Speaking with David Wheldon

Speaking with David Wheldon

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Global Annual Conference: 2016 interview

David Wheldon, CMO, RBS speaks with Elen Lewis about trust and explains why marketing is a we thing not a me thing

In a service industry like banking, so much of the idea of a brand is wrapped into the people. How do you make sure the RBS people reflect the brand’s values?
We have a very strong internal training programme for our 13,000 leaders and a key part of that is making sure that everyone knows that we have a very clear purpose – to serve our customers well, a very clear ambition to be number one for customer service, trust and advocacy by 2020, and strong values that drive our behaviours.  Our brand idea is based on the truth that people will judge us by what we do not what we say.

We also have trained performance coaches who work with us all and a very strong partnership with HR to make sure that the brand is built from the inside out.

What advice would you offer a marketer looking to become a CMO?
Be humble, be passionate, do your job well and learn from all those around you and learn how to lead early. It’s all about getting the best of those that work with you internally and externally.

What’s the most important lesson you’ve learned about rebuilding trust since your time as a senior marketer in the banking industry?
Actions speak louder than words. Learn from the mistakes of the past and don’t be afraid to call out bad behaviour. (There’s a lot to learn in the banking industry so three lessons in one!)

What does bold marketing leadership look like?
Not being afraid to take a risk and having the courage of your convictions but always being open to feedback and making sure you take your colleagues on the journey with you – Marketing is a we thing not a me thing.
Digital is often described by marketers as the biggest opportunity and the biggest challenge…

How has digital changed RBS’s relationships with its customers?
Fundamentally. The exponential growth of online banking, mobile banking and the sheer volume of digital transactions has created enormous opportunities to serve our customers seamlessly.  It has also brought the challenge of balancing human service with technological delivery. We have to help our customers protect their data and their money and help educate people on keeping themselves safe online. The threat of fraud to individuals and to the enterprise has grown and we must be ever vigilant.

How do we influence decisions in this ever-changing environment?
By listening more than you speak and understanding which decisions really matter and are worth influencing.

What do need to get better at as marketers?
A better understanding of the business of business and to be more confident in the importance of marketing today.

What advice would you offer your 17-year-old self?
Don’t worry about what comes your way - it’ll be fine.

What book is on your bedside table?
Reading two at the moment:
This must be the place by Maggie O’Farrell and Signals by DR Pippa Malmgren

Tell us a secret
There aren’t any!


David Wheldon is just one of the speakers at our Global Annual Conference on November 17th alongside McDonald’s global CMO, Silvia Lagnado, Nicola Mendelsohn, VP Facebook EMEA and NASA astronaut, Ed Lu.

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Author: The Marketing Society
Posted: 06 Nov 2016
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