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About the Host:
Host: DOUG SIMON
Guest: KAREN CLYNE
DOUG: The pandemic has forced many brands and companies to really redefine what they do, what they’re about and change. But Karen’s actually had a leadership role with a company that was already passed peak before the pandemic hit. We’re talking about BlackBerry. So, Karen, could you share some advice from your own experience, but that might be relevant to these organizations about rebirthing a brand post its peak?
KAREN: Certainly, and thank you very much for having me. I think it’s a very unique time for all companies, all businesses, all audience groups. And I think for a brand like BlackBerry, who has already been in sort of a transition of sorts and really trying to extend a new identity around security, security software, cyber security, and really what that means to businesses and people today. And I think of all times most relevant, and now during a pandemic, post pandemic where workforces have had to completely transition to different environments, different experiences for their customers and partners, and really making a very relevant conversation around security has really helped BlackBerry during these times. And I think that’s really the key, is finding those moments in time and really aligning with the relevancy around it and building a voice and establishing a brand and a footprint around it.
DOUG: Karen, can you dig a little deeper for us into the transition of BlackBerry from a device company to what’s now more of a security and software company?
KAREN: BlackBerry’s root story is really security at the core. Even in our first handhelds, it was the focus on the focal piece, and that is continued through our trajectory. So, while we’ve been out of the handheld phone space for nearly four or five years now, we’ve taken that core DNA, that core root, and applied it to so many different things. So, it’s in literally everything and everywhere you touch from vehicles to your major enterprises, securing your teams and your businesses. So, it’s definitely a pivot that has been quite sequential. And so, we’re able to those core assets of security and just apply it in so many different realms, verticals and industries to secure the globe. And so, BlackBerry in its early days enabled the workforce, the mobile workforce, and now it’s enabling the everything everywhere, and we’re really excited about it.
DOUG: Sure, and of course, you have to change the perception of the brand outside of it, but is it also a challenge to make sure the change in perception happens to internal audiences as well? And how do you go about doing that?
KAREN: Right. Well, internal stakeholders are key. Your employees are your biggest brand advocates and ambassadors to the company. So, as much as the message is outbound, is inbound and making sure to educate your staff, your teams about the relevancy of those conversations, how the brand is performing and relevant in those conversations, and just the excitement that you can build around a message and have your employees be advocates on your behalf. And I think certainly with BlackBerry, as we’ve seen quite a few pivots in our history, and we’re about 37 years young this month and embarking on a brand campaign which will be realized and in short order. Part of the excitement around that new brand is also the internal discussion around it and building up that excitement. So, when we start seeing things externally, whether through social media, ad take over days and mainstream publications and online, that you’re sharing those stories and that excitement with your employees and they’re excited and sharing those stories with their circles and networks as well.
DOUG: And improvement in diversity, equity and inclusion so important to internal audiences. You’ve been very active with International Women’s Day using that as a catalyst for communication. Can you maybe share some of the things you’ve done?
KAREN: Certainly. This past Monday, International Women’s Day, was a huge moment in time for the business and celebrating our women leaders and sort of the voices behind the business, but it’s the day we celebrate year-round really and truly. So, it’s spotlighting the achievements, the successes, the key learnings, the failures and moments in time as well to learn from. And so, we’ve activated several different pieces of content and thought leadership that has been brought to the market. We’ve done a series of podcasts and webinars discussing the challenges that women do face not only in the security industry space and other industries as well, and how their trajectories have really been helped paved with mentors and exceptional management and really tapping into those talents’ successes and ambitions of the women that work for the business. So, it’s been a really exciting week, and again, a day that we embrace year–long and really make a concerted effort as it relates to diversity and inclusivity to make sure those voices are heard, recognized and appreciated.
DOUG: And in an industry that’s been a traditionally male industry that adds an extra layer of challenges. What’s some advice points you could give to women who maybe aren’t leaders yet, but who aspire to leadership positions, whether in communications or at any point at the c-suite or leadership within an organization that you can maybe take from your own experiences?
KAREN: Absolutely. I think perseverance and taking risks are definitely part of the top two. I think with all things there is a trial and error and trial by fire as well. So, I think for those that are really reaching for bigger moments and milestones in their own professional journey, be accepting of taking some risks and being out of your comfort zone, being vocal around the messages that are those that are motivational but also aspirational. And I think in my career, and in certainly the successes that I’ve seen in my path is, you do take those risks and you do extend yourself and you advocate for the things that are very meaningful and purposeful and bring a lot of motivation around, not just for yourself, but those that are around you and in your circles.
DOUG: Karen, I’m sure your words have been really great motivation for a lot of people who’ve tuned in. Thanks so much for sharing your advice and counsel.
KAREN: Thank you. It was great being here.