What was the problem you were grappling with?
After 14 years in various sales and marketing roles in 3M India, I relocated to 3M’s global headquarters in a marketing role for a US-focussed industrial segment. I was part of a newly introduced industrial segment marketing organisation, which required me to work across multiple well-entrenched product platforms. This was to be a transformative go-to-market model. The key issue was how to insert myself into the middle of this transformation and bring value. I was also moving from a small subsidiary, with no knowledge of the US markets.
Who did you approach and why?
I approached the then executive VP of our global industrial business. He had set up a few meetings to support me in my transition. He was the architect of the transformation initiative and was best placed to provide insights into the dynamics involved.
What was the advice you received?
When I stated my challenge, he laughed out loud. Over a few meetings, he shared his advice through a process of questions and suggestions. His advice was: Develop a deep understanding of your key customers, especially when moving into a new role or geography. And do it very early on in your assignment.
How effective was it in resolving the problem?
The first key learning for me was to engage in a process of discovery and understanding through repeated enquiry. I realised that I needed to develop a deep knowledge of my markets and key customers in those segments to work on their primary challenges, and on how 3M could help solve them.
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