Sujoy Sen, Chief Marketing Officer of Kyndryl ASEAN, talks to The Ortus Club’s Camille Callejo about his role as the driver of success and the communicator for their clients, as they reprioritise how to implement new strategies in this new age of marketing.
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One sentence company description
Kyndryl ASEAN is effectively a $19 billion startup. We’re all former IBM employees, so we carry a legacy of 110 years.
Can you describe the role of a CMO in one word. Why?
There’s no one word to describe the role of a CMO. So instead, I am focused on driving the route to the market.
The CMO provides a channel where we deliver our services, identify new customer segments, and deepen existing relationships from route to market.
What current challenges are CMOs facing? Can you identify a solution?
The most prominent challenge marketers face now would be ‘focus’. We’re all living in almost the emergence of a post-pandemic world.
We are starting face-to-face events again, but we have lost contact with our customers and partners for two years.
Focusing our resources on where we see the near-term growth and the long-term strategy intersect will be incredibly important. So, ‘focus’ will be the crucial challenge that we all have.
How do you explain the success you’ve had in your career?
I’ve had a very brief marketing career. I was part of the IBM commercial function, where I focused on coaching and large deals. I’ve been a CMO for just a year. I was hired to drive an intense focus around our clients, especially our large accounts.
I would say my success results from the relationships I have with clients, having worked with them in workshops, and senior management, allowing me to position the marketing plan.
We have successes where marketing has the respect of senior leadership. As a result, we can position agendas and priorities.
“One thing I have learned from some of the best is that they listen with deep empathy, whether listening to our clients or general managers.”
Can you tell us about a time you took a major risk in your career?
Moving from a commercial function to a marketing one is the most significant risk I have taken in the last three years. I went from coaching large deals to further developing my knowledge and deep understanding of how we drive accounts and pursuits.
It’s a beautiful challenge to have. How do we take a new brand that benefits from the legacy of a 110-year-old company and re-establish that across ASEAN?
I have an excellent opportunity to build a Kyndryl brand in ASEAN, and it’s a risk any marketer would relish. Not everything works out to plan, but it’s not enough to just cruise in an existing pattern.
How can you see your role evolving in the next two to three years?
Success for me would be establishing Kyndryl ASEAN as the professional services arm, working with our clients on the most significant transformation projects they have, and working with our partners. We have an agnostic position. We go where our clients want to go.
I want to establish Kyndryl ASEAN as the preferred choice for our clients. Then, I would like to get to a position where marketing is at the forefront of driving strategy and change. We’re still earning our stripes.
What marketing/business trends are you taking advantage of right now?
The biggest trend that we’re seeing is simply reprioritisation. So, the opportunity for us is to understand the shifts due to the pandemic.
Sustainability, security, a hybrid workplace, and mental well-being are what we focus on. How do we adapt? How do we ensure we listen to our clients and drive an agenda? We are going back to the board and looking at what’s changed in the environment.
What career advice would you like to share with CMOs?
One thing I have learned from some of the best is that they listen with deep empathy, whether listening to our clients or general managers. So, before we come up with and propose what marketing can deliver, it’s important that we fully understand changes in priorities.
Step back, observe, and reprioritise. The environment is dynamic, and it’s taught us to always be ready for change. One of the things we ought to do is listen and deepen relationships across the board. Understanding our clients’ agendas and how our general managers are thinking is key success. Pivot to a brand-new positioning and how marketing can bring value.