Facebook’s new global CMO wants prospective hires to know exactly what they’re signing up for: a  challenging long-term transformation project on an enormous global scale.

Antonio Lucio, the former CMO of HP and Visa, joined the Facebook 11 months ago to lead its marketing efforts as the company grapples with the increased regulatory scrutiny and mandated changes which followed the Cambridge Analytica scandal.

“I spend a lot of time interviewing people and ensuring that the talent we’re getting is the right talent for the right job at the right historical moment that we’re living in,” he said during a fireside chat at Advertising Week in Sydney yesterday.

“The moment that we’re living in is not for everyone. If you want normal career progression — to be promoted in two years — that’s not what we’re here to do.

“We’re here to transform a business that has significant impact on the world on an amazing scale, which means that you’re going to have to take chances, you’re going to have to experiment and, you will have to fail every now and then. If that’s what you want to do, then we are the right company.”

Lucio said he was initially hesitant to take the role when approached by Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s COO, because he wasn’t sure what the Facebook CMO actually did, seeing as the social media giant hadn’t ever done direct to consumer marketing.

“I got a call from Sheryl Sandberg at one point in time, and she said, ‘Would you consider being the CMO of Facebook?’ And I said, ‘No. Why would I want to do that?’”

The answer was that Facebook believed it needed to, and indeed could, fundamentally change the way it operated, but they didn’t know how to tell that story. So they hired former UK deputy prime minister Nick Clegg as its head of global policy and communications and Antonio Lucio as global CMO.

The task at hand 

Lucio is now tasked with creating a persona for the corporate identity which is distinct from the platform which the company shares a name with and its family of products including Instagram, Whatsapp, Messenger, Workplace and Oculus.

“We need to create that corporate persona that owns the responsibility part of the narrative, which is improving across the four dimensions of election interference, fake news, data management and privacy,” Lucio said.

“We are just starting out by the way, this is going to take years.”

The CMO also discussed the importance of rebuilding trust.

“Trust cannot be built by words alone. Trust has to be rebuilt by very meaningful action,” he said.

“We have a group of people devoted to taking significant actions across the four levels that I mentioned, to improve the responsibility and role of our brand. The role that my team and I are going to play is to ensure that those actions are communicated to the right audiences.”

That audience includes Facebook’s 2.7 billion users worldwide as well as the developer community, employees, advertisers, policy makers and opinion leaders in each of the countries it operates in.

“We are mapping out the right issues, the right message for each one of those audiences and ensuring that all of it is consistent,” he said.

Lucio also told Advertising Week attendees that the entire advertising ecosystem needs to be involved in the conversation about creating the right protections for users in the digital ecosystem.

Slow down and stop breaking things 

In the time he has been with the company, Lucio said he has witnessed a fundamental commitment to change from Mark Zuckerberg and the rest of Facebook’s leadership team and the company has learnt to slow down.

“Over the last 11 months at Facebook I have seen a change. I’ve seen radical and fundamental change in the way that people behave, the way that people act,” he said.

“[They are] slowing down significantly, which is a big cultural shift. You have to slow down to ensure that things are right before you actually ship them.”

Diversity is a business imperative

The problems Facebook is trying to figure out are complex and global in scale. That requires a diverse set of team members.

“When it comes to complicated tasks, diverse teams perform significantly better than homogeneous teams. When you’re talking about simple tasks, homogeneous teams actually do better,” he said.

“The type of stuff that we do is complicated stuff. So having diverse teams is a business imperative. We have products that are consumed by everybody around the world so we should have teams that are mirrors of the communities that we serve.”

Lucio said his team at Facebook is the most diverse he has ever led, and noted departing from the status quo comes with managerial challenges.

“Managing diverse teams is a pain in the neck because you have to embrace conflict,” he said.

“For complicated tasks diverse teams will out perform homogeneous teams, but what most people will not tell you is, while the process is going the homogeneous team is having a great time, actually they think they are winning. The diverse team is having a nightmare of arguments, conflicts and issues, and they only know that they’ve won at the end.

“Let’s just understand that if you’re going to embrace diversity, representation is rather easy to do. The management of the diverse team means that you have to embrace conflict as a positive thing.”

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