Going from ‘No Way’ to ‘Tell Me More’: 20 Great Answers with Lis Walters, Marketing Manager, Ingram Micro

When you get to a senior level in marketing, you pride yourself on being able to make quick decisions. But what if that approach was preventing you from making the right decisions? Lis Walters, Marketing Manager for Commercial and Data Center Solutions, Ingram Micro, asked herself that very question a couple of years ago and it completely changed how she operates at work. 

Join your host and Executive Creative Director Barrie Seppings, as he gets 20 great answers during this month’s interview with Lis, unpacking the future of distis, why sports mascots are underpaid and the career benefits of an addiction to Pilates. 

Welcome back to this month’s ‘Plugged In, Switched On’ podcast from Splendid Group.

I used to be one that was quite stubborn and would stand up if something was presented to me and I’d say, “No, we’re doing it this way, this is the way we should be doing, it’s working, look at the results, look at the ROI.” But I guess over the last two years I’ve taken a step back and I listen more. People have actually made comments about me in meetings about not being so talkative. But I’ve taken the approach that I need to, sometimes I would step in too early to give my opinion without listening or taking it in, and I’ve adapted my leadership and my work style to make sure that I’m really listening and really looking at the full specter of what’s going on or what’s been presented to me and how it can change before stepping in and saying, “No, no, no, it won’t work.” 

The interview format at Plugged In Switched On is very simple: we ask every guest the same 20 Questions and invariably we get 20 different (but always great) answers. Here are some of our favourites from our interview with Marketing Manager Lis Walters:

  • What’s the one career move you wish you could go back and undo?
  • Who have you learned the most from in your career?
  • What’s the one thing in this industry that has gone on for too long and needs fixing?
  • What’s the most unusual situation you’ve found yourself in, thanks to work?
  • Who has the worst job in B2B tech marketing?

About our guest

Lis Walters is the Marketing Manager for Commercial and Data Center Solutions, Ingram Micro and has dozens of years’ experience with some of Australia’s biggest brands, including Telstra, Metcash and Toys r Us. 

About our host

Barrie Seppings is the Executive Creative Director of The Splendid Group and the host of Plugged In, Switched On. Connect with Barrie on LinkedIn.

Listen to the podcast episode 6

Full transcript of the podcast episode 6

Lis Walters (00:01):
I used to be one that was quite stubborn and would stand up if something was presented to me and I’d say, “No, we’re doing it this way, this is the way we should be doing, it’s working, look at the results, look at the ROI.” But I guess over the last two years I’ve taken a step back and I listen more. People have actually made comments about me in meetings about not being so talkative. But I’ve taken the approach that I need to, sometimes I would step in too early to give my opinion without listening or taking it in, and I’ve adapted my leadership and my work style to make sure that I’m really listening and really looking at the full specter of what’s going on or what’s been presented to me and how it can change before stepping in and saying, “No, no, no, it won’t work.”

Barrie Seppings (00:54):
Welcome back to Plugged In, Switched On where we pull you into the conversations that matter in B2B tech marketing. I am your host, Barrie Seppings, and the quote you just heard at the top of the show was from none other than Lis Walters, who is the marketing manager for commercial and data center solutions for Ingram Micro, one of the world’s largest disties. More from Lis in just a moment.

Now, if you are new to the pod let me show you around. We try to do three things here at Plugged In, Switched On. Firstly, we get some of the most interesting people in the B2B tech marketing world to tell us how and why they do what they do. Secondly, we also have some special episodes where we look at some of the core skills and some of the emerging skills that a B2B marketer needs, pull those skills apart, see how they’re performed, see what is new and what is emerging in those areas. Really good episodes to get into if you are thinking about a bit of career development or career progression.

And finally, we also pull back the curtain on how these teams and leaders operate. We look at their day-to-days, look at the tools and the techs that they use, see if we can’t steal a few ideas for our own operations. You are more than welcome to listen into those special episodes and steal a few ideas for yourself. We don’t try and do all three things at once, we like a little bit of focus here on the pod, and today’s focus is of course in the interview, and the rules of the interview are simple. We ask every guest the same 20 questions, invariably we get 20 very different answers. Let’s have a listen.

Question one, the elevator pitch. What exactly is your company, what are they selling, and why would anybody pay good money for it?

Lis Walters (02:37):
Ingram Micro is one of the biggest distributors in the world. We’re a global company. I work for the APAC division in Australia, and our job is basically to work with vendors. So whatever you see physically or in the cloud to do with IT and communications, we work with a very big vendor ecosystem to on-sell their products and services to a partner ecosystem. So if I just pull a few out of my hat, we’re talking about HP, we’re talking about the Dells, we’re talking about the Microsoft Cloud solutions, AWS, Fortinet, just to name a few.

