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415: How ETS is Rebranding and Evolving with Michelle Froah, Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer

On the show today, Alan and Michelle talk about her career journey, the ETS rebrand, the uniqueness of her current role, and why more organizations should be thinking of a similar structure at the leadership level. ETS’s focus on people and mission of driving human progress forward is what drew Michelle to the company. As Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer, she is responsible for internal and external communications, customer insights and analytics, branding and marketing, e-commerce, philanthropic impact, global demand generation, and product innovation and development. 

Michelle Froah is currently the Chief Marketing and Innovation Officer at ETS, but when she was younger, she had aspirations to become an astronaut. While that dream never came to fruition, it did lead her to study mechanical engineering, which unexpectedly shaped her into the perfect person for the complex role she has now. Michelle started her career at Procter & Gamble, where she learned problem-solving under pressure and the value of a well-managed team. She then moved to Singapore and became the Asia Pacific Regional CMO for Kimberly Clark, where she developed a global perspective and understanding of local execution. She then founded Brandable before moving on to Samsung and serving as SVP of Global Brand and Marketing at MetLife before joining ETS in 2023, where she is focusing on transforming it into an organization that empowers human progress. 

ETS has a 75-year track record of being the world’s leading assessment company and nonprofit. However, with trends moving away from standardized testing and the rise of AI and other ed-tech tools, Michelle is leading ETS’ global transformation, which focuses on leveraging today’s technologies and delivering real-time insights to help curious learners unlock and unleash their full potential. ETS is redefining who they are to begin shifting away from a limited scope of traditional educational assessments and towards an understanding of lifelong skill development. 

As ETS enters a new category of future readiness, the CMO role itself is changing as well. While it is still about marketing, it is also about sorting through insights, perspectives, and growth strategies to apply them most effectively, which is where the innovation title comes in. Michelle’s combination role allows her to work with all of their partners to serve customers in new ways and communicate that ETS is delivering real-time insights and solutions to help people enhance their skills. Michelle wraps up by talking about how her time as an engineer unexpectedly shaped her as a leader, team member, and well-rounded marketer, how shared goals empower marketers to tackle increased complexity and help the consumer win, how data can improve personalization, and the ways consumers benefit by melding marketing and innovation leadership roles.

In this episode, you’ll learn about:

  • How being trained as an engineer made Michelle a more well-rounded marketer
  • Why ETS decided to rebrand and how they are launching it 
  • How ETS has been using AI for 20+ years and how they are evolving with the landscape

Key Highlights:

  • [01:50] Always looking for the road less traveled by
  • [03:45] What drew Michelle to ETS, and what does she do there?
  • [05:30] It all comes together over time.
  • [08:00] Michelle’s career path: a global perspective and local execution
  • [10:30] CMOs trained as engineers are just built differently.
  • [13:10] What is ETS up to today?
  • [15:30] Skills needed to be effective in the future
  • [17:00] The future of CMO innovation 
  • [19:55] The AI portion of the show
  • [25:20] Rebranding: why and how
  • [30:30] Characterizing the new brand promise
  • [33:15] The importance of her time as an engineer
  • [36:10] Advice to her younger self 
  • [37:10] The increased complexity of marketing 
  • [39:10] Personalization supported by data
  • [42:05] Thinking about how marketing and innovation can meld to improve customer outcomes

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