How Swift CEO Liz Valentine Builds Innovative Digital Marketing Teams
Liz Valentine is the CEO and Co-Founder of Swift, a Portland-based, client-founded digital marketing agency. In this episode, she’ll share her inclusive, values-driven approach to building creative teams. We’ll also hear her hiring advice to leaders of fast-growing startups.
As CEO and Co-Founder of Swift, a Portland-based, client-founded creative agency, Liz Valentine leads her team in making brilliant digital work for notable brands like Google, Gatorade, PayPal, Venmo, and many others. Liz began her career at Nike and brings over twenty years of experience in digital marketing to her current role. In 2014, Swift was acquired by the global data, tech, and creative powerhouse WPP. Liz was brought on as CEO of Wunderman Thompson West and Mobile for North America in 2019.
Listen to the podcast
HIGHLIGHTS FROM OUR CONVERSATION INCLUDE
- Entrepreneurial thinking and digital innovation (2:10)
- Starting a creative agency (3:55)
- Her approach to diversity, equity, and inclusion (7:56)
- How she looks for candidates who thrive in an agency environment (11:26)
- “Swiftology” and how she assesses value-alignment (14:25)
- Making the shift to virtual work (18:43)
- Culture “fit” vs. culture “add” (21:19)
- What changed for Liz after the WPP acquisition (22:11)
- Hiring differences between Swift and WT (24:02)
- Overseeing values-driven hiring on a large scale (26:59)
- The many hats a modern CMO has to wear (29:15)
- Marketing during an economic downturn (30:34)
SHOW TRANSCRIPT – HOW I HIRE PODCAST WITH Liz Valentine
Roy Notowitz: Hello and welcome to How I Hire, the podcast that taps directly into the best hiring advice and insights. I’m your host, Roy Notowitz, Founder of an executive recruiting and leadership consulting firm called Noto Group. My team and I have spent the last decade helping to build iconic consumer brands, one hire at a time. Visit us at NotoGroup.com to learn more.
Today I’m talking with Liz Valentine, a dynamic and insightful leader with over twenty years experience in digital marketing. Liz is the CEO and Co-founder of Swift, an innovative client founded creative agency based in Portland, Oregon. The team at Swift creates smart work for notable brands like Google, Gatorade, PayPal, Venmo, and many others.
In 2014, Swift was acquired by WPP, a global, data, tech, and creative powerhouse. Liz was then brought on as CEO of Wunderman Thompson West and Mobile for North America.
In this episode, we’ll talk about how Liz identifies and evaluates the capabilities needed to thrive in the creative world. Also, we’ll get into her experience hiring at different stages of growth at Swift and Wunderman Thompson.
So I met Liz right about the time when we were both starting our firms or a little bit after. It’s been amazing to see Liz and her journey. And Liz, thank you so much for, for being on the podcast this morning.
Liz Valentine: Oh, it’s so good to be here. Thank you for having me.
Roy Notowitz: Awesome. Well, let’s dive right in. I think one of the interesting things is that you and I both had formative career experiences working at Nike. I love your founder story, so I think it would be really great if you could share a little bit about your career path that led you ultimately to starting Swift.
Liz Valentine: Sure. So I started my career, actually, my first and best job was as a bike tour guide in France.
Roy Notowitz: [Laughter]
Liz Valentine: It was amazing, but that was not a career.
Roy Notowitz: That sounds awesome.
Liz Valentine: It was an incredible year. I actually started, really started my career in Cambridge, Massachusetts at Forrester Research when it was quite small and entrepreneurial. And then that led me to Lucy Active Wear out in Portland. And then after Lucy, I, I found myself at Nike working in the women’s business and, um, and then ultimately kind of falling within global digital marketing there.
And that was really very entrepreneurial as well, as you can imagine, you know late 1999, early-2000’s. Digital was, it was early and it was a little Wild West.
Roy Notowitz: They barely wanted to post their jobs on the internet back then I remember that yeah. Much less product and brand.
Liz Valentine: 100% and very, very experimental, very much focused on just finding new ways to connect using digital. But the theme here is entrepreneurial, right? So I, I landed myself in a very entrepreneurial place, even though we were part of global brand marketing at Nike. And then that, you know, grew and grew and all of a sudden digital became critically important to the brand and a little less entrepreneurial as you can imagine.
