What can businesses in the United States learn from Sears Canada losing its CEO?
With the help of Business Vancouver, our sister brand Business Review Canada recently reported that Sears Canada has lost yet another CEO. Specifically, the company has lost four leaders in four years. This staggering statistic could mean trouble for the falling franchise. But is there a lesson to be learned here? Though it’s the Canadian branch who has recently found itself without a CEO, businesses in the United States should still take note of what Sears Canada seems to be doing wrong.
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As stated above, Sears Canada can’t keep a CEO—not for more than a year, anyway. What’s the real problem behind this issue?
This time, it’s Ronald Boire who has decided to step down from the company in order to “pursue an opportunity in the United States.” And while Sears is now on the hunt to find someone to replace Boire, the business needs to take a look at some important factors if they want to hire someone that is going to stick around.
For example, Sears Canada—and businesses in general—need to be more mindful of who it hires. At the time, Boire most likely seemed like the perfect candidate for the job at hand. He actually originally stepped into the position in October 2014 as interim CEO just one month after his predecessor resigned.
Perhaps that’s one of the problems: instead of promoting the interim CEO to the full time position, the company should have then been on the lookout to find a serious, qualified candidate. Again, Boire may have been suitable for the job, but there are high chances that someone out there would have been an even better for it.
It seems that Sears Canada was looking for a “quick fix” verses taking the future of the company into consideration—big mistake. If a business wants to be successful, then it needs to be prepared and plan for the future.
In the meantime, Brandon Stranzl has been named executive chairman of the company. Stranzl, a company board chairman, may be the best candidate for the job at the moment, but is Sears Canada headed for the same murky waters that its been sinking in for the past four years?
Regarding the matter, Stranzl has made the following statement: “I am enthusiastic about the opportunity to play an expanded role within our organization, and I am committed to working closely with all our Sears associates and business partners to make progress on our goals to delight our customers and return Sears Canada to profitability.”
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It would be wise for Sears Canada to take this time and really search for a CEO who not only is qualified for the position, but one who is also ready to help the company grow and become part of the team. It goes without saying that losing four top executives in four years is bad—for several reasons. The company will most likely have trouble finding a serious CEO to take over, as stability has proven to be an issue.
It doesn’t matter where a business is located—Canada or the United States—everyone has a common goal: to be successful. In order for a company to reach success, it needs to fix problems early on and make sure they stay fixed.
[SOURCE: Business Vancouver]
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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.