Pete Markey on joining the Post Office, Gok Wan and swimming with sharks

Pete Markey, chief marketing officer, Post Office
Pete Markey, chief marketing officer, Post Office

Wow - what an interesting few weeks. It's been a time of change, and for reflection and celebration.

I’ve left one job, started another, given the keynote speech to 250 people at a leading industry awards dinner, taken a swim with sharks and taken to the stage to present at Advertising Week Europe, just after Gok Wan (a career highlight) – and more.

Running through all of this is a renewed sense of purpose. Purpose in what I do and in the organisation I have left, as well as the one I have just joined.

In April, after eight years, I left my role as CMO at RSA Insurance Group to take up a new role, as CMO at the Post Office. I had spent the past eight months delivering a new global brand strategy across RSA Group, including a new brand purpose and brand values, and a refreshed brand identity. It’s been an exciting piece of work and one with real momentum across the organisation – it’s shown me once again how powerful having a clear sense of purpose is.

Leaving one company to join another is a time to both reflect on the past and look to the future. In the midst of this change, I was asked to deliver a keynote presentation at a prominent industry dinner. Warming up an awards dinner of eager nominees is always a challenge, particularly when the brief is "speak on whatever you like".

Having dismissed sharing my love of roller coasters and anecdotes about meeting William Shatner and David Hasselhoff as being broadly irrelevant to this distinguished audience, I settled on the topic of "brand purpose", and why it’s so vitally important for businesses – now more than ever. I highlighted how those brands that had a clear purpose and identified a clear "enemy" (a competitor, an internal or industry challenge) consistently outperformed those that did not. I’m pleased to say the speech was a big success, and seemed to really connect with the audience, whose members bought me a drink (or two) at the bar that night. It seems that discovering a renewed sense of brand purpose is something of a hot topic among clients and agencies – and rightly so.

It’s a brilliant time to have joined the Post Office. It’s a fantastic brand, with real momentum behind it driving significant change.

It was a theme echoed again as I supported The Marketing Society in a panel at Ad Week. With Gok having warmed up the audience, it was great to share with other marketers and talk about our exciting journey at RSA as we embraced our brand purpose and led real change through the organisation.

Ad Week was a fantastic celebration of great marketing in the UK and it was a huge privilege to be there.

During the event I also connected with several fellow scholars from The Marketing Academy Fellowship programme, which I have been on since October – an awesome bunch of marketers who are undertaking an intensive learning experience supported by mentoring from CEOs and directors.

Moving to the Post Office just a few weeks ago has also been a hugely reflective time. But before I started, I took some time off to go snorkelling with my teenage son – and sharks – at the London Sea Life Aquarium. A great experience, but very cold water.

It’s a brilliant time to have joined the Post Office. It’s a fantastic brand, with real momentum behind it driving significant change. The Post Office operates on an impressive scale: it has the biggest retail network in the UK, with more than 11,500 branches, visited by 18m customers a week. It’s also the UK’s number-one travel-money and mail provider, and sixth-biggest telecoms supplier.

The opportunity is for me to work with a fantastic group of people to shape and deliver a renewed sense of purpose for the Post Office as it enters a new era. One where the customer is at its heart and real change is being made to the customer experience. It’s been an exciting first few weeks, and I am now even more energised by what lies ahead. Bring it on.

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