So I really realized that I, I love the building of things and kind of focusing on innovation particularly for me, my career has always been in digital innovation. Back at Forester, I was researching like, “Do you think someday people will buy shoes on the internet and bank on the internet?” And, and I mean, truly it was, it was really, really early. And just thought that I was kind of geared for entrepreneurial environments and so I decided why not start my own and kind of do things on my own terms. And I had just become a mother as well, and that was a big factor. Just wanting to be able to create the kind of environment that I wanted to be a parent in.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. What was the original team like at Swift?
Liz Valentine: Yeah. So I started the business with two other women and one kind of left pretty early on just realizing that that kind of ambition of what we wanted to build maybe wasn’t wasn’t for her. So there were two of us that started, but my, my background is more in business and strategy and hers was more creative. Pretty quickly we realized that we were going to need additional skill sets to kind of compliment just our backgrounds, and frankly, that the opportunity was well beyond what the two of us could service.
Most of our relationships and our context as we started an agency were from very large global brands. Therefore, our opportunities as we started the agency were with very large global brands. Yeah. And, and certainly not something a two person shop could, could handle. And so we brought on technology, data, production, operations really quickly, just because right off the bat, I had the chance to, to work on some pretty incredible assignments for Nike, so it’s a great way to launch an agency, but you have to scale quickly. Yeah. So, so we needed a lot of help right away.
Roy Notowitz: So how did your vision for creating something bigger than you had previously imagined take shape?
Liz Valentine: It was terrifying, honestly, to be as successful as we were in the first three years. I mean, I mentioned in the beginning that I had my daughter and started an agency within three months, I mean, that’s insanity.
Right? And I mean, I love work. And, and so, you know, there was never a scenario in which I didn’t work just because I love what I do, but it was really terrifying and, and exhilarating at the same time. And it’s terrifying in that no one tells you when you start a business that, you know, you’re going to sign a multi-million dollar five-year lease and your, your home, your personal home is collateral, right.
They don’t tell you that you’re guaranteeing all this growth. And so with no, no investors, no VC money. I mean, you know, we were really just doing it organically and so we had to take pause, just, you know, for some very practical reasons to figure out what it was going to take financially to scale the business, consult with our families, you know. Were they okay for us to continue to scale the way we were? Because the personal, you know, financial risk is actually pretty extreme.
Roy Notowitz: And at the time we had just come through a downturn, right?
Liz Valentine: I know, we started in 2008, it was bananas. But because we were focused, we had such kind of deep expertise in digital, which at the time was more efficient and frankly, you could prove return on investment, it’s where clients were moving their money. Very similar to where we are now.
Roy Notowitz: So you had that vision.
Liz Valentine: Yeah.
Roy Notowitz: So then how were you thinking about team structure, roles, talent capability, and hiring at the time you were sort of getting ready to add fuel to the fire?
Liz Valentine: Our first employee was a woman by the name of Maren Elliott, who is amazing. And so she’s really interesting. She started her career at Teach for America and eventually became the Director of Recruiting. And so she had a really great background in, in hiring and recruiting, but she was also an elite athlete, and one of our main accounts when we hired her was with NikePlus. We were creating workout mixes with, with Apple, for the iTunes Store for Nike.
Roy Notowitz: What an amazing job.
Liz Valentine: I know it was such a great gig. So I hired Maren. I called her and I was like, “So I have this gig where you’re going to get to work with athletes on workouts and record labels, you know, crafting incredible playlists to motivate people through marathon training” and she was like, “Uh, yeah, check. I’ll do that”. So she was a producer for the first three years, but her background in talent recruiting, you know, she was really the one that I turned to to help us when we hit that, that kind of inflection point after three years, when we were ready to really scale, to take on, she became Director of Culture and Talent and developed a lot of processes, procedures, a lot of rigor around our hiring process, which was not my background and not my area of expertise. So I really turned to her to help us develop some discipline and a real strategy for hiring.
Roy Notowitz: So Maren brought some great ideas to the organization. Can you tell us a little bit about what the process was as you were going about starting to hire in a more formal way?
Liz Valentine: Yeah. You know, one of the things that Maren brought to a fast growing startup was just discipline and process, right? So I think one of the most dangerous things a startup can do when they think about their talent strategy, and we’ve really seen this play out in terms of lack of diversity in a lot of workplaces, is simply tap their network. Right? And because you tend to bring in very like-minded people and that’s really what we did when we were fast-growing. We, we brought in people we knew and trusted and it turns out a lot of those people looked exactly like us and the founders, and that’s not really what leads to great work.
