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KIMBERLY WARNE

Senior Vice President & CMO
Wesco

Kimberly Warne is Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Wesco, a Fortune 500 B2B industrial supply chain solutions company. As CMO, she is responsible for driving profitable growth across Wesco’s three global businesses and for advancing the company in its journey to be the world’s top tech enabled supply chain solutions provider. Prior to joining Wesco, Warne was Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer for Johnson Control’s global retail technology division, focusing on supply chain, security and store operations solutions.

 

CMO COUNCIL: What would you say was your biggest marketing challenge?

WARNE: I joined Wesco just before we completed a large corporate merger, so the biggest challenge was to reposition the company to reflect the full capabilities of the combined organization. As we started to think about where the company was going and how it was delivering differentiated value, marketing was able to step up and help articulate our new value proposition in a way that resonated with our employees, supplier partners and customers. The brand brought the essence of Wesco to life. Employees understood the vision and could see that this was a real game changer for Wesco and the industry. They became excited to join in the transformation. And once that happened, our customers also began to look at us differently and to partner with us in new ways.

 

CMO COUNCIL: Please share advice for senior marketers navigating accelerated change and disruption

WARNE: I have worked in industries that have been through significant market and technology disruption and have always found that the best path forward is to embrace the change and to look for ways to help your customers navigate what’s ahead. At Wesco, our customers are facing dynamic market conditions, supply chain disruptions, rapid technology change, labor shortages, and increasing project complexity. This is especially true in sectors like data centers, utilities, industrial automation, construction, where the ways businesses operate are essentially being reinvented. And as marketers, it is very rewarding to get into the business and to help address these new challenges. My advice on disruption is to embrace it and to help your company to find new ways to add value.

 

CMO COUNCIL: How have you pivoted marketing strategy post-pandemic to ensure your brand success?

WARNE: On the heels of the world shutting down due to the global pandemic, we were also executing a transformative merger – joining together two giants (Wesco & Anixter) in electrical, communications, utility and broadband distribution. Following the merger, my team was tasked with the complicated and cumbersome job of helping two $8 billion behemoths become a new supply chain solutions company. At the same time, the fallout from the pandemic impacted many of the critical secular trends reshaping the industry and the world - from electrification to 24/7 connectivity and security to supply chain consolidation. It was our job to thoughtfully address these growth trends AND deliver a unified brand platform that would meet the needs of the new Wesco and support key stakeholders in a post-pandemic world.   

We conducted extensive research including in-depth interviews with customers, suppliers and executives; a quantitative brand perception study surveying 1,000+ customers and prospects around the world; and a competitive assessment of how Wesco, Anixter and competitors were expressing their brands visually and verbally. These insights helped shape the Wesco story and weave together a narrative that today reflects a positive brand that resonates across audiences.

 

CMO COUNCIL: What is the secret to a better collaboration with the C-suite?

WARNE: In my role at Wesco, I am fortunate to have a direct line to the CEO and access to others in the C-suite. Of course, that type of access and perspective are invaluable in driving collaboration. But, regardless of how marketing is structured, I believe that collaboration essentially comes down to business relevancy. Aligning marketing to business priorities, thinking in an enterprise-wide way, and partnering with other functions to drive maximum business impact all help marketing to earn a seat at the table. Building collaboration and inclusion is a natural process when you are seen integral part of helping a company to grow and to hit its business objectives.

 

CMO COUNCIL: What marketing skills will be most needed by your organization in the future and why?

WARNE: At Wesco, we are fortunate to have strong talent across our marketing disciplines, but a consistent critical skill across all groups is the ability to simplify the complex. This skill can show up in a number of different ways, including being a crisp storyteller, a disciplined project manager, a masterful web designer, or an analyst who delivers truly actionable insights. With so many competing priorities, it can be easy for marketers to focus on the volumes of things to be created instead of stepping back to ensure that we are focused on what is important and that our deliverables are clear, targeted and impactful.