Recognising P&G's Roisin Donnelly for her contribution to the marketing industry

As outgoing brand director for Northern Europe at Procter & Gamble Roisin Donnelly is committed not only to building brands but mentoring her employees. Here we recognise her contribution to the industry as Marketing's leading mentor.

Ionce met a wonderful female CEO who spoke about the need to identify your ‘superpower’, that particular something for which you’re best known and admired.

Roisin’s superpower, as recognised by this fantastic accolade from Marketing, is an exceptional ability to nurture and inspire greatness in those around her, particularly among rising marketing talent. To use a fitting marketing analogy: a product becomes a brand only when it develops a relationship with its consumers.

For much of our early career, we’re all products; but Roisin embodies how developing relationships with consumers, colleagues and, more broadly, across the industry can cement a strong personal brand.

At WACL workshops and beyond, she regularly shares her insights on how she developed her own personal brand to help others achieve greater success. Within P&G, Roisin has instilled a major focus on learning and development, with mentoring as its cornerstone.

She places huge focus on building capa­bility and proactively ensuring the careers of P&G marketers are individually tailored to best develop personal strengths.

Roisin is also committed to giving back to the industry that she loves and supporting her peers.

Her commitment to developing female talent (as a former president of both WACL and The Marketing Society, and a regular mentor at WACL as well as many other organisations) has made her an important role model to me. The best mentors lead by example, and Roisin provides a fantastic illustration of perfecting the balance between professional ambition and personal priorities.

She subverts the trope of the work-life-balance challenge to promote the idea that the two are, in fact, mutually reinforcing. In her view, a full and active life outside the office breeds the energy and creativity that give people an edge in marketing. Roisin lives and breathes this philosophy, ‘making it work’ to fulfil her roles both as senior executive and mother (she takes her three daughters to school each morning).

For young women embarking on a career in marketing, seeing somebody at the top strike this balance so well is a powerful testament to the reality of true work-life integration.

One really pertinent piece of advice Roisin gave me is the power of the delete button. With this tip, she unburdened me from the hundreds of unsolicited emails I receive to focus on what really needs doing.

While overseeing some of the most effective and emotion­ally engaging advertising in P&G’s history (my favourite being the ‘Best Job’ film from its London 2012 Olympic Games campaign), Roisin has worked tirelessly from her prominent platform – P&G is a market leader in most of the categ­ories in which it operates – to raise marketing’s profile up the value chain across the broader business community.

She positions marketing at the heart of P&G’s business model, and as a key area of investment to grow its many brands for future success. Moreover, as businesses continue to grapple with the impact of digitalisation, Roisin is a role model in agility.

She leads from the front in embracing new media and how to use marketing to delight consumers as their needs change. Ask her mentees about the key ‘takeaway’ she offers, and they will respond with the value of a deep understanding of your consumers.

Even as media platforms evolve and diversify at breakneck speed, there is no substitute for walking in your audience’s shoes to develop meaningful marketing across multiple touchpoints.

Roisin has continually championed diversity, and her elevation to the P&G board reflected a culture shift. She calls for businesses to embrace the differences between men and women for the good of their people and bottom line, and actively promotes the idea that a male-dominated business risks major competitive disadvantage.

Having been handed the diversity brief at P&G, Roisin set about implementing several family-friendly policies (for example, flexible working and supporting working parents). She raised the profile of women in marketing across industry events and her influence in changing staff-appraisal methods to guard against ‘presenteeism’ at P&G made ripples across the wider business world.

There exists a misconception that success equates to ruthlessness, particularly for women in business. Roisin is living proof that success can be as much based on empathy, humour and kindness, plus an innate ability to ignite the best in those around you.

She is committed to the value of trust, and from that stems communications that are honest, empathetic and decent, surely the most enduring legacy that anybody could bestow on the next generation of marketers.

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Click below to view the other four stand-out marketers whom we have singled out for their contribution in 2014


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