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You’ve probably heard it before–leave emotions out of the board room. But what if leaders with high emotional quotient (EQ) are exactly what our businesses need in order to grow and connect with colleagues and consumers? In this episode of Visionaries, we brought together Elizabeth Preis, CMO at Anthropologie, and Charisse Hughes, SVP, Chief Growth Officer at Kellogg, to discuss how they are using EQ to make business decisions, including how they think about AI and lead their teams through change. Former colleagues at Estée Lauder and now friends, Charisse and Elizabeth take us on a journey that will leave you enchanted, inspired, and empowered to lead with your head and heart.

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The Power of Peer Inspiration

Charisse Hughes: I had the pleasure of working with Elizabeth as a counterpart at Estee Lauder companies, where she was in North America, and I was on the global side. Elizabeth always brought a commercial mindset to every discussion, and was always encouraging, supporting, and pushing to get the best for her market. I came to rely on Elizabeth’s professionalism, leadership, and partnership, and I am thrilled to be on Visionaries with her.

Elizabeth Preis: In 2010, I had the opportunity to work with Charisse, who was in charge of marketing for the Estee Lauder brand. Personally, I find Charisse to be extremely intelligent and strategic in her approach to product launches and brand campaigns. Her ability to power that with incredible delivery, enthusiasm, and excitement not only motivated her own marketing teams but got the entire brand excited across the world. On a personal level, she is warm, kind, and someone who is A+ on all levels. Her million-watt smile can light up a room and inspire all the teams who get the pleasure of working with her.

Letting Your Values and Intuition be Your Guide

Charisse Hughes: A big part of my identity is being a Chicago native. I’m also an only child and was raised by a single parent. My mother was an educator for 33 years and later became the Illinois State Commerce Commissioner. She instilled the value of education and lifelong learning in me, which has helped me reinvent myself based on my values.

I attended Howard University and earned my MBA from Northwestern University. I’ve had professional roles in various industries, but my values played an increasing role as I got older. In 2020, I had a big birthday and was reflecting on the challenges we faced during that time, especially the murder of George Floyd. It was a pivotal moment for me, and I wanted to do something that would make a positive impact on myself, my community, and the world.

I went to Kellogg because it is a company that has been anchored in values and purpose for over 117 years. Their desire to create better days for everyone really spoke to my value system, and I saw the opportunity to have an impact on their portfolio of brands and characters. That’s how I ended up in the seat I’m in now, and it’s been an amazing experience for the past three years.

Elizabeth Preis: I used to work for a private equity backed beauty company in L.A., but I really wanted to come back to the East Coast. I received a call from Anthropologie, a brand that I knew of but wasn’t shopping at often. However,I loved the way the store made me feel. The creativity was exceptional and their efforts towards a sustainable future were inspiring.

When they offered me the position of CMO, I was excited to leverage my skills in strategic marketing–especially in the digital realm–to further the beauty of the brand, bring it to more people, and make a difference. It was shocking to see how many people reached out to me once I updated my LinkedIn, expressing their love for the brand.

Working for a brand with such built-in brand love was thrilling as a marketer, and I wanted to tap into this further. I’ve been with Anthropologie for three and a half years now and it’s been a journey, especially with the unexpected events of 2020, but it brought us together as a tighter community internally as a leadership and more thoughtful about who we want our community to be outside of Anthropologie.

Establishing Real Connections to Grow Brand Love

Elizabeth Preis: At our company, community is one of our core values along with curiosity, creativity, purpose-driven, and growth mindset. We believe that people ultimately want to feel part of a community. Our internal community is vital to us, and we make sure to celebrate its members both internally and externally.

For example, during International Women’s Month, we celebrated the women in our community across different levels, backgrounds, and functions by doing a daily LinkedIn post. I was never expecting the results we got. People were so excited internally to see their colleagues celebrated. I was floored by how many external people tuned in every day to see who the next person was to be featured.

This level of community building goes a long way in making people feel they are part of something greater and serving a mission with purpose. We want our customers to feel connected to us, and it doesn’t have to be through a purchase. Just by walking through our doors or visiting our site or scrolling on our Instagram, we want them to feel a connection and be happy to spend time with us.

Charisse Hughes: At a legacy company like ours, there’s a lot of generational love and nostalgia for our brands. People carry them in their hearts and minds more than you might think. However, our challenge now is not awareness but consideration. Consumers have shifted their desires around food and how they engage with us.

A brand is a promise anchored in trust and consistency, so we are investing in experiences that help us understand our consumers better. We do this through data and cultural relevance, understanding diverse consumer cohorts, and delighting them through music festivals–like we recently did with Pringles–or cool collaborations, like what we’ve recently done with Tony the Tiger and Puma, or with goodr and Fruit Loops.

A brand is a promise anchored in trust and consistency, so we are investing in experiences that help us understand our consumers better.

Charisse Hughes, SVP, Chief Growth Officer at Kelloggg

These experiences build affinity, keep us top of mind, and help us remain at the forefront of consumers’ minds. We also prioritize equity, diversity, and inclusion (ED&I)  and environmental, social, and (corporate) governance (ESG), knowing their importance for younger generations and their loyalty to more sustainable and diverse brands. That’s how we build connections and EQ with our consumers.

