Ep. 65 – Interview w/ Liz Fendt

How Diversity and Innovation Impact B2B Marketing

As our world becomes increasingly digitized, embracing diversity in its different forms not only becomes important, but also paramount. It is also crucial to foster working environments within B2B marketing teams where diversity can thrive alongside innovation. On this week’s episode, we have a conversation with Liz Fendt (Global Chief Marketing OfficerTÜV SÜD), who is a pioneer as well as an advocate for diversity and innovation. Liz talks about why she believes diversity and innovation go hand in hand in B2B organizations, the barriers that need to be addressed, and why diversity of thinking is imperative to overall growth and team performance. 

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Topics discussed in this episode:

  • Key barriers that B2B organizations have to address to foster environments where diversity and innovation can thrive properly. [6:55]
  • Liz shares the lessons that she learned from growing and working with regional marketing teams. [19:47]
  • Liz shares a life experience that has inspired her to be a better leader. [24:33]
  • “Diversity” is more than the diversity of gender or sexual orientation. [29:22]
  • Liz’s advice to those who are thinking about advocating diversity and innovation within their organizations. [34:41]

Companies & links mentioned in this episode:

Transcript

SPEAKERS

Christian Klepp, Liz Fendt

Christian Klepp  00:00

Welcome to B2B Marketers on a Mission, a podcast for B2B marketers that helps you to question the conventional, think differently, disrupt your industry, and take your marketing to new heights. Each week, we talk to B2B marketing experts who share inspirational stories, discussed our thoughts and trending topics, and provide useful marketing tips and recommendations. And now, here’s your host and co-founder of EINBLICK Consulting, Christian Klepp. Welcome everyone to this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast where you get your weekly dose of B2B marketing insights. This is your host Christian Klepp. And today, I am honored to welcome a guest into the show who is on an important mission. And that mission is to promote better and more globally minded organizations where diversity is a strength that can thrive alongside innovation. So coming to us from Munich, Germany, Liz Fendt, ich wuerde sagen “Schoenen guten Tag und herzlich Willkommen!” Welcome to the show.

Liz Fendt  00:56

Thank you very much, Christian. That was perfect Austrian German if I’m not wrong.

Christian Klepp  01:01

(laugh) Yes, that’s right. Austrian German, not to be confused with Bavarian German. But um, you know, who’s counting? (laugh) Liz, I really enjoyed our previous discussion. If it were up to me, I would have hit record. And we would have recorded that as an interview on its own. But I’m looking forward to this discussion. And I just like to give a shout out to Jasmine Matirossian, thank you so much for the connection. Right. So let’s, let’s get started with this conversation. So you’re the Global Chief Marketing Officer at TÜV SÜD. And you’ve been a champion at advocating diversity and innovation in the workplace. So talk to us about why you believe these two factors are so crucial to an organization’s success. And why you think they go hand in hand. I think it’s the more interesting point.

Liz Fendt  01:48

Okay, fantastic. Thank you very much for the question, Christian. So I would actually say that it’s almost become incidental. So it’s not that I went out on a mission, you know, 12, 15 years ago to say, I am going to become an advocate for diversity and inclusion. But it’s incidental in the way that over the years, and due to the fact that I have worked and traveled and lived in so many different countries, I have collected so much life experience and professional experience in those different countries and cultures, that it then became, you know, integral to my being the way I turned out to become the leader that I am today. And about 10 years ago, I was offered an opportunity, which I couldn’t say no to. And I’m glad I didn’t, which was to start up a global marketing team. So it was the first of its kind in the group. And I was based at that time in Singapore having previously lived in Hong Kong, and Taiwan, and India. And I think through the fact that I had seen headquarters of this German company through the eyes of somebody who’s not based there, I was very sure about the fact that I wanted to lead this team, not based out of the headquarters, I did not want to become an ivory tower, corporate function head. And it was very important to me that I retained that sense of perspective. And that global understanding that myself and my team at the time had. So I took the team with me, I was heading up Asia Pacific marketing. And I asked the team members to join me on this mission to go global. And I was lucky enough to have other team members join from Germany. And then I asked a number of other people that I felt would be suitable for particular roles in this global marketing team to join me. And, you know, it actually unfolded relatively quickly. And I had a team of approximately 10, we started off in a very humble way. 10 of us from very different backgrounds. I think we had about six or seven different nationalities in those 10 people. And we were based in two locations. In fact, yeah, after about one or two years, we were based in four locations, but reporting all directly into myself. Now, we already had seen the things that we needed to change. Having been in the company, most of us for quite a number of years. And we saw the brand, I’ll give you something specific, we saw the brand as a brand, not from the eyes of somebody in Germany, who’s a German, but from the eyes of somebody who’s in Asia, you know, and we’re talking about innovation and diversity and how those things go hand in hand. I think it was extremely important that we had different opinions on the table on the same topic. So sticking with the example of branding, there are about five of us who have very different opinions about where we wanted to take the brand, because we’ve seen the brand from those different perspectives. And we had some really healthy discussion about, you know, do we want to stake in direction A or B or C, you know, and ultimately we had to figure it out. And we then concluded that we needed more outreach. So we asked a number of other people and people who’d known the brand for 30 years, other has known the brand for maybe three hours or just three days. And they were all coming at it from different cultural and geographic places. And I think have we not done that, and have we not been the global team that we were at the time, we wouldn’t have been able to transform the brand into what it is today. So we can see that TÜV SÜD was effectively on a journey to becoming global, but it still held his German heritage a little bit too tight. So we started to transform the way that people saw the brand, to make it more, you know, reachable to those who are not German.

