Christine Buscarino, CMO at Dale Carnegie, Knows How To Listen and Set Goals
Name: Christine Buscarino
Brand: Dale Carnegie
Title: Chief Marketing Officer
Years in franchising: 2
What attracted you to franchising?
After many years working with retail brands, I was excited to transition to franchising. My passion for supporting a global network, and one that had a mission like we do at Dale Carnegie for helping people, led to my decision to go into franchising. In this role, I can touch thousands of lives of those who own and work for our franchisees – inspiring them how to be great in our industry, reminding them why we do what we do and how to best do it, and then working to enforce standards for consistency of experience and branding across our many locations. In past roles, I had always been focused on the customer experience and strengthening the brand, which are also critical for a successful franchise.
What was your first job in franchising?
The Dale Carnegie CMO role is my first role in franchising. However, for over 20 years I supported a global network of store managers, whose needs are very similar to franchise owners. They very much ran their stores like a small-business owner and needed the support and direction from our marketing department. I emphasized and focused on customer experience and strengthening the brand. Very much like a franchisee, they all had very local needs and were appreciative of marketing and sales support from their corporate office. They needed someone who could help share best practices on localization of marketing and selling and someone who was there to help drive strategy and growth for their location.
What do you attribute your success to?
To my ability to listen and adapt quickly. I listened to the local needs of our customers and physical locations and helped define a strategy that enabled them to take advantage of the branding of a global business in a way that was tailored to their local market needs. By listening and always being open to feedback and change, I have been successful at developing marketing and digital strategies that helped them meet the needs of their local customers while also benefiting from the awareness of the global brand. Being agile and open-minded to trying new things quickly, moving on quickly when something doesn’t work well, and continuing to innovate ways to improve the customer experience has allowed me to be beneficial to the organization’s global and local needs.
What challenges and obstacles have you overcome in your career?
I started my professional career at a very young age, at 19, and stayed with that same organization for 20 years. I grew from a store-level associate to a vice president and officer of a global public company, all while raising a family and going back to school to complete my MBA. Throughout that time, I faced hurdles that I worked hard to overcome, such as managing a fast- growing career and family and needing to earn the trust of more time-proven leaders because I was so young. I had also not completed my degree until long after I had become a VP. For many years, I was posed with the challenge of how I could continue to grow without a degree, and time after time being told I could not. I firmly believed that if I demonstrated my capability, I could reach any level… and I did. I later earned my bachelor’s degree and MBA in my mid-thirties. To grow over the 20 years at the same company meant that I needed to always continue to strive to do more, take on new challenges, and show the company and our global locations what I was able to do and how I could easily pivot roles and continue to add value to the organization. I’m proud that I was able to overcome those “obstacles,” though now I don’t reflect on them as obstacles but as turning points in my career that allowed me to demonstrate my capabilities to a larger population.
Describe your journey to your current position.
Setting goals for my career has always been something I defined for myself. I started off as a store-level employee but knew I ultimately wanted to lead an organization. I applied for roles that I knew I could add value, but that would also push me to a new level. After my store-level roles, I joined at the corporate level and was introduced to marketing. Shortly after, marketing started to evolve to digital and rapidly launched my career into management, director, and VP positions. I ran digital and customer marketing and had the opportunity to run an entire direct-to-consumer business, including P&L responsibility. In my striving to continue to grow, I joined another brand as the SVP of marketing and e-commerce, and a few years later joined Dale Carnegie as chief marketing officer. Since my time at Dale Carnegie, I now not only oversee the marketing, but also our customer experience, which includes our product and training delivery. I am excited in this role as I am able to craft our digital transformation on how we market, sell, deliver, and interact with our customers in a digital environment. Over the past year, we’ve emphasized bringing together the customer experience and strengthening the brand. This allowed us to pivot at the speed of light from a face-to-face, in-person environment to one that now serves clients live online.
What are your future career goals?
I would love to run a company some day as the CEO. I believe that my ability to listen to the customer and the local teams will continue to allow me to evolve as a leader of an entire organization. Combining that with my vision for a business and passion for people and results, I believe I am on the path to accomplish this. I am very proud of how far I have come, but there is more.
Advice to young female executives in franchising.
My advice for young females just entering franchising is to spend time listening to your franchisees. Ask them what the customers’ needs are, follow their customers, and continually seek feedback. Use this to craft your future initiatives that you roll out to your franchise network, and always use customer feedback and metrics to measure your success. Do not work in a silo without franchisee and customer input. The answers to what differentiate your organization and what makes you specific lies with the franchisee and the customer. Never be afraid to fail – you can’t fail, you can only learn something that teaches you to do it differently next time. Never be afraid to take on more, but make sure that what you take on always ladders up to improving the experience for your franchisees and customers.
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