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Liz Valentine: And so Maren brought a tremendous amount of discipline in terms of just making sure that we had a very rigorous, fair and equitable recruiting strategy, interview process, hiring process and onboarding process. And that sounds a little bit boring, but when you’re in a fast growing startup, actually just saying, “We’re going to hit pause. We’re not just going to bring in our network and people know. We’re going to look beyond kind of our insular worlds and expand out. That was especially for, I think, for an agency that is servicing such a broad, you know, number of clients and services and sectors, to have that just diversity of thought was, was critical for our success.
Roy Notowitz: What were the elements that drove that strategy?
Liz Valentine: Yeah. I mean, one big thing was looking outside of Portland, right? And that’s an expensive thing for a small company to do because you have costs obviously associated with moving and recruiting people from outside of Portland. But I think as many people know, Portland is an incredible city. The creative economy in Portland is, it’s outstanding. So as a creative agency, you know, we didn’t have to look beyond Portland, but it is also the least diverse major metropolitan area in the country.
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Liz Valentine: And so making sure that we were looking beyond the walls of Portland, making sure that we had people of color in particular as part of every kind of finalist pool that went through panel interviews within the organization. That, you know, we really weren’t going to make a hire unless we had a very diverse pool of people applying. That was really important and has made a very large impact in, in where we are today. And it’s still a work in progress and ongoing, but we’ve made pretty tremendous strides in terms of just representation of, of underrepresented groups.
Gender has never been our issue as a female-founded agency, you know, we actually over-index, I think we index too heavily female. It’s about, it’s always been between 60, 70% of Swift has been female because you know, seven out of 10 candidates that apply are women just because we’re such an anomaly in the agency world. Our focus has really been on not necessarily on gender diversity, but other underrepresented groups.
Roy Notowitz: So over time you built your talent pipelines through a more diverse network of potential candidates and communities.
Liz Valentine: Yeah, and particularly we work with recruiters that had a network that was just different of our own. And I think working with recruiters, especially when it comes to diversifying your talent pool, it’s expensive obviously, but I think it’s worth it. And so that’s been a key strategy and it’s an ongoing strategy for us.
Roy Notowitz: I think it’s worth it to work with recruiters. [Laughter] So, you know, we know the agency life is not for everybody just because of the pace. How did you assess whether somebody would be able to thrive in that type of environment?
Liz Valentine: Yeah, I think that agency life, you know, in some ways I think it gets a bad rap because I actually find my clients work just as hard as we do. You know, I just think the way technology has accelerated overall just marketing communications, kind of transformation, the amount of expertise you need to have across e-commerce, performance marketing, brand, experiential, CX, like it’s a big job right now to have any kind of role within a marketing org. And so my, I feel like our clients work as much as we do. That said, just transparency in the interview process around the, the workday, what the expectations are, how fast and nimble we need to work.
I think it’s just being incredibly upfront with people around what those expectations can look like, and it’s not always intense, and actually we work really hard to make sure it’s not always intense for people that you get, those breaks, people get relief. But I think just being really honest about the expectations. You know, you are in a service role when you’re on the agency side of things, and that means you’re, you’re really always servicing the clients, and that can happen at odd hours.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. What advice do you have for other agency leaders around selecting talent?
Liz Valentine: I think one of the most important qualities to be successful on the agency side is the ability to have your work critiqued and to be able to pivot, change, co-create with clients, be incredibly open-minded and collaborative
Roy Notowitz: Yeah.
Liz Valentine: Because that is happening every single day. You can work all night on this beautiful, whatever it is, you know, manifesto, design, beautiful, you know, design and show up in the morning, present it, and it’s just not quite right. Right? Or the brief has changed, there’s another stakeholder in the organization that wants to go in a different direction. So, you do need thick skin. I mean, you want people to take their work personally because you want it to really matter to them because that’s when you get great work, but it can’t be precious.
So kind of talking about that transparency, what that looks like. I am constantly saying, “Can you give me an example?”
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Liz Valentine: Right? So you can ask about a quality and then, but we can all say that we’re flexible, nimble, you know, pivot on a dime, but can you give me an example, um, is, is key in the interview process. And if someone has trouble giving you an example, then maybe they don’t have the depth of experience that you need.
