AiThority Interview with Abby Gabriel, Chief Marketing Officer at Schneider Electric
Hi, Abby. Please tell us about your journey into the tech industry?
I started my career as a marketer in the hospitality sector straight out of university. Soon after, I joined Schneider Electric. The speed and scope of this business is different from others. The global energy sector is undergoing a massive transformation, and Schneider is at the epicenter of this transformation. Schneider’s Electric’s vision is to bridge progress and sustainability for all. In this, electricity and digitization are the best vectors for decarbonization, and with technology we have available today, we can transform how energy is produced, distributed, and used.
As a woman leader in the industry, how do you envision the organizations opening up to the idea of having more women across leadership positions?
It starts with the “why.” Gender diversity and having a diverse group of leaders who represent the entire market brings enormous value to a business when it comes to decision-making and developing new ways to solve problems. Getting to that place requires starting at the top – having leaders willing to listen to different views and be challenged. Organizations need to make bold and public ambitions, set action plans, put them into motion and then be transparent about how they’re reaching their goals. Once plans are in motion and the importance of the organization’s news values are effectively communicated from the top, momentum can set in to form a new culture. I believe that the culture of a company and its people are the most important elements of its success.
At Schneider, we’ve been on this journey for some time, but continue to evolve and grow. For example, earlier this year, we launched our 2021-2025 Schneider Sustainability Impact program, through which the company is undertaking and measuring our efforts against 11 targets that align to six long-term commitments, including one that is squarely focused on increasing gender diversity efforts in hiring (50 percent), front-line management (40 percent) and leadership teams (30 percent). We’re proud that as of March, we’ve exceeded two of the three targets and are on track to surpass the third.
More than ever, we are committed to our diversity, equity and inclusion efforts because they benefit talent recruitment, employee engagement and the overall health of our business. We’re also honored to have earned many recognitions for our efforts, including the Fortune Best Workplaces in Manufacturing & Production and Bloomberg Gender-Equality Index awards.
Tell us more about your marketing roadmap during the pandemic era and how you plan to use technology platforms to stay on top of your game-plan.
We faced many of the same hurdles as most companies at the start of the COVID-19 pandemic when, at a moment’s notice, most of our workforce was forced to go remote. Given the nature of our work, however, many of our front-line employees were deemed essential. Schneider Electric and its employees are responsible for ensuring the continuity of service of mission critical infrastructure, which was even more important at the height of the pandemic. We made sure there was power continuity for hospitals, supported the increased traffic in data centers and networks, and ensured that critical systems and facilities could continue operating – from grids for electrical distribution to water and wastewater plants and even cold chains for food and pharmaceutical providers.
Covid-19 has accelerated digital adoption faster than anybody ever imagined. From a marketing perspective, we structured our efforts into three key parts:
1) First Response Support – This included support for our customers, people and partners. All efforts were shifted to ensure safety and support throughout.
2) Digital Customer Relationships – Digital Sellers, Digital Marketing, Digital Support. We quickly assessed the needs of customers, partners and sales, and shifted our entire plan to digital enablement, digital platforms and helpful content for our partners and customers.
3) The New Normal – Not losing the mindset and agility from 2020 and staying close to customer’s needs, we continue to evolve our marketing roadmap with digitization and data as the foundation to our work, keeping customer relationships as our north star and ensuring brand experiences align to the values we uphold.
Could you tell us about Schneider’s digitization program and how it is influenced by ongoing marketing and digital transformation journeys?
I mentioned earlier how digital transformation is core to our mission, and we do this not just with our clients, but for ourselves within our core processes, including marketing. We do this for simplification, efficiency, and effectiveness, and to improve our client outcomes. Two examples are EcoStruxure™, a suite of end-to-end solutions for efficiency and sustainability, and Schneider Electric Exchange™, an open platform for partner and client engagement.
EcoStruxure™ is our IoT-enabled, plug-and-play, open, interoperable architecture and platform for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries. EcoStruxure enables enhanced safety, reliability, efficiency, sustainability, and connectivity for businesses by using advancements in IoT, mobility, sensing, cloud, analytics, and cybersecurity to deliver Innovation at Every Level. EcoStruxure Platform is at the heart of our IoT system architecture, connecting everything in an enterprise from the shop floor to the top floor. EcoStruxure innovations are future-proof and redefine energy management and automation for customer outcomes while addressing the energy equation for a more sustainable planet. It is the foundational technology backbone on which Schneider Electric solutions are built and delivered. EcoStruxure has been deployed in over 480,000 sites, with 650,000+ service providers and partners and 45,000+ developers and integrators.
