A successful CMO has many roles, including leading an organization's marketing department, establishing marketing strategies, and tracking successes and failures. How can a CMO create a highly successful career? What tools, strategies, and approaches can a CMO use to be successful? As part of this series, we had the pleasure of interviewing Dipti Kachru.
Thank you for doing this with us! To start, can you share a bit of your 'backstory' and how you got started on this career path?
I was born and grew up in India in a military family. My father was a fighter pilot in the Indian Air Force and my upbringing and experiences really shaped who I am, my core values and my leadership style.
Life in the Air Force meant that we moved every few years, which forced me to learn how to make new friends and study at new schools—this made me very comfortable with change and embracing new environments and challenges.
I went to University to study political science, with a goal to eventually pursue law. But along the way, I began working for a promotional marketing agency and got introduced to the world of brand and marketing. By the time I graduated, I had fallen in love with the craft of marketing and wanted to go build brands.
After spending the first five years of my career at a promotional marketing agency in India, I moved to the United States. My first year was spent at a wonderful direct marketing agency and then I dove into the world of financial services—with an opportunity to work at OppenheimerFunds, a mutual fund company. I never looked back. I spent seven years in various marketing roles at OppenheimerFunds and then a decade at J.P. Morgan and Chase in senior marketing leadership roles across asset management, consumer banking and wealth management, before joining Broadridge in 2022.
What do you think was a pivotal moment that led you on your path to becoming a CMO?
I believe it is less about one specific moment, and rather a stacking of various experiences that shaped my path. Looking back, just the discovery of the world of marketing while I was at University helped bring me on the path. I loved the multifaced aspect of being a marketer—the consumer psychology, the creative storytelling, the ability to see real business impact. I found it to be incredibly energizing and became obsessed with the idea of building and shaping brands that create connections and drive action.
I think another step change was when I saw marketing in action at Chase. This was the first time I really experienced a highly mature, data-led, customer obsessed at scale organization. The power of bringing the art and science together in service of driving growth that was measurable and predictive solidified my belief of marketing as a growth driver and the leadership role a CMO played in orchestrating that outcome.
Can you share an interesting story that has happened to you since you began leading your company?
One of the most interesting parts about working at Broadridge has been the discovery of the critical role we play in financial services. While I knew of Broadridge before I joined, and had done my research through the recruiting process, I didn’t quite appreciate the complexity and the scale of what we do and how we do it. And now I realize that it’s the same with our clients—they tend to see us in somewhat of a limited light based on how they engage with us, rather than understanding our cohesive story and our critical role in enabling and orchestrating the markets and enabling investor engagement.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person you're grateful for?
I couldn’t agree more. We are outcomes not just of our own skill and hard work, but because of the people who have helped shaped us and gave us opportunities along the way. While there are many people, I am grateful to, I want to specifically mention Kristin Lemkau, who is the CEO at J.P. Morgan Wealth Management. In my last role, I worked for Kristin as her CMO and over my decade at J.P. Morgan, I had the privilege of watching her grow, flourish, and lead the marketing team I was part of.
Kristin never let the definition of her job prevent her from adding value and driving impact. She often said, “if you want a bigger job, make your job bigger.” Watching her live by that mantra helped me shed some artificial limitation that I may have assigned to my role as a marketer, especially when it came to product and business strategy. Watching her, along with some other incredibly inspiring marketing leaders at J.P. Morgan helped me broaden my mindset and find my voice at the leadership team table.
What's your favorite 'Life Lesson Quote' and how is it relevant to you in your life?
One of my favorite life lesson quotes is to “throw one’s hat over the wall”. It’s an Irish proverb that means to commit fully—my team hears this quote a lot.
I interpret it as motivation to have a bold vision, to unite your team behind it, and work tirelessly toward accomplishing that common goal. I’ve found that to be successful in marketing you need to maintain fearless ambition for not only yourself but for your organization and believe in the impact that you can have.
Can you share with us 3 strengths, skills, or characteristics that helped you to reach this place in your career? How can others actively build these areas within themselves?
The three characteristics I subscribe to and which I believe are a few of my greatest strengths:
- Hunger: I’ve always been driven by the opportunity to grow and have meaningful impact. It really helps to know what drives you. Understanding that about myself helped me make important choices along the way, set bold goals, and often take on risk.
