As Canada's business executives exit the putting green, where's the next best place to network?
Golf was once considered to be more than just a relaxing pastime. In fact, the sport was well known as a popular activity that allowed Canadian business leaders the chance to network. However, there has been recent activity (or lack of activity) that proves the putting green may no longer be the go-to place for CEOs, executives and other business elite members to talk shop. That being said, where are the next best places for executives to network?
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President of Holt Renfrew Mark Derbyshire is a perfect example of an executive who loves to golf, but just doesn’t have the time to do so due to a busy work schedule and family life. Specifically, Derbyshire enjoyed the sport while in college, but now that he works 80+ hour weeks and is raising children, it’s difficult to find the time to partake in the activity.
And thanks to data released by the National Allied Golf Associates, it's clear that Derbyshire isn’t the only executive who’s handing in his club and balls. Just in the past few years, the number of rounds played declined in 2013 to 26,100 per course from 28,700 in 2008. The main reason behind this decline, experts say, is the fact that CEOs and company heads are too busy to devote five hours or more to a game of golf. Furthermore, due to the economy, corporate budgets rarely allow room for this expense, which was used to sometimes entertain clients.
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Derbyshire is noted for pursuing networking activities that don’t consume so much time, such as industry parties and breakfast and lunch meetings. If you too are searching for new avenues to meet and discuss business with other CEOs and executives, then the following tips may be helpful.
First things first, consider volunteering. You may be thinking that this task is just as time consuming as playing a round of golf, but it doesn’t have to be. If you find a cause that is related to your field of business, then you stand the chance of meeting others (all levels) who work in the same area as you who are also most likely looking to build connections. This is also a good method of getting the community to learn about you and your business. Remember, you only need to volunteer an hour or two a week to make a difference.
Piggybacking off of volunteering, attend or host a fundraiser. Again, this type of event will allow you the opportunity to nonchalantly advertise your company, as well as meet (usually high profile) attendees who may be able to assist you with your business endeavors.
Lastly, don’t shy away from reunions. Whether it’s a high school or college reunion, consider attending. This is a perfect way to catch up with past acquaintances and discuss your current professional life. However, if the thought of going back to school leaves you more nervous than the idea of running a board meeting, then don’t forget the basic networking events that are available by attending conferences, lunches and mixers.
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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.