams to be better – that's success! From a personal perspective, there is no greater accomplishment than investing in the next generation. I love mentoring younger professionals – they are the future. I want my legacy as a leader to include providing value in work culture, but also in leaving a personal impact on the lives of professionals who will carry the workforce forward. Finding a position in life with a job and company that offers me a chance at all of that is what success looks like to me.
What advice would you give to your younger self just starting out in the industry?
I've always been a naturally curious person and it's easy for me to over-commit to projects that pique my interest. I've learned over years of practice how to manage that, so to my younger self I’d say… prioritize the things that are most important, and then become amazing at those things.