- Hustle: While there is often a negative connotation to the word “hustle,” for me it’s about being adaptive and being a good problem solver. I don’t let the first closed door hold me back. I think it’s a useful mindset to develop, and it comes from being open-minded, creative and being relentless about making progress.
- Humility: Humility comes in two parts. The first is self-reflection. I have tried to be an open and authentic leader, with strong self-awareness of both my strengths and gaps. The second part is tied to learning. I see myself as a “forever student” who is trying to get better every day and learn from those around me. Today more than ever, we have access to an incredible number of resources to broaden and deepen our knowledge and skill set.
Which skills are you still trying to grow now?
As a working mom and senior leader, the one skill that I am continuously working to improve is better time management. The juggle is real, and I can do more to be disciplined with my time. Aside from that, I really believe that the role of the CMO is endlessly evolving. Even though I have been in this industry for more than 20 years, I am always deepening my industry knowledge and learning from others.
Having reached this space, what do you believe are the 5 things you need to be a highly successful CMO?
- Be a Customer Advocate: The most important role of the CMO is to be a customer advocate and bring the voice of the customer to the leadership table. I think every marketer, especially a marketing leader needs to be really connected to their customer—and understand both rational and irrational drivers of choice and action. At Chase, customer research and insights were at the heart of everything we did. And many times, keeping the customer in the center meant making decisions that seemed counter intuitive or in conflict with the general leadership opinion.
- Deeply Understand the Business: A CMO should maintain an unparalleled grasp of the intricacies of their organization in the same way a CEO or a CFO does. Operational and financial knowledge such as the company’s sales cycle, revenue generation, and long-term strategy may not always seem marketing-related, but that awareness will help determine the success of the marketing strategy.
- Understand that the Marketing Playbook is Forever Evolving: The rapid acceptance and growth in the use of data and technology means that the marketer’s playbook is constantly evolving. In order to benefit, CMOs need to invest in both martech and modern marketing talent who know how to apply new tools and technologies that drive action and lead to better client and business outcomes. It is important for CMOs to understand how the marketing label has evolved and to consistently analyze whether your talent and firm capabilities are helping you modernize your go to market strategy.
- Obsess About Measurement: A strong measurement framework and the discipline of upfront planning are critical components to a successful performance-marketing culture. A successful CMO will analyze whether their data strategy and tech stack are able to optimize and automate. These essential functions are the future of marketing and the foundation by which CMOs can deliver value through measurement and prove the significance of their strategy.
- Be a Trusted Partner: Establishing trust and credibility with key partners across core business functions is critical to achieving success as a CMO. Leaders who are amicable, team players and respectful, will find their professional partnerships will reciprocate that sentiment, and ultimately help foster a more positive working environment for all.
Are there any underrated skills or qualities that you encourage others not to overlook?
We are a culture that celebrates extroverted traits, but I encourage others not to overlook the power of including introverts in the mix. The good news is, today there is an appreciation for different types of skills and traits. As an introvert myself, early in my career I felt the pressure to speak up more and be more outgoing—as that was the way to get noticed or recognized. That has certainly changed, and as peers and people leaders, I think we can continue to do more to make our work culture breakthrough the stereotypes and harness the strengths of both personality types.
What do you believe is the most effective way to stand out and make an impact as a CMO?
To make an impact, CMOs need to stop viewing themselves as just the marketing person in the room. Instead, they must see themselves as a strategic partner whose goal is to solve business problems and drive business growth.
In my experience, the most effective CMOs are passionate customer advocates who lead through influence and wear multiple hats. They can juggle being storytellers, technologists, data scientists and business strategists as needed.
If you could inspire a movement that would bring a great amount of good for the greatest number of people, what would it be?
I think feedback is a gift, but not enough managers take the time to give honest feedback. I can confidently say that every moment of growth I have achieved in my career is a direct result of the honesty from senior leadership.
It can sometimes be difficult for employees to receive constructive feedback and for managers to share it, but it is always a growth moment for everyone involved. So, I encourage each of you reading, whether you are an individual contributor or a manager to have transparent and constructive conversations about your goals, ambitions, and performance.
Lastly, is there a person with whom you would love to have a breakfast or lunch, and why? He or she might just see this!
This was a hard one. I would say Adam Grant—I am a fan! I’ve been following Adam on LinkedIn for a while and find his simple insights on interpersonal relationships and workplace dynamics to be so incredibly powerful. I’d love to get lunch with Adam and ask for his insights and tips on how to make our culture at Broadridge even stronger.