Roy Notowitz: Really interesting. One of the things Liz that I have always been so impressed with, there’s this idea of values, strong values and how you integrate that into your service delivery and I am assuming also you’re hiring. So what values were most indicative of success and, and, and how did you elicit information from candidates? Um, what were you listening for to assess alignment?
Liz Valentine: That’s a great question. And so many, I mean, so many decisions that we make are tied to our values at Swift, which we call Swiftology, and we have eight values. I won’t go through them all that would take too long. I could give you a whole podcast on our values because we’ve put so much work into them. I’ll just focus on a few.
So, so one value is embrace the unexpected, and that is we, we spoke a little bit about that, but it’s that ability to pivot, to change, to be nimble, to be flexible and in kind of the fast moving space that we’re in. And then just the nature of being in the service industry and serving, you know, clients with competing needs, that ability to embrace the unexpected is, is a critical part of the interview process. And so going back to, you know, “Give me an example”, really, you know, having people give us examples where something happened and they had to change course, how did they feel? How did they approach it? What was the outcome? Getting really specific there.
Another critical value to Swift is that the best idea can come from anywhere. And, and, that’s really about ego. And everyone has ego. I have ego and a certain amount of ego is, is quite healthy, but we are in an industry, I think, where there can be a lot of outsized ego, and, and that can create a really toxic work environment.
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Liz Valentine: And so this value, the best idea can come from anywhere, you know, little things you can pick up in an interview process,
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Liz Valentine: If you’re having a creative present their portfolio, do they only credit themselves or do they reference the team that was part of the ideation and creation process? Nothing, not one thing that ever makes its way into the world that came from an agency involved one person. It’s involved account, project management, and strategy, and yep clients, yeah. You can really pick up on how much someone kind of values that team. And one of the things I love is in an interview process, when someone references kind of a more junior member of their team, right, really drove this, this idea and we kind of took it and shaped it and ran with it. Right? That might be an example there. That’s, that’s a big one.
A very important value at Swift is, respect is everything. And when we talk about respect is everything that is respect for our clients and their business and their pressures, respect for our peers, regardless of level in the organization. And I think that respect, I came from the client side, I actually intentionally recruit folks who have been client side because they’ve, they’ve had to, you know, oftentimes they’ve been part of running a PNL or they’ve had business goals and responsibilities that they’re really held to as an agency. I think the reason why Swift has such great long-term relationships with our clients is that we have deep respect for our clients.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah.
Liz Valentine: And I, unfortunately I think a lot of agencies, you know, they have, they can have kind of adversarial relationships with their clients and not respect them, and that’s the most destructive and counterproductive attitude you can have. And so, really digging into, in an interview process if someone’s coming from another agency, it’s like, “Talk to me about your relationship with a client”. And if you pick up anything but respect, that’s a flag, yeah.
Roy Notowitz: That’s huge, yeah. That’s something I think about here as well. I love hiring people who have the corporate or in-house experience as well, and that’s a really great insight, so. Now that things are virtual how has virtual work influencing or changing your collaborative team process? Is there just less creativity or fewer ideas? How’s that work?
Liz Valentine: It’s so interesting because, you would think there would be less, and that I haven’t actually seen that manifest itself in the business. I am just blown away at how quickly our clients and, and my teams have embraced the technology. We were all using it, right? I mean, most of my, most of my clients are in the tech area. So we’d been using video chat for every single meeting for years and years and years with most of our clients. And, and, frankly, we, you know, Swift is based in Portland, but we didn’t have, um, maybe one or two Portland clients over the years. So most of our clients are remote.
I’ve been blown away at how people have managed to stay creative and productive and connected. That said, it has been emotionally harder on people. I mean, everyone misses each other. Everyone misses just that, the physicality of being in a room, the actual, like physical energy, you know, that gets created when you get all these wacky different types of thinkers in a room. Um, so, it’s been hard, but you know where the magic is still happening because Swift does a tremendous amount of, we’ve always had in-house production as part of, we’re makers. Right? So, so that’s been part of our DNA at the agency since we opened our doors and we are still physically doing productions. I mean, we have a huge production space. You’ve seen it at Swift.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah.
Liz Valentine: You know, we just did a, a massive body of work for TikTok, producing TikToks, like loads and loads and loads of them.
Roy Notowitz: That’s cool.
