Born: Wellington, New Zealand
Worked in: United States, New Zealand, Japan, Canada
Describe an innovative idea or business solution of which you are most proud. We recently launched a global show on CNBC called The Business of Innovation. Created as commercial documentaries, IBM demonstrated how they helped companies to innovate. Although originally a six-month assignment, the project required two years to attain the appropriately topical, global and targeted correlations necessary for the IBM brand. The results are just starting to come in, and they are terrific.
Why do people see you as an innovator? My grandfather was chairman of BP in New Zealand. He used to talk about how some people were content with their roles, while others would constantly be pushing. He said you need both types to keep a company moving. I’d rather keep pushing. Nonetheless, one must ensure that innovation does not take away from day-to-day business objectives. There needs to be a balance between getting the job done today and improving moving forward.
What role does innovation play in your marketing strategy today? Innovation, like problem-solving, is a basic business principle. Innovation does not just have a seat in the boardroom, but should be apart of the DNA of everyone present — there is always an opportunity for improvement. Finding the time and money, and having the correct culture is where the fun begins.
Dictionary definitions aside, how do you characterize innovation in your work? We know we are on to something when the man in the corner office gives us a fatherly look and asks, “What are you up to now?” I now work in New York, the “capital of the world,” because 10 years ago an “innovator” took a chance on me. I met Howard Draft, CEO of DraftFCB, on the slopes of Aspen. He offered me a job based on nothing but a gut feeling.”