Barrie Seppings (03:17):
I’ve got to ask you, in the age of disintermediation, the digital world, where so many things have gone direct, how has the distribution model survived and why is it still important to the IT ecosystem?

Lis Walters (03:29):
There is very much a role in the ecosystem for disties, but it is changing. In a traditional sort of disti marketing sales model, it’s all about three different areas. There’s lead gen, there’s sales enablement, and there’s incentives. And traditionally it’s all about getting the loudest voice out there to spruik a vendor’s products and services so that a partner will buy from a disti. Now in Australia there’s four key distributors, Ingram Micro is one of them, and we sit in about equal share of voice with our major Australian distributor, Dicker Data.

But where disties are going in the future is the digital platform, and Ingram Micro is leading that. You may have heard of Xvantage. Xvantage is Ingram’s big digital program where we’re changing from just being a distributor, we’re redefining distribution, and we’re taking ourselves to a digital platform transaction for everything company, and that’s going to be the difference. And what you’ll see in Xvantage is it’s a platform that is created for not only our partners, but also our vendors and our associates, and it’s a one-stop shop for everything. Where you may have had to use multiple different types of processes and programs to transact with Ingram Micro, it’s an all-in-one platform with AI built in, with reporting capabilities, with transactions that you had to use in two very different platforms for cloud-based and services-based to normal type of hardware products, it’s bringing that all together, creating a sales order in seconds and minutes.

And I think this is what’s going to drive the disti world in the future and going to leave other disties that are more traditional just in your enablement activities, doing lunches and learns and EDM activity, promoting services and hardware solutions, this is going to drive the disti world into the future and I’m super happy to be part of Ingram Micro that’s really leading that. It has been executed in the US, it has been executed in EMEA, and we are one of the first APAC countries, that we’re currently launching it in Australia with New Zealand and Singapore to follow.

Barrie Seppings (05:52):
Question two, your superhero origin story. Did you grow up dreaming of being a marketing manager for a technology company? What did Lis, when she was at school, think she was going to do, or maybe was encouraged to be going on to do?

Lis Walters (06:06):
B2B marketing was very far from my career aspirations. I really wanted to always work with people, and marketing is obviously very people-oriented, but I wanted to work in physiotherapy or nursing. And I actually had enrolled in nursing and was just about to start my degree in nursing, and then I decided, why am I doing this? I do not like blood, I do not like that component. So it was very much a pivot for me, and I actually got into visual merchandising was my gateway into marketing.

So I never had aspired, I did a lot of training in visual merchandising and basic business and found my way through a big company called Telstra. Prior to Telstra I actually worked for a company called Toys R Us, and that’s where I got my foot in the door, when they came to Australia and did a mass expansion I got into the world of visual merchandising, and that’s where my career started that then molded into studying marketing and moving into a marketing career. And interestingly enough, visual merchandising, and this was all before the digital age too, so it was all about creating marketing in your shopfronts and in your posters, or in your newspaper ads and your TV commercials.

Barrie Seppings (07:27):
And do you miss the cut and thrust of retail?

Lis Walters (07:30):
Not really. I mean, retail is, you’re on the forefront, you’re dealing with customers face-to-face on a day-to-day basis, and most customers are really lovely and really understand that you’re there to spend the time with them to provide the solution, or they’re presenting a challenge to you and you’re providing that solution, not only selling a product, but helping them to meet that challenge.

But 20% of those customers are really awful to retail workers, and I see it even now, and I have an appreciation and I’ll always go out of my way, and if I’m getting a coffee or I’m standing in line and there’s a lot of people and I can see a retail worker very stressed, to say, “You’re doing a great job, keep it up,” because I’ve been there and I understand and I’ve got empathy. It’s really hard on the front end in a retail environment, and I have an appreciation, as much as I have an appreciation people on the back end that work in a warehouse to support a front, whether it be on a retail front or Ingram Micro.

To that, I spent a day working in our warehouse during COVID to help out, and I could not move for a week. I was on that warehouse floor moving boxes, running between conveyor belts to stack pallets, had my steel cap boots on, my back, my legs, and everything ached, and I really have an appreciation for the work that warehouse people do after spending that day.

I think it’s really important in any role to understand the full cycle in a company and not just be isolated in what your team does. For me it’s been very important, especially in any job, even with Ingram Micro, to really get to know the other departments, whether it’s sales, whether it’s operations, the ELT, to see how everyone gels and mixes, because it’s all about working together to get that end solution for the customer, we don’t work in isolation.

