Former COURTS CEO Terry O'Connor: 'Good marketers are by nature restless'

A prominent CEO in the industry, Terry O’Connor has handled the COURTS brand for over 20 years. Nonetheless, earlier last month, it was reveled that will be stepping down as COURTS Asia's group CEO and transitioning into an executive advisor role. Confirming the news to Marketing, in his new position as executive advisor, O'Connor said he will carry on offering COURTS with oversight on stakeholder relationship management and the ongoing integration process.

When O’Connor first started out, he took on the role of a buying director - electrical at COURTS in 1993. Since then, he has steadily climbed the ranks to commercial director, deputy managing director and managing director. In April 2011, he assumed the role of CEO and has served as president director of PT COURTS Retail Indonesia since 2013.

Under his 20 years of leadership, COURTS has undertaken a strategic transformation journey towards solutions selling, omni-channel retailing, driving market leadership in electrical, IT and furniture categories, transforming offline stores into experience centres for consumers as well as expanded into Malaysia and Indonesia. O'Connor, who joins Marketing's Marketing Talent Awards 2019 as a judge, shares what makes great talent stand out from the good.

Celebrate and reward your star employees and teams at the inaugural Marketing Talent Awards 2019 and attract new talent. Entry submissions close on 12 July—start your entries now!

Marketing: What are some of the skills you think great marketers need to posses in the industry?

The ability to reinvent and bring freshness to the work. It’s fine to retain a unique signature, but the marketplace is changing and the shift to digital only means marketers need to harness all tools and channels at their disposal for maximum, meaningful impact.

Marketing: What role do you think veteran marketers play in attracting new blood in the industry?

People work for leaders, not companies.

Millennials are seeking mentors with strong domain knowledge and who are willing to coach, whilst having a progressive attitude towards modern day workplace practices and management styles.

Stay humble and open to reverse mentorship. Technology is changing fast and young talent coming into the workplace grasp it so intuitively and at such speed. It’s important to remember that as much as we have to teach, there is an equal amount for us to learn.

Marketing: What do you hope to see in the submissions for Marketing Talent Awards from the rising stars?

I’ll be looking for a good balance between innovation, creativity and pragmatism. Top submissions should demonstrate an awareness of consumer and business trends, whilst being able to translate that into meaningful go-to-market propositions that serve their clients and end target audience and users. Ultimately, great marketing should have an element of being future forward whilst addressing the current dynamics of today’s landscape.

Marketing: What do you make of the awards?

Often it is the work that gets recognised over the talent or individuals behind it. Recognising the people behind the creatives will inspire them to scale new heights, and affirms to them that they are in the right place doing the right kind of work.

Marketing: Why do you think talent retention is such a problem in the marketing/advertising community?

The nature of the marketing industry is highly fluid and dynamic, and anchored by great relationships. For instance, clients follow individuals more so than agencies. Good marketers are by nature restless, and employers should take talent development seriously to keep young talent interested, engaged and mobile within their organisations.

Marketing: What do you feel has to change to ensure young talent stays in organisations, and you can attract young talent?

Organisational design and structure should be more agile. Beyond the day to day, one way of keeping young talent engaged is to have a structure that allows them to be consistently involved in meaningful projects of their choice. This equips them with sought-after skillsets such as entrepreneurship and autonomy. 

Celebrate and reward your star employees and teams at the inaugural Marketing Talent Awards 2019 and attract new talent. Entry submissions close on 12 July—start your entries now!

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