Originally from Melbourne, CUB’s newly appointed Connections Director Jemma Downey has been living and working overseas for the past sixteen years. We sat down with her to find out more about her life, her career, and what brought her to CUB.
We began by asking: After sixteen years working around the world in exciting and varied global and local roles, what excites Jemma about her new role at CUB? ‘CUB is a world-class organisation with an incredible portfolio of brands. The Connections Director position offered me an exciting challenge, as it brings together all of the areas within marketing that I am most passionate about and allows me to be at the forefront of industry.’ Jemma tells us.
‘Prior to returning home and taking the role with CUB, I was with Bacardi, where I was responsible for global creative and connections strategies for Grey Goose vodka. I led the brand through a global repositioning and the launch of its new creative platform,’ she continues. ‘I was also at Vice Media in New York, where I led strategic partnerships at Virtue, their in-house creative and digital agency. Before that, I lived and worked in London in various marketing roles in the entertainment industry, notably at Live Nation as VP of the UK Marketing Partnerships team.’
Coming from a less than traditional marketing background, Jemma infuses a fresh and interesting dynamic into the marketing team, and into her new role. ‘Having worked with brands from different vantage points within the industry, I can draw from this broad experience to channel and support new approaches and encourage diversity – not just in our people, but also in the way we think and operate as a team,’ Jemma says.
And what exactly does a Connections Director do? ‘As Connections Director in the Marketing team, my team and I leverage data and insights, helping to understand and enhance the consumer connection point. We power our brands by creating solutions and experiences to solve consumer needs and drive cultural relevance through partnerships, digital and media.’
As much as she loves her work, Jemma acknowledges that it’s not always easy. ‘I know there will be challenges every day in this role. To keep up with emerging trends and shifts in technology, but most importantly with consumers, we need to constantly adapt to ensure CUB brands play a meaningful role in people’s lives.’ Her biggest challenge? ‘CUB is a large organisation that, by virtue of its size, can take time to navigate. At the same time, we need to stay nimble enough to meet consumer day-to-day needs. It can be a tricky balancing act.’ Jemma is tackling this challenge with data and insights. ‘This is why data is so important. Used with intent and an effective strategy, it can enable our business and brands to stay connected to consumers in the moments that matter.’
In a career that has taken her around the world and back home to Australia, we wondered if, with the benefit of hindsight and experience, there was anything Jemma would have done differently. She says there is just one thing: ‘I would have asked more of the questions I wanted to ask at various times, but didn’t. As I have grown in my career and as a woman in leadership, I have become more confident, curious and open to new ways of approaching ideas and solutions. It’s important to use your voice. The more questions you ask, the more you learn and the more others can learn from you.’
Now that Jemma is back home in Melbourne and rising to the challenge of her new role, what plans does she have? What goals is she ready to hit? ‘My immediate priority is to learn as much as possible and as quickly as possible. Gathering a solid foundation of brand and business knowledge and context is essential. I also want to spend time getting to know my talented team members, so that I can provide the support and leadership they need to be successful and happy in their work life,’ Jemma shares. ‘At a strategic level, I will be focusing on bringing the new consumer connections model to life, by improving our visibility and our application of data and insights to inform and optimise our approach to digital marketing and consumer experiences.’
Jemma is thrilled to have joined a team and a culture that inspires. ‘The calibre of talent and thinking, both within my team and in the organisation as a whole, is impressive,’ Jemma tells us. ‘After being away from home for so long, the warm and welcoming culture at CUB has really made me appreciate Australia in an entirely new way, and I’m incredibly excited about the capacity my new position gives me to really make a difference.’