The Recipe for Success: Tips from KFC Canada’s CMO and CTO

As senior executives with KFC Canada, CMO Katherine Bond-Debicki and CTO Nastaran Bisheban have a front row seat to the magic that happens when marketing and technology pull together.  Partnerships like this don’t happen overnight, but when they do kick in, the benefits range from better insights from data and heightened security, to an improved customer experience and stronger regulatory compliance.

 

Bond-Debicki and Bisheban joined ITWC CMO Fawn Annan for a December 2021 installment of CMO Talks, a podcast series designed to showcase strategies for gaining a competitive edge through the intersection of marketing and technology. The discussion centered around the strategic alliance of marketing and technology, and its critical importance in growing KFC in Canada with the new generation of consumers.

 

A Good Mix

Speaking from a marketing perspective, Bond-Debicki  said that new opportunities are opening up as the marketing and technology space continues to converge. “Our cultural evolution is characterized by a belief in the power of collaboration and empowerment as well as embracing a fail forward mindset,” she said. “This notion of progress over perfection has never been more important than in today’s world. We need to encourage courageous mindsets and decision-making to curate a culture that’s truly innovative.”

 

As the first technology leader hired for KFC Canada, Bisheban has a unique perspective on the coming together of the CMO and CTO roles. “We are joined at the hip in the way that we are moving the structure, strategy and organization forward,” she explained. “The principle of continuous improvement is part of our strategy to make sure that we know what we want to do and where we want to go. One way to do that is to make sure everyone is at the table.”

Nastaran Bisheban
Nastaran Bisheban
CTO, KFC Canada
Katherine Bond-Debicki
CMO, KFC Canada

 

Positive Influences

Bond-Debicki attributes her close working relationship with Bisheban to the power of personalities and a willingness to partner. “We’re a lean market in Canada,” she said. “We need to get very intentional with how we partner to drive impact with the resources we have and it forces us to collaborate more than ever before. The great benefit is that I get to learn from Nastaran and I get to work with an incredible thought leader in the technology space.”

 

In Canada, KFC is not number one in its category – which, according to Bond-Debicki, presents an opportunity to evolve from a challenger mindset to a challenger strategy. “We really have to think about how we can increasingly leverage data to make sure we outsmart the competition when we can’t outspend them,” she said.

 

Small Steps as Part of the Big Picture

When asked by Annan about what goes into modernizing a legacy brand, such as KFC, Bisheban said there is a lot of work to do when it comes to modernizing our legacy environments and equipping them with the capacity to drive the company’s digital strategy. “In my book, miracles happen in small steps,” she said. “I believe in progressing little by little, but continuously making improvements.”

 

Picking up on Bisheban’s point, Bond-Debicki added that she doesn’t see brand modernization as a marketing task alone, but rather as a business task. “What’s important for the brand in Canada is that we’re not trying to become something our brand isn’t,” she said. “We have a real story, and we’re  founded by a real man with an original recipe that remains a secret to this day. Our brand has always been recognized for having the world’s best-tasting fried chicken.”

A Common Focus and Shared Strategy

In Bisheban’s opinion, continuous collaboration is key for the successful alignment between CMOs and CTOs. “In many cases, even our budgets need to very much in alignment,” she said. “We need to know what we are each doing and helping each other to build.”

 

Bisheban and Bond-Debicki’s relationship is also grounded in a common focus on stakeholders. This increases their reliance on each other and their commitment to working together to deliver the best business outcomes. By bringing diverse teams together, they arrive at far richer insights and better solutions.

 

As for the advice they would offer other CMO/CTO teams, Bisheban suggested frequent communication. Bond-Debicki agreed, stressing the importance of talking to each other in order to clarify a shared vision. She theorized that a fear of technology prevents some CMOs from connecting with CTOs, a short-sighted attitude in light of the advantages of working together. “If you just spend time getting to know each other and figuring out how you can help one another, you’re going to find that technology makes you a better marketer and helps you achieve your goals,” she said.

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Jim Love, Chief Content Officer, IT World Canada

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Suzanne Robicheau
Suzanne Robicheau
Suzanne Robicheau is a communications specialist based in Wolfville, Nova Scotia, where working remotely continues to fuel her passion for new mobile technologies -- especially on snowy days.

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