Kiran Smith, CEO of Arnold, a global creative agency, is bringing a new perspective to advertising as she has a unique ability to understand, and empathize with, the goals, challenges and pressures that modern chief marketing officers are facing. The agency believes that brands today need partners who think less like advertisers and more like creators. Arnold’s diverse portfolio includes companies such as Progressive, Jack Daniel’s and Santander Bank.
Smith’s decision to accept the role at Arnold was two-fold: excitement for the work she was doing and opening up the right email from a recruiter at the right time. Within her career she had developed a true partnership with one of her clients; their team felt like an extension of her team. She became a very big advocate for them and started doing referrals for them as a way to help them grow their business. “As I started doing some of those phone calls,” Smith states, “I had an opportunity to talk my peers of CMOs in different industries and different businesses, and what I found was we started talking about business in general. I enjoyed all of those conversations. I started to think, ‘would I ever want to go back on the service side working with a variety of companies at different stages in their growth trajectory?’ At the same time, I started thinking about it as a career I’d like to do, a recruiter reached out to me.”
Her career began working for a consultancy firm where she learned logistics, supply chain, distribution, finance and marketing. “The SVP of marketing at the time was a mentor,” Smith explains. “He said ‘if you ever want to do what I do, you’re going to have to go back to business school. That’s what took me back to get my M.B.A.” After graduation as she began to look for her next opportunity, she decided to move from the service side to the client side. She accepted a role at Shaw’s Supermarkets. She thought she’d give it a try and see where it went. Ten years later, she found herself wanting to make another career move. “