Barrie Seppings (09:19):
Question number three, I’d do this for free. Which part of your job that you have now that you just naturally enjoy and find yourself spending probably more time on it than you should, just because you’re attracted to that part of the role?

Lis Walters (09:33):
I would definitely say because I love working with people and I’ve put together a really strong team, I just enjoy every day. I’m totally accessible to my team, I’m available, we have regular catch-ups, I make time for them, and I guess it’s all about just training and spending time with them to give them the confidence and know that they will just go and get the job done, and not only will they get the job done, they’ll do it really well. I always make time to spend time with my team with whatever they need. I try not to tell them what to do or how to do it, it’s just getting the best out of them for them to come up with the solutions.

But definitely I love spending time with them and just enabling them to be more successful at what they do, and I think as a leader it’s really important to make sure that you are accessible to your team members and that they know that they’ve got that support all the time from you, and it just helps them to be more successful in not only the team that they’re working with, in your team, but also for their career aspirations.

Barrie Seppings (10:35):
Who do you reckon has got the worst job in B2B marketing, or the job that you would not really want to do on a day-to-day basis?

Lis Walters (10:42):
I think the finance team. I think reporting on budgets and forecasting GP, we do that in the marketing team very regularly, we have some numbers that we have to hit with the sales teams. And even today, we’re at end of month for end of financial year tomorrow, so it’s a really busy time for us and we’re trying to close out everything and report on the forecasted numbers and look at our budgets for the remaining part of the year. And the finance team are always chasing up invoices and payments and numbers, and I definitely would not like that job.

Barrie Seppings (11:20):
Question four, control, alt, delete. Can you recall, was there a career move or a moment that you wish you could go back and undo, or do you recall a moment in your career where you realized, yes, I’ve just learned a very valuable lesson?

Lis Walters (11:35):
I would say that I would not want to undo anything in my career, there’s been a lot of learning lessons along the way. I’ve learned from a lot of really inspirational people on what I want to aspire and how I want to work. On the flip side, I’ve actually learned how I don’t want to be, and the different companies that I don’t want to work for.

And probably in most recent years I worked for a smaller family-run business, and whilst I really enjoyed my job and got to know a lot of great people, it was not for me. And I stuck it out for about 12 months and then I decided that corporate and bigger companies were where I found that my heart sang. I do everything that makes my heart sing and I just, after 12 months I realized that I wasn’t feeling energized as I got out of bed each day, so I decided to move on. But no regrets, and I learnt a lot along the way, and I think the skills on what I learnt and what I didn’t want to do working from that company has molded me into being a better manager and team player in my jobs since then.

Barrie Seppings (12:43):
Question five, shout out. Who have you learnt the most from during your career? Is there anybody you wanted to name check or offer up a little bit of gratitude?

Lis Walters (12:54):
Every manager or director that I’ve had, I’ve learnt little snippets or taken away some really great values from the way that they have, I guess, been so switched on and been able to review and analyze and delegate.

But probably the person, and this is not so much in B2B, it’s more B2C, I worked probably about seven years ago for a company called Metcash. Metcash is one of the supermarket chains in Australia that competes with your Coles, your Woolworths, and your Aldis, but it’s the IGA brand, which is more smaller business owners. And I worked in the marketing/IT team and I had a leader, his name was Pat Smith, and I will call him out because I loved working for him. But he was so inspirational and so organized, and so calm in terms of managing such a huge team all over Australia that range from technical, sales, marketing. He was just easy to go and have a chat to, and a lot of the times he didn’t know the answer, but you felt like by sitting down with him, got your answer anyway, because he was just very calming and was able to just talk to you about different options and just help you along the way, so I would call out Pat Smith.

Barrie Seppings (14:16):
All right, question six, the only constant in marketing is cliches. The rate of change in marketing, particularly with technology, is really celebrated, to the point where it’s a little bit insane, some would say, how fast things change. Humans, however, actually resist change. How do you find yourself constantly backing up to embrace change, to learn new things, and to just keep going at it when everything seems to be coming at you all of the time?

Lis Walters (14:45):
Yeah. Well, you’re right, we get comfortable, we don’t like change. We get stuck in our ways, whether it’s our own personal ways of working or whether it’s a marketing initiative that we’re using, so yes, I totally agree. For me it’s through learning, that’s one of the most important things, to upskill yourself, and recently I just did a leadership change, adapting to change, working with change course. I think that’s really important to do and have that, I guess, self-reflection, and given the tools to adapt to change. I think in marketing, wow. I mean, you see there’s so much out there in the B2B world and there’s so much wonderful, amazing marketing out there.