Christian Klepp  05:35

That’s quite the story, if I do say so myself. But I mean, what an amazing accomplishment. And you know, having had this experience myself in the past, I know that it’s no small feat to get people not just in the different geographies, but also different cultural and linguistic backgrounds to work together to achieve a common cause. Right. We used to call it back in the day the, especially with when when it comes to dealing with headquarters, we call it the Mount Olympus mentality.

Liz Fendt  06:05

Ah Yes. Yes.

Christian Klepp  06:07

And that’s not to be condescending or anything, it’s just that sometimes more often than not, people tend to be a bit far removed from what’s going on in on the ground in other markets, right?

Liz Fendt  06:21

Yes, absolutely.

Christian Klepp  06:24

Right. Um, this is probably going to be an interesting question for you. Because you know, all these years that you’ve been advocating diversity and innovation in your organization, you’ve probably come across, I think to put it politely, pushed back. So what are some of the key barriers that you believe organizations like yours, or any B2B organizations have to address in order to foster environments where diversity and innovation can thrive properly?

Liz Fendt  06:55

It’s an excellent question. I think number one would be unconscious bias. For my experience, there are very few people who go out of their way to form any form of bias. However, everybody, all of us, including myself, I have inherent biases. And I think particularly example that I, you know, this company that has been around for so long, there are a number of people who probably have an inherent bias that the person who leads for example, global brand, couldn’t possibly be in non-German, not based in the German headquarters, for example. So I think unconscious bias is definitely a barrier. For everybody who’s starting out to perhaps, personify something that’s different from what that other, you know, human thinks that that person should look like or behave like or sound like. And the other thing, the other big barrier, I’d say, is being in the minority. I mean, you know, every study you read, says, it’s, it’s tough, it’s genuinely tough. I’ve been in the minority in many places, you know, whether it’s traveling across the Gobi Desert, being the only Caucasian woman, whether it’s standing on the stage at the management conference, being, you know, one of a very, you know, clear gender minority. And, you know, a barrier, in that sense, is the fact that you don’t, you definitely feel that you need to prove yourself more than anybody else, who’s perhaps not in that same minority. And secondly, there’s almost a cultural Codex in with the majority, where you need to dial into it and behave the way they do to emanate that behavior to be actually culturally accepted. So you know, if you could perhaps ask me, what would I do to address some of those barriers? I think it’s really important. Two areas: Number one is education. I think the more you understand, ideally, and preferably firsthand how somebody else thinks and how they are. They’re not against you, just because they look or sound or behave in a different manner to you. So ideally, firsthand education and experience and immersion into a more diverse environment is really the best mechanism to really get people to foster inclusion and diversity. And I think another area I would go for is psychological safety. So for those who are not familiar with that is, it’s very, very important. It’s basically creating an environment where those who are different are in a minority feel they’re in a safe space. And for me, as a leader, it’s imperative that I am the person moderating and really driving that psychological safety. So for example, psychological safety to be specific would mean that if you’re in an environment where some cultures are unlikely to speak up as much as others, you create a different environment whereby you can say, if you have any questions or you have any comments, you can raise those you can raise us anonymously, you can raise them for the chat function, or your moderator sessions, such that you ask each person individually for their contribution. Otherwise, you’d be in a situation where some speak up a lot. They’re the ones who probably feel more familiar, and those who feel that they’re in a minority, they don’t feel that psychological safety and the ability to speak up. So really, it’s about coaching and moderating and leading to ensure that that entire experience is inclusive.

