Chris Leong tops Forbes list, woman at the pinnacle

2 years ago

Women empowerment: Chris Leong, tops Forbes list as one of the most influential CMOs

Chris Leong is not your average Asian woman, she has broken glass ceilings in the corporate world.

The chief marketing officer for Schneider Electric is making waves on the global stage as she was named one of the world’s Most Influential CMO by Forbes Magazine in 2017.

Schneider Electric is a global energy management and automation firm.

Leong is a Kuala Lumpur lass, starting work young, she first joined Kentucky Fried Chicken’s marketing department.

She said she credits the chicken kings management as her first mentors that not only gave her the opportunity to grow but also to have a strong foundation in customer focused marketing and operations.

After five years with KFC, Leong joined the local unit of Grey Group, a New York-based advertising agency. “At that time Grey only had 30 people.

“Grey gave me the opportunity to work with big marketing brands such as Procter & Gamble, British American Tobacco and many others.”

After which, Leong spent another 15 years with marketing agencies, jet-setting to countries like Hong Kong, London and Singapore for work to work with major clients like Heineken, HSBC and New World Mobility.

Leong also had a chance to do marketing for automaker Ford Europe in which she shared an interesting observation.

“Automotive is a big advertising spender, especially in Europe where there is a huge fixation on cars. There is something about men with driving and the adrenaline rush of a car which is a fantastic area for any brand builders and marketers to tap into.”

Then in 2002, Leong went back to Grey to be President, replacing her mentor who hired her many years ago, to lead a team which has grown to over 200 employees, serving the Southeast Asia market.

Not long after, another big opportunity came along. This time it was a major Finnish telecommunications company that she had served earlier on in her career.

“I moved to Beijing in 2005 to work with Nokia. It was an interesting experience because I have been working on the Nokia brand since 1995 from the agency side. To be honest, before I joined the company, I already felt like I was part of the team.”

Leong worked at Nokia for over six years.
“I remember when we had fourteen consecutive quarters of market share growth. The brand was super powerful, occupying 200 million households with very strong customer affinity across the world.

“When I left Nokia to join Schneider in 2012 it was the end of one era (Nokia)and the beginning of another (smartphones).”

Being a corporate leader, Leong says that it is important to surround yourself with quality teams throughout one’s career, as she did.
“I can tell you that today in Schneider Electric, I have team members that have joined me from Nokia and Bates.

“I think it goes a long way in maintaining good relationships with your employees and clients as some of them have become my good friends.”

As global marketing head at Schneider, Leong oversaw transformation of the 182-year-old French company – one of the largest energy management and automation firms in the world – from a largely ‘invisible brand’ to become the preferred B2B energy solutions provider.

Being named among the 2017 World’s Most Influential CMO’s by Forbes Magazine certainly shows recognition by her peers on the global scale.

Now, growing her career and experience with Schneider Electric, Leong shares some advice for those who wants to climb up the corporate ladder.

“I do not have all the answers,” she starts modestly “I am still learning daily – what I have not done, what else I could do better.

“The one thing that I have say is that there is no magic pill or formula but there are some fundamentals that I think you need to hold conviction to.”

“There needs to be a passion, you need to focus and be true to that passion to achieve your goals.

“Understanding what your customer needs and applying solutions based on customer needs is the very basic of what marketing is,” she said.


MARKETING’s CMO Conference Returns with a Stellar Line-Up

Last year’s sold out conference is back! BIGGER, BETTER and with a NEW awards show to celebrate Malaysia’s best marketers.
Now in its 7th year, the Chief Marketing Officers Conference is a gathering of trailblazers in the Malaysian Marketing sphere.
With a bold yet relevant theme of ‘Goodbye Marketing, Hello Engagement’ this year’s conference will bring you up to speed with what’s going on in the Malaysian marketplace.

The change makers who will take the stage on the 16th of November include:

• Damien Crittenden, VP Client Strategy, Xaxis
• Ben Mahmud, Head Strategy, Business Dev, Petronas Dagangan Bhd
• Dato’ Dr.Hussamuddin Hj. Yaacub, Chairman CEO & Group MD, Karangkraf Media Group
• Lim Imun, General Manager-Marketing Munchworld
• Juliana Chua, GM of Marketing, Pavilion KL
• Tai Kam Leong, Head of Branding & Partnership, Maxis
• Rishi Pahwa, Head of Marketing, Wipro Ginvera Marketing Ent Sdn Bhd
• Schrene Goh, Head of Marketing (Global Market) Malaysia Airlines
• Kenny Wong, CMO Sunrise Berhad ….and more!

The 7th Malaysian CMO Conference & Awards
Date:16th November 2018
Venue: The Grand Ballroom, Sime Darby Convention Centre

For further details on the conference and awards visit: www.marketingmagazine.com.my/cmo2018/conference Or contact Amira/Ruby for further details: 03 7726 2588

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