This International Women’s Week, we wanted to celebrate by sharing some of the inspiring stories behind the women who work here at Vodafone. We caught up with Pamela Brown, CMO, Vodafone Smart Tech. She’s fascinated by the ways smart tech can help people in their everyday lives and hopes to inspire women to work towards a career in marketing, especially in technology. She works hard to find solutions to our problems in exciting and unique ways. Read on for some insights from Pamela into the why and how she ended up in her perfect role.
Please tell us a little about you and your role?
Wife, mum to Raphaella and Matteo, colleague, boss, peer, friend and marketer. I look after marketing for Vodafone Smart Tech and live in a little village where we just finished building our dream family home. I have always been fascinated by people and by technology so I feel that what I do is perfect for me. I love to work in dynamic environments with the most amazingly talented people which is exactly where I find myself these days at Vodafone Smart Tech.
What are you most proud of in your career?
Being part of an extraordinary team doing extraordinary things! Honestly, it’s the best part of my job, I am inspired by and learn from those around me. We are all on the same mission to bring the magic of smart tech to improve everyday living and we have a lot of fun while we are doing it. I personally feel that over the last year our whole team has achieved some incredible milestones and bonded more than perhaps if we were all physically in the office. We have gotten to know people’s children, pets, homes, partners, housemates, work from home environments, all while being open about how we are coping and supporting each other in many ways. That has made this year one we will never forget.
What achievements has your team experienced under your leadership?
A huge milestone for us was launching our new Designed & Connected by Vodafone product – Curve to our key European markets in the middle of the first wave of the pandemic last summer. In 2019, before we had any idea about Coronavirus, we had conducted some research across our four markets that had made it apparent our range of third party Vodafone-powered products, ‘V by Vodafone’, weren’t really resonating, and the brand needed an overhaul.. What we hadn’t anticipated was that this overhaul would happen in the middle of a global pandemic. Despite all the challenges that came with it, it’s been incredible to see how the decision our business took to move our full offering in house and focus on end-to-end design has enabled us to really break through into the market.
As a team, we were completely energised by this and designed the new branding and marketing approach to the launch of our new ‘Designed and Connected by Vodafone’ products. It was very important to stand out as well, Vodafone is very well established in our core products and services of mobile and broadband, but we now needed to stand for more – smart tech. To do this, our marketing and brand strategy has three core prongs; generate desirability, showcase the relevance in people’s lives and drive understanding. It is very important that we find interesting and meaningful ways to communicate.
In July we launched our first product, a GPS smart tracker called Curve, which was shortly followed in December by Neo, our smart kids watch in collaboration with Disney. Launching two products in a lockdown was a fantastic achievement by itself, but seeing the range presented with two global awards made the team’s hard work feel even more worthwhile.
What have been some unique challenges you have faced as CMO of Smart Tech Vodafone group?
One of the things I’m thinking about every day as CMO is how I can find ways to solve problems that customers don’t know there are smart tech solutions for. Working in a relatively new category, the biggest challenge I face is that many people still don’t really understand how smart devices can be useful to them, so it’s my job to show how they can have relevance in people’s everyday lives. This means I’m constantly thinking about how I can put our products into the context of our everyday lives – and it’s not just about driving awareness but desirability too. I’m lucky to be surrounded by a brilliant, talented team in house that can help me do this – making sure that everything we do will resonate with our consumers.
Why are Vodafone Smart Tech uniquely placed to lead in the IoT category?
As a brand, we adopt a unique position in the market; we simultaneously combine the global connectivity and scale of one of the world’s leading mobile communication providers with the agile entrepreneurship of an in-house team. We’re relentlessly focused on the customer, which means we can create beautiful products that meet consumer needs in new and meaningful ways. By pioneering the development of our own Smart Tech, we are able to collaborate with leading industrial designers and customer insights specialists to build solutions that genuinely improve everyday living. And finally, we have a brand consumers’ trust and millions of existing customer relationships globally in which we can continue to build on and introduce smart tech too.
How has IoT enhanced your personal life?
Technology is playing a more significant role in our lives than ever before, helping us cope with the new situations we find ourselves in as a result of Covid. It’s easy to underestimate how much peace of mind something as small as a smart device can give you; whether it’s being able to check my smart thermostat to make sure we’re not overspending on bills whilst we’re all at home or being able to give my kids a smart tracker to take with them when they go to play on the green over the road. I can always see them from my office window, but knowing that they can simply press a button and send an alert to my phone if they need me is hugely reassuring. At a time when the world is constantly changing, those little tools that can make our daily lives that little bit easier are all the more important.
What advice can you offer to those wanting to get into marketing?
Three key things:
- Get a part-time job in the ‘service’ industry – supermarket, restaurant, bar, a place where you serve the customer in every interaction. These types of roles are critical in learning the basics. As a marketer, our job is to truly understand our customers, foresee their needs and solve them in beautiful ways.
- Find a mentor, reach out to people and understand what marketing is all about – this will give you a boost in terms of network opportunities in the future and advice and guidance from a smart mentor can have a significant impact on you. Start stalking marketing leaders you are inspired by on LinkedIn and write to people, the right person will respond to you.
- Reach out to those you know who are in marketing roles and buy them a coffee or get on a zoom with them to find out more about their roles to help you get a sense of what you might want to do in marketing as there are so many different elements to our department.
Want to learn more about women in tech at Vodafone?
Discover our Women in Tech interview series:
If you would like to learn more about roles in roles at Vodafone please don’t hesitate to have a look at our careers page or get in touch. You can also look at our career advice for women looking to start out, progress or lead in tech.