Julie Roehm Advocates for the “Human Side” of Business During Podcast Interview
Julie Roehm is an award-winning marketing executive who has spearheaded transformational successes at some of the world’s largest companies. She’s held roles such as CMO, CXO, Board Director, and Chief Storyteller, yet no role has been able to define her interdepartmental and interdisciplinary leadership style.
Julie Roemh was recently a guest on Mark Boundy’s podcast, ValuClarity, where she spoke about her passion for executing transformational turnarounds, her belief in the “human side” of doing business, and her future prospects.
Below, you’ll find the key takeaway from the podcast along with Julie Roehm’s advice for executives on how to build people-centric initiatives to foster growth.
The Hidden “C” in B2B
Mark Boundy and Julie Roehm began their conversation by speaking about the difference between the B2B and B2C sides of business—and how they may not be as different as people believe. Roehm said that many B2B businesses forget that they’re always selling to a customer—even when they’re selling to a business.
Boundy noted that over 20% of B2B customers personally call sales representatives when considering a purchase, adding weight to Roehm’s point. Roehm stressed that B2B companies need to do more to consider the customer experience instead of focusing all of their efforts on marketing a product.
Part of this work involves helping the B2B customer better understand how they’ll be able to serve their end customers, or “the customer’s customer,” as Roehm puts it.
Julie Roehm had extensive experience with B2B2C operations when working at Ford Motor Company, where she helped dealerships (Ford’s B2B customers) improve customer experiences to sell more vehicles. When the customer’s customers were happy, dealers experienced higher sales volumes and purchased more cars from Ford.
Despite Change, Staying Customer-focused is the Key to Success
Julie Roehm’s work with Ford dealers aligned the manufacturer with the end customer to streamline sales throughout the B2B2C chain. This customer-centric approach to doing business has remained at the core of Roehm’s philosophy throughout her career. Even as she held executive positions like CMO and EVP, she maintained a focus on customer experiences to identify areas for growth and drive transformations.
Staying grounded in a customer-centric mindset can be incredibly difficult in today’s fast-paced business environment. Customers themselves are anything but grounded in their needs and expectations. But this makes it even more important to establish an end-to-end customer ecosystem that aligns B2B customers and the end customer.
Julie Roehm relates this to her experience working for the major software company SAP. At the time, the company was not focusing on the end customer, and the result was that it did not have a good understanding of its B2B customers’ needs.
Roehm introduced an end-to-end customer-centric approach that encouraged SAP to identify the challenges their clients faced and to target these issues when building solutions. This customer-centric perspective improved SAP’s offerings and fostered stronger, more meaningful relationships with clients.
The Importance of Company Culture and Collaborative Environments
Julie Roehm’s customer-centric philosophy is only one aspect of her belief in the “human side” of business. Focusing on individual customer experiences is important, but so is company culture. Because, at the end of the day, the customer’s experience is a reflection of the company’s collective motivations and attitudes.
Roehm stressed her belief in the importance of job satisfaction and working with the right people. “89.9% of job satisfaction is who you work with,” she said. The need for a positive company culture is absolutely critical to remaining productive and agile in today’s business world.
However, she also recognized the difficulties in maintaining a human-first attitude at companies where large numbers of staff, long distances, and statistics tend to dehumanize the culture.
Roehm isn’t looking for a perfect environment. As she clarified, “I’m not saying everything has to be coffee clutch in the morning and Kumbaya at noon, but I’m saying it’s got to be about the people first and foremost.” But she provides a few pieces of advice on how to foster a company culture that promotes growth.
Firstly, the ability to collaborate oils the sometimes-squeaky gears of large organizations. Cooperation between departments better aligns businesses and boosts agility.
Secondly, Roehm mentioned that a highly-competitive and “cutthroat” culture within a company is counterproductive. This type of environment is common as employees vie for promotions and attention from upper management. Even executives can be reluctant to collaborate. But as Roehm puts it, “You need to understand that your competition is outside of the organization you work in, not inside.”
She goes as far as to say that you should love the people you work with. And this isn’t a far-fetched idea. Collaboration and shared success are incredibly effective at building bonds. When company culture promotes collaboration, employee satisfaction rises, productivity increases, and customer satisfaction follows suit.
Julie Roehm: “I Like Broken Toys”
Julie Roehm has never been comfortable working for companies with the aim of maintaining a steady course. During the podcast, she that she most enjoys working for companies in need of transformation or turnaround.
“I like broken toys,” she says.”I am a transformation turnaround, sub-optimization girl. I mean, that’s just where I thrive. It’s where I add the greatest value to the companies I work for.”
Throughout her career, Roehm has proven herself to be one of the most adept business minds at executing transformations, even during times of crisis. Her best-known transformation occurred when she was in charge of the Dodge brand at DaimlerChrysler. She resurrected the dying brand, turning it into one of the most popular vehicle lines in the nation. Roehm earned herself a Marketer of the Year award by Brandweek and induction into both the Advertising and Automotive Halls of Fame. Her work at DaimlerChrysler led to an increase in revenue of 142%.
Since then, she’s become an expert at recognizing the need for change and embracing it. She went on to spearhead transformations at SAP, ABRA Auto Collision & Glass, Party City and other major companies.
During the podcast, she made it clear that she still believes that transformational change is vital for the success of organizations, as today’s business environment is defined by rapid change and quickly evolving customer expectations. She even told Mark Boundy that she is not interested in working for companies that are reluctant to make big changes to their operations and culture.
Roehm said, “If the entire company, the management, especially the board, the executive suite, the CEO in particular, if there’s any sense that things are okay and maybe it’s just a blip, and if we just hang on, then that is not the company for me.”
Seeking New Challenges
So, where is Julie Roehm heading next? Roehm expressed interest in working with private equity (PE) firms because they often acquire companies that are in dire need of transformational turnarounds.
“I’ve been talking to a lot of PE firms because if a PE firm owns a portfolio company, it’s sub-optimized, needs a turnaround, or needs a transformation, otherwise why would they buy it?” she said.
These firms offer the kind of projects that align with Roehm’s skillset and experience, and they offer opportunities to make an impact within companies and for customers.
Julie Roehm doesn’t have her heart set on a CMO or CXO role, which are the positions she’s recently held at other companies. Her work has always been difficult to define, despite her official title. She moves in between departments, visits factory floors, and interacts with point-of-sale staff—even runs call centers in order to improve customer experiences.
Now, she’s seeking something broader in scope to match her diverse background and experience.
More from Julie Roehm
Julie Roehm’s conversation with Mark Boundy on the ValuClarity podcast offered plenty of insight for executive managers on maximizing job satisfaction, accepting the need for change, and maintaining focus on the customer (and the customer’s customer). All of these ideas have people at their core—not EBITDA or costs or shareholders. When brands focus on the human aspect of doing business, positive growth follows.
Julie Roehm is currently consulting while in between full time positions at the moment and actively seeking her next venture. But she’s kept busy in the meantime. Before appearing on the ValuClarity pod, Roehm spoke at the recent CMO Brand Summit, where she discussed implementing company-wide transformational strategies. She was also recently honored as a Top Marketer of 2023 by OnCon Icon. To hear the complete interview with Julie Roehm, listen to the full episode on the ValuClarity podcast. To learn more about transformational thinking, be sure to tune into Julie Roehm’s podcast, The Consversational, where she interviews top business and thought leaders and discusses the transformative moments in their lives.