Bridging the Gap Between AI and EQ

Elizabeth Preis: Our company is proudly creativity-led, data-informed, and consumer-inspired. This trifecta guides our approach to AI. To us, AI is seen as a smart enabler and supplement to our existing creative teams. In real-life approaches, our teams in the editorial space leverage AI to improve product copy and make it more SEO-friendly to acquire new customers.

However, it’s important to note that AI is not a replacement for our people and teams, but rather a supplement. Giving everyone permission to use AI to enhance their creativity allows us to reach both our existing and new audiences more effectively, leading to real growth.

Our company is proudly creativity-led, data-informed, and consumer-inspired. This trifecta guides our approach to AI. To us, AI is seen as a smart enabler and supplement to our existing creative teams. “

Elizabeth Preis, CMO at Anthropologie

Charisse Hughes: We noticed a significant increase in AI conversation during different company earnings calls, with over 1,000 mentions and a 77% increase. At Kellogg, we are trying to navigate this space to stay relevant. We are focused on media optimization, identifying high value audiences, and our light, medium, and heavy buyers.

Our first party data is quite significant, covering a large percentage of the U.S. population, but it’s not just about the data. We are asking the right questions to better understand our business and engage our audience. However, retail media presents a unique challenge for us in connecting the dots. Our approach is a fact-finding mission. We are intentional about what we want to understand, continually and testing and validating our creative and execution to refine our messaging and reach our target audience.

Setting the Organization up for Success in the Future

Charisse Hughes: Upon joining the company, I noticed that there was a significant gap in the company’s digital transformation journey. Having worked at Pandora, I was able to lead that transformation journey, which has helped prepare me for navigating this shift at Kellogg. 

We have been focusing on foundational elements, such as brand building fundamentals, digital IQ, and omni channel excellence. Our next step is to unleash a full funnel marketing strategy for maximum connection with the consumer. In the CPG space, there is a heavy focus on top-of-the-funnel brand building, but not enough attention given to the bottom of the funnel.

Bringing these two worlds together has been a change management process, but having data at the back end with our retailers has helped connect the dots with technology. It has also been a big upscaling moment for the team as we equip and train our marketers for success in the future. Beyond technology and data, our journey has been about setting the team up for success in the future.

Elizabeth Preis: As an organization, we decided to be digitally first and digitally led in how we connect with our customers. Digital marketing is not just the responsibility of the digital team; everyone needs to have a basic understanding of it to be effective. We had to bring the rest of the organization up to speed with the basics of digital marketing so that we could use it as a growth lever for our brand. This was a significant turning point for us.

Using EQ to Build Trust among Leadership

Elizabeth Preis: In June 2021, our senior leadership team met for a 2-day in-person session.  For many of us, me included, this was the first time we were meeting one another face-to-face. During this leadership session, we defined our core values as a team and discussed our customer–both current and future. We also talked about what would be attractive to our current customer base and what could drive growth for our brand.

This was an eye-opening experience because it allowed us to see different perspectives from those who had been with the company for a long time versus those who had joined more recently. One of the most important takeaways from our session was the need to establish trust among our leadership team. Trust is essential because it allows each person to focus on their expertise and not try to juggle everything by themselves.

In addition to their insights, Charisse and Elizabeth share their best career advice.

  • Control how you show up by being prepared, knowledgeable, well-read, and exhibiting confidence and inspiration to the team in a calm manner.
  • Improve upon communication skills, including oral and written communication.
  • Consider what you want people to know, feel, and remember at the end of every presentation.
  • Cultivate connections in your network throughout your career.
  • Commit to lifelong learning and continuously develop your skills.
  • Share what you’ve learned with your team to tackle challenges together.

Meet the Visionaries

Charisse Hughes, SVP, Chief Growth Officer at Kellogg: Charisse Hughes is the SVP, Chief Growth Officer at Kellogg Company. She leads the Brand, Marketing and Advanced Analytics Team and is responsible for driving the growth agenda for the company through leadership of Global Brands, Innovation and R&D, Commercial Advanced Analytics, Marketing Excellence, and Licensing & Cultural Initiatives. She is committed to creating personalized engagement and inclusive experiences enabled by deep data-driven understanding and Advanced Analytics/Machine Learning. Prior to joining Kellogg, Charisse held several executive roles for brands such as Pandora Americas, The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., Avon, and Sara Lee. She is a passionate advocate for ED&I, serving as the Executive Sponsor for Women of Kellogg + (WOK+), active leader in the Kellogg African American Resource Group (KAARG) and mentor to many underrepresented talent.

Elizabeth Preis, CMO at Anthropologie: Elizabeth Preis is the CMO at Anthropologie. For the last 25 years of her career, Elizabeth has developed and established her Marketing expertise at the uppermost echelons of the beauty and fashion industries, like The Estée Lauder Companies Inc., BH Cosmetics, J.Crew and Saks Fifth Avenue. Currently, as the Chief Marketing Officer at Anthropologie Group, she leads a team that encompasses and executes all brand marketing, direct-to-consumer business strategy, customer insights and analytics, and editorial content – across all social, digital, and print platforms, online and in stores.

Visionaries, hosted by Nadine Dietz, airs every week and is brought to you in partnership with The Wall Street Journal. Each week, two new visionaries share their game plan and how that impacts today’s teams, talent, and hybrid work environment.   

Marketers That Matter® is a community of top marketing executives coming together to pioneer the future of marketing, sharing real-time experiences, and solving current challenges. 

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