Liz Valentine: I know, so fun to have them as a client. And it was, you know, we’ve got our COVID, you know, czar on set and we’re making sure that we’re doing everything well, but you know, we’re still making, we’re still producing. It’s super careful but we’re still, you know, across all of our clients we’re in production.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. It’s interesting that the creativity is still happening and that you haven’t really skipped a beat. So, culture inevitably changes as companies grow. And, you know, I’m curious, how did you originally determine candidate fit and how has that adapted or evolved as you’ve grown?
Liz Valentine: When I mentioned I think it was probably around 2011, 2012 when Maren moved into her Director of Culture and Talent role, and that’s where we really started to think about not recruiting outside of just our own circles. And I think actually we used that term culture fit a lot early on, and I, actually it’s purged from my vocabulary.
Roy Notowitz: That’s great.
Liz Valentine: Because now we look for culture adds because we’re actually not, and that’s not original to us, you know. I think I, you know, I read about it, Harvard might’ve written, you know, HBS, you know, wrote about it, but it made a profound impact.
Roy Notowitz: That is huge.
Liz Valentine: Yeah. So we don’t look for quote unquote, the culture fit. It’s like, how do, how will people add to our culture?
Roy Notowitz: Yeah.
Liz Valentine: But that’s where the values come in, because really, I think the culture of Swift is very much centered around these, these foundational values that guide our decision-making and how we operate and how we behave with each other. And that’s really what we’re looking for. If you had to say like what the fit was, it was really, you know, do our values speak to this person? Are these values that inspire them that make them drawn to us?
Roy Notowitz: I want to shift gears and spend time on, you know, what happened in 2014. Swift was acquired by Possible, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of WPP, a huge global organization. And for those, you know, who aren’t familiar, it’s a publicly traded marketing, communications, and creative powerhouse that employs like over a hundred thousand people. I think I read somewhere in 112 countries. So, after that acquisition, they named you the CEO of Wunderman Thompson West for North America, which sounds like a giant title and huge responsibility. So, I guess I wanted to start with how that whole experience was for you, and then what’s changed as it relates to your job and hiring.
Liz Valentine: Oh my gosh, what it hasn’t changed. [Laughter] So we got acquired in 2014 and then I continued just around Swift for several years. So I just recently, I guess I’m a year and a half into my new role. And Wunderman Thompson, you know, was kind of one of the mega mergers, right? It was J. Walter Thompson, you know, the first kind of ad agency, Wunderman, which was kind of a powerhouse data and technology, Possible, which was a digital marketing agency, Swift, plus like lots and lots and lots of other agencies. It was just a big, big merger. So I’ve just gone through 18 months navigating a leadership role in that merger, which has been head spinning, mind blowing.
Roy Notowitz: What an amazing challenge.
Liz Valentine: Yeah, it was cool. It’s been cool. And going back to where we started in a lot of ways, entrepreneurial. Because, yes, it’s a merger and we’re talking about, you know, almost 200 year-old company with, you know, 50 year-old company with 20 year-old company with, you know, five year-old company, but it’s taking all the ingredients and kind of making something new.
Roy Notowitz: So it’s still in your sweet spot.
Liz Valentine: I think so. I wasn’t sure it would be, you know. To be honest, I was like, “Oh, big corporate things. This is kind of what I’ve run from”. But you know, Swift is growing up. We’re like, you know, a little still awkward teenager in some ways, but it’s been a good 14 years. And, and it was just time for me personally to learn and grow in a different way and challenge myself. I mean, I could have just kept running Swift for another 10 or 15 years, but I don’t think I would, my, my, like my brain has literally grown exponentially in the last 18 months and it feels good.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. And that’s not even to mention all the other challenges that are out there.
Liz Valentine: I know. COVID, and I mean, all these things that we’ve been navigating, but I like my new job a lot. And Swift is very, very much a creative agency and, and yes, our sweet spot is social. You know, our, our positioning is we’re a creative agency for a social world and that’s kind of how we got our rise. And so it’s always been very tied to platforms and technology innovation and how do you, you know, brand expression and brand strategy within an evolving technology landscape? However, my new job is like, so much beyond that. You know, I’m working with e-commerce teams and data teams and technology teams and, you know, CX orgs, and I’m over the apps division for Wunderman Thompson. So, you know, it’s just been awesome.
Roy Notowitz: Totally different jobs you’re hiring for.
Liz Valentine: Yeah, and like I think that’s the big thing for me is it’s been, I have had to learn and develop my skill set in so many new ways to be able to even effectively manage and, and kind of hire within that environment. And so it’s been about research and studying and learning, like literally studying, like, you know. And, and at the same time, you know, going back to the values, like Wunderman Thompson has a set of values.
