INSEAD Participant Interview
Open your eyes and become more sensitive to digital marketing topics
Vice President of Marketing
Sonova Retail (AudioNova)
"The programme exceeded my expectations in every way and I came away feeling a native in the topic."
Can you start by giving us a little background on your career?
I began in marketing 16 years ago, working for a creative agency after graduating. I then moved on to work for an Austrian company that sells hearing aids, which introduced me to the hearing solutions industry. I’m currently working in Switzerland as the Vice President of Marketing for the retail division of Sonova; the world’s leading provider of hearing solutions.
What attracted you to the Leading Digital Marketing Strategy programme?
I had already completed a leadership programme at INSEAD and the quality that they brought to the classroom was clear. INSEAD lives up to its brand reputation. I enjoyed the teaching style; instead of making the classes a one way conversation between the professors and the students, it was more of a dialogue in which everyone was able to learn from each other. On top of that, you get to spend time on a beautiful campus and you feel like a student again.
Having worked in marketing for many years, how has the landscape changed?
The landscape has changed, but the fundamental marketing ideas remain the same. Digital marketing has opened a gateway to a new world. Compared to 15 years ago, there are now so many more channels that facilitate communications with different target groups. The challenge is how to align these channels so that collectively you produce one holistic marketing campaign, and not a collection of different smaller ones.
Leading Digital Marketing Strategy looked at this issue and taught us that you have to rethink your marketing strategy. It’s not about abandoning traditional ways of doing things, it’s about integrating digital into your ‘traditional’ marketing activities.
Speaking about the customer journey, what did the programme teach you about that?
I think that the customer journey plays a key role in marketing nowadays and begins to replace traditional branding. In the past, you put your logo, corporate colours, photos, music, film etc in your marketing materials and if you repeated it over and over again you eventually had brand awareness. Now with digital marketing this has changed. Today, it’s all about content and communication along the customer journey. We have to begin a dialogue with the customer from the very first touch point and then continue it along the journey. It’s the era of customer-centric focus. The customer defines the values of the brand and decides how to interact with the company. This is something that affects the entire organisation.
What were your expectations ahead of joining the programme?
I expected to gain some more knowledge and knowhow in digital marketing. One of my objectives as VP Marketing is to help steer our company through the digital transformation. This is a big term which everyone is talking about, yet it wasn’t very clear within our department exactly what activities to focus on. I hoped that by attending the course I would be able to talk with others about how their organisations are approaching this topic and stimulate some ideas that I could bring back to my company. The programme exceeded my expectations in every way and I came away feeling a native in the topic.
Where would you like your organisation to be at the end of the transformation?
I don’t think there is an end. Digital transformation is an agile process; once you reach one level, you have to go to the next. At present, we talk a lot about social media, but in the future, transformation may revolve around something else.
In terms of the immediate goals, I would like our organisation to be ahead of our competitors who are also all going digital. We are all going in the same direction and it’s a race – one I want us to win!
What were the programme highlights?
The programme itself was a highlight from beginning to end. It was an intense three days, but a good blend of theory and practice with smartly designed case studies.
Additionally, the other participants in the class were great. We all came from different countries and different businesses, yet it seemed as though we all had similar knowhow and were on the same level. The company sizes and the issues people were facing were surprisingly similar. When you realise that people have the same challenges as you do, it gives you confidence that you are not alone.
What surprised you about the programme?
I was surprised by the level of passion and engagement shown by the professors. From their body language, to the way they spoke to the class, it was inspiring to see that they were so engaged. It helped create a great class dynamic that encouraged us all to contribute.
I was also surprised by how up to date the case studies were. I expected with such a course that the content might be repeated each year without much change, so it was great to see that clearly a lot of thought had gone in to keeping things current.
It sounds like the case studies were fundamental to the programme’s success?
Definitely. When the professors spoke about the case studies, it felt like they owned them, for example, it was as if you were talking to a L’Oreal manager. This helped bring it to life and made it easier to transfer the ideas from the case study to application within our own industries.
Despite your professional experience, you still felt you came away with new knowledge?
Yes. It’s important to keep learning, no matter where you are in your career.
When going through a digital transformation, you have to change company culture so that all teams work towards the same goal. I now have the knowledge, insights and tools to help me influence this within our organisation. It’s like a domino effect which INSEAD began.
How would you describe the programme to someone?
The Leading Digital Marketing Strategy programme is the beginning of a journey. It will help to open your eyes and become more sensitive to digital marketing topics. It will allow you to feel more confident when dealing with new trends and trialling new ideas. The programme will benefit your team and organisation.
INSEAD is a positive disruptor in education – in the same way the iPhone was for mobile communications. INSEAD represents the next level of how business schools should run their training and it really is a very innovative and inspiring school.
To find out more about the Leading Digital Marketing Strategy programme, click here.