Francois-Xavier Reodo, Capgemini Invent’s CMO for North America talks to The Ortus Club’s Andrea Paolacci about the growing importance of technology in the role of a marketing leader, as well as the keys to his success as a CMO.
To watch FX’s interview, you can subscribe to our CMO Chats interview series on YouTube. You can also listen to the interview on Spotify, or pour yourself a cup of coffee and read the full interview below. Subscribe to the CMO Chats Newsletter on LinkedIn to keep up-to-date on our conversations with today’s Marketing leaders.
What does your company do?
Capgemini Invent is the innovation and transformation powerhouse of the Capgemini Group. We are a B2B organization that helps businesses transform in four areas. The first is the smart use of data. The second is defining new business models. The third is digital transformation, enabling digital operation. The fourth is the most exciting and differentiating in the marketplace, which is bringing innovation to every step of the product lifecycle, from design to complex engineering solutions for manufacturing and scaling to the circular economy and product waste.
These are the four things that make us want to be famous for, and what excites me every day in my job.
What words best describe the role of a CMO? Why?
I think the word that best describes the role of the CMO is trust because the CMO is in charge of bringing and building that trust that employees, stakeholders, and customers have with the brand. Trust is the core of the relationship that will make people engage, love the brand, come back to it, consume more, and help the company grow. So I think that one word of trust is the most important for the CMO.
What challenges are CMOs currently facing? What solutions can you identify?
I think the role of the CMO is really to combine two horizons, which are sometimes contradictory.
The first horizon is demand generation, growth, meeting the numbers, and profitability to ensure that the money flows into the company. The second horizon that the CMO needs to have at the core of their role is the long-term, the brand building, brand equity, and what the company wants to be famous for three to five years down the line. The CMO is constantly challenged by those two types of horizons and has to combine them.
I think the solution is the ability to challenge the status quo, challenge some of the other leaders in the organization, and use data to build credibility in terms of better understanding the customer, better interaction with the customer, better creating engagement with customers, and building the brand year on year. Those are the ways to start addressing this challenge that is at the core of the role of the CMO.
How do you explain the professional success you’ve had so far?
I think there are three things that define my professional success and helped me grow. The first one is my growth mindset, thinking outside of the box and finding new solutions to every problem. The second one is taking a lot of risks, getting completely outside of my comfort zone, and trying to learn new things. And the last one is ruthless prioritization.
For a CMO, it’s important to define what is important for the brand, messaging, and offers that you’re pushing to the market and overlook those that are not important. I grew very fast in my company and in my career because I was able to extract the essence of what is important and ruthlessly prioritize it for growth.
“For a CMO, it’s important to define what is important for the brand, messaging, and offers that you’re pushing to the market and overlook those that are not important.”
Can you tell us about a time you took a major risk in your career?
For me, the most important risk that I took was to completely step outside of my cultural comfort zone. Seven years ago, I decided to relocate to Hong Kong, in Asia, with the part of the company that was, at that time, not as successful as the rest of the organization. I entirely built, from scratch, the marketing department there in Hong Kong, in a market that I didn’t know and in a cultural context that I didn’t fully understand. And the business is very different from the one that I was used to.
So for me, that personal risk of relocating yourself to a place you don’t know, that professional risk of creating something new from scratch with a lot of risk involved in a context that was not successful from a business perspective—it was the largest risk that I took, and it’s something that I learned a lot from and that defined my success after.
How do you see your role evolving in the near future?
I see technology becoming very key in the way that we understand customers, target customers, and interact with them from an experience that is tailored and targeted real-time marketing becomes really important for us, even in a B2B environment. All of those touchpoints kind of build up as a new experience that we’re trying to do with customers, and that is even in a B2B environment, putting the CMO back at the core of business generation.
So I see a very strong evolution, even in B2B, for it to become a marketing-driven organisation. And I think the role of the CMO is slowly evolving toward that of a Chief Growth Officer. So it’s really being accountable for the strategy of the organisation, better understanding of all the different stakeholders, and being able to empower sales and marketing entirely. So I really see the evolution from CMO to Chief Growth Officer. And I think that’s the evolution that I’m looking forward to for myself as well.
What trends are you taking advantage of right now?
So some of the things that I’m the most excited about—I mentioned that Capgemini Invent is very focused on bringing innovation to products in the area of climate tech. I think this is really a story that is very exciting for me to tell to the market, which is the ability that you can capture carbon, offset some of the carbon emissions, and create products that can save the planet. I think that telling that story to the market as well as that trend will be very exciting in terms of how we’re finding innovative solutions that can actually repair the world. This is something that I’m very excited about and looking forward to working on more and more, telling that story consistently to the market.
Sustainability, in general, is a real focus for all of the businesses that we work with. And that’s something that we are positioning our brand very strongly on as well. Climate tech is one part of it, but there is also the sustainable transformation of companies. And this is a trend that I’m happy to work on and help shape for the company and for society.
What career advice would you share with fellow marketing leaders?
People in my team or some of my peers that I have met, I usually say one thing that is very important, and I think that’s not limited to marketing but is applicable in every field where you want to grow and build your character. I believe that being curious is a soft skill that is very important.
Try to learn new things every day, put yourself outside of your comfort zone, take risks, and also try to understand what other people are doing and what they care about beyond your own pool. I think this approach will not only make you a better marketer but will also help you to understand your audience better. It will bring opportunities to you individually as well.
Start your knowledge-sharing journey, meet likeminded peers and discuss trends and challenges affecting you and your business.