Julie Woods-Moss, CMO, Tata Communications, on working with colleagues and customers
Julie Woods-Moss, Chief Marketing Officer at Tata Communications, graduated with honours as a telecommunications engineer and her first job was an encryptor. She has more than 20 years of career experience across the world, working with companies such as IBM, United Pan-European Cable and British Telecom. She has worked in sales and distribution and has handled business in emerging markets. Last year, she was recognised by ‘Women of Enterprise and Inspiration’ as a member of the global Power 50. She is active in the not-for-profit sector with a number of charities as a fundraiser.
My most memorable marketing initiative
In a world where sponsorship deals are now struggling to find relevance, Tata Communications’ association with Formula 1 really stands out as it is based on the fundamental that the former’s services are core to the success of the Formula One Management Group – it is not only a multi-year sponsorship deal, but also a global customer of Tata Communications’ technology services.
Formula 1 is a global brand, with over 600 million fans across the world with 19 races across 40 weeks and all continents of the world. This means that as a brand platform it provides a global showcase of Tata Communications’ services across connectivity, content distribution, hosting and security in a live environment. In B2B marketing it is very hard to show the service and create excitement.
We are just celebrating our first year anniversary of a multi-year relationship.
My first sale
One of my first jobs was with IBM, selling highly sophisticated computers to technology and engineering companies. I felt like a pioneer because all my clients were men and I was the only woman in the team, just like I was the only woman in my graduation class of 200.
Although selling technological solutions to male decision-makers is challenging, at the end of the day, it’s about building relationships and articulating your value proposition. These are skills which are transferable to any job role and ultimately create a win-win situation for both, the individual person and the organisation. I believe that as a marketer, understanding sales and having exposure to customers is vital and developing these skills early in my career has been a tremendous benefit.
A setback I learnt from
When one first joins an organisation, especially in a position such as CMO, it is very tempting to come in and change everything. But through the 20 years of my career, I have learnt that it is better to evolve than to disrupt. It is always better to make radical changes only if there is a clear path to disrupt in the market.
When I joined Tata Communications, there were certain aspects that (from first impressions) required change, but I sat back and understood the culture and the rationale behind the overall marketing strategy, the dynamic of the market and the way customers feel about the brand. It often drives more value for shareholders extracting value from what you have, and staying the course and innovating from within.
Who I respect in the field of marketing
I respect the way Accenture handled the fallout from the Tiger Woods incident. In the middle of scandalous headlines about its brand ambassador’s indiscretions, its CMO, Roxanne Taylor, didn’t panic. She stayed the course and continued to evolve the company’s position. .
The other person who I think of is Dan Wieden, who co-founded Wieden+Kennedy and coined the Nike tagline “Just Do It”. To me, they took the entire idea of running shoes and workout clothes and turned it into so much more, a statement of determination and progress that’s impossible to ignore. Running is my passion and anywhere around the world when I travel I always have my running shoes with me and when I’m tired after a long day I will often push myself and say come on, just do it!
Where I get my insights from
The best insights come from spending some time with customers. I believe that all marketers should prioritise spending time with customers. I spend at least 25 per cent of my time with customers.
There is so much information out there it’s very hard to keep ahead. One of the first investments I made as CMO was in an insights platform, which takes big data extracted from the Internet and systemises it for our customers and services. In just a few months, we have already won three big new business opportunities.
How my engineering degree has helped in my career
I have a degree in Telecommunications Engineering from Plymouth Poytechnic/University South West, specialising in encryption. As an engineer, you seek facts and empirical data. As a marketer, you apply judgement and use intuition.
My engineering degree has taught me to be incredibly logical. I have a larger-picture perspective, as I can see that through cause and effect, what would be the logical end once actions have been applied. Coupled with creative skills, this drives my capability to effect as a marketer.
Being an engineer gives me genuine passion and vast knowledge about Tata Communications’ business. It helps me to understand the business better, drive faster the go-to market strategies and deliver value. I can relate to engineers, speak the same language and together we can find new diamonds on the beach.
The challenge of marketing technology
It is about finding and articulating the value that our customers derive from our services. What we, at Tata Communications, provide are critical services which are easy to explain technically but it’s much harder to articulate in the language of the boardroom.
Tata Communications is the infrastructure support and technical link to the growth of businesses – we connect the world. We own and operate the world’s largest submarine cable network, including the world’s first complete cable ring around the world; We are the fifth largest, fastest-growing and most global Tier-1 IP backbone (Renesys) with a network that accounts for 20 per cent (1/5th) of the world’s Internet’s routes; we are also the world’s largest wholesale voice carrier with 18 per cent market share, carrying 50 billion minutes of international wholesale voice traffic annually – that’s one in six voice calls globally. So we play a big role in the global ecosystem but most of what we do can’t be seen. It’s that which makes our marketing challenge so exciting.
The importance of charity
I am involved with a number of charities. One is Action on Addiction which provides the families of addicts with support. This is important to help reduce the stigma surrounding the causes and treatment of addiction. Another is LEAP which works with individuals to help improve the social and economic well-being of individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds.
I firmly believe that it is not only important to support charitable organisations financially, but also to give them the benefit of your time and experience. I use my marketing skills to help charities come up with plans for fund-raising and build their marketing plans.
Working with an Indian company
It is very important to spend time trying to understand the differences in cultures and the different working styles. At Tata Communications, the leadership team is quite unusual unlike many other Indian companies; it is truly global and multinational. Our employee spans 40 nationalities across the globe with 75 per cent of our business coming from overseas.
Here, I have colleagues who are based in India and with whom I interact daily. I have always admired the culture and the best things that I have observed are intellectual curiosity, strong work ethic, relentless pursuit of getting the job done, receptive to feedback and warmth, humour and ambition in everything that they do, especially in challenging situations.