Interview with Carolina Lobo, Interim HealthCare / Caring Brands International

For this year’s International Women’s Day, our team at Slice is proud to celebrate women across the marketing and communications industry through an interview series. Follow along throughout the week leading up to International Women’s Day to read about these inspiring women and their stories.

This interview is with Carolina Lobo, the Chief People & Brand Officer for Interim HealthCare, a leading national franchisor of home care, hospice, and healthcare staffing, and Caring Brands International, a future-focused healthcare enterprise.

How do you define your leadership?

I strive to lead with a pursuit of excellence, but that leadership is rooted in tailored understanding of the situation, the spoken and unspoken dynamics, and the team and motivators involved. I’d hope that team members would say I lead with heart, truth, humor, compassion, clarity, and sponsorship!

How has your leadership changed over the years you’ve been working?

I hope I’ve evolved to be more patient, more empathetic, and more perspective-driven — though I can’t say I get it right all the time.  At least I’m more self-aware toward those things.

Can you share a story that demonstrates a key learning for you in your leadership journey?

Leading with grace means creating moments where you clear the path for others and yourself to be vulnerable in order to have the tough conversations. It just happened to me a few weeks ago. Out of nowhere, I received a heart-felt message via LinkedIn from a colleague we had to let go almost 2 years ago.  This individual wrote back to me to share the heartfelt journey of growth he had experienced in that difficult moment and over the time that had passed. Certainly, while we were going through the plan and the unfortunate exit, it was painful for all at the time (for him, most of all) but we tried to lead with humanity and empathy. I think that’s what allowed the situation to be so constructive and productive in the end.  To imagine how he experienced his own stages of reflection and personal development, so much so that he felt compelled to share his current status with me – that was a true gift.   

What role do you think marketing communications should play in the future of your organization or industry?

If you believe in the Peter Drucker adage that the sole purpose of an organization is to attract and retain customers, then marketing is the heartbeat of any organization.

Notwithstanding, I’m struck by this question, as someone who follows the general trends of women on boards. Most women (the data shows it, it’s not just my empirical take) who are on boards represent the areas of legal and HR. While that makes sense (those two business fields are traditionally more geared toward women), I wonder where all of the marketers — and by extension, the women — are on corporate boards? In my informal research, I’ve uncovered a range of views but recently I came across an article that questioned the value of marketing as a strategic enabler at the highest level and posed the question: are marketers worthy of a seat on a board?  I was gobsmacked by the observer’s position. How can anyone deny the importance of marketing as a driver of an organization’s success and mission: product, positioning, purpose? Just look at the range of goods and services that either disrupt or dominate in their respective marketplace by the mere impact of their marketing strategy: Target, Whole Foods, Tesla – locally Wawa, Urban Outfitters, La Colombe. An undeniably huge part of the success of those organizations is rooted in a clear and differentiated marketing strategy.

What do you think young women entering the marketing communications field should know?  What advice do you have for them?

Learn your industry. Learn the drivers and live and breathe what moves the P&L of your business. If you don’t have that foundational understanding, all you’ll ever be accused of is “a fun campaign” or a “slick idea”.  Be a systems thinker, be a strategic observer – cultivate breakthrough creativity by continuously learning and filling your knowledge bucket. As future leaders in marketing trying to earn the respect and credibility of your fellow functional peers: you’ll need to develop your strategies, tactics and activation efforts by rooting them in true understanding of the business you’re in.  From there, you need to deeply respect the journeys of the stakeholders: be it b2c, b2b, b2e (employee): get involved in their mindset, their motivations, their moments of truth. Only through that empathic understanding and design thinking — enabled by data, research and observation, can you push the boundaries of your creativity and drive differentiated and sustained results through marketing. 

Interested in more? Check out the full interview series here.

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