Yellow Folder Interview Series: Louise Eyres – Head of Marketing, Vanguard Australia

 

Given the challenges we’ve all experienced during 2020, Yellow Folder wanted to reach out to a number of executives to understand how COVID-19 has impacted their businesses, their teams, and their ways of working.

In this inaugural interview I spoke with Louise Eyres, who as Head of Marketing is responsible for Vanguard Australia’s customer and marketing strategy and has spearheaded the marketing initiatives behind their much anticipated entry into superannuation as well as their new personal investor platform.

Joining Vanguard Australia in December 2019, Louise spent just two months in the office, with one trip to Vanguard’s US Head Office to meet with the Global Chief Marketing Officer, before the COVID-19 pandemic hit and remote working commenced in Melbourne in March.

 

 

Q (Jacinta Boys): How has COVID-19 impacted your ability to deliver on business objectives?

A (Louise Eyres): From the outset, it (COVID-19) showed the importance of having a strong brand and business strategy. Vanguard’s purpose and philosophy of staying the course has shone through. We take a long-term view so our commitment to provide investors with the best chance for success wasn’t going to waver because of 6-12 months of uncertainty. Our strong strategy and clear direction meant we could still execute in 2020 regardless of the health and economic environment.

Q: How have you found onboarding new talent remotely?

A: Since working from home started, the marketing team has doubled in size. The team is tracking towards 60 people and it has been an interesting experience for all. Happily I am just now starting to think about having a face to face coffee to meet some new direct reports for the first time. We have been adaptive in using digital tools and new ways of collaborating and the crisis has certainly sped up the adoption curve and allowed for an element of creativity.

Q: How have you led your team through such a challenging time?

A: We stay connected and engaged through purposeful 1:1 interactions to make sure the crew feel supported and are clear on their role and purpose. I have 2 x 15-minute huddles a week where I can ask “what’s on your mind?” and see if there are any blockers. We are being more creative and purposeful in our interactions, while also allowing time for more social interactions and meeting free space for a break from video.

Q: Working remotely, what are some of the successes you have had?

A: Two of the biggest successes have been enhanced creativity and continuing to drive outcomes for clients. As soon as COVID-19 hit the markets, everything we were doing was about providing information and assurance to clients directly to live our ethos of ‘staying the course’. In a matter of days, we turned around a full program of tools and information. We created a content hub for intermediary clients and a webinar series, and as a business launched significant new offers like our new retail investment portal for individual investors. We have seen this same approach across Vanguard globally with almost all clients being encouraged to ‘stay the course’.

Q: What about the challenges you have had?

A: One challenge has been making sure mental and physical health of all the team is prioritised. As a leader, it is certainly the case, to use the airline metaphor, you need to fit your mask first to be able to assist others. We worked hard as a team to look after each other and implemented new ways of working to help with burnout. For example, because parents were home-schooling, there were no meetings before 9.30am. While we were delivering at a strong pace, we needed to make sure the crew were taking time to nourish their mental health. One of the initiatives we implemented was Friday afternoons as L&D time where people could take the time to learn from the global marketing academy. We also started a TED Club, where we would listen to a talk as a team and take out learnings as an inspiration and to challenge ourselves.

Q: What has COVID-19 changed for you permanently?

A: It has changed how we connect. We have moved to shorter and sharper meetings and utilising the ‘new ways of working’ tools. We also participate and co-create more effectively with more cross functional collaboration. We have also adopted a ‘progress over perfection’ mentality. Also, because we are working from home, we are seeing the 360-degree view of team. We see people at home with children, the highs and lows, good days and bad. There is a far greater personal connection. There is also a strong sense of commitment and connection because of these shared experiences, given we have virtually been in each other’s homes for so many months. Being able to trust and show vulnerability has set us up as a far stronger team.

 

 

The Yellow Folder team would like to thank Louise very much for her candour and insights. Please stay tuned for our next interview with Peter Spryszynski, Country Manager – Q-bital Healthcare Solutions, who discusses how he has led growth in an entirely new market during a pandemic.