A day in the life of… Sakina Najmi, VP Marketing at Sandvik
As part of our regular Day in the Life feature, she spoke to Econsultancy about how her job fits into the overall mission for Sandvik, which skills are most important to her role, and why the transformation of the banking industry has impressed her.
Please describe your job: What do you do?
Sakina Najmi: As VP Marketing, I lead global marketing for the digital manufacturing division at Sandvik. I have two main responsibilities: creating Sandvik’s digital brand, and driving growth. Sandvik is the market leader in hardware space and has recently embarked on the journey to become the leading solution provider in the software market. My mission is to reposition Sandvik as a leader in providing software solutions to the manufacturing industry.
When it comes to growth, I am responsible for go-to-market strategies for our entire portfolio of digital solutions. I am currently building an end-to-end digital marketing department to deliver a personalised experience to all our customers.
As a marketing leader, I have a responsibility to analyse and predict trends not just relying on customer feedback and marketplace assessment but also by tracking and analysing customer journeys online. We use these data driven insights to establish company-wide strategies that reimagine customer experiences and ultimately drive revenue.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation? Who do you report to?
Sakina Najmi: As the lead for marketing on the digital manufacturing side of the business, I report into the President of the division.
I’m fortunate that at Sandvik, marketing is seen beyond the traditional ‘marketing silo’. As a key decision maker in the business, I’ve been able to champion the important role marketing plays in driving revenue – giving it a much-needed voice at the boardroom table.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Sakina Najmi: There are numerous skills that every marketer needs – but I have a clear top three.
Firstly, leadership: as well as being the marketing lead, I’m also a senior leadership figure in the organisation more generally. That means inspiring people across the business and encouraging them to think differently – and it also requires a deep understanding of individual pressures, cultural differences, and emotional needs.
Second is the ability to experiment and learn. Having worked as a marketer in many different industries, I’ve come to recognise the importance of a growth mindset. There’s a rapid skills half-life nowadays, and we all have to constantly learn, unlearn and relearn skills throughout our working lives. (I always try to dedicate a few hours every week to update my professional skills and seek further training opportunities to progress in my career.)
Finally, hiring the right people is an invaluable – and often overlooked – skill. Building strong teams is key to building a strong organisation, and I love being surrounded by smart, talented people.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Sakina Najmi: I spend much of my time focussed on the above three priorities. A significant proportion of my time is spent thinking through strategy and working with others to set key foundations for the business, as well as working with other divisions to get our digital strategy just right. I then spend a lot of time making sure all teams are aligned with that same focus and purpose.
Beyond this, as I referred to briefly above, I really value having great teams filled with smart people, and learning from them – so that means a lot of time hiring great talent. It’s not uncommon for me to start Monday and end Friday with an interview!
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
Sakina Najmi: One of the best things about Sandvik is working with different people from across the world, and constantly learning about new cultures and new ways of doing things. I also benefit from leading a smaller, very innovative section of a huge business – meaning I get to drive real business change with significant impact. It’s a bit like being in a start-up within a much bigger organisation.
In terms of what sucks – I’m not based in Sweden, so the commute is a little lengthy. I’m starting to get to know the BA pilots better than my husband…
What kind of goals do you have? What are the most useful metrics and KPIs for measuring success?
Sakina Najmi: Ultimately, my day-to-day goals are to build the brand and drive revenue. That means setting strong targets and making sure we hit them – whether that’s money, subscriber numbers for our digital solutions, or something else!
In the long term, however, I want to change the fundamental perception of Sandvik from a business that specialises in ‘hardware’ to one that seamlessly combines hardware and software. It’s tricky to track that, but there are endless activity-based KPIs we use to get an inkling – think KPIs, unique views, and perception tracking.
Beyond just ‘business’, one of my personal goals at Sandvik is to increase the number of women on our leadership team – and, for my part, change what it means to be a female leader. All too often, senior women are accused of adopting ‘male’ leadership characteristics to succeed. I’m keen that we jettison the idea of fixed leadership style – which are unrealistic anyway – and bring our authentic selves to the workplace.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
Sakina Najmi: There are so many tools out there – and each and every one plays a crucial role in the business. But far more indispensable than any individual tool are the extremely talented marketers that sit behind them. Their deft management ensures seamless integration and makes sure our strategy is carried out without a hitch throughout the marketing funnel.
How did you end up at Sandvik, and where might you go from here?
Sakina Najmi: I joined Sandvik from retargeting company Criteo. It was a job I really enjoyed and hadn’t planned to leave, but just one conversation with the President at Sandvik sold me on the vision here. I have the chance to take an amazing, internationally-respected organisation to the next level – and that’s extremely exciting.
I’m not looking to move for a while – and I mean a long while – but if I were to look elsewhere, I’d be keen to take on a different challenge at another large organisation.
Which legacy brand has impressed you lately?
Sakina Najmi: It’s hard to pick just one, but I’m really impressed with how the banking industry has transformed itself. They’re making really innovative uses of technology across the board and across organisations, turning processes which used to be manual – and, well, dull – into something incredibly exciting.
What advice would you give a marketer starting out?
Sakina Najmi: Look beyond the title of ‘marketer’. Successful B2B marketers don’t just handle brand awareness. They work day in, day out, across departments, gaining new skills, tools and knowledge to stay ahead of the curve and help others do so, too.
Don’t let your job role limit what you do, or stop you from taking on challenges outside the traditional marketing space. Collaborate with experts in digital technology to find new tools to communicate with increasingly discerning customers, whilst appropriately managing the brand. At the end of the day, if I’m not driving growth or engaging customers, I’m simply not doing my job as a marketer.
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Source: Customer Experience