Speaking at a Marketing Society event last night (3 February), Syl Saller, the CMO of Diageo, shared her thoughts on leadership and heading up the marketing department of one of the world’s biggest drinks companies.
In a frank address, given at the Royal College of Physicians, Saller revealed how early on in her career she had to be "dragged" into leadership roles but learned over the years that "the risks that we face are largely in our own heads".
Saller told the packed auditorium: "'Hero' is a really scary word, who thinks of themselves as a hero? Certainly not me, but we all are," she said.
"We see in our marketers today and our agencies heroes every day - people who are willing to take on challenges," she added.
She also advised the audience to "find people who will support you on your whole journey", and showed an image revealing her industry allies; O2 marketing and consumer director Nina Bibby, James Murphy, founder and CEO, Adam & Eve/DDB and Sue Farr, director, Chime Communications.
"We need to defy the instinct to rely on ourselves - reach out, get the help that you need," she added.
Turning to Diageo, Saller revealed that her company would not be emulating Unilever by bringing its corporate brand into its consumer-facing marketing. The move, she argued, would risk "overshadowing" the products in its portfolio.
She also said the drinks giant would be focusing on making sure its award-winning marketing became better at driving sales.