Roy Notowitz: Did they mesh well? I mean, how was that transition for your team that was operating on, you know, the Swift values? Was that transition seamless?
Liz Valentine: Yeah. You know, it’s interesting. It’s not been transitioned, they’ve been additive because Swift is still a standalone brand within WPP and we’re kind of nested under Wunderman Thompson, but we are kind of a standalone agency. And so I still run Swift. Swiftology still stands and then Wunderman Thompson’s values
Roy Notowitz: Layer over that.
Liz Valentine: Yeah, they layer over that. You know, they’re positivity, in it together, creative bravery, and listening. And I love those values too, and I think they nest well together and there’s some overlap. So in many ways it hasn’t changed because I’m a very values driven leader and, and kind of leaning on those values and the qualities. And then, you know, frankly, I have to rely on subject matter experts when it comes to technology or data or some of the areas where I just haven’t spent 25 years of my career in.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. So how do you sort of elevate, develop, and support the recruiting and hiring capabilities within your own leadership teams? Now that you’re working on a bigger scale, you obviously can’t be involved in every single hire. How do you elevate that overall competency within your organization?
Liz Valentine: Well, the beauty of being part of such a large and, you know, sophisticated organization is that there’s teams of people that are focused on interview training and there’s so much programming and so much attention being paid right now to DE&I initiatives and bias training. And I think one of the things that I need to do as a leader, and it’s really part of my team’s KPIs, is ensuring that we are, we’re putting in that work. We are taking those trainings, we’re attending, we’re internalizing .It, we’re putting it into practice and making sure that that is a strategic business priority for everyone that I’m managing. And the folks that I’m managing are then managing, you know, teams of several hundred people. And so, you know, as a leader, everything starts, you know, if you’re not taking it seriously, you’re not doing the trainings, you’re not talking about what you learned, talking about what you’re going to do differently, talking about the impact and the changes you need to make, then your teams won’t. And so it’s really prioritizing that.
Roy Notowitz: So basically paying attention, learning, and then role model.
Liz Valentine: Yep. It’s putting in the work.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah. And then also maybe addressing, you know, that continuum of like, “Okay, well what’s next?. What more can we do?”
Liz Valentine: Yep, yep. And not assuming, just because you’ve been in business for a while, or you’ve held leadership positions for a long time that you, you know everything. One of the bigger clients for Wunderman Thompson is Microsoft. So, you know, Satya Nadella has this learn it all mentality. And I just love that. And Shane Atchison, who’s my boss and my CEO, has really internalized that for the organization. So we’ve really taken that, learn it all mentality is that like, we are not experts in everything we have so much more to learn.
Roy Notowitz: So you’ve worked side-by-side with top CMOs at notable brands and, you know, with powerful marketing resources. And this is a question I’ve asked of other people, you know, what do you see as the role of the modern CMO? And what advice would you have for CEOs or investors or board directors who might find themselves searching for a CMO in 2021?
Liz Valentine: I think, gosh, it is the hardest job right now just being in marketing because it’s evolving so quickly because of technology.
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Liz Valentine: The kind of skill sets and the aptitude that you need to have across so many different things, marketing technology, you know, whether it’s performance, marketing, CRM, e-commerce, but you still have to be an expert in brand and experience. When you think of customer experience across all brands, different touch points, like the needs are just vast. But what I go back to and it’s just, you know, opinion of just me, it comes down to business performance, right? So that the modern CMO is really, they’re responsible for growth and revenue growth. And because the landscape has changed to be able to give us so much data so quickly on what’s working and what’s not, it’s really focusing on how to move the needle in a very tangible way for your business. And if you don’t have that growth mindset, you don’t have that revenue mindset, I think it’s hard to be successful.
Especially with COVID, I mean, every business has been upended.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah.
Liz Valentine: Really it’s interesting because I started Swift in 2008 when the sky fell, right?
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Liz Valentine: And it was actually a blessing to start when the economy collapsed because you become really scrappy, you stay really nimble and you’re really focused on performance and results. Because in 2008, 2009, 2010, if the work that you put out in the world wasn’t effective, it got killed.