Christian Klepp  10:11

Those are some incredibly insightful, and also extremely valuable points. And I think at least from my own experience, where I’ve seen these solutions being put into, you know, being implemented effectively. I’ve seen them in Singapore, and here in Canada as well. And these are things that were advocated by the government. So both of these countries are very multicultural. Canada is on its way to becoming quite a multicultural country. And one of the things that they do advocate here is the strength of diversity. Right? In fact, since 2002, there’s an official holiday on June 27, I believe it is, it’s a Canada multicultural day. Right. And it’s basically, in you see it on their websites, they educate people on the different cultures and what practices and traditions they have, and they observe these holidays. And this is what kind of food they eat. And this is how they prefer to interact with others. Right. And, and again, to your point, it’s about education and immersion. And it starts also here at a young age, right? So people are educated on the differences and not that the differences are supposed to be feared, or avoided. They’re supposed to be respected and embraced. And just to understand that we are in a society where people come from different cultures, and that’s okay.

Liz Fendt  11:33

And I think it’s very important. Also, you know, that you honor and respect the traditions you just mentioned, for examples. I see a lot of me to say, Okay, it’s Christmas, but it’s not Christmas for everyone. You know, it might be you know, the festival of Diwali. It might be Eid, it might be Chinese New Year, I think it’s important that we are very familiar with major cultural traditions, and not those just in the Western world, and that those are equally honored and respected. And if there’s less education around some of them, that we as leaders, sort of are there to impart information and share and really build that knowledge. And as you say, to remove those barriers.

Christian Klepp  12:09

Yes, no, that’s absolutely right. That’s absolutely right. Talk to us about a challenge, and again, on the topic of diversity and innovation, but you and your team have managed to solve in the past 12 months.

Liz Fendt  12:23

All right, I’m gonna, I’m gonna go with innovation. And it was a big one. Yeah. So you know, 10 years in, but actually one eight and a half years in, we were sort of pretty rock solid as a global marketing team. So fast forward, I said, with our humble 10 starting employees, were at this point, we’ve moved on to you know, there are 30 of us in the core team. And there are about 140 outside. So in total, we have 170 marketeers, which sounds fantastic, right? But things started to change, right customers and their preferences changed, the transformation of, you know, the digitization of transactions, you know, was overtaking us and our capability as a team. You know, when I set up this wonderful team structure, you know, everything was hunky dory, we were sailing in a good direction. And then suddenly, we realized that hang on, this might actually not be the direction that we should be sailing in for the next 10 years. So we had this sort of moment of truth of, it’s time to really sit down and think about where we’re going to pivot to. And the big challenge, of course, with any big digital transformation innovation is, do we have the right resources? Do we have the right people on the bus? And obviously are they sitting on the right seats? So you know, it was a really tough gig to, to make an entire transformation of the 170 folks. We started with the global team first, and gave some really deep thought as to how we’re going to future proof that organization. So I really took down everything we previously had, we basically went back to the drawing board, and considered what the requirements are from our customers, both internal customers and external. And then we rebuild and restructure the global marketing team in order to drive a much faster digital acceleration than we had in the past, you know, and that meant getting out of the comfort zone, hiring people, to be honest with you, for skillsets that I had not previously come into contact with myself. So how are you going to make sure that you hire the right people? And ultimately, it’s about getting started, right. So I had two people who I thought were going to be suitable for the job. And then they were instrumental in hiring the other digital experts that we needed. So we got focusing for Pay Per Click, we got search engine optimization, social media, we have a MarTech team now in place, you know, and that has become and each of those sub teams then created a strategy 2025 and now 26. That was one part of it. Right? And the second part is still part of the challenge is really how you’re going to digitize and revolutionize how we do Field Marketing. Because you know, it’s feasible to upskill some people and some others it’s going to be a tough to really pivot then skill set from what conventional traditional channels on to digital marketing skill sets. So I think we’re on a journey of transformation. And I think we’re well underway. We’re in good progress. But it’s really the challenge, I think, in terms of innovation is how are we going to innovate at the same time across the organization. And are we going to still be able to keep pace with innovation, which we all know, is almost faster than how we can innovate as a company.