I used to be one that was quite stubborn and would stand up if something was presented to me and I’d say, “No, we’re doing it this way, this is the way we should be doing, it’s working, look at the results, look at the ROI.” But I guess over the last two years I’ve taken a step back and I listen more. People have actually made comments about me in meetings about not being so talkative. But I’ve taken the approach that I need to, sometimes I would step in too early to give my opinion without listening or taking it in, and I’ve adapted my leadership and my work style to make sure that I’m really listening and really looking at the full specter of what’s going on or what’s been presented to me and how it can change before stepping in and saying, “No, no, no, it won’t work.” And spending a bit of time looking at it and understanding or asking questions post-meetings to look at the opportunities that’s being presented to change.

We all have our agenda, we all have our roles to play, we all have our KPIs to work towards. I know what mine are, but I don’t know what yours are, I don’t know what everyone else is. And sometimes I’ve done this in my personal life, that I can just jump to things too quickly. My mom always said as a kid I grew up, I would always run before I walked, and I feel that I have done that. A lot of times I can just jump to conclusions without analyzing things, and just working with a few people who’ve just had some challenges and just being more understanding, it’s just helped me. And I think in my leadership, I’ve been in this leadership role for about 18 months at Ingram Micro, and I think leading up to taking on new challenges and new team members, I wanted to really be leading with kindness and empathy in the first instance, and that’s what caused me to pivot and change.

Barrie Seppings (17:26):
Question seven, here’s to your health. What do you do to stay physically and mentally healthy in a job like yours? Because it’s pretty demanding, you say you’ve got a reasonably sized team, you’re a leadership role, it’s a big companies, it’s a global company, how do you unplug? How do you take care of yourself? What’s your routine?

Lis Walters (17:43):
It’s totally important for me to have that balance and make sure that I’m addressing my mental and physical health. So I’m a big Pilates fan, specifically reformer Pilates. I probably do Pilates five or six times a week at a little studio in my community, and all different types of Pilates. So sometimes we do ones with weights, it’s strength, sometimes we do cardio, sometimes we do stretch. Basically most days of the week I do that, it’s my time, it’s 45 minutes, I tune out and go and do that. It’s a little bit of a habit really, it’s like my addiction. I just have to do it, and I just feel so centered and so balanced, not only in my body, in my mind, in the friendships that I’ve made at the studio, it’s topmost important for me.

Other types of exercise I do, I do a bit of weight training, I do that with my husband, and that’s really important for me because in my busy world that’s a time for us a few times a week, and sometimes with our different roles we’re like ships in the night, so it’s really important to schedule that time in.

And most importantly for me, I do two annual trips to Bali and parts of Indonesia to make sure that I am totally turning everything off de-stressing. Because I do have the habit of working sometimes late and working on weekends. I strongly say to my team that that’s not what I want you to follow and if anyone’s going to do it, I’ll do it. But having the time off, whether it be to do an exercise, or to travel twice a year, it just forces me to just totally tune off, read books, relax. It’s really, really important, and I encourage that for my team as well, to make sure that they’ve got time in the day for them, because if we’re not mentally and physically strong, it’s very difficult to be successful in a workplace.

Barrie Seppings (19:35):
Question eight, unique snowflakes. Now every market or industry or territory or even culture or tribe thinks they are different, but in your experience, which one really is or has been different and needed to be marketed to differently?

Lis Walters (19:51):
Look, I think there’s a place for everything, it just depends on the program and the audience. I don’t think there’s any one that is the right solution. In a B2B it’s all about networking and connecting, so if I was to handpick one, I would certainly say that partner enablement and getting together with partners and networking with the partners and the sales community is really, really important, and that would be a constant.

There’s a lot, though, that leads into that and has to take on after that, it’s not just all about any singular event, it’s really about putting together a program that fits into that that doesn’t stop and start. There’s a program of works and connections and ROI set, whether it’s from the amount of attendees or leads that come or deals that come from that. But I would suggest in the first instance, if I had to handpick one, it would be all about those networking and situations with partners to catch up and chat and collaborate.

Barrie Seppings (20:53):
That must’ve been then particularly tough during COVID when you weren’t able to do that, networking opportunities were a lot more limited.

