Get To Know: United States Postal Service CMO Nagisa Manabe
As Chief Marketing and Sales Officer for the United States Postal Service, Nagisa Manabe reports directly to the Postmaster General.
Since taking the role in May of 2012, Manabe has led all of the USPS’s domestic and international product marketing, development and management. She is also responsible for the postal service pricing, channel access, global business, sales, secure digital solutions and stamp services organizations.
Prior to leading the USPS’s marketing efforts, Manabe served as vice president of new growth platforms at the Coca-Cola Company, as well as vice president of marketing for the spirits, wine and beer company Diageo Guinness USA, where she managed the beer and malt beverage division.
Throughout her career, Manabe has held a variety of marketing leadership roles for more than 30 brands with companies like Procter & Gamble, Johnson & Johnson, Unilever, Bestfoods North America, and Campbell’s.
This year, Manabe was inducted into the Direct Marketing News “2014 Marketing Hall of Femme,” an award honoring female marketing leaders who have had a significant impact on the success of their organizations. Manabe and the other honorees are featured in a new eBook publication, “18 Leaders Who Put the Femme in Phenomenal.”
Earning a Bachelor of Arts with a double major in economics and Japanese studies from Yale University, Manabe went on to receive her MBA from Harvard University.
CMO @ USPS
- Age: 50
- HQ: Washington DC
- First Job: Morgan Stanley Analyst
- First Car: Toyota Camry
- Apple or Android? Apple
- Hobby: Yoga, cooking & dogs
What mobile device can you not live without?
iPhone! In fact I have two – one for home and one for work.
Can we take a peek at your iPhone’s home screen?
Which apps do you use most often for work?
I love Uber, it has changed the morning commute.
What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?
While I am on social media, I actually do very little when I am not working. I believe being unplugged is the best luxury, so I tend to enjoy things like family, friends and my dogs.
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
Texts and email.
Take me through your typical workday.
I check messages and respond to urgent requests before getting up, and then catch up on reading while on the treadmill.
I walk the dogs, practice yoga, and then use Uber or bike to work. Once in the office, I meet with staff, customers, cross functional leadership and project teams from 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. Before the day is over, I clean up my inbox (mail first, email second), and then bike home.
What has been the most exciting work development during the past year?
Delivery of packages seven days a week – I feel so happy whenever I see a USPS truck and carrier on a Sunday.
How many miles have you traveled in the last 12 months?
I averaged about 100,000 miles in the air and 12,000 miles on the highway. Last year I traveled to Singapore for the Kahala Post Group annual meeting and met with CEOs from around the world.
The highlight of the trip was the fabulous multi-course meal that we had together after the meeting ended, yummy Singaporean spicy crab!
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
So many growth opportunities and not enough staffing. We are constantly hiring, training and developing, but with growth comes the continual stretching of teams and resources.
Can you tell us about a campaign or work project you’d like to do over?
Metro Post – our same day delivery test in San Francisco. We should have had a more aggressive consumer push in addition to our focus on customers. We are addressing that in New York, which is our second try at this.
Tell me about the people who have been most influential in your career.
Without a doubt, my family. My father is a geophysics professor at Princeton. Since I was a young child, he has challenged me to think more deeply about issues before moving to action. I have reapplied this discipline again and again.
My mother taught me creativity and discipline. She is a teacher of Japanese cooking, flower arrangement and these days tea ceremony. My husband of the last 14 years is an oceanography professor at Rutgers, and has been trying to teach me patience.
It doesn’t always work, but he coaches me to be like the tide and less like a storm.
What traits does a person need to succeed in your position?
You don’t have to have great ideas, you just have to recognize them when they are shared with you. Most of all though, you need passion and resilience and the willingness to communicate.
It takes a great deal of effort from the entire organization to grow an organization the size of the United States Postal Service.
Why did you go into marketing?
I was lucky. When I was at Harvard Business School, P&G hosted a second year event, and I had the great privilege of dining with the CEO of P&G, Ed Artzt. He persuaded me to try it out.
What other career would you like to try and why?
Well, I have been an investment banker, a marketer, a professional chef, a yoga studio owner, and now I am a CMO.
I love working with our customers. So there’s not so many things left to try. I tried to be a stay at home mom, because I love my kids, but my family said I had to go back to work, I was really horrible at it.
What does your desk look like?
Pretty boring and empty, I am almost never at my desk. The best thing about my office is the view.
What’s the last business book you read?
I re-read Clayton Christensen’s “The Innovator’s Dilemma” several months ago to prepare for an executive offsite. I was struck by how often large organizations have trouble facing the magnitude of their business challenges in front of them, and never take the required amount of action.
I hope that we are working fast enough to re-invent the postal service. I am proud of our team who are innovating each day to improve the mail and build more package and digital innovation.
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign or video caught your eye recently?
I loved Amazon’s TV ad over the holidays because the packages were going into our mailboxes!
(Some images used under license from Shutterstock.com.)
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