Christian Klepp  15:28

That’s quite a feat! I mean, and certainly, this is something I would say it’s not unique just to your organization alone, I think many organizations have had to grapple with this reality. If they haven’t done it, like in the past couple of years. They certainly did it last year when the world went into lockdown. Right?

Liz Fendt  15:48

 Yea.

Christian Klepp  15:48

Because um, digitalization was not just a buzzword, but it was something that was on the top of every organization’s agenda, and how do we do it quickly? How do we do it efficiently? How do we do it with the resources that we have? Or to your point: If we don’t have the resources internally, can we find somebody that can support this endeavor externally?

Liz Fendt  16:05

Yeah, absolutely.

Christian Klepp  16:07

Yeah. Okay. So do you believe that diversity and innovation can give marketing a more strategic role in B2B organizations? And if yes, how?

Liz Fendt  16:15

I think if you have a very diverse and widespread team, you need to be more strategic in the way you act and you behave. Why is that? It’s because you need greater guardrails in order to be able to guide people who are not intrinsically in tune with one another because they speak the same language, they’re sitting in the same office. So in my opinion, you are almost forced to become more strategic. And that’s a great thing. Because you need a proper roadmap, you need to be very clear in terms of how you communicate, you need to be very clear in the process steps in order to define that strategy, and where you’re going in order to bring everybody with you to the end goal. So, you know, every year I have a strategy presentation, I have an outreach to my team globally, and an opportunity for them to ask any questions. And it’s really very well laid out and very set out such that it’s clear for them to follow, because ultimately, they then need to transmit that information to the people on their teams. So it’s an inadvertent answer to your question, it makes me as a leader more strategic having a highly diverse team. And the other answer to your question is, I think having a more diverse team makes marketing more strategic in the sense that we have far more information at our fingertips than we would have, where we’d be sitting in one place. So the access to the way that customers behave, the channels they use, the search words that they’re typing in. I mean, if I only had, for example, 18 based in Germany, they wouldn’t have access to that information on WeChat. They wouldn’t know you know, that, that certain forms of social media channels just don’t work, for example, in Korea, and Japan. So that information that I obtained through this global nature of the team, and then literally sitting in different places, provides me with information that’s invaluable to the CEO, and also empowers us to become more strategic, as opposed to a traditional war support function role, as a marketing team.

Christian Klepp  18:17

You brought up so many interesting points. And it was also going back to something we had discussed in a previous conversation. And, as I mentioned, it’s something that’s, you know, I’ve been thinking about for quite a while, because you were talking about giving marketing that louder voice in the organization, that seat at the table in the upper levels of companies or organizations itself. And to do that, our marketing must have or find a way to have that more strategic role. And going back to what you said, making the value that the marketing function provides more visible to the other stakeholders.

Liz Fendt  18:55

Definitely.

Christian Klepp  18:57

Hey, it’s Christian Klepp here. We’ll get back to the episode in a second. But first, is your brand struggling to cut through the noise? Are you trying to find more effective ways to reach your target audience and boost sales? Are you trying to pivot your business? If so, book a call with EINBLICK Consulting, our experienced consultants will work with you to help your B2B business to succeed and scale. Go to www.einblick.co for more information.

Liz, I mean, this is probably the understatement of the year, but you have quite a reputation as a pioneer. You’ve implemented a lot of firsts throughout your career. And you’ve mentioned some of them already. And it’s it was really, with the aim of bringing about positive change in the workplace. Yeah. So for example, your current organization at TÜV SÜD, you’ve pioneered the first ever corporate function headquartered outside of Munich that is staffed by a gender and racially diverse team. And the second one is also you co-founded your organization’s Global Women’s Network. Right. So talk to us about what inspired you to implement these changes and what are some of the important lessons you’ve learned along the way?

