FQ at CES: Women Leading the New Era of Business Transformation

By Thought Leaders Archives
Cover image for  article: FQ at CES: Women Leading the New Era of Business Transformation

Women hold only 25% of tech jobs in the U.S., yet studies show that companies with more gender diversity are more innovative, profitable, and have better employee retention rates. When business transformation is an imperative, how can tech companies change the narrative around women and tech?

Over the last four years, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES), has been working to better highlight women in tech. In 2024, 45% of the speakers on CES’s keynote stage were women, a big leap forward from just a few years ago when there were no women keynote speakers. CES also officially partnered with groups like The Female Quotient (FQ) to continue to create equality for women at their annual convention in Las Vegas, which saw an estimated 130,000 attendees this year.

During CES, FQ held their annual “Women Walk the Floor” tour where over 200 women walk the show floor together. FQ also hosted their Equality Lounge and three days of programming during the show.

One of the panels FQ hosted was “Women Leading the New Era of Business Transformation.”

If there was one takeaway from CES, besides AI, it was that business transformation is more urgent than ever. Moderated by Andrea Lennon, Chief Client Officer, Omnicom, the panel featured marketing leaders who are harnessing the power of data and technology to drive and deliver brand promise across the customer journey at scale and transform their organizations in the process.

The panel began with Gülen Bengi, Chief Growth Officer, Mars Wrigley & Lead Chief Marketing Officer, Mars Inc., shedding light on Mars Wrigley's forward-thinking approach. “Mars has a way of thinking in generations,” said Bengi. She referenced a letter sent in 1947 to Mars associates that said, “The world we want to live in tomorrow starts with the way we do business today.” It’s a tenant that Mars has stood by and even incorporated into their sustainability plan.

“Mars is not merely aiming for business growth; we’re aspiring to double the business responsibly by focusing on sustainability, inclusion, and digitization,” said Bengi, who believes personalization will be a key way to drive demand.

Julie Bowerman, CMO US, Kellanova, echoed this sentiment, stressing the shift from brand-led to consumer-led brand building. She emphasized the need for marketers to let consumers define what a brand means to them, adapting messaging and personalization accordingly.

“It’s not just a mental shift; it’s also a cultural shift for marketers to think that way,” said Bowerman. “We’re going to have to get more comfortable with understanding that we are not as in control of the brand ethos as we once were.”

Bowerman encouraged marketers to embrace the evolving landscape, recognizing that what works today may not be relevant tomorrow.

When Lennon asked the panelists what tools and technologies they were investing in to accelerate their business, Bowerman noted, “Every conversation we’re having with partners at CES is about their data and how we leverage it to understand our consumers and customize the experience.”

Ellen Griffin, Chief Client Solutions Officer, OMD Worldwide, brought a deep technical perspective to the conversation, highlighting the integration of generative AI into everyday usage as a game-changing trend. While acknowledging the inevitability of automation and embracing new technologies, Griffith emphasized the importance of maintaining a human touch.

“We're really thinking about people, process, and platform so we can keep the specialism of our people while ensuring we have the integration needed to show up seamlessly to consumers,” said Griffin.

The panelists also touched on the transformation of teams within their organizations. The evolving roles in marketing demand continuous learning and adaptability.

“It does not look like the brand team of yesterday,” said Bengi. She noted that Mars has shifted towards a consumer-centric, agile, and connected approach. Their integration of diverse functions, from marketing and sales to digital technologies, reflects a move away from traditional silos.

Bowerman noted that Kellanova was on a similar journey. One way they’re getting there is by investing in skills development. “The science part of marketing is where we're putting a lot of investment and time into,” she said.

As a final question, Lennon asked the panelists what it takes to be a CMO in the future.

A theme Bowerman shared throughout was the idea of being open-minded. In an area of constant evolution, she feels it’s important to continue to think differently as well as to look externally for learnings you can adapt to your own team and business.

“Constant curiosity and learning together,” summed up Griffin.

The panelists painted an inspiring picture of a future where brands will be co-created with consumers, personalization at scale will become the norm, and the integration of generative AI will redefine consumer experiences. Their inspiring journeys and forward-thinking insights underscore the pivotal role women play in driving transformation within the tech and marketing industries.

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