Prasad Sangameshwaran
Jan 28, 2020

'Finding that balance between speed-to-market and getting it right': Eileen R Lynch

The global CMO of Refinitiv speaks about what inspires her, the importance of holding on to the attribute of trust and the must-dos in a rebranding exercise

Eileen R Lynch
Eileen R Lynch
Eileen R Lynch, CMO, Refinitiv, believes in partnering closely with the people function to ensure the brand acts as the underpinning to the cultural transformation and employee experience. She also uses her passion as a communicator to enable and empower veterans and fight against Human Trafficking. She sits on the board of directors for The Bob Woodruff Foundation, a nonprofit that helps create healthy, positive futures for veterans and their families and is also on the board of trustees for the Thomson Reuters Foundation, which shines a light into the darkness of human trafficking.   
Eileen was most recently the CMO of the Thomson Reuters Financial and Risk business which made her uniquely qualified to lead the brand transition from the Financial and Risk business to Refinitiv. She also led global brand marketing at Thomson Reuters for nearly nine years. Eileen previously held positions at Merrill Lynch where as managing director of corporate marketing, she co-led the marketing transition for the Bank of America Merrill Lynch merger. In an interview with Campaign India, she talks about what inspires her as a marketer, the need to get a complete management buy-in for a rebranding exercise to be successful and more.
Is it easier to execute a rebranding exercise in the B2B space than in the B2C space? 
I think it's easier. But it's easier when there are some things you already have in your back pocket. One is you need to have the support of the top management team, who believe in the exercise and is willing to back the investment. That is the power of the point of view, plus the willingness to invest the capital that's required. You need to know the common narrative. You need to be able to create a differentiated customer experience so that from an end-to-end perspective what you're telling them is actually what they're experiencing, and it's new and different and better. This is not merely an exercise to bring a change in the logo. And it has to align very much with the employee experience. That's sort of the inside story of the brand, the internal version of the brand.
So I think, whether you're in B2B or B2C, if you don't have those things in place, it is hard. And in B2B, we know we are not going to be in a position where we're going to get the type of budgets that a Coca-Cola has. We don't need those budgets either, because it's a much smaller universe. But given all of the support that we've gotten in terms of alignment of strategy and business and culture, support to the CEO, a compelling story, a moment of change, that it's actually been easier than we expected in the case of Refinitiv. 
Looking at the entire financial services sector, what are some of the marketing challenges that are increasingly being thrown up by the rapid changes? 
I think a lot of them are similar to what's happening in lots of businesses. So the disruption, the ongoing and rapid destruction of technology, shifting platforms and so on. The second is that how customers want to do business is being determined by the way in which they use technology in their personal life. Banks and financial services providers and data companies should be aligning with that same level of quality of simplicity of experience. And that requires a lot of capital. Then, the increase and shifting role of regulation is changing the way in which we do business and are expected to do business and the cost of regulation. I mean, the compliance business is a huge market and creates a significant driver. And then there is the constant upheaval in geo-political environment. That is changing the way in which the world is operating and creating changing dynamics in the financial market. You know, are the interest rates going to change? You know, what's happening in tax situations that make people more reliant on decisions? 
Really having customers know and trust who they're doing business with is more and more important all the time.
As the lifecycle of companies is kind of becoming shorter and shorter, we always keep hearing that there's a huge deficit of trust between consumers and corporations. How do you see the progress in rebuilding trust with consumers? 
I think that's very true. If you look at the world, we're living in the trust of institutions, whether they are governments or churches or corporations. Pretty much across the board the definition of trust has shifted and made it more complex for customers. Sometimes, they're not even sure who they're doing business with and it becomes increasingly more difficult to trust. So, if you are a company that is trusted, holding on to that is a really, really critical ambition and business requirement, because the cost of trying to recoup it after you lost it is very, very expensive and hard to do. 
There's also this other view about huge pressure on quarter-on-quarter deliveries…. 
You're right. It's a challenge that never goes away. But at the end of the day, you can't just make it up regardless of that pressure. You know, you want to create a company where you are giving people the resources to deliver, understand what's going to be the customer needs, how do you build those products and services and capabilities? How do you invest in them, so that they continue to stay relevant? 
What is one piece of creative work that you wish you had created or worked on? 
It's easy to say - Apple. And I could always still say Apple. But I think, the Microsoft stuff to me is right now some of the most compelling. Also they've had to work harder on it, considering your benchmark in your industry. Yeah, they had such a reputation to overcome. The reputation of that company is so different now than it was four years ago. And it's really from business strategy to culture, to product, to customer experience. I mean, it really is a full circle kind of thing. The stuff I really look at and really admire is Microsoft. 
Ever since Satya Nadella took over, I think the messaging and strategy has been incredibly clear, concise and consistent. I think his expansion of product and this sense of democratisation of technology, where they are going to put the tools in the hands of everybody and including the technologies that will allow people with disabilities to operate at the same level as others. 
That's just from an innovation standpoint. There's also a point of view that productivity should be at the desk of every individual in the world --productivity for all, where regardless of what your needs are, we've got a tool for you, including the most physically challenged, or developmentally disabled, whether you have no arms, but you want to play on an Xbox. If I just think about campaigns that he's done around that, I think the corporate messaging, the storytelling for their employee base is unbelievably strong. 
They say that hindsight is 2020. So what is the one thing that you could have done differently in the last decade? 
I think it's finding that balance between speed to market and getting it right. The desire to move quickly, decentralised decision making and get out into the market as quickly as possible. And at the same time, we're reimagining a company as a startup with 167 year history, new age, you know, a lot of lot of things that we're trying to do differently and it's finding the balance. Between thinking it through to getting it right versus going with your gut and moving really quickly in real time judgment. 
If I had to ask you one skill that you would want to pick up in 2020, what would that be?
One skill would be Office 365. Actually, I have a long list there. I have a pretty long list of what I wish I could do while doing hard work and learning the things you need to learn to always stay ahead of it is probably where I would gravitate. 
Campaign India

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