Liz Fendt  20:08

Okay, I think that I have somehow become an agent of change in the organization due to the fact that I could see a need, I could see the fact that we had so much potential as an organization that we were not harnessing on. And as I was sitting there, from my Asia Pacific marketing perspective, I could see so many things that needed to have been done, that no one was actually addressing, that was just an untapped opportunity. And I thought that I wanted to do things differently, I obviously could see what my predecessors and various other corporate functions were doing. I felt that if we were truly going to be successful in marketing, I should harness all of the experience I’ve had traveling and living in different countries and have that global team working with me, um, in order to really accelerate it and move us forward. And it was a similar situation with the women’s network. So you know, having been with the company for so many years, I realized that at the top there was so very few women. And I think the older you get and the more life experience you have, you started to want to, you know, give back and pay it forward. So, you know, I think after the umpteenth time was standing at the management conference stage, looking around and thinking, my goodness, there’s a sea of wonderful men in this room, but there are so very few women. And I started to ask myself, why is that the case and then I started asking other women, they said that they, they don’t feel that they have enough opportunity, or don’t feel sufficiently empowered, or simply just can’t see themselves, because they see too few role models. And then it came, you know, to being that I spoke to another few. And then we said, okay, you know what, let’s start a Women’s Network, not to build some sort of feminist movement within the organization. On the contrary, we want to be inclusive, it’s very important that we create something that is a very positive sign to the organization and brings women together, and also harnesses different capabilities. And I wanted to share something that I thought was quite interesting. So you can imagine over the global, you know, marketing experience over the last 10 years, there’s some things that have worked very well. And one thing that I’d like to say is I’ve built within each of the regions, essential marketing excellence. So we don’t just have the global team based in these two locations, but we have six additional centers of marketing excellence, and they are my ears to the ground in the markets. And it’s a dialogue. It’s not, you know, me as headquarters saying, let’s do this, and you have to just follow, but no, they have an equal seat on the table with me. And I want to actively listen to what they want to play into the organization. So when we set up the Women’s Network, I thought, you know what that worked particularly well, let’s do that again. So we have a very small core team, there are only three of us. And in each of the regions, we have ambassadors, there are two of them, and each of the regions, and we have approximately eight regional, local national centers for the Women’s Network. And those are a wonderful interplay of hub and spoke, both the marketing and the Women’s Network are actually good, similar examples of, you know, where one concept has worked and been implemented in a different place. And again, for the women’s ambassadors, you know, I speak to them on a regular basis, together with my other core team members. And they say to me, listen, Liz, this is what we really need in country X. So you know, some of the concepts and programs you’re developing are very nice, but they won’t work for us. So I’ve come to a conclusion that you’re never going to be able to have one size that fits all. But what is probably going to be workable is a 80/20 weight, or 80%, of what you’re developing is going to work in most of the markets, and then 20% localization. And we’ve allowed that for marketing, we’ve allowed that for the Women’s Network. And I think that gives people a sense of ownership. And it respects their local requirements and enables them to also have a bit of a legacy for themselves and drive something that they have truly created. And now we’ve got to the point with a marketing organization, where some of those local activities are played in, let’s say, on a use case, or a case study experience exchange, and they’re then used by another market, but we’re not as a global team responsible to drive them.

Christian Klepp  24:18

So these initiatives have clearly made some visible progress. You know, all these all these achievements have indeed come to fruition not all at the same time. Also, depending on different markets, I’m sure.

Liz Fendt  24:30

Yes, absolutely.

Christian Klepp  24:32

Yeah. On to the next understatement of the year, you have quite the adventurous spirit. And I guess the German description would have it would be ein unruhiger Geist. So talk to us about one of these trips that you had that was quite a challenging one, and how that experience has influenced you personally as a leader in the corporate world?

