Deloitte’s Global CMO Shares Her 4 M’s for B2B Marketers

Guest: Diana O'Brien Chief Marketing Officer, Deloitte

Growing a community of leaders – an important goal for many companies, but not typically the designated task of a CMO. Diana O’Brien, CMO of Deloitte, however, is not your typical CMO. Diana spends 50% of her time prioritizing building workplace culture and, in turn, the firm’s brand to provide better marketing services to clients. She spearheaded Deloitte University, which provides training to bring employees into the fold on brand alignment, culture, and continuing workplace education for every single Deloitte employee in the United States. Now, she is recognized as one of the World’s Most Influential CMOs by Forbes and is one of Business Insider’s Top 50 Most Innovative CMOs in the World.

Diana has been on the cutting edge of marketing, working for Deloitte since the 1980s. From creating a place where leaders can grow and employees thrive, to being the first CMO at Deloitte, she has a lot to share. On this episode, she brings a wealth of knowledge on the importance of creating a workplace culture of leaders, how your business’s brand and culture affects client relations, the necessity of being the voice of the customer at the leadership table, and so much more.

Be sure to listen in – Diana has insights you don’t want to miss!

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What You’ll Learn

Key things Deloitte focuses on in developing workplace culture

Diana shares that there are sequences followed at Deloitte University that are key to building employee culture. As a company, the art of empathy is massively important. This allows employees to understand differences and help people feel a sense of belonging. It teaches them how to communicate – to listen before you speak. Diana notes this is a foundational attribute as a consulting company. Empathy helps employees communicate better internally. It also vital when interacting with clients.

The art of story is also important. Employees are taught how to connect their story or stories to a client as well as the company as a whole. Stories are meant to inspire and spark action. Stories allow employees to connect the personal to why they do what they do. Be sure to listen to this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite to hear about other key items Deloitte focuses on in its employee culture.

How to get from customer insight to real innovation

Customer insight is defined as understanding who the customer is and where they are going. As a marketer, you are looking to co-create with the customer and join them in their journey. Typically the act of innovation comes out of Research and Development or a different business unit at Deloitte. Part of the CMO or marketer’s job is to communicate with these units so that they know what to create or where to look. They feed them information on where to look and what to do. Currently, real innovation is hard to find with many firms following market trends. However, Diana says that real innovation comes from the activation of an organization’s purpose. When an organization knows its purpose, it is able to innovate. Their change is based on their passion and purpose, which drives them to use their current skills to create innovation.

Make an impact that matters – creating a brand inside and outside company walls

Deloitte is committed to “make an impact that matters” – a phrase they have coined as their tagline. Diana mentions in this episode that she spends about 50% of her time on the internal activation of their brand idea. Deloitte chooses to heavily invest in its employees to make sure their brand is not just shown in the marketplace but also is pervasive within its own walls work. By creating a good workplace environment for its employees, it allows employees to focus on customer interactions. So, not only is Deloitte looking to make an impact that matters in the world, but also within its company. Hear more on how they do this in this episode of Renegade Thinkers Unite.


  • [0:32] Who is Diana O’Brien?
  • [3:01] Why Deloitte University is the soul of the firm
  • [5:38] What Deloitte University taught Diana
  • [8:25] Face to face still matters in the digital age
  • [8:39] The three arts Deloitte focuses on
  • [18:58] From customer insight to real innovation
  • [25:43] The importance of organizationally elevated marketing
  • [31:13] Why the internal activation of a brand is key
  • [39:49] The 4 “M’s” of marketing

Connect With Diana O’Brien:

Resources & People Mentioned

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Meet the Guest

As the chief marketing officer for Deloitte’s US and global organization, Diana O’Brien leads the network’s marketing function to drive growth, build world-class creative and analytics capabilities, and champion the voice of the customer. She enables marketing leaders to make a greater impact by aligning marketing execution with Deloitte’s global strategy and brand purpose. She also leads the C-Suite CMO Program, and serves as an advisory partner to two global life sciences clients. 
Since joining the firm in 1985, she has held a number of leadership roles across global client portfolios. Appointed in 2015 as the first chief marketing officer for the US, she reimagined marketing by combining independent marketing functions with PR, communications, and digital to create a cohesive, agile, client-centric organization. She led the ground-breaking and opening of Deloitte University, our 700,000 square-foot, $300 million leadership center and as its managing principal, was responsible for industry and professional learning, leadership development, leader succession, community, and inclusion engagement. Diana has been included in Forbes’ World’s Most Influential CMOs and Business Insider’s “Top 50 Most Innovative CMOs in the World.” 
Her passion extends to charities related to autism and diversity. She is the chairman and founder of IMPACT Autism, a forward-thinking organization that creates and delivers life management solutions to combat the educational, emotional, and social challenges of living with autism. 
Diana holds an MBA in finance and a BS in behavioral management from Xavier University. She lives in Cincinnati with her husband and 22-year-old triplets. 

Quotes from Diana O'Brien

  • It's not about siloed digital solutions and projects going on now; it's enterprise-wide thinking that has to go into your digital investments.
  • You can't just say I have a great idea; here it can look you know exciting and be provocative, it has to be grounded in and true data and insights about where you're going, what markets you're serving, what your client needs.
  • It's no longer the small 'm' of message, it's these 4 "M"s - mindset, moments moves, and meaning, and if you pull those four things together, I think you'll be a world-class marketer.

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