Lis Walters (21:00):
Yeah, suddenly everything went online, and one of the things that frustrated me from having meetings online was the talking over people. When you’re on Teams and everyone suddenly has an idea, everyone’s talking over everyone. I do like being back as a hybrid workplace, and I usually work two to three days of work in the office, and I usually have a lot of the face-to-face meetings with my immediate team and my vendor team so that we can connect in person, so we an whiteboard ideas, so that we can share ideas and not talk over each other. Yeah, it was very challenging, but we made it work, and we did lots of different little activities within the team, or we’d do some great online activities with our partners and vendors to make it a little bit fun and to get through.

Barrie Seppings (21:49):
Question nine, green with envy. What’s the campaign or event or idea or launch that you really wish you’d done?

Lis Walters (21:56):
Now with my job, I go to a lot of events with other marketers from distributors, so we’re all one big sort of network, I know who they are, we meet at different vendor events, we connect, and we sort of have this love-hate relationship. We respect everyone, but we’re also eyeballing them at the same time to get ideas. And one of the things, I was in Fiji last year at a HPE networking event with the distributors and Dicker Data have done an amazing, and I say amazing because I wish I had done it, but they created a character which was molded from the Crocodile Hunter called the Wi-Fi Hunter. And the Aruba Networking Product and Solutions is all about Wi-Fi and switches and networking, and they’ve created this character called the Wi-Fi Hunter. And he does all these YouTube videos where he’s got his Akubra hat on, and he’s out there with the kangaroos and looking for Wi-Fi switches and access points.

And it is just a great fun way of promoting a boring product, because in the B2B, a lot of the times in some of these solutions, and I work with a number of vendors that it’s really hard to feel sexy about different products when you’re looking at massive servers or storage type entities, and this particular type of character that they’ve created is really fun, and it’s just a character that they’ve been able to, not only through their videos, but through all types of marketing execution, they have this persona Wi-Fi Hunter, and I really wish that we had done something like that. We’re still trying to work out at Ingram Micro how we can compete and what character we can create to keep up with them.

But hats off to them, there are a great bunch of guys over there and they really put the time and effort in, and I’m really pleased to say that I’ve attended a lot of events with them and I’m proud of them, even though it’s a major competitor, I’m super proud and applaud them for the concept that they came up with.

Barrie Seppings (24:05):
Question 10, that really gets my goat. What’s the one thing in this industry that you feel has gone on for far too long and needs fixing?

Lis Walters (24:15):
My husband’s name is Gary, and for the love of me, Gary is in so much marketing. The name Gary is in so many different marketing concepts. I’ve seen it in everything from Smith’s Chips to Nicorette smoking patches. Gary is, I just, when you live with a Gary and you see it on your TV or online always about Gary, God, it just really irks me and I really would like to know why agencies use Gary, because Gary is such an old-fashioned name. There’s no babies in the last 20 or 30 years that have been called Gary. Maybe 50 years ago Gary had its heyday, but I really want to understand where that come from and why, what is there about Gary? Because maybe I should be putting it into my campaigns.

Barrie Seppings (25:13):
That is very funny. So you just do a double take every time you hear Gary from the television set.

Lis Walters (25:19):
And I’ll look at my husband and I’ll go, “Gary’s on again.”

Barrie Seppings (25:24):
Question 11, truth serum. What’s the one question you’d ask an agency if you knew [00:25:30] that they’d tell you the truth?

Lis Walters (25:32):
Well, I want to know why they’re using Gary in all of their campaigns, that’s the number one. But to add to that, it would be really good to know why a team has been allocated to a project, and I guess within an agency, and what’s really driving them to be part of the brief that they’ve been put on. It’s a difficult one, because I haven’t worked in agency before. I’ve worked with a lot of agencies, I’ve always had really good relationship, and they’ve delivered great work. I’d also like to probably have a look at why that markup was so high. But look, it’s just really understanding their motivation and their understanding and just to learn a little bit more from them, I would say.

Barrie Seppings (26:24):
Question 12, better together. How do you make the call between collaborating with someone and then deciding, okay, enough’s enough, I’ve got to either do this by myself or I’ve got to step back and let them do their thing. Because we hear about collaboration all the time, it’s the thing we should always do, but a lot of really driven people and driven leaders work better alone. How do you strike that balance?

Lis Walters (26:47):
Look, time is a big contribution to that, and I think as leaders sometimes we think it’s easier if we do it rather than our teams do it. For me, when we’ve got a key project and we’re working on something obviously with critical dates, which is everything in marketing, it has to happen now, it’s really important to get the key stakeholders together to understand what their expectation is, and that’s the first part, and just really ironing out a full scope of works earlier on in the piece, which is obviously that collaboration.

