New AVP of Brand Strategy & ESG Jennifer Hill is here to help RingCentral express its voice.
- Sharing the purpose behind why we do what we do
- Building our business with a story that’s truly ours
It’s hard to hold the tech world’s attention for long by talking about nothing but “feeds and speeds.” Someone will always come along who’s faster, newer, better. That’s part of the reason we hear the word “purpose” so much these days. Because organizations are discovering – in a world of advanced technology, it’s sometimes less about how you do things than why. You’re going to see a lot about RingCentral’s purpose in 2021. And it’ll be driven by new AVP of Brand Strategy & ESG Jennifer Hill. A veteran of Cisco and Zoom, Hill has a vision for what she wants the world to think of when they think of RingCentral. More importantly, she has a plan for bringing that vision to life.
Beyond the title
It’s unusual to find ‘Brand’ and ‘Environmental, Social & Governance’ in the same job title. Hill explains why her new position takes on both.
“I think…a company’s purpose and brand should be synonymous and expressed through company culture, social impact, and business strategy. So the work we’ll be doing involves aligning our technical capabilities with the good we can do for the world. As a marketer, I think each of us have a responsibility to use the voices of the companies we work with for good, and I wholeheartedly believe that technology can completely revolutionize the path of humanity, and how we can do good together. (Technology) can mobilize individuals towards their cause, make connections that spark innovation and build networks of trusted communities. With empowerment and trust both people and their impact can thrive. My vision is to change how impact is done through technology.”
You would think the fastest path to the greater good would go through the nonprofit world. The way Hill sees it, that’s not where the greatest need exists.
“I was interviewing at nonprofits, and thinking I could do more good in that arena, but a lot of the research that’s come out recently shows that people now trust their employers more than news sources, social media, governments, and so on. Companies are now one of the most trusted sources of information and influence. So having a purpose is no longer an option for companies —it’s an imperative. Honoring that level of trust not only makes the world a better place but provides benefits for our shareholders and business – building social, cultural, environmental and financial dividends in return. So I chose to stay in corporate America, because that’s where the revolution needs to happen. Every company should be a good corporate citizen, and my mission here is to help RingCentral do just that—elevate their profile as a citizen of the world.”
The four-point play
When it comes to altruism, most companies take the approach of giving to charities, setting volunteering goals, and calling it a day. Hill’s approach is to take things one step further by making the platform itself a central element of the strategy. By empowering RingCentral’s employees, customers and user community to do good, the company has the opportunity to be a bigger part of the change. And Hill has a four-point plan to bring her vision to life.
Step 1: Tell the world what we’re thinking
“We need to provide thought leadership. A lot of other companies have their executives out on the road in a thought leadership role—really being a figurehead for a purpose, or in a particular space. So, whether it’s me or someone else, that’s priority number one – to be out there physically telling the world why our purpose can make it a better place.
Step 2: Maximize our capacity for good
“RingCentral is primed to become the platform the world uses to do good. Our customers are out there doing amazing things, and RingCentral is the communications platform they’re using to get there. Whether they’re for-profit, nonprofit, NGOs, or government agencies, they’re all our customers, they’re all trying to do good things, and they do it by connecting on RingCentral. We have the capability of talking about that today, right now. We can also empower more people to do good on our platform.”=
Step 3: Engage from the inside out
“If you ask the janitor at NASA what he does for a living, that janitor would say, “I’m helping to put a rover on Mars.” Our employees should have that same kind of connection to our mission. When a mission is true, and truly exciting, it’s easy to understand, execute on and share.”
Step 4: Market our business by sharing our purpose
“Instead of limiting ourselves to the typical conversations tech companies have about “feature release, feature release, feature release,” I want to orient our conversations around our purpose. If we have features that could boost education in underserved communities, for example, we should be talking about the ways our features and product roadmap help do that. When that’s the kind of continual conversation RingCentral has with the world, we’re able to build connections between the people having problems and people solving problems…all on a platform built to do precisely that.”
Be a farmer, not a hunter
Altruism is great. But in business, doing good can’t get in the way of doing well. According to Hill, the two ideas are not as incompatible as they might seem. She believes companies can be more profitable when they operate from a position of purpose.
“My background is in sales, so I understand the tension between altruism and understanding that we’re running a business. But I think having a smarter conversation benefits both. When you get away from “speeds and feeds” and price, you move the conversation into an area where no one else can compete with you. A conversation that asks: what are you empowering your customers to do? How does the way your business is built help your customers achieve “x”? When you’re able to have that level of conversation with your customer, you’re always going to win, because you’re getting away from what everybody else is selling. So, how does being “a platform for good” help the Sales rep migrating PBX to the cloud? By giving that sales rep a different way to have a conversation. One that’s going to last far beyond the initial engagement. You’re not just going to talk about their PBX; you’re talking about the face their business shows to their customers. And that’s a conversation about contact center, about meetings, about data, customer journey, and the way they actually market. And that’s when you become a farmer, as opposed to a hunter.”
RingCentral’s technology and brand will always evolve. But the mission behind it – to power human connection – will not. Learning to express it in ways that build our business while building better communities might just be the best way to show the world what it really means to be #strongertogether.