Innovation and technology when paired with marketing can do wonders for any business. An avid marketer, Sara Brown has aptly inculcated this approach in her career. In her role as Vice President of Marketing for MultiTech, she holds responsibility for brand strategy as well as all global marketing and communications both internal and external.
Let’s take a look at Sara’s entrepreneurial journey so far through an interview conducted between Sara and CIO Look.
Below are the highlights of the interview:
What were the challenges you came across since joining the organization?
MultiTech was a very different organization when I joined six years ago, first as a consultant and later as a full-time member of the team. It had been several years since the passing of its founder, and the business had suffered in the interim. I was brought on by the new CEO to help drive a turnaround.
Although the organization had a real family-like culture marked by long-tenures among most of the staff, there were some important mindset changes that needed to be made. First, we had to stop looking backward and start embracing innovation again. Second, we had to encourage a level of openness, empowerment and accountability that had been lacking.
Making this happen was, of course, a team effort, but included a good deal of marketing and communications work including rebuilding our brand foundation for the future and getting the team behind it – as well as translating the promise of a once-great business becoming great again into marketing that resonated with new customers.
What is your thought on the necessity of a positive work culture? In what ways do you implement it at your organization?
I think culture is critical to success. In my experience organizations that are not intentional about forging and maintaining a positive culture suffer both internally and in the marketplace.
Establishing culture begins with identifying shared values and leveraging those to achieve success. I have done brand foundation work for many companies and organizations over the years and I still find it strange to talk about corporate values – because the values of corporations are measured in dollars and cents. The values of people, on the other hand, are much more diverse – and interesting. When individual people with shared values come together, they can accomplish great things. When I build value statements for businesses, it always begins and ends with the personal values the team shares. When everyone has a hand in defining something like that, they’re much more likely to agree and commit to living those shared values.
In what ways have you or your company contributed to the community? If given a chance, what change would you bring to help other companies?
MultiTech is actively involved in the growth and development of IoT technologies and related standards through active industry participation.
At MultiTech, we are committed to developing and manufacturing products in an environmentally responsible manner. MultiTech’s “Design for Environment” Initiative, set forth more than 15 years ago, aggressively pursues pollution prevention, waste reduction, and product design for easy recycling.
For more than fifteen years, MultiTech has partnered with non-profit Rise to provide work opportunities to people with disabilities. The Rise program has provided us with a great team of hard working individuals who are an integral part of an optimized staff in our manufacturing and shipping departments. More than one of our Rise contractors has been with MultiTech for more than ten years doing everything from bagging accessories to making boxes to helping with rework. The program has been a tremendous success for MultiTech as well as our Rise contractors – who are now cross training to help with other areas of manufacturing operations. In fact, they’re such an important part of our team, the Rise staff has been awarded the company’s coveted Corporate Values All-Stars Award.
If there were one thing I would change, it would be to make digital transformation easier to accelerate the positive impacts of IoT on the world in which we live.
Have you in any ways contributed towards the cause of women empowerment?
This is a big topic. Obvious contributions include multiple women I’ve mentored over the years and women’s educational and professional development programs I have supported personally and through companies I’ve worked for.
Still, I think the most compelling contribution lies in the nature of my business itself. The impact of computing and the Internet on global wellbeing (not just for women, but for all), has accelerated the advancement of the human race faster than at any time in human history. The Internet of Things, on which I’ve focused for the past fifteen years, holds even more promise, for women and for all, to improve sanitation and healthcare, feed the hungry, reduce pollution, and safeguard our children. The list goes on and on.
I’m very lucky. There was a time in my life when I didn’t understand the importance of my work to the global economy. Today, I can see that, while I cherish the women whose names I know and whose lives I’ve touched personally– the opportunity to impact the lives of women around the world on a macro scale is its own reward.
What would be your advice for aspiring and emerging women entrepreneurs in your industry?
First, remember that everyone faces roadblocks and challenges in their career, and not just women and certainly not just you.
That said, working 20+ years in engineering and technology-focused industries, I think the combination of frequently being the only female in the room with my focus on marketing, which is often considered a frivolous discipline, didn’t do me any favors in terms of gaining respect and advancement. Nevertheless, performance and professionalism always breed respect.
If I were to give advice to my younger self, or to any women (or man) of any age in any industry, I’d strongly recommend focusing first on relationships, particularly with people who “get” and understand what you bring to the table. For me, the time invested in that effort alone has been my most valuable investment in my career.