I’m very big at not just having meetings for the sake of meetings. I get pulled into so many meetings, and I’m a big believer that you need to be in a meeting if you are getting something out of that meeting or contributing, and I always say that to my team. And I have been on some of these meetings myself where it seems to go round and round and round in circles. I’m a little bit processed, I’m not as fluid as some in my team, whereas I like an agenda and I like to stick to points.

But in situations where we need to get answers or I need to take control, I actually just do a bit of background work, suggest an agenda, suggest we highlight through different things that we need to get answers to to move the project forward rather than going round in circles. And sometimes that means a little bit of extra work on my part, but I know for everyone involved that’s going to be a huge step in the right direction, so I’m more than willing to do that extra little bit of research so that the team collaborating moves forward instead of backwards.

Barrie Seppings (28:23):
Question 13, change your mind. What’s a long-held belief about marketing that you no longer hold, and what caused you to change your mind?

Lis Walters (28:32):
In very, very old school marketing it was all about opinion, or what your personal opinion is on what creative looks like, whereas now it’s really about the data behind everything. So I think there’s two parts to marketing that we work on campaigns to obviously want to engage with the consumer, whether it’s B2B, B2C, to get their attention. There’s much more than that now, and the ROI is measured much differently, and we’ve got so many different programs to see where it resonates, everything from heat maps on sites, and click-through rates and impressions. And I think the old way of just being purely opinion-based is certainly flowing out the door, and it still happens in a lot of conversations and it’s really about the data talking these days.

When I started in marketing, we were putting memos together of campaigns that would be put into mailboxes and sent out to the various key stakeholders with all the execution. But now everything is an EDM online, or a landing page, or a microsite, it’s very, very different. And we would spend weeks putting something together, and now you can turn things around, everyone’s got access to be able to change things immediately based on what the data’s telling you. So I think opinion’s out, other than initial concepts. Opinions, it’s not because you think you like it, it’s all about the data, and that’s what’s going to take marketing and success of marketing forward.

Barrie Seppings (30:06):
Question 14, put your money where your mouth is. In terms of effectiveness in ROI, and we’ve touched on this a little bit already in the conversation, which tactics or approaches are you pulling back on at the moment and what are you doubling down on?

Lis Walters (30:19):
What we’re really starting to pull back on is with the launch of Xvantage is EDMs. We have a lot of partners at Ingram Micro and we have a lot of vendors that want to communicate their solutions and offers, and we have partners that could be on selling multiple vendors. Now, if we are doing 200 different vendor types of promotions, you can only imagine the inboxes of our partners filling up with all of these EDMs with these certain offers, and it gets too much, we’re fatiguing our partners.

So the good thing about this Xvantage platform is partners will have the ability to create their own dashboards, see what they want to see, get communication sent through on what they want to see without this influx of just getting what we think they want to get, and that’s very, very exciting for Ingram Micro. So we’re definitely pulling back on all of those communications and we’re all about providing dashboards for, and understanding what our partners really want, and that’s the exciting part of the Xvantage platform and where we’re going to be able to measure really effective ROI.

Barrie Seppings (31:37):
Question 15, overhyped and underrated. What buzzword or concept do you think is getting far too much airplay in B2B and tech marketing right now?

Lis Walters (31:47):
Well, everyone knows that the two letters at the moment are AI. I am seeing it in every execution. I mean, I head up a couple of vendors for Ingram Micro and we’re doing all of these enablement activities for our partners and the headline is AI is for everyone. I’ve got my colleagues working on AI in the cloud, Copilot, Microsoft, it is just absolutely everywhere at the moment, everyone’s using it in different iterations. And to me it just doesn’t make sense because it’s just become one of those buzzwords that everyone’s just including it, because it is the buzzword of the moment. A year ago it was sustainability was the buzzword in the B2B, now it’s AI. So now my goal is to try and bring the AI and sustainability messaging into one communication.

Barrie Seppings (32:40):
All right, question 16 is the supermodel question. So Linda-

Lis Walters (32:42):
Oh wow.

Barrie Seppings (32:43):
Yeah, Evangelista, she wants-

Lis Walters (32:44):
Yeah, I remember this.

Barrie Seppings (32:45):
Do you remember this quote? Yeah, she said she wouldn’t get out of bed for less than $10,000 a day, and apparently she regrets saying that, maybe she was under quoting. Lis, what do you get out of bed for every day? Where do you find your motivation?