Liz Fendt  24:54

Thank you for asking this question. And I’m going to talk about something that, you know, some people feel very uncomfortable talking about, and it’s failure. So I was 28 at the time, and I… it was actually one of my first bigger mountains so I was attempting to climb Mount Kilimanjaro. I trained for the nine months, I’ve done everything right. And I was, I would say looking back now overzealous, certainly over ambitious, quietly confident or perhaps actually loudly confident about the fact that you know what, this is going to be like such a walk in the park, I just run up more or less. I remember starting and not feeling particularly well. So I’ve eaten something that upset my stomach two days before I started this trip. Anyway, I thought, I’m not going to listen to the inner voice, I’m just gonna keep doggedly at it, and I walked too fast. And it was my first high altitude mountain. And by day four, I started to feel very ill. And it was the morning of the summit. And as I woke up, I knew that I was not going to be able to summit but I kept trying to push on and push on and push on. And at some point, the guy turned to me and said, listen, Liz, we will have to leave you back and leave you behind. We’re unable to summit with you, you’re clearly too unwell, your eyes are dilated, you know, you are showing some very serious signs of sickness, I’m sorry, but you’re going to have to descend. And I think those four hours of descent, you have to descend very quickly, when you’re at a high altitude at that point, I was at about 5500 meters. And I had to descend very quickly. I think those four hours were probably quite life changing, you know that a sense of bitter disappointment, suddenly got replaced with me thinking: Hang on, you know, I didn’t actually listen to my body, I didn’t actually, you know, think that I wouldn’t be able to achieve this. And I didn’t even have a game plan for a plan B. And I started sort of reflecting and thinking, you know, what, it’s probably not just going to be about pushing through or being overly confident. And it certainly gave me a huge sense of being humble. So fast forward, I think 15 years, I’m climbing Mont Blanc. And I’m far more experienced climber. I’ve got all the training behind me. And I wrote to three other people. And the person in front of me fell into a crevasse and not just a small crevice, you know, can imagine as a 15 meter, ice crevasse. And I think had it been the 20 year old self that I was at, it probably got very irritated. And you know, thought, well, he’s just holding me back. But because I felt that the group in Kilimanjaro had been so kind to me, and they were so kind when they got back, they showed me the photos, I felt that I you know, I was not losing out because of that. And I’ve experienced so much failure myself and the guide in Mont Blanc said we were unable to take this person. And I was the one who stayed back with him. And I summitted a couple of days later. And I think that’s an important feeling of, you know, leadership, it’s not about getting there the fastest, it’s actually about taking care of the people, and making sure that everybody is in the right space, and at the right time, to you know, to achieve what you need to do. So it’s definitely been a humbling experience. I’ve been on several tours and mountain adventures since where I’ve taken women up mountains who’ve never climbed before. And I always make sure I keep it that person’s pace. I think doing things too fast and leaving people behind in a professional and a climbing sense is not going to work.

Christian Klepp  28:23

That is a truly amazing story. And I think one from which you can all draw inspiration from because I believe you touched on a point that really resonates with me, because more often than not, and you can, you know, take your pick whichever social media platform it is, but there’s a lot of… there’s a lot of content out there from leaders that are trying to paint this image of, well, perfection and flawlessness which I think, which I think is inauthentic, right. But back to your story, I think what you’ve displayed with your struggles in this experience you had on Kilimanjaro, and how you learn from that… from that experience, rather, and apply that to the trip up Mont Blanc. It’s not just learning from your mistakes, but you also displayed empathy, foresight, thinking about your team members that nobody nobody gets left behind, right? So that in itself is a truly inspirational and I think every leader should aspire to be like that. What’s a commonly held belief or status quo, in your opinion, when it comes to diversity and innovation that you passionately disagree with? And why?

Liz Fendt  29:42

Let’s start with the diversity piece. I think a commonly held belief that diversity is either diversity of gender or diversity of sexual orientation. And this seems to be limited at that. I think diversity is far far more than those two assets or aspects or elements of diversity. You think about age diversity, or you think about cultural diversity or more important opinion, diversity of opinions. So it’s, I find it slightly narrow when people always refer to diversity in the LGBTQIPs or the context of gender diversity. And in my opinion, and moving on to the topic of innovation. If you really want to drive innovation, you have to be diverse across all of those various aspects. And I absolutely celebrate the fact that I have people in my team who are early 20s, and have people in my team who are late 50s. And I don’t think one of those two opinions counts more or less, I think, you know, there are a lot of people who consider that people who’ve just started in the professional setup are going to have less to contribute, I disagree entirely, I think they have a most incredible fresh pair of eyes, that you know, you and I and many others don’t have. Similarly, that sort of writing people off because of the X Y Z is also not okay, my view is that if you have to diversity, age, diversity, cultural diversity, religious diversity, you know, sexual orientation, and gender and all of these raise aspects, only then do you have this really, truly holistic view on a topic. And ultimately, your end game, I feel should be building a project team that really reflects all those various aspects. We have one team and they do the website. In our company, we have someone whose mid 50s, we have people who are early 20s, we have every form of religious diversity in that team, I think that makes the team truly outstanding. And they are, I think, far more willing and interested to learn from each other, because they can all contribute something different. And that, you know, it’s not homogenous. It is a very heterogeneous setup. And going back, I think my main point is, it shouldn’t just be, you know, one type of one element or aspect of diversity.

