Cross-Cultural Marketer and Former CEO Chairs CMO Council Advisory Board in Europe – MarTech Series

Ricardo Oberlander, the epitome of an accomplished, cross-cultural marketer who graduated to the CEO role of a major consumer products company, has been named chairman of the CMO Council’s European Advisory board.
The CMO Council has more than 16,000 members in 10,000 companies, collectively controlling nearly $1 trillion in annual aggregated marketing spend. The CMO Council gathers local market insights from seven regional advisory boards and nearly 40 chief marketers serve on the advisory board in Europe.
Oberlander, a Brazilian national, most recently served as President & CEO of Reynolds American after holding a range of senior marketing and regional leadership roles at British American Tobacco, which has operations in 180 countries.
“Throughout his career, which includes a B2B and telecom background, Oberlander has been a thought leader and deeply involved in deploying innovative processes and products, most notably reduced-risk nicotine products in the USA,” notes Donovan Neale-May, executive director of the CMO Council. We inspired to have his leadership and guidance in partnership with our European colleagues.”
Oberlander has extensive P&L management and marketing experience and has been based in countries across Latin America, Europe, Asia-Pacific, and North America. He currently holds advisor and board positions with a number of private equity, capital management, new venture and angel investment firms.
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In a wide-ranging interview published on the CMO Council website, Oberlander made some notable responses to questions on a variety of topics relevant to the modern CMO. Among them:
“Cultural differences must be truly respected. Understanding that different cultures, different segments, may react differently to different stimuli, to different products, to different services, is essential.”
Market Disruption
“I have had the benefit of working in industries that had their core product lines challenged or disrupted by technological innovations or societal pressures…Just because you’re strong, entrenched, and capable, doesn’t mean you can’t be overtaken.”
Digital Transformation
“Across all business sectors we have seen over the years a massive revolution in personalized, rich media marketing and the automation of marketing processes…I was fortunate to be closer, and many times contributing, to shaping of the way marketing functions have evolved and been structured around new digital media channels, devices, and engaging, rich media production techniques.”
CMO Challenges
“Marketers today have more tools to play with, more media outlets, more micro audiences, and more media vehicles to leverage. And that requires extreme expertise, continuous learning, exploration all the time, understanding different requirements which go beyond the typical consumer demands that we have only when we develop products.”
Consumer Expectations
“Consumers nowadays, have societal expectations. They want the company and its brand to mean and stand for something. Purpose for a company has become far bigger than just a vague statement. Employees require clear definition of this, as do influential stakeholders.”
Upward Migration
“Marketers need to understand that the opportunity is there for them to really enlarge their playing field. They should aspire to occupy more authority and roles of influence…there’s an urgency for marketers to really stretch their boundaries, occupy more space in the C-suite.”
CMO Turf Encroachment
“I think marketers need to really expand their knowledge and reinvent themselves. If a marketing department is fully functional, intellectually curious, positively restless, then you start having a different set of dynamics driven by the CMO. She or he will never be challenged by the creation of parallel roles. Which, at the end of the day, results in dispute for budgets, dispute for share rotation, and dispute for share to buy.”
The Value of Mentors
“In general, executives in C-suite roles can suffer from solitude in critical moments for decision making. And to make things more complicated, we live now in a BANI (brittle, anxious, nonlinear, and incomprehensible) world, where the relief of living the tail end of a global pandemic is immediately contrasted by war in Europe, high inflation in many countries and possible global recession…I believe that external mentors and executive coaches can offer valuable support and insight to CMOs and, certainly to other C-Suite roles as well.”
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