I have two mantras. First: you have to be curious, you need to be very open minded. Being curious means that you want to know more, that you’re fully engaged, that you’re interested in what the other person has to say or offer, that you’re inclusive, you aren’t putting labels on anyone around you. I think it’s a great door opener and it’ll also force you to learn a lot. The second: be brave. Because many people let opportunities pass in front of them, and they put constraints on the table. Sometimes you have to push and go for it. Act and do instead of debating in your head. When the opportunity comes, give it a chance, and great things will come after.
Q&A WITH CRISTINA
I think it gave me an amazing foundation and, in fact, many times I still use some of the principles on the concepts that I learned. I had fantastic teachers that helped me to question things, too. I think that’s an amazing skill that you get to carry over for life.
In terms of how it impacted me professionally and personally, it opened a lot of opportunities to me. Just after finishing the program I was able to reach companies and roles that I wasn’t reaching before, and that obviously had a trigger effect in terms of what came after. I think it made me also more globally minded through experience.
Because you are in that learning process, sometimes you underestimate the power of your intuition when you’re a student. I think I would tell students to trust their intuition. Be self-confident. Especially in the early years, you tend to shy away a little bit from expressing your point of view because you feel like you’re still in the learning curb. But to be honest, over time you realize that that fresh pair of eyes and point of view, and just pure intuition, is sometimes what solves the problems. Academia is really important, and you will need it, but don’t miss the power of your intuition, and be self-confident to express it.
There is always a trade-off. You always have to strive to that daily balance, some days you give more to your professional life, some days you have to give more to your personal life. What’s important is that in some way you find the balance that you feel is right for you. And I think that balance is different for different people. Seeing the opportunities that my family has had, the exposure they’ve had because of the opportunities I had is a great payoff. We’re all different thanks to the professional journey I took.
Exercise is my big go-to, to relax. But I’d also say I’m curious by nature. I love to explore and discover things, and that can be traveling to new places, meeting new people, small things like if I’m in a little town, I’d like to go and discover where the local things are in that town, things that are interesting. I love design, so I would go and find furniture stores or architectural landmarks. I can get very anxious if I’m in a place and I feel like I’m missing out that part of the discovery.
I have to say that I love architecture, but I’ve learned to love what I do, which is marketing. And in fact, marketing is also a mix of art and science, as is architecture. There’s a very big parallel between the two, it’s just different expressions, how you do it. I think marketing can take you to more places, there’s no limit in terms of the industries you participate in and learn from, and the people around the world you can learn from. I would probably not change my decision now that I have experienced what marketing is.
I have a much more global mindset now. I have more perspective. I have learned to remove those initial insecurities–if you want to call it that— (that prevents from) not following your own intuition. I am in a very different stage now, a stage of giving back. When you are in your master’s degree, you are in the moment of building. Now, I am in the moment of having an impact thanks to what I have built. That is the big difference.
I think so. In marketing it’s almost like medicine, you need to be constantly updated. It’s moving so fast that if I would have remained with what I learned 25 years ago, I’d be completely obsolete.
I think leaders are learners. I spent a lot of time during the pandemic doing a lot of online training, whether on leadership or digital marketing, with MIT. I think (constant learning) keeps you alive, keeps you connected, opens your perspective. At HP, I had this book club, I would make people read a book and we would comment on it chapter by chapter. It was a fantastic way of interacting with the extended marketing organization and seeing how people think and discover problems together. In the end, learning is a way of discovery, which is what I love.
People are more alike than different. That’s the first thing that you learn. I experienced it through the lens of a brand like Coca-Cola, which I think is one of the most global brands you can think of. People in a small village in Nigeria will have the same experience as someone in a skyscraper in New York. The core and the fundamentals are driven by emotions, and we’re human beings that are driven by emotions. Culture can be different, upbringing can be different, our context can be different, but we’re all human beings. We’re more alike than different, and that’s the beauty of running these global brands.
The only trick is to understand people. That’s the constant source of innovation, because if you really, deeply understand these insights, if you understand the new problems that people have—problems that they are not even aware of—you say “oh, what a great idea that someone thought about this”. This can be done through communication, because you are telling the story in a very relevant way or tapping into something that is triggering a positive reaction. Or it can be achieved through developing a new product or a new service. It all starts by understanding people. I think that is in fact the big trigger behind Coca-Cola: if you think about it, it’s the same product in the same can for more than 128 years, and the way that we are keeping it alive is by constantly tracking and understanding trends and motivations, and therefore how we should talk to people. That’s the best source of innovation.
I’m never negative. I always see the glass half full. There are always new opportunities and new challenges you can confront, things that can be improved. The sky is the limit, so I never have negative feelings. There are obviously different situations, businesses go through different situations, but there’s always a way through. I think it’s really important to look at the big picture, to look ahead. There’s always a path for improvement.
I mean, it’s human nature. Sometimes we tend to overthink things, but many times we have to stop overthinking, react, and do it. You’ll learn. Sometimes you’ll get it right, sometimes you’ll get it wrong, but at least you are acting on it instead of speculating, which doesn’t take you anywhere. So, I think it is less about worrying and more about doing.
Absolutely. In fact, I think we’re in a much better world after it. It’s enabling us to work in a more flexible way, to travel in a more balanced way. I think it is a big positive.
Have lots of experiences. Try lots of new things. Be open minded. Try to go to places where you can learn fast from others in your early years. Experiment.
Remote work but going to the office when it’s needed to connect and collaborate with others.
The three of them, depending on your stage in life and for what purpose! Asia can be fantastic on vacation, all of them have different angles. All of them, diversity at the best.
Spain, without a doubt. That’s an easy answer!
Spanish wines, for sure. Which are unknown in the US, we haven’t done a very good job in promoting them. We need marketers to do that.
For a marketer, start at an FMCGs—they’re the best school—and apply the knowledge later in tech. Don’t do it the other way around. Entertainment is great to experiment and try new things fast, but it’s not a great school. There is no methodology around marketing in entertainment. The methodology really comes from FMCGs, this industry was the first one that confronted the situation of having very similar products that are only differentiated by a brand, and you have to find a way of connecting with customers and sell one versus the other. And that happened back in the 80’s, when the industry was a big engine for the economy in general and there was a lot of manpower put into understanding what the triggers are, how you build a brand, basically. And that knowledge is coming from FMCGs, it’s not coming from anywhere else.
Well, to be more specific chocolate con churros. I don’t drink coffee. I have a sweet tooth.