Forbes CMO Leadership Talk: Nina Bibby, Telefónica

Nina Bibby
By Thomas Barta
Last updated: June 15, 2017

In this Forbes interview with Nina Bibby, CMO of Telefonica UK (O2), the discussion revolved around the qualities and strategies that contribute to the success of a CMO:

  • The Role of Marketing in Inspiring: Nina Bibby views marketing as a means of inspiring both customers and colleagues. She emphasizes the importance of crafting compelling stories and aligning the entire organization behind delivering the best for the customer, making it an exciting and rewarding aspect of leadership.
  • Energizing Colleagues through Storytelling: Bibby shared an experience from her time at InterContinental Hotels, where retelling the story of Holiday Inn’s heritage and incorporating customer quotes helped engage and energize colleagues during a major brand relaunch.
  • Marketing’s Reputation in the C-suite: Marketing holds a prominent position within Telefonica UK, with P&L accountability, pricing, products, promotion, insights, and analytics all falling under the marketing umbrella. The brand is a source of pride internally, and the organization recognizes the pivotal role of marketing, brand, and customers in driving success.
  • Balancing Customer and CEO Expectations: Bibby’s approach to managing this tension is based on creating value for customers while simultaneously creating value for the business. This dual focus ensures a win-win situation where customers receive benefits, and the company gains loyalty and financial returns.
  • Evolution of Marketing Leadership: The advent of digital channels and social media has made the marketing landscape more transparent and challenging. Bibby highlights the need for consistent excellence in customer experiences and the importance of inspiring and aligning colleagues in this digital age.
  • Frontline Engagement: Bibby stresses the significance of marketing leaders going to the frontline, engaging with retail staff, and actively listening to their insights and experiences. This hands-on approach helps in understanding customer needs and improving the brand experience.
  • Future Leadership Challenges: Bibby anticipates future challenges in leadership related to building and maintaining the right team, adapting to changing workplace expectations, and meeting evolving customer expectations across sectors.
  • Role Modeling: Nina Bibby hopes to be a positive role model, emphasizing the importance of embracing both work and family life. She encourages her team to view it as making life work rather than seeking a work-life balance. Additionally, she advocates a customer-centric approach, putting the customer at the forefront of decision-making.
  • Leadership Advice: Bibby’s advice to other leaders includes investing time in individuals to build engagement, supporting and encouraging risk-taking, and fostering a culture where mistakes are seen as opportunities for growth. She also emphasizes the importance of letting go of one’s ego and being open about vulnerabilities and learning experiences.

Nina Bibby’s leadership philosophy centers on storytelling, customer-centricity, and a people-first approach, all of which contribute to her success as a marketing leader.