Christian Klepp  32:03

Yeah, I would say that’s some pretty sound advice, because more often than not, to your point, it tends to, it tends to sway one way or the other. But, you know, as you were giving your answer and providing your opinion, something else came up, which I thought I’d like to ask you, because it’s one thing to implement diversity and innovation within organizations such as yours, but what would you say B2B organizations that are of a much smaller size, but also have to deal with teams across different geographies and linguistic and cultural boundaries? Do you think that they can apply some of these principles that you’ve talked about in the past couple of minutes?

Liz Fendt  32:45

I definitely think so. I mean, there are various setups, I mean, you can definitely probably in source, you know, through agencies have got diversity, you don’t necessarily have to have such a large team yourself that represents all those aspects of diversity. Or you could, for example, reflect diversity, if you’re doing outreach, let’s say customer intelligence programs that you ensure that you don’t just pull your data from one specific demographic source, and that you can definitely segment your data and ensure that you’re targeting any of your activities to various age groups, target groups, geographies, and I think, therefore, at least the information that you’re basing your decisions on is truly broad and diverse in the the data points it’s collecting from, as I just mentioned, the agencies you’d be working with, I always look for diversity in age in the agencies and make sure that you know, you’re also not just having an agency based in country X that has one type of person working for it.

Christian Klepp  33:44

Yes, that’s absolutely right. That’s absolutely right. And I think to your point, which you brought up earlier on, on the conversation, if you want to implement these initiatives, and, you know, let’s keep them separate, diversity and innovation, there has to be a master plan, a strategy, am I right to say that like, so for example, like, why are you implementing this, like, how does it benefit your organization? How does it benefit the customers? Because the last thing you want to do, and I’m sure you know, where I’m going with this, you don’t want to just tick that box and say, okay, well, we’ve done it, we’ve covered that field, we’ve covered that aspect of it.

Liz Fendt  34:21

I think that that’s the definite topic, right? I mean, that’s the elephant, in many, many cases is pinkwashing. Right? And this is not a checkbox exercise. I think you’ve got to be truly authentic in the way you, you pursue, you know, diversity and innovation, ideally as one, and I think that those two should go absolutely 100% hand in hand.

Christian Klepp  34:41

Yes, no, that’s absolutely right. That’s absolutely right. Okay, and just to wrap up the conversation, you know, a piece of advice that you would give people that are thinking about advocating diversity and innovation within their own organizations, what is one thing you think that people should start? And one thing people should stop?

Liz Fendt  35:01

Okay, I’m going to start with the stop, which will be to stop seeing diversity and innovation as just another corporate thing to execute in one way or another, and nothing against let’s say centralized projects, but on programs but I probably would avoid trying to push it out or some sort of corporate communications theme tied up with HR something or other, I would actually far more think it’s the better approach to go for pilot projects, use cases. And you mentioned absolutely 100% correctly about those barriers and thresholds, and how are we going to get people across those. And I was thinking in preparation for this today, I think the best thing to do is start small. What we did, for example, when I started the global team, to really make sure that there was sort of… the inhibitors are gone, you know, there’s unconscious biases out of the room, I buddied up one member of the Singapore team with one member of the German team, you know, and they basically got to know each other on a very small scale. I mean, this is small stuff, it’s easy to implement, you know, initiative in the company, and we are doing some forum meet and eat. So you have a virtual lunch with somebody from very different background, and cultural context to your own. And I think another thing I would say is set up small projects, you know, this could be projects for I don’t know, a special project once a week, or once a month, or once a quarter, where you putting together a group of people who don’t normally work together into one particular project pool to work on an exercise together, I think it’s really important to pull them out of their day job and actually give them quite a different challenge to solve. And believe me, when we’ve done that, it’s always brought fantastic results. Because people are very eager to be in a different environment, they learn a lot, they find it engaging, they find it sort of exciting to they also, I think, are in a situation where there’s some good healthy competition between various people within that team. And usually that’s where the magic happens. And then that actually has a spillover effect, because once they’ve done that on a smaller scale, they start thinking, hey, that wasn’t so bad. You know, let’s say if I’m a German speaker, primarily to say, I’m going to go out there and speak more English. And that was really good. You know, I met that Justine ad from Spain, I think I’ll connect up with her again, and the next time, those groups, that group of people are far more likely to want to go work in a more diverse project again.

