Stephan Sigaud, EVP of Marketing at Phase5, talks to The Ortus Club’s Hannah Hodkinson about the continued evolution of the Head of Marketing role as well as the trends and innovations that those in a similar position should keep an eye on.
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Can you give us a one-sentence summary of your company?
Phase 5 is a market research company that focuses on customer centricity. We help guide our clients’ innovation and customer experience strategies, and the way we differentiate from other research firms is that we have a UX practice, an experienced design practice, that enables us to help them design winning innovations, new products, new services, and also experiences.
Can you describe the of role an EVP of Marketing in one word? Why?
In one word, it would be ‘growth’. And the reason is that the role of the Head of Marketing, as I see it, at least, in any organisation is to drive growth. So, building the strategy, having the vision, enabling it, and making it happen.
What current challenges are EVPs of Marketing facing right now? Can you identify a solution?
To me, the main challenge is an age-old challenge, which is change. It’s just the way the world goes, but perhaps what’s different is that change has accelerated, whether on the technology side, regulatory side, business side, or consumer needs. Everything is changing fast, and I think for a head of marketing, it’s becoming more and more difficult in that you have to adapt to those changes quickly. If possible, you should even anticipate those changes in order to get ahead of the curve for your company.
Can you identify a solution?
Constantly be curious. Be on the lookout for not just what’s happening in the future, but also sideways, what’s happening in adjacent areas. Ask a lot of questions. Go to conferences and events to hear what people are talking about. That’s your sort of listening post as a marketing person to know what’s coming down the pipe.
“Constantly be curious. Be on the lookout for not just what’s happening in the future, but also sideways, what’s happening in adjacent areas. Your listening post as a marketing person is to know what’s coming down the pipe.”
How do you explain the success you’ve had in your career?
It’s difficult to speak about myself, but I think I’m fortunate that I am curious. I’m curious, I’m adventurous, and so I’m always looking to better understand what’s going on, looking into new things. And because I’m adaptable and flexible, I’m able to adapt to those new things that I discover. I think going with that is my interest in an ability to handle people processes and numbers at the same time. I think that’s a relatively rare combination of skills but I’m fortunate to have those skills all in one, and I think that’s a success factor.
Can you tell us about a time you took a major risk in your career?
I think the biggest risk I took in my career was joining Phase5, where I am now. After working in a number of publicly traded organisations or really large global organisations, I decided to change. I was curious and I decided to join this company, which is a small, privately owned company, and it’s the best risk I’ve ever taken. It’s the ability to have an impact on that company because it is smaller and because, in a way, it is privately owned, and I come from a world much bigger, a corporate world. I’m bringing other skills and experience that are proving very fruitful.
How can you see your role evolving in the next two to three years?
I think my role will continue to be as the driver of growth and maybe the driver of change or the driver of adapting to change. So, it’s continuing to bring into the organisation what I’m seeing either outside now or what I’m seeing coming in the future, bring it in, and make the organization aware of the need to change, and then starting to put those changes in place. I think that’s the evolution. I think that’s the same evolution for any Head of Marketing in any company.
More and more you see the role, actually, of CMO, you see those letters change to CGO a lot. You see more and more Chief Growth Officers, and they’re basically the CMO with sometimes sales attached.
More and more, I think marketing and sales have to be integrated. That’s another change that I think is coming. It is the case in my particular case because we’re a small company, so marketing and sales are one. But I think in terms of advice for large organisations, that’s probably something to look into.
What marketing/business trends are you taking advantage of right now?
I’d say mostly thanks to technology, we as heads of marketing have a better ability to understand what our customers need and want. Whether that is having more listening posts, whether it’s social media or data analytics or good old surveys, our ability to understand our customers and our ability to communicate with them quickly, efficiently, and almost one-to-many but in a way that feels one-to-one with the recipient. I think that’s a great trend that’s going to help us achieve our objectives in the future. I mean, it’s already happening.
What career advice would you like to share with other EVPs of Marketing?
I would say on the personal front, don’t forget to be cautious. If you can protect some time to not be head down, but heads up and out and be on the lookout, that’s on the personal front. On the business front, I think the best advice I could give to people in the role would be to work on two tracks in parallel: a strategic track—working on the division, working on the future, working on adjacent markets, working on growth with a big G—and roll up your sleeves in parallel, and work on that small G; work on tactics to make the big G happen.