SAP CMO: Thoughts on Brand Purpose, Gen Z and Diversity

Without question, one of the highlights of last week’s Brand Innovators Summit at SAP in New York was an appearance by the enterprise software giant’s global Chief Marketing Officer Alicia Tillman.

Without question, one of the highlights of last week’s Brand Innovators Summit at SAP in New York was an appearance by the enterprise software giant’s global Chief Marketing Officer Alicia Tillman.

Tillman leads the company’s marketing strategy and brand recognition while staying relentlessly focused on driving SAP’s vision of helping the world run better. Before joining SAP in 2015, Tillman spent 11 years at American Express. Her fireside chat in New York was so full of terrific insights and advice for brands, we decided to print some verbatims below. (Look for our full recap of last week’s summit here tomorrow.

Alicia Tillman, Chief Marketing Officer of SAP at last week’s BI Summit

Alicia Tillman on telling your brand story
“We have to, as brands, understand the purpose of our existence. If you are not telling your story with purpose, you are going to struggle with your customers.”

On Gen Z and younger consumers
“When it comes to caring about the world we live in, today’s generation is absolutely born with the innate belief that this is how our world needs to be and will take those beliefs with them when they enter the workforce. Marketers need to really understand this.”

Tillman with moderator Jeremy Fass from Vox Media

On recruiting the right talent
“I go to bed at night thinking about my talent and I wake up in the morning thinking about my talent. Every idea I have is useless unless I have a team that is ready to execute something magical. Talent is two fold: it’s the tangible skills you bring to the table and it’s the soft skills: How do you conduct yourself? How do you collaborate? How do you bring ideas to the table?”

On company culture and collaboration
“You can be the smartest person but if you’re a total jerk, you will not survive in a company. Nobody cares about your past experience after a while. If you have an inability to collaborate and understand the culture you’re coming into, you will not survive. There has to be a respect for the culture you’re walking into.”

The scene at Tillman’s fireside chat inside SAP’s Hudson Yards HQ

On creating diverse, inclusive environments
“If everyone in the room has all had the same experiences, skills and interests, it will never lead to change or innovation. You need diversity and inclusivity at the table at all times. You have to give people the space they need to be themselves. When people feel comfortable, it’s amazing what ideas emerge.”

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