Christian Klepp  37:30

Yeah, no, that’s absolutely right. Um, you know, you push them out of their comfort zone, so to speak. And I think friendly competition is always good, you know, provided that doesn’t get too, too aggressive, because we’ve seen some of that as well. (laugh) But I think what I think what you’re alluding to, I think, is extremely important. And it’s and I think it’s worth reiterating, because once you push them out of their comfort zone, and you bring them together to work on a common project or a common task. More often than not, what happens is you’ll start getting team members that are engaged, motivated, they are then challenged, or they’re given a new challenge, which gives them also something to look forward to, and hopefully will optimize their performance.

Liz Fendt  38:12

Absolutely. I mean, one thing I didn’t mention is, if somebody is not comfortable with moving, for example, to a different place, smaller scale stuff. I mean, we’ve had people going to work in different country for three months. And even those three months actually immerses them to the point where they definitely start changing the way they think. And a) do that, b) they start getting to know the people in that country that we’ve spent the time in. And then they clearly more likely to advocate for more international, you know, experiences after that. And more often than not, after we’ve done the three months, it then extends to something else and something else. And I find I myself started off by saying you know what, love headquarters Munich, you can send me to Taiwan. I’ve just been in Asia for one year. So I won’t even bother moving my furniture, I just keep it in storage. And 15 years later, I returned to headquarters and my stuff was still in storage. So I had to pull it out about a year ago. Very funny.

Christian Klepp  39:12

There’s an interesting quote that comes to mind just based on what you’ve been saying in the past couple of minutes. I can’t remember who said it, but it basically and I think you can appreciate a being a mountain climber yourself. But it goes something like, every once in a while you have to climb a different summit to view the world from a different perspective.

Liz Fendt  39:32

100% agree with that.

Christian Klepp  39:34

Yeah, yeah, I knew you’d appreciate that one. But Liz, thank you so much for coming on the show and you know, sharing your expertise and experience with the listeners, please do us the honor of telling us a little bit about yourself and how people out there can get in touch with you.

Liz Fendt  39:49

Okay, fantastic. So, just a bit about myself. I’ll try to keep it short. So I, you probably can hear this. I’m Native British. So I come from a multilingual background myself, my father’s German and but I was 18, after finishing school, I travel around Europe and then realize that everybody except you know, the Brits were far more, you know, educated in speaking different languages and having lived all over the place so I thought you know what, then it canceled my study plans for the UK. I then moved to Berlin I studied economics and worked for a number of years for Agfa and I’m passionate about photography. After that, I started with TÜV SÜD. I went around the world for a year. I think that’s important thing to mention. I did it single handedly, as a woman, I spent six months in South America, and six months in Asia, which culminated in me buying a horse and riding over the Gobi desert on this horse to Siberia, and living with a local Siberian family for a number of weeks. Only to return to Munich to think no way I need to get out there again. So that’s why they more or less gave me a one way ticket to Taiwan and the rest is history. I was there working for TÜV SÜD for 15 years. And I hope I’ve been one of the people in the company has been instrumental in globalizing and now digitalizing, the company, you can get to speak to me at any point through LinkedIn. And I love meeting new people. I will take anyone out to coffee, who comes and comes to Munich and wants to have a truly German immersion experience. I’m very willing and able to do that.

Christian Klepp  41:20

Fantastic. And the rest, as they say is history. Right. (laugh) Liz, thank you so much. I mean, as expected, this was an incredibly insightful and informative and thought provoking conversation. So thanks again for your time. Take care, stay safe, and I’ll talk to you soon.

Liz Fendt  41:39

Thank you very much Christian, an absolute pleasure to be with you today.

Christian Klepp  41:42

Thank you. Bye for now.

Liz Fendt  41:24

Thank you. Bye bye.

Christian Klepp  41:45

Thank you for joining us on this episode of the B2B Marketers on a Mission podcast. To learn more about what we do here at EINBLICK, please visit our website at www.einblick.co and be sure to subscribe to the show on iTunes or your favorite podcast player.

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