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Liz Valentine: We are in the same place. We are in the exact same place, that the work you put out in the world has to work. And so, I think I spent so long at Nike brand has been drilled into the essence of my being, right? And so I consider myself first and foremost a brand marketer, but for me it’s always been, how do you drive brand growth and business growth through digital and digital tools?
Roy Notowitz: You need to have somebody who is a multidisciplinary leader who understands all the moving parts and who can pull it all together at a high level.
Liz Valentine: And who’s driven by growth. Yeah, and driven by growth. Yeah.
Roy Notowitz: So, what are some of the exciting projects or initiatives that you’re working on and what’s next for you and Swift and Wunderman?
Liz Valentine: Oh my gosh. It’s like picking your favorite baby.
Roy Notowitz: [Laughter]
Liz Valentine: I have so many favorite babies. Right? I love all my babies.
Roy Notowitz: I know the feeling.
Liz Valentine: [Laughter] I just went back and I looked at all the work that we did in the second half of 2020. And I’m like floored by how much great work that is either about to unleash in the world or, you know, yeah, launch. Such cool work for TikTok and Gatorade. Gatorade’s a longer-term client, but TikTok was a win in 2020, and you can imagine how fun it was to win TikTok.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah.
Liz Valentine: People were like jumping off the walls.
Roy Notowitz: [Laughter]
Liz Valentine: So there’s some incredible work coming out for Gatorade and TikTok. And then a new client, JPMorgan Chase, which has been, I actually love financial services. I love working in, in financial services, but
Roy Notowitz: That’s a whole nother podcast too probably.. I’d love to learn more about that. Yeah.
Liz Valentine: I, well, I feel like it’s like personal education. I just love it.
Roy Notowitz: Yeah, that’s cool, yeah.
Liz Valentine: Yeah. So we’ve got some great work. We did some powerful work for Gates Foundation and T-Mobile that’s, that’s coming out as well. And then my apps team, we’ve been working with the Olympics channel. I mean, just like such cool work. I still go back to, I love the work. I love being in the work, I love doing the work. I just, I love the work. And I like the business side of the agency and I’m, I’m really good at it, but what I enjoy the most is actually working with clients and doing the work, so
Roy Notowitz: Yeah.
Liz Valentine: I’m motivated. I’m excited by that. I’m excited like for Wunderman Thompson, you know, we’re 18 months through this merger, or it’s two years for them but I guess for me 18 months, and like, it’s behind us. That’s cool. It was hard, but we’re in a really good place, and so I just feel like all this stuff you have to put up with when you, you know, and work through and sort through with the merger,
Roy Notowitz: Right.
Liz Valentine: That’s behind us and it’s just, it’s an awesome organization and kind of all the capabilities that came together in the merger, it’s finally all humming. So that’s cool. So now we get to put it in place.
Roy Notowitz: That must feel amazing. Now you’re just
Liz Valentine: Yeah.
Roy Notowitz: Seeing what’s next. Like what, what else can you do now that you’re all merged.
Liz Valentine: Yeah, it’s kind of like, I, I keep thinking about like, and, and I don’t have a background in mechanics, or I’m not a even car person, but imagine like, you know, someone’s taken apart this engine and all the pieces are laid out neatly on the, you know, the tarp that you put out. Right. And we’ve spent, you know, 18 months, two years, putting that engine back together. And it sounds really good and it’s like smooth and it’s humming and you’re like, let’s drive.
Roy Notowitz: That’s amazing.
Liz Valentine: Let’s go. You know, that feels good.
Roy Notowitz: Oh, that’s so exciting.
Liz Valentine: It is, yeah. It’s really fun. It’s been, it’s been an awesome experience and like really hard, but really good.
Roy Notowitz: Well, congratulations on all your success there and thanks so much for being on the podcast. I really appreciate you sharing your hiring insights.
Liz Valentine: I know, so fun to do this. Thank you for having me. I really enjoyed it.
Roy Notowitz: Thanks for tuning in to How I Hire. Visit HowIHire.com for more details on our show. How I Hire is available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, Amazon, and all major listening platforms.
Follow us wherever you get your podcast to get new episodes as soon as they’re published. If you’d like to support our show, let your friends and colleagues know about us. You can also leave us a rating and review on Apple Podcasts. We read each review and always enjoy hearing from you. How I Hire is created by Noto Group Executive Search. NotoGroup.com and follow us on LinkedIn.
This podcast was produced by AO McClain, LLC. To learn more about their great work, visit AOMcClain.com.
Subscribe to How I Hire