Schneider Electric Exchange is a digital ecosystem built on the EcoStruxure Platform. This open business platform hosts a collaborative community of partners, developers, and customers where peers and experts come together to solve sustainability and efficiency challenges. It is the world’s first cross-industry, open ecosystem and business platform dedicated to solving real-world energy needs. By unifying different fields of disciplines in one collaborative community, Schneider Electric Exchange offers a functional space to create, collaborate, and scale – which is important as one’s digitization journey grows. The community is empowered to create new solutions with expert insights and digital tools, to collaborate with a committed, diverse network of service, solution and thought leaders to scale their business, and to exchange ideas, solutions, skills, offers, and business opportunities to power the bold ideas of tomorrow, today.
Marketing has been on an evolutionary journey to support these digital transformation initiatives and tell a bigger, more comprehensive IoT story via EcoStruxure. Inspired by the challenge to make it relevant and easy for our customers, our language must convey the strength of our brand and our campaigns must effectively deliver our digitization and innovation stories.
Your most memorable Customer Experience campaign – Could you share how you planned and led the CX program?
Throughout 2020, we worked closely with our customers and partners to design a new digital experience through our website aimed at streamlining, customizing and enhancing their experiences, from orders and training to facility management and more. We launched the beta version in early 2020, rapidly iterated based on customer feedback and officially launched in October 2020. Now, more than one million customers and partners worldwide have access to this new personalized mySchneider experience, which is designed with capabilities to enable their differentiation in the marketplace and simplify their daily operations. The mySchneider experience enables personalization on the home page, harmonizes various services, tools, and trainings into one location, visualizes facility status and assets under management, contracts, life cycles and services, recommends trainings to drive their business forward, and provides easy access to customer support. It was exciting to see how fast the teams innovated, anchoring each feature and functionality in our customer voice during an incredibly challenging time.
Tell us more about hiring trends in the Marketing domain influenced by AI and data science?
Schneider Electric recently created a unique internal talent marketplace called Open Talent Market (OTM). The market uses AI to match talent to open opportunities throughout our 142,000-strong workforce, creating new opportunities for employees while simultaneously promoting the freedom to grow, fail, learn and innovate. The AI-driven platform creates transparency around opportunities available across the globe and eliminates bias in the hiring process by removing gender and age from the algorithm. Globally, we’ve seen more than 60,000 hours of productivity generated by employees participating in projects supporting others in the organization, and we’ve created 1,400 mentorship matches in North America.
We see OTM as a great opportunity to continue the internal growth of our marketing talent by giving all employees the chance to explore new avenues within their career paths.
What is your favorite podcast / webinar that you have listened to in recent times?
I’m an old-fashioned book lover, but I also like to listen to audiobooks. Right now, I’m listening to No Rules Rules by Reed Hastings and Erin Meyer.
Tag a person in the industry whose answers you would like to see here:
Deborah Wahl from GM. Her work launching the All Electric Future this year was incredible. From their launch session at CES to their SuperBowl commercials and everything in between, the company’s transformational moment was also a very well executed marketing strategy.
Thank you, Abby! That was fun and we hope to see you back on AiThority.com soon.
Abby Gabriel, Chief Marketing Officer, Schneider Electric North America has been with the company for over 15 years, most recently in the role of Vice President, Strategic Marketing, Digital Energy and Secure Power. In her new role, Gabriel will have the mission to nurture a leading marketing team in delivering our brand ambition for the North America market, including establishing Schneider Electric as a leader in sustainability and digitization. She will steward the organization’s focus on digital customer experience and best-in-class web and digital experience and ensure marketing is delivering a strong commercial impact across e-commerce and digital marketing.
Schneider’s purpose is to empower all to make the most of our energy and resources, bridging progress and sustainability for all. We call this Life Is On.
Our mission is to be your digital partner for Sustainability and Efficiency.
We drive digital transformation by integrating world-leading process and energy technologies, end-point to cloud connecting products, controls, software and services, across the entire lifecycle, enabling integrated company management, for homes, buildings, data centers, infrastructure and industries.
We are the most local of global companies. We are advocates of open standards and partnership ecosystems that are passionate about our shared Meaningful Purpose, Inclusive and Empowered values.