Lis Walters (32:58):
Look, you’ve got to love what you do, that’s the most important thing. I mean, when you have a job, and when you’re in a very busy marketing profile job, you’ve got to have the right expectations about on the go, changing. You could be working on a big project going in one direction, it could change, and I think you’ve just got to manage your expectations. And for me, it’s jumping out of bed each day and being excited for what the day is going to present, whether it’s sitting down with your team and conceptualizing some big campaign on how to sell these overly sexy storage and servers to different government agencies, to putting together a really fun event that’s got lots of fun components.

But for me it’s just I wake up with the energy. There’s not a dollar figure, obviously we go to work to get paid so that we can lead a lifestyle that we’re happy, to give us our Bali holidays or our Pilates or our going out and enjoying good food. But for me, I get up feeling that when I wake up out of bed, even though it’s very cold at the moment, I feel that I’m ready. I’m excited to see my team, I’m excited to explore the day, I’m excited to share my knowledge, I’m excited to gain knowledge, I’m excited to speak to our product teams, the sales team, to see what’s resonating in their world, or to see where we can help them.

I’ve always said to myself that the day I wake up in any role and I just feel like, oh gosh, I really don’t want to go to work today, that’s the time where it’s time to really rethink where you’re at in your career and pivot. But whilst I’m waking up every morning and excited to be at work, I mean, I’m even that person on a Sunday night that goes through my to-do list to see what I’ve got for the day, and I’m actually looking forward to seeing my team and starting the week. I’m a Monday office person. I know a lot of people that I interact with are definitely not Monday people, they’re maybe a Tuesday Wednesday, or a Wednesday Thursday, but definitely not a Monday, whereas Monday, yeah, that’s my day.

Barrie Seppings (35:07):
That’s crazy. Yeah, I could see a lot of people getting brought back by that, like oh no, here she comes.

Lis Walters (35:15):
No worries. I’m definitely not a Friday person in the office, that’s my admin, that’s my try and make up for all the busyness during the other four days and see if you can consolidate it and get it done on a Friday.

Barrie Seppings (35:27):
All right, question 17, this ain’t happening. What’s the most unexpected or unusual situation that you’ve found yourself in thanks to work?

Lis Walters (35:36):
I was working for Toys R Us, Toys R Us had come to Australia, a mass roll out of the big multi huge toy stores in every state in Australia, and they had a mascot called Geoffrey the Giraffe. There was a situation where Geoffrey Giraffe was going to make an appearance at the Sydney Kings basketball game, and there was a big fundraiser for the children’s hospital associated with that, and the person that was going to wear Geoffrey the Giraffe was no longer available, so I volunteered. I don’t know if I volunteered or if someone volunteered me, but I spent, I think it was no more than an hour, in a Geoffrey the Giraffe. And giraffes have long necks, so whilst you have the costume that you fill right up to your neck, you then have this extra part that goes up for the neck part, and I think I sweated the most I’ve ever sweated in my life. It was so hard.

And one of the things I had to do was I had to get the basketball and shoot it into a hoop, but through balance issues, with a long neck, I was very steady on my feet and nearly rolled backwards trying to shoot the hoops. So I don’t know how that happened, but it was a good fun event. It was a children’s hospital fundraising event, it was with the Sydney Kings, it was a really nice affiliation, I was really happy to be part of it, but gosh, it was hardcore. Anyone that gets into mascot-

Barrie Seppings (37:11):
They earn their money.

Lis Walters (37:12):
Costumes, yeah, hats off to them, they should be getting paid a lot of money.

Barrie Seppings (37:16):
Question 18, home alone. What was the pandemic and lockdown experience like for you on the home front and how has that influenced or changed the way you work and you’re a leader for other people now?

Lis Walters (37:29):
One thing that came from the pandemic was it showed that you’ve employed someone to do a job and you should trust them to do that job in any location that they’re working in, whether it be at home, whether it be off site somewhere else, whether it be in the office. And I think it really, the pandemic really showed that, that people can just get on and get their jobs done wherever they’re working. And I think that’s been a good thing, it’s been a good thing for everyone. People with small families, people with pets, people with elderly parents, it’s really given the opportunity for people to adapt and put family first, because I think that’s really important, and to be able to work flexible. Sometimes I might work very early in the morning and then log off earlier in the day, and if my team want to do that, I’m more than happy to do that for family responsibilities.

So I think that’s one of the key things that’s happened positively from the pandemic, and I think for me personally, it’s really given me that take on kindness and empathy and trust as very big values that I want to follow for my staff. I trust them to get the job done, I’m here to support them. I’ve employed them, I’ve given them the job because I know that they’ll get the job done, I don’t need to be micromanaging them, and COVID taught us a lot about that. And I think it’s been a great opportunity for everyone to have hybrid workplace options, work arrangements. I mean, back before COVID, and when my children were young, I was traveling long distances to work 9:00 to 5:00 and pick up children after school and race home, and I don’t know how we did it then. We had to do it, there was no working from home, it was just in the office 9:00 to 5:00, and some.

