INTERVIEW

LUCA DESTEFANIS

Head of Marketing
Kyndryl, APAC

Luca Destefanis is currently Head of Marketing of Kyndryl, APAC. A senior marketing executive with strong business background, rooted in 25 years of international experience - Asia (9 years), Europe (14y), US (2y), Luca designs organizations, builds teams, develops talents, and simplifies complexity to create purpose-driven brands and high impact marketing campaigns.

Known for continuously challenge the status quo, Luca has built the Customer Experience Management offering in Europe; worked in partnership with Dubai institutions to open an innovation center with skills at the intersection of design, consulting and technology; advised more than 20 clients on customer and employee engagement; transformed marketing organizations by adopting new operating models (i.e. co-marketing process outsourcing, Account Based Engagement); enabled a community of 140+ product marketers  through workshops and professional development programs; built the IBM Services brand in APAC with the iconic “Breakthrough Partnerships” campaign.  In Kyndryl – a 19B$ spinoff from IBM – Luca is now focused on building the brand and nurturing an amazing pool of marketing talents.

Luca is passionate about: his work; competing in Ironman races across the world; exploring trends in contemporary art; better understanding humans through behavioral and neurosciences.  He lived and worked in New York, Milano and Shanghai before moving to Singapore, where he currently resides with his family.

 

CMO COUNCIL: Tell us a little about your background and how you got to where you are now.

DESTEFANIS: I have been given the opportunity to work all around the world to design organizations, build teams, develop talents and simplify complexity to create purpose-driven brands and high impact marketing campaigns.  First as a consultant and then as a marketer, I have been known for continuously challenge the status quo: building the new Customer Experience Management offering in Europe; working in partnership with Dubai institutions to open an innovation center with skills at the intersection of design, consulting and technology; advising more than 20 clients on customer and employee engagement; transforming marketing organizations with new operating models such as outsourcing the co-marketing process or creating Account Based Engagement capabilities; building the IBM Services brand in Asia Pacific.  Currently, I am the Head of Marketing in APAC for Kyndryl – a 19B$ spinoff from IBM.

 

CMO COUNCIL: What past experiences have best prepared you for this role?

DESTEFANIS: My consulting background is constantly with me and defines how I operate: listening to understand needs, challenges and opportunities; articulating a strategy and a plan before jumping to execution; connecting the dots between touchpoints to ensure we build meaningful customer journeys – always with an eye on the business and the outcomes we deliver.  The other thing is that having worked in of three continents (2 years in the US, 16 in Europe and 9 in Asia) - both with Country and Regional roles - I am well versed at bridging cultures and shortening the gap between CHQ and the field, focusing on empowering the last mile and making our teams in the field successful.

 

CMO COUNCIL: Where do you focus most of your time, attention and brainpower on a day-to-day basis?
DESTEFANIS: Three priorities are driving my agenda. First is about organization and culture:  having the right mix of talents in the team, creating a culture of trust and transparency that enables collaboration and risk taking, nurturing and developing high potentials, creating the environment and opportunities where people can flourish.  Second is about strategy and execution: ensuring we have the right set of initiatives aligned to the business priorities and driving bold and relevant outcomes, validating our messaging and marketing mix based on the target audience, removing roadblocks in our way. Lastly, I always like to choose one or two initiatives where I am directly involved from design to implementation, working closely with the team – it gives me a sense of fulfillment, and it helps me to be in touch with the market.

 

CMO COUNCIL: What is your personal philosophy on marketing?
DESTEFANIS: You might think that marketing dramatically changed in the last 20 years, through automation, the explosion of channels, and the opportunity created by adopting data-driven approaches. But at the core the marketing mission didn’t change much: to build meaningful connections with clients.  While experimenting and pushing the boundaries is important, I believe CMOs first and foremost should focus on staying true to their north star, putting the client at the center of everything we do, and prioritizing the few things that are relevant for the business.

 

CMO COUNCIL: What career advice would you give to developing marketing leaders?

DESTEFANIS: Few things come to my mind.  First, be curious:  never stop learning, not just on professional matters. I strongly believe in the power of cross pollination from different fields and disciplines. Second, lead from the front line: with clients, influencers, business leaders. Third: choose your battles, envision bold plans that are driving ambitious outcomes, and stick to it.  And lastly, if needed ask for help: it is a sign of strength, not weakness.  

 

CMO COUNCIL: What are your three non-negotiable daily habits that you believe contribute to your success?
DESTEFANIS: Exercise and a healthy diet are helping me to maintain a high level of focus throughout the long days (which seems to be even longer now that we mostly work from home).  Reading a paper book at bedtime helps me to disconnect from work after the night calls and enjoy a better sleep.

 

CMO COUNCIL: What is a quote or saying you live by?
DESTEFANIS: “They always say time changes things, but you actually have to change them yourself” Andy Warhol.