Interviews, insight & analysis on digital media & marketing

My Marketing Hero: Gemma Greaves, Chief Executive, The Marketing Society

Gemma Greaves is outgoing Chief Executive of The Marketing Society. A force of nature and a force for good in the marketing industry, during her tenure she has overseen the global expansion of the Society and launched the brave agenda. Planning to step down in April this year, she is to launch new business company Nuture and continue to grow her club Cabal.

Who is your marketing hero?

That is a very, very hard question because there are so many people I look up to as a hero.

But my hero has to be Caroline Casey, Founder, The Valuable 500, an initiative to get 500 businesses to commit to putting disability inclusion on their leadership agendas. To ensue disability is part of the wider conversation around diversity.

What has she done to win hero status in your eyes?

From the moment I met her, she impressed me. I was at a media event in Rome early in the morning and I’m not a morning person so I was a bit begrudgingly sitting there. I watched this woman with such energy come on stage and within minutes of this incredible talk, ferocious in her stiletto heels, she shares with us all that she’s registered blind.

Her whole message is that labels stigmatise. She wasn’t letting her own disability hold her back, in fact what she was using her disability as a superpower.

What she’s doing with the Valuable 500 is incredibly challenging. As we all know, even getting gender on the corporate agenda is tough. She passionately believes that addressing disability is so essential to our entire economy.

So, she’s an activist and campaigner, and a complete powerhouse who doesn’t let anything hold her back, including her own physical disabilities. I knew I had to help her, so the Marketing Society became the only marketing partner of the Valuable 500.

She’s achieving great things; she just keeps on just knocking down doors and never takes no for an answer.

What’s the biggest issue we need another hero to solve?

We need whole industry to use its collective power for good.

if you think of the talent we’ve got in our industry. If you think of the skill set, the

influence, the budgets, we have the ability to do so much good. Brands and marketers are the voice of the customer, we’re at the forefront of growth.

We don’t just have an opportunity to have an impact, we have a responsibility.

We need to talk more about the things that a lot of people will talk about behind closed doors, from mental health to imposter syndrome to gender diversity stereotypes.

As an industry, we need to raise these topics, and as individuals we need to look at how we can have a bigger impact.

What is your most heroic personal achievement in the industry so far?

As the outgoing Chief Executive of The Marketing Society, our global expansion has been a real achievement. But the absolute ultimate achievement has been spearheading the brave agenda, which has now become a global conversation. And you see it rippling through the industry helping drive change. That all started with me feeling brave, stepping into such big shoes of my predecessor, that I wanted to encourage others to be brave.

It’s only when you’re your true self that you can be your best self. And that means it’s okay to fail and we shouldn’t have to hide who we are.

My proudest moments have been when I meet our members, at big corporates. And they say to me, the agenda that you’ve led has made me be braver at work, and therefore better at work.

The Society’s purpose is now to empower brave leaders.

And we can’t stop now.

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