Barrie Seppings (39:17):
Question 19.

All of me. Now lots of businesses say they want their staff to bring their whole self to work. Is it true for where you are at Ingram, and how different are you in work mode compared to when you’re off the leash and off the hook when you’re roaming around the islands of Indonesia?

Lis Walters (39:35):
I think I’m pretty much the same. I think my home life and my work life are reflective. I’m very organized and processed, and even when I’m off in Indonesia, I’ve planned that, I’m the one that’s booked the tickets and the hotels and put together the very loose itinerary. In terms of my self that I bring to work, it just depends on what the priorities are, but I think I’m pretty similar in my work and home type of person. I’m open-minded, I’m flexible, I’m approachable, easy to talk to and just try to be level-headed in a lot of situations, and whether that’s in my personal life or whether it’s in my work life, I try to maintain that. Obviously there’s silliness. I mean, I like to have fun at work and have a bit of silliness as well, and obviously I do that at home a lot as well. So like for like, I’m very similar with my work and home self.

Barrie Seppings (40:36):
And how would you describe Ingram as a workplace with its openness and inclusion?

Lis Walters (40:41):
Amazing, a great culture, encourages just so many different values that we follow from creative, innovation, adaptability, trust. Everyone is very supportive and really great people, I have not worked with anyone that wasn’t supportive. Great people, great ideas, great opportunities to work towards different career aspirations that are available in Ingram Micro. It’s a great place to work and there’s lots of opportunities, whether it be in marketing or other areas of the business.

Barrie Seppings (41:14):
Question 20, secret weapon. Lis Walters, do you have a secret weapon? And if you do, will you tell me what it is?

Lis Walters (41:20):
I have a tattoo on my wrist, it’s got a little heart with a little music note through it. And anything that I do I always, and if I’m having a challenging time, I just look at it and say, you’re doing what makes your heart sing. Do what makes your heart sing, you’re doing everything that makes your heart sing. So sometimes that gets me through, I’m doing this because I want to do it, I’m doing this because I’m learning. I’m not doing something because I have to, it’s all about changing that narrative and that gets me through, and I like to say that that’s my little secret weapon.

There’s another thing, another little quirky saying that I use both in my personal life and in my job, in my career and within my various jobs, I say, life is not about the breaths you take, it’s the moments that take your breath away. And whilst that’s worthy of what I do in my personal life, it resonates in my work life as well. There’s so many moments in your career, and certainly in marketing, that will mold you into being a better marketing, a better person, a better leader, just by the little situations or the events or the interactions that you have. So whilst there’s no real secret weapon, there are a couple of little quirky things that I work by to help me seem like I have a secret weapon.

Barrie Seppings (42:41):
And that was 20 questions, the interview game we play with all our guests here on the Plugged In, Switched On podcast. Those answers, of course, were from Lis Walters, who is the marketing manager for commercial data center solutions for Ingram Micro. What a delightful chat. Before I let Lis go I did ask her to tell me what is her go-to all-time favorite feel-good movie.

Lis Walters (43:06):
Whist here’s a little bit of not nice parts to this movie, just the friendships and the winning that comes out of this movie is very special and I really enjoyed this movie and the actors, and it was called Shawshank Redemption. There’s a lot of emotion and there was a lot of hard times and it’s just like adversity, just good wins over evil, and the down and out people are victorious and something good comes out of their lives.

Barrie Seppings (43:38):
An absolute classic, I do love that film too. Now before we unplug for this episode, just a few updates from Splendid Group. We are the pure-play B2B tech agency where I work as the executive creative director and where we make this podcast. Just recently we have expanded into Southeast Asia and we’ve got some new people heading up our operations in Singapore. If you’re in that part of the world and you’d like to talk to us about elevating your B2B tech marketing, please get in touch and we’ll make those introductions.

If you do want to learn more about Splendid, see some of our work and meet any of our people, point your browser at Splendidgroup.com and we’ll see you there. I have been Barrie Seppings, I was talking with Lis Walters of Ingram Micro in what has been a 20 questions episode of Plugged In, Switched On, a podcast about the that matter in B2B tech marketing. Hit subscribe in your preferred pod platform and you’ll hear us again automatically next month. Thank you for having us in your ears.

Plugged In, Switched On is generated by Splendid Group. Thanks to executive producer Ruth Holt and our CEO Tim Sands.

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