Womaneer: Meet the CMO Who Is Working Hard to See More Women in Leadership
Introducing: Womaneer, our new series that highlights and celebrates the oft–overlooked women of our day who are making waves in the fields of politics, crypto-currency, not-for-profit, and design. Each of these women have something in common: vision, grit, and a heavy dose of persistence that keeps them going despite the odds.
These women are proof that the gender gap is closing… that is, if you fight for it. With some guts, you can become the next pioneering voice in your field—a womaneer. We've heard from Aimie Rigas of Power Ledger and Caitlin Barrett of Love Mercy Australia, now, meet Corinne Sklar, a chief marketing officer at Bluewolf. Working your way up the corporate ladder is not easy, but Sklar has managed to build her way to an integral role as part of an IBM company. Read on for her pearls of wisdom when it comes to be an intrapreneur.
My first job was working for a start-up focused on leveraging LBS (location-based-services) and mobile. We were way ahead of being able to really deploy mobile apps, like we know them today. The best thing about a start-up is small, dedicated teams. I was able to have an idea, raise it, and if I got enough heads nodding—go run with it. In this role I was taking on press relations and helped lead an entire brand redesign and launch. The opportunity was incredible and gave me the confidence to have ideas and push for them.
From an early age, I was always passionate about bridging the gap between the scientific and the creative; my father was an electrical engineer and my mother was an artist and creative. I ended up going to art school and studying intermedia arts and journalism.
I wanted to build something, be part of something I could be proud of. Working on building Bluewolf and working with leading companies all over the world to rethink how they engage with their own customers, using technology in a creative and masterful way, has fuelled that passion.
I’m also incredibly passionate about people; collaboration and building strong, supportive teams is critical to marketing. I love to hear the bold and creative ideas my team has and encourage them to make sure their voice is heard, even in a junior role. Marketing is about creating something new and fresh, and nothing spurs innovation more than a diverse set of minds working together to solve a problem.
I lead the global marketing strategy for Bluewolf, an IBM company, and I’m charged with driving global brand awareness, demand generation, and customer experience. I lead the global team and spend time with customers, learning and driving our mission. One of my favourite things to do with customers is avoid falling into the “conference room trap” and organise a face-to-face session instead. I can then pull out a blank white board and fill it with ideas. That way, it’s easier visualise their customer journey and how they can transform their own customer experiences and industry, and see those ideas come to life in words, drawings or symbols.
I’ve been at Bluewolf since its inception and I’m incredibly proud of building the company with my partners and all of our employees and customers. We have achieved significant milestones over the last decade, including the acquisition of Bluewolf and amazing integration and partnership with IBM.
During this time, my colleague Jolene and I co-founded the Women Innovators Network (WIN) to help bring women together and reach the highest levels of management. We were inspired after witnessing the biggest and most transformational campaigns being led by women, and decided that we needed to find a way to get these women together and share best practices.
Over the last nine years our network has grown rapidly in Australia and around the world, celebrating female leaders that are spearheading efforts on diversity and leadership, and addressing the issues, challenges and opportunities for women in business today. Just recently, we hosted the WIN Breakfast in Sydney with some extraordinary Australian female leaders like Cathy Yuncken—general manager of Business Banking at St George Bank—to discuss the importance of levelling up in your career, making the choice to self-select and asking for what you want.
It was great to see such positive engagement and support from the men and women who attended, and we’ll continue to facilitate these powerful conversations in the broader community, with a second event planned in Melbourne this May.
While marketing is one of the most supportive industries for women, I think there’s still unconscious bias and a lack of diversity when it comes to c-suite positions. We need to support women that are potentially falling off before reaching c-suite and part of that is looking at our business policies and making sure they support and meet the needs that affect women; whether it’s start time, maternity leave and paternity leave.
I am proud of our CEO Eric Berridge, who before accepting an offer to sit on a panel at a conference, will check the speaker line-up to ensure there is diversity and that women are well-represented. This creates awareness and open dialogue on the issue within the organisation—we’ve seen this at Bluewolf. The efforts to end gender bias and inequality in an organisation comes in many forms, and begin with the acknowledgement, support and advocacy from both men and women.
Work is life. Life is work. I don’t believe this term is relevant anymore. In an always-on culture, it’s not about just shutting off—it’s about understanding boundaries, communicating them and setting new standards of work, all while achieving your goals.
We need to rethink what leadership looks like in the future. I am not saying metrics have to be adjusted, but we need to really redefine how we perceive leadership and allow for more flexibility, and rethink age old assumptions. We need more diverse role models.
One thing I always tell my team is to have a voice. Have an opinion. There is nothing more exciting for me than to see someone with an idea, and be allowed to run with it fully. That comes with a lot of responsibility sometimes and the ability to get others on your “bandwagon”, but that is where passion comes in - and that is contagious.
You also need to build a strong, supportive network of contacts. I’m incredibly fortunate to have had strong mentors and advocates in my professional journey, both men and women. Step out of your comfort zone and make sure you attend networking events, make those initial connections and walk away with business cards and lunch meetings.
It’s been incredible to work with IBMers all over the world. The history and passion for innovation is everywhere. I see momentous change impacting all industries with machine learning, AI and technologies like Blockchain and Quantum computing. I see myself being at the forefront, helping to bring insight and reality to this new frontier of technology and how it will impact humanity for good.