To celebrate Michael Hill‘s sponsorship of our Grace Tame event series, we caught up with their incredible new CMO Jo Feeney to discuss her career highlights, the lessons learned, and her advice for aspiring marketers.
You’ve been in the CMO role at Michael Hill since March. What have the first few weeks been like?
In a word – energising! Like connecting the jumper cables to your brain…the neurons have been re-wired! A new opportunity brings new thinking, new challenges, new relationships, all of which are exciting to navigate when you start a new role. Learning about a new brand and new products is what marketers love – how do you incorporate all of your experiences, life and business, to enable you to make a difference and drive growth for today and the future.
What drew you to make the move to Michael Hill?
Diamonds! No, I joke, in essence it was the brand and the opportunity to influence a new team, and be part of a truly exciting journey of evolution. The fundamentals of the Michael Hill brand, and the values, resonate with me personally – and I think the older (and hopefully wiser) you get through your career you realise how important that is when making decisions on who you work for and where you want to spend your days. This brand is going places and I want to be here for that ride. And back to diamonds…the craft and the beauty of the product I get to work with is phenomenal, what’s not to love!
What are your favourite campaigns that you’ve worked on?
There are many! I would say all of the work I have done with Ronald McDonald House Charities was amazing, working with passionate people to help make a real difference in people’s lives is always inspiring. The brand work I got to do at McDonald’s was also up there as key highlights, the Dad and Daughter campaign from 2016 to the more recent Cravings brand ad in 2020 were not only fun but highlighted the power of music to drive emotion. That said, I can’t wait for what’s on the radar with Michael Hill!
What are some of the biggest lessons you’ve learned over the course of your career?
It’s not just about what you do, it’s how you do it. The pathway to success is so many things. You should strive to help others and be as much a good human as a good marketer (or a good creative, or a good accountant…). It’s possible to be both kind and powerful at the same time. Empathy goes a long way, as does the ability to lead in a way that makes people feel empowered while providing a safety net for when they may falter.
How do you stay in touch with your customers when you’re in a senior leadership role?
Time – set aside time. Spend time in stores, review consumer feedback in whatever form, stay connected to social commentary, be your own researcher. You’re never too senior to get out and spend time in the market, and in an omnichannel business, connecting through digital is equally as important – know all of your customers.
What personality traits or strengths do you think put you in good stead in the marketing industry? What do you look for when hiring?
In a nutshell – curiosity, resilience, a problem solver, and a good human. Adaptability is so critical in today’s world – change is the only constant, you have to be able to pivot and be okay with imperfection (but not settle for it). Someone who can “think and do” at the same time – it’s not as easy as it might sound, but something that I believe sets marketers apart. Ask yourself, ‘how do I do what I need today but have tomorrow in mind’.
If you were to give one piece of advice to a woman who’d love to follow a similar career path to you, what would it be?
Don’t stop until you’re proud. Trust your instincts, listen to the niggles, and roll with the punches. You’re tougher than you look.
What are you excited about right now?
I think the opportunity to tell more people the stories behind the Michael Hill brand and go on this next journey with the team of wonderful people who work both here and within our network of partners. I’m excited about the new relationships I’m building that I already know will be lifelong, they are so important to not only the work that you do but to the motivation and energy you get from them.