It’s an exciting time for marketing at Hilton – we’re on a mission to build a world-class global marketing organization. Our new Chief Marketing Officer, Kellyn Smith Kenny, is setting a fresh, dynamic vision for our future – and you could join this epic team. We are hiring at all levels for all marketing skills around the world. To hear about the growth and new opportunities, we sat down with Amy Martin Ziegenfuss, VP Global Brand Marketing for Hilton.
- It’s obvious from a Team Member perspective that there’s a lot of energy and excitement in marketing right now. Tell us a bit more about what you and the team are building.
We are undergoing a transformation at every level of the marketing organization in order to build a best-in-class team. As you noted, the energy is palpable – spearheaded by our new CMO, Kellyn, everyone is engaged and excited about the future of marketing at Hilton. In everything we do, we want to ensure our marketing is purpose-driven with the customer at its heart. We are focusing our efforts around enterprise and brand initiatives that will make the biggest impact in the market with our target customer – and building the team and structure to support that.
It’s not often in a career that you get to be part of building out the structure and team to deliver next-level marketing. We have support from the most senior levels at Hilton to bring on the best talent in the business and build cutting-edge marketing capabilities and tech. Honestly, and I’ve been in marketing for a few years now, this is a once-in-a-lifetime chance and we are all extremely excited about it!
- What will the new marketing organizational structure be, and what opportunities does that open for current and prospective Team Members?
Traditionally, marketers were expected to handle all aspects of marketing across the spectrum – strategy, campaign/creative development, paid media, PR, social media, measurement and everything in between. Today, there are so many advanced tools and tech and data in the marketing space that a single marketer can’t possibly be an expert in everything. With this evolving landscape, we realized we need to develop more deep subject matter expertise within highly specialized marketing functions to enable higher impact marketing that leverages next level consumer insights, data and targeting techniques.
In our new model, our global enterprise and brand marketing strategy teams will plan how we take our brands and enterprise to market and will partner closely with new center of excellence (“COE”) teams in PR, Media, Social Media, Performance and Measurement, and Marketing Execution and Operations to deliver on these objectives.
Additionally, regional leadership has been a key focus to establish the right team to enable the global growth of our business and our brands. We’ve added close to 20 roles in our global marketing teams in our Hilton offices around the world (Watford in Greater London, Singapore, and Shanghai) to recruit talented directors and senior directors who will bring our brands to life in key markets in Europe, the Middle East, Africa and Asia Pacific, including a focus on China.
- Why should someone choose Hilton for their marketing career?
For marketers, travel is fun and exciting to market. It’s an easy sell in a lot of ways – consumers have high regard for travel and are traveling more and more and, at Hilton, we are lucky to have strong, beloved brands and products. But marketing is also a complex landscape that moves fast and is very competitive. We are constantly challenged to think bigger and be more strategic, which enables us to stretch and grow. Having worked in healthcare and financial services, I can also say that the hospitality industry lends itself to collaboration more than other industries because people in this business are known for being ‘hospitable’. As a marketer, collaborating with others across the business is a dream come true, because it means we can tap into other experts in service of meeting customer needs. And finally, Hilton is 100 years young – we are a company with a rich heritage combined with an entrepreneurial spirit that is in our DNA, which means that there are always new opportunities and new brands/products to market.
- What is the leadership structure in the marketing org?
Our Marketing Leadership Team (“MLT”) is made up of our Vice Presidents and above. We recently created an Extended Marketing Leadership Team (“eMLT”) which includes our Senior Directors and Directors because we felt strongly that they are running the business day-to-day with their teams and we therefore need their engagement and leadership to enable stronger decision-making. The eMLT brings them to the table to ensure they have input into and visibility of the marketing strategy, and that they’re able to communicate the vision and plan to their teams. They also workshop challenges and opportunities that impact the entire team. For instance right now, a sub-group of the eMLT is working with me to determine how we transform the Global Brand Marketing team to work with the COE model. These Directors and Senior Directors are directly influencing our go-forward plan and strategy, and the benefits of this to the MLT and the team overall are tremendous.
- What advice would you give to someone just starting their career in marketing at Hilton?
Hilton is a fantastic place for marketing at every level, and I would encourage anyone joining Hilton’s Global Marketing team to be open-minded about their options. There are so many opportunities here – marketers can work across brands, enterprise, loyalty, or the new COEs. One person could choose to work for a time in enterprise or brand marketing strategy, and then could choose to specialize for a while in a COE and hone their expertise in a specific function like Media or Social Media. Even globally there’s no shortage of opportunity and we encourage Managers and Senior Managers to spend time in different offices whenever possible. We’re also looking to formalize this into a rotational program in order to rotate people in and out of different functions and geographies to both benefit the business and the individual development of our team members. There’s such scope for growth here.
- What qualities and qualifications are you looking for in new hires?
You have to be able to leverage both head and heart to be successful in our team – that means balancing the art and science of marketing. Our marketing is data-driven and grounded in consumer insights, yet also leverages intuition as the x factor that creates breakthrough marketing ideas and campaigns. We want Team Members who bring robust marketing chops, are collaborative and intellectually curious, understand how to build strong cross-functional relationships, and see the possibilities for the team and our enterprise. We are reaching for the stars – we want to push the boundaries and constantly learn and innovate.
- Why do you love marketing at Hilton?
I love working for a global company of Hilton’s stature with such beloved consumer brands. It’s a marketers dream, as is working with a team of some of the most talented marketers I’ve ever had the pleasure to know. I also love that you can make an impact each and every day – I am personally motivated to know that I’m making a difference and adding value. On top of that, Hilton’s culture is amazing – the people and the entrepreneurial spirit in the company’s DNA really makes it stand out. Finally, I love getting to travel both in the US and globally as well.
- What’s your favorite Hilton property you’ve visited with our awesome travel benefits?
Conrad Maldives. It was out of this world!
- Any final words?
The best is yet to come. If you think about what we’ve been able to achieve in terms of marketing our brands over the years without this new optimized structure, imagine what we can do when it’s in place. And you can be part of building that!