How curiosity and caring have elevated Microsoft's Phil Evans #NxtGen

Marketing reveals its list of 10 Nxt Gen marketers. Here, Microsoft's Phil Evans and his mentor discuss why he made it on to the list and what others can learn.

Evans (left): Tenacious, driven, passionate
Evans (left): Tenacious, driven, passionate

Phil Evans, 29, Microsoft

Marketing communications lead

Describe yourself in three words.

Tenacious, driven, passionate.

What attracted you to marketing?

I have always been fascinated by the power of communication. Marketing represented an opportunity to work in the area with smart, outgoing, creative and fun people. Add in an ever-changing technological landscape to keep things fresh and it was the industry for me.

What are your biggest marketing challenges?

We are taking the brand to new, exciting areas with devices such as Surface and digital services like Microsoft Azure. We have healthy competition and achieving cut-through demands first-class creative, content marketing and the use of media. The shift call for new levels of sophistication in how we integrate our marketing and advertising, such as how we co-ordinate our devices campaigns with retail partners and optimise digital customer acquisition and retention. Lastly, as the saying goes, "what gets measured gets done" – proving the effectiveness of every marketing investment continues to be a challenge, as it is for every marketer.

The people who succeed will be those who can rally teams and turn ideas into ROI-generating realities fast.

What skills do you think are most important for getting ahead in marketing today?

Speed, agility and innovation. The people who will be the most successful in marketing will be those who have the skills to help organisations embrace this rapid and sometimes chaotic pace in a way that challenges the status quo and delivers clearly measurable value. These are the people who can spot ideas, rally teams and turn concepts into ROI-generating realities fast.

What are the biggest trends affecting your business?

The industry shift toward digital services is a major disruptive force. Increasingly, market offerings in both consumer and business are based on digital services rather than traditional products. Purchasing behaviour is also evolving to be digital-first; some studies show that 57%-80% of the decision-making process takes place online.

Are there any trends or media platforms you believe are overrated?

Any trend is overrated until it delivers ROI. There is always the danger of companies investing in trends without them solving a problem, and losing focus on the core of marketing: strong, well-thought-through and customer-centric value propositions.

What are the traits that make your boss Jonathan Hulse such an inspiration?

Jonathan has a very collaborative style and you can rely on him to be totally honest and open, and his pragmatic way of thinking is tremendously useful for figuring out the fastest and most effective way of making things happen. He is great at creating a positive, empowering atmosphere in the office, too, which helps people think big and do their best work. He’s also great at bringing a smile and a laugh to a meeting. Especially if it’s Friday.

How has he most helped you in relation to your job?

In my transition to people-manager and leader. For example, as a manager he’s very talented at flexing his style based on the individuals and situations at hand – he has been great at building my ability in this area in a way that retains my authenticity.

Jonathan Hulse, mentor

Marketing campaigns lead, Microsoft

What was the first thing you noticed about Phil?

He has a natural curiosity and is keen to absorb new data, insights and trends. He shows a real appetite to learn and openly craves feedback. He genuinely cares about other people’s interests and this manifests itself in the way he develops and supports his team.

What could others, wanting to get on in marketing today, learn from him?

Care deeply about your contribution and demonstrate curiosity, tenacity and resilience. Once Phil gets the bit between his teeth and believes in an opportunity, he is like a force of nature.

What attributes does he have that mean he deserves his place in the Power 100 Next Generation?

He is purposeful (focuses on business impact, results and clear decision-making), passionate (courage, pride and belief in what he can do) and collaborative (works well with others).

What has been your major piece of advice to him?

Work well with others and contribute to their success, and respectfully build on the work of others to improve your own.

What are the secrets to getting the best out of staff?

Positivity is a force-multiplier – build an open, trusting relationship where you can give and receive constructive feedback.