Eric Lamaze is More than Just an Olympian
Montreal, Quebec native Eric Lamaze first made a name for himself as a Canadian show jumper. In 2007, Lamaze brought attention to the sport and pride to his country when he became the first Canadian in 20 years to be ranked in the top 10 in the sport and after wins at the 2008 Olympics became the first Canadian rider to be ranked #1 in the modern world rankings.
Lamaze was treated to the tutelage of famed coach Diane Dubuc who effectively shaped his talent for riding at a young age, and has said that show jumping helped him turn his life around and battle the resounding effects of a rough childhood.
Poised to take part in the London 2012 games, the development is a positive direction for Lamaze, after being devastated by the death of his prized stallion, Hickstead. The famed horse shared in his win of a gold and silver medal at the 2008 Olympics in Beijing.
A silver medal was awarded to Lamaze for his strong contribution to a team event and first prize as a result of a “jump off” between Swedish rider Rolf-Goran Bengtsson earned Lamaze the coveted gold in the individual show jumping event. Sadly and to Lamaze’s great heartache, Hickstead succumbed to a heart attack last November during a World Cup qualifier in Verona, Italy.
At 44 years of age, Lamaze has the perk of participating in an Olympic event where athletes are not doomed to peak in their mid to late 20’s, yet he has taken strides to diversify his activities from strictly participating in competitions.
Building from his success and deeply-seated personal connection to horses, Lamaze has begun to increasingly focus on training and coaches young hopeful riders in the sport. As owner of Torrey Pines Stables, a world-class training facility in Schomberg, Ontario, Lamaze trains equestrian protégés like Caitlin Ziegler. The 17-year-old Wisconsin native became the youngest rider ever to place in last year’s International Ring, bringing in a tidy $31,000 cash prize.
“I would say I spend 80 per cent of my time teaching and coaching and the other 20 per cent riding,” Lamaze said in a released statement. The champion’s success in the competitive arena will continue to translate into invaluable training skills as Lamaze was ranked as the #1 rider by the International Equestrian Federation as recently as July 2010.
A statement released by Torrey Pines earlier in the year detailed the hopeful horse favourites to partner with Lamaze in London. Looking forward to the games, Lamaze is hopeful for what lies ahead. “Losing Hickstead was obviously very difficult, but with these new horses, the Olympics can now very much be a reality again,” he said earlier in the year. “I am really excited for the future.”
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.