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For me, the speakers’ unanimous agreement that data and analytics are disrupting business models and spurring technological product innovation reaffirmed my commitment to pursue a broad marketing education at Chicago Booth.


CEO of Asia Pacific, Zurich Insurance

The first speaker was Jack Howell, ’98, whose business at Zurich revolves around investments and underwriting. Marketing plays a key role in product design and "push"— and understanding consumers' behavior and trends puts his company in a better position to meet their needs. In Asia Pacific specifically, customers tend to invest in life insurance over the financial market, so Zurich is starting to offer complementary products such as motor, health, and property insurance. But the biggest marketing trend, Jack believes, is offering insurance products on digital platforms that connect people with shared needs and desires across markets with different jurisdictions. For an insurance industry that has long been steeped in regulation, digital platforms are ripe for innovation.

VP of Marketing, Ripple

Gap Kim, ’13, from Ripple, a fintech company specializing in enterprise blockchain, has a long history of working at several well-known technology companies around the world, including in emerging and growth markets. His perspective is centered on the digital world and data, going beyond simple information to behavioral implications. Naturally, in the digital world, marketers have more opportunities to target customers for promotions, test hypotheses of consumer behavior, and develop lookalike models. Gap recommended companies use these customer insights to shift their scope beyond product adoption and growth towards innovations for a frictionless future. He also sees great potential in the rising purchasing power of emerging markets of Southeast Asia, where several unicorn companies have shown that understanding localized market needs and implementing culturally nuanced approaches blurs the boundaries between marketing and operations in technology-centered businesses.

Chief Growth Officer, Kraft Heinz

As a CGO of a major CPG company,  Nina Barton oversees the global e-commerce and digital businesses and views herself as a consumer-led general manager. This means she derives insight from consumer sentiment and spend, activates tactics across distribution channels (while responding to retailer reactions and supply constraints alike), and tracks conversion. Nina emphasized the need to execute against many marketing models across the 4Ps (Product, Price, Place, Promotion), and indeed, this emphasis on strategy plus problem solving and execution is what led her to pursue a career in marketing over consulting. Recently, she formed an in-house incubator at Kraft Heinz to spur agile innovation, including service-based platforms, direct-to-consumer products, and B2B brands. The takeaway is traditional retail channels for food and beverage/consumer packaged goods are ripe for disruption, and companies that best meet customers where they are will be the ones positioned to thrive.

Chief Marketing Officer, Snap Inc.

At Snap—compared to Kenneth Mitchell’s previous marketing roles at PepsiCo and McDonald’s, where sales/marketing and operations, respectively, were the centers of gravity—his  role at Snap is centered on reinforcing the company’s core product value and leadership in augmented reality. This focus includes driving community growth in priority markets, increasing awareness and engagement with its platform ecosystem, and accelerating ad partner growth and revenue. Kenny is the “captain of the floor,” echoing his role in college as basketball point guard. He manages consumer marketing (including the brand), B2B marketing, and functions including the profit & loss statement. At each step of his career, Kenny looked for the best place he could add value, learn, and grow, and it clearly demonstrates how marketers play important roles in all types of companies.

While I come from a technical background and feel more affinity with the science side of marketing (having already taken Booth’s Data-Driven Marketing and Digital & Algorithmic Marketing courses), it’s the art of marketing that drives business strategy and execution. I am looking forward to taking Consumer Behavior and Study of Behavioral Economics next quarter and digging deeper into psychology research. And I am eager to take my new knowledge from this event series back to my Go-To-Market team at Ford Motor Company to create technological platforms and solutions to better anticipate customer needs.

Learn more about the Kilts Center for Marketing.

Cynthia Lo

Weekend MBA student

Cynthia Lo