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"Listen more", "seek out laughter and fun" and "focus on being useful" – these are among the words of advice some of the world's leading chief marketers officers — including P&G's Marc Pritchard, Mars' Jane Wakely and Burger King's Fernando Machado — tell us they would offer up to their younger selves if they could turn back the years. 

If there was ever a year when it would have been ideal to hop into the DeLorean and change the path of history then 2020 would have been it. Alas, dreams of Doc Brown and going all Back to the Future feel a bit futile as we look ahead to 2021

Nevertheless, today we are rolling back the years with some of the best and brightest minds in marketing to ask them about what advice they would offer to their younger selves.

As part of the World Federation of Advertisers (WFA) Global Marketer of the Year 2020 award — for which brand guardians from General Mills, Huawei, Mattel, Mars, P&G and Restaurant Brands International have been nominated — the shortlisted candidates have shared their perspective on the top lessons learned after decades in the industry. 

This year, the annual scheme celebrates the work that marketers from around the world have done to strengthen brands and businesses during the pandemic and beyond.

All six nominees have demonstrated outstanding leadership in the last 12 months in the three key areas on which the award is judged, including: evolving their organisation to be more people-centric; working smarter with partners and delivering inspiring work that truly makes a difference.

Now, we’re asking you — The Drum’s readers — to vote for your winner. Each vote will be combined with a jury vote with each scoring element accounting for a half of the final score. You have until 3 February to cast your vote.

In the meantime, here's some words of wisdom that the finalists have to offer to the next generation of marketers. 

Andrew Garrihy, chief brand officer and Western Europe chief marketing officer, Huawei

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"The most powerful advice I'd give my younger self is always make time for fun, because fun is really good for business and for the soul.

"Don't underestimate how important having fun is for your team, it unlocks a lot of really good things and ultimately it unlocks growth."

Fernando Machado, chief marketing officer, Restaurant Brands International 

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"Be more patient and listen more. Also, take your time to do things."

"In the end, the things that make the biggest impact for your business are things you should take time to do properly"

Lisa McKnight, senior vice-president and global head of Barbie and dolls portfolio, Mattel

Lisa McKnight, senior vice-president and global head of barbie and dolls portfolio, Mattel
 
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Raise your hand. I think it is so important, especially as a woman that you advocate for yourself and put yourself in situations you may find uncomfortable and raise your hand, participate and volunteer.

"What I found early on in my career is that it's table stakes to be great at what you do, but it's the extra things you contribute and the extra projects you sign up for and that value you provide to your team, employer and boss that is immeasurable.

"So, raise your hand."

Ivan Pollard, global chief marketing officer, General Mills

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"I know humour can sometimes come off as insensitive, but the greatest gift you can give to yourself and those around you when times get hard is to laugh.

"Just laugh as much as you can and try and see the joy and seek out the joy in any situation and spread that joy to others.

"It's might not be very good career advice, but that's what I'd tell myself: be kind, be true and be funny."

 

Marc Pritchard, chief brand officer, Procter & Gamble

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"Focus on being useful. Be useful to other people. If you focus on yourself, you end up going off the rails but if you focus on being helpful and useful to other people and find out what they need, what they want and help them out.

"That makes such a difference to who you are a marketer."

Jane Wakely, lead chief marketing officer, Mars

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"If I could go back in time, I'd tell my younger self: focus on your strengths, decide what you can bring to the community and the world that will make the biggest difference and double down there."

You can watch the nominees dish out their advice below. 

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This is the fourth year that WFA is running Global Marketer of the Year. Global Marketer of the Year 2017 went to Unilever’s Keith Weed, Rajamannar was the winner in 2018 and Lubomira Rochet from L’Oréal won in 2019.

You can vote for your favourite here until 3 February 2021. The winner will be announced in late February 2021.