The Marketing Institute: What does a Managing Director at CPM do?
Lorraine Butler: CPM is Europe’s largest Field Marketing and Sales agency where we provide outsource sales teams for leading brands such as eir, Britvic, GSK, Lucozade Suntory, Microsoft, Diageo and many others. My core responsibility is to lead our business, in both doing an exceptional job for the clients we represent in market and consistently looking to what is ahead, to future- proof and enrich our mutual offerings. As I am fortunate to be part of a large international group, I have world-class expertise to leverage in support of driving our business forward and we work hard at collaborating across countries to benefit our clients and our business. CPM operate with the ethos that our people are our most important asset and I am blessed to be surrounded by fantastic people, both locally and in our wider CPM network.
MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?
L.B: After studying Computer Science, I spent a couple of years in the recruitment industry & software industry and then moved to eircom as an Account Manager. I progressed through roles and ranks there, until I became responsible for Ireland’s largest B2B Sales team for eir. After completing an MSc. in Leadership & Management Practice and 14 great years with eircom and then eir, I felt my next challenge awaited and running a Sales company end to end was an offer that really appealed to me.
MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
L.B: People are our business and we work tirelessly to ensure we attract, nurture and develop great talent. However, in a market where the unemployment rate is one of the lowest this century, and set to fall again, attracting good talent takes substantial time and effort. While our staff retention rates are very strong, our business is growing and, as a result, we consistently look for additional talent to join us. We will not compromise on excellence, however, so the journey in waiting to find that right person for the role, can be longer than we would like.
MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?
L.B: As we are a people business, being able to relate to, engage with and motivate people to thrive and succeed is core to my role. I believe every person has a crucial part to play in the success of an organisation and, without each person doing their own job to the best of their ability, the team isn’t as successful as it could be. Our clients hire us for sales operational excellence, and to deliver sales excellence, innovation is never far behind. I challenge us as a company to do things better and differently, leveraging both the best in class people and optimum technology to drive sales activity for the brands we represent.
Being part of an international group and working with exceptional brands that we represent gives me access to people, knowledge and talent that helps me shape our strategy. Of course, as an MD I work towards setting a strategy, but I have always adopted the philosophy that a company’s strategy must be one that people can buy into and see coming to life. Otherwise it’s just a business plan that never gets taken out of the drawer and is not something people support or can get passionate about.
MII: Describe a typical working day.
L.B: As is the case with many agencies, no two days are the same. My diary is typically booked up two weeks in advance, however undoubtedly a couple of extra meetings will make their way into the diary each new day! I love and thrive on being busy, but I try to be ‘smart busy’, ensuring we are working towards progress at all times.
Each day I meet with at least one customer and talk to many; it’s important that relationships are strong between CPM and our clients and that trust is established and continually earned. While I have a very strong leadership team who manage day to day client operations, I remain very close to the sales teams and spend as much time in the field with various field teams as I can, learning from them and identifying ways in which we can be better in supporting our sales people and, in turn, our clients.
As an international group, our country MDs work hard at supporting each other through knowledge and advice with specific clients across all sectors and industries. This often means traveling to other countries to workshop topics or to see brand field teams in action.
As people are core to our success and market offering, my team are consistently on my mind and I’m always on the watch out to ensure that the positive, progressive culture of our business is filtering down and evident in our teams and in all the work we do.
MII: What do you love most about your role?
L.B: I get to work with some of the most amazing people – both internally in CPM and externally with our clients. We have a knowledge and a rich population of passionate, smart and innovative people within CPM who I learn from every day. That combined with representing such a diverse range of clients, each of who are leaders in their own industries, puts me amid industry leaders who again I learn hugely from. Watching our internal and external people working together and doing wonderful things in the market together makes me very proud.
MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?
L.B: I joined CPM less than 2 years ago and I’m still quite early on my journey in this super role. My background prior to CPM has always been in technology and people and, while I believe sales people will always have a part in the sales journey, technology will enable and augment sales performance even more so going forward. Introducing modern technologies to CPM has already reaped substantial rewards for us and our brands and I plan to expedite technology-enabled field sales and marketing for further success. Our business has experienced significant growth over the past 2 years and realising ambitions set for further growth are next on my agenda!
MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?
L.B: As I work as part of a large international organisation with exceptional expertise and knowledge at my fingertips, I thankfully don’t have to look very far for inspiration. Innovation is core to our DNA and consistently there are new and better ways of doing things coming out of our group. Having external mentors has always been something I have always sought out and relied upon to give an independent view of myself, my environment and my contribution and I’m very fortunate to have some great mentors, who continue to support me personally and professionally. As pay back, I offer the same mentorship to others and it’s often in these sessions that I am inspired by the human spirit and our ultimate intent to succeed in work, home - in life.