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Get To Know: hhgregg CMO Julie Lyle
Starting out as a law student, this marketing leader claims to be a true introvert at heart.
Julie Lyle joined hhgregg in December of last year as the company’s chief marketing officer, leading all marketing, advertising, brand strategy, consumer insights and e-commerce development for the consumer electronics and home appliances retailer.
Prior to joining hhgregg, Lyle served as CMO for Prudential Corporation-Asia, based in Hong Kong. Earlier in her career, she also held senior vice president and corporate officer positions for Walmart Stores, overseeing marketing, advertising and administration functions.
While at Walmart, Lyle was responsible for all marketing strategy, private label development, channel integration, communications and in-store experience for 4,600 locations.
Beyond leading hhgregg’s marketing strategy, Lyle acts as chairperson for the Global Retail Marketing Association’s Advisory Board, the leading association for C-level executives from the world’s leading retailers. She says her drive for innovation and insight into how retailers can better connect with customers helped her earn her role on the retail association board.
Julie C. Lyle
CMO @ hhgregg
- Age: 51
- HQ: Indianapolis, IN
- First Job: Grocery store cashier
- Apple or Android? Apple
- Hobby: Cooking, Scuba, Sky Diving, Gardening…anything outdoors.
- First Car: Caprice Classic
What mobile device can you not live without?
Can we take a peek at your phone’s home screen?
Which apps do you use most often for work?
Twitter – I like to keep an eye on what is trending. I was addicted to it during the World Cup.
What social media network or website do you frequent most when you’re not working?
Quora, I often find inspiration in the varying points of view from people of all ages and backgrounds worldwide. I enjoy the sense of curiosity and shared experiences embedded in the dialogue.
What’s the first thing you check on your phone in the morning?
Email, HGG sales, and the stock market.
Take me through your typical workday.
- Wake at 4:30am.
- Check email, our website, world news, then HGG sales (reports don’t hit my inbox until around 5:15 a.m.).
- 30-minute run (sometimes).
- Arrive at office between 6:30 and 7:00 a.m.
- Review sales, agenda and meeting prep for the day, be sure I’ve responded to my team and colleagues if they’ve requested info or approvals.
- LOTS of meetings.
- Check email – I respond to emails three-times a day.
- Lunch usually with a supplier or staff member, or I work through it.
- Meetings and planning sessions with agencies, suppliers, etc.
- Wrap up the day and any follow-up or preparation for the next day.
- Revisit strategic priorities (I like to think on the drive home).
- Home around 7:30pm, run (if I didn’t that morning).
- Dinner, home and garden projects, movie or read until 11:30 p.m.
What has been the most exciting work development during the past year?
Coming back to the US and joining HGG was the biggest change; but I suppose our progress in development and acceleration online has been the most exciting aspect of the work.
I’ve got a great team of tech-savvy and creative talents who really “get” the friction-free mindset and are always thinking outside the box. For such a “young” ecommerce platform (two years old), we’ve made some incredible things happen. We will more than double our growth this year and expand our online assortment exponentially!
How many miles have you traveled in the last 12 months?
I have traveled 62,000 km in the last 12 months. Since joining HGG, the most interesting trip I have taken was to SxSW in Austin, Texas. The conference is awesome – like TED on steroids – and you have the chance to learn about so many emerging technologies, social platforms, applications, operating models, creative tools, etc.
What work challenge keeps you up at night?
I am constantly pondering the question “What’s the next big, BIG thing?” How can we best engage with our customers in new and compelling ways that will reshape their expectations of the ideal shopping experience?
As our CEO says, “The retail model we are creating doesn’t exist yet!”
Can you tell us about a campaign or work project you’d like to do over?
As part of our launch of the brand transformation this spring, we had an opportunity to implement an awesome store-level and community-based engagement program with one of our suppliers. It would have been awesome, but we just didn’t have time to execute it before another major category launch. I can’t say more about it – because it is very likely you will see it next year.
What does your desk look like?
My desk is plain, functional, pretty well-organized.
I do have a FIFA soccer ball that my team gave to me. The ball is only half inflated – which I think was their way of teasing me because my favorite team (Brasil) really only played half as well as they should have in the World Cup this year.
Tell me about the people who have been most influential in your career.
My first boss out of college, Mitch Hart. He taught me many things, including how to function effectively in very complex, matrixed organizational structures, and how important leadership and integrity are above all else.
What traits does a person need to succeed in your position?
Tenacity, exceptional listening and influence-building skills, creativity, drive, and strong financial and operational acumen.
Can you tell us something about yourself that your team would be surprised to know?
I am a true introvert at heart.
Why did you go into marketing?
I was a law student who Mitch hired and placed in a business development role. When he saw I was getting bored after about 18 months, he created a challenging positioning focused on marketing for all his holding companies. The rest is history!
What other career would you like to try and why?
I have a lot of operational experience, but I’ve never been a COO. I would very much like that since I love problem-solving. I like to keep things as streamlined as possible, and I love dealing with the people on the “front lines”…the folks who truly make or break the brand.
What’s the last business book you read?
The Age of the Unthinkable by Joshua Copper Ramos. It is a compelling and thought-provoking book that challenges leaders with the premise that strategic thinking is not necessarily linear in today’s uber-connected economy.
I was inspired by the idea that change often comes about like an avalanche today, where seemingly unrelated elements come together and build critical mass until they shift dynamically, and significantly change the landscape around them.
This has applications for businesses, marketers and anyone trying to anticipate or shape the next “New Thing.”
Outside of your company’s efforts, what ad campaign or video caught your eye recently?
“Don’t touch my Dart” from Dodge. I love it for the simplicity of the ad, and the fact that it is so relatable.
They captured a basic human truth – that everyone knows how frustrating it is to find a scratch on your car – and they told the story in a fun and engaging way. You remember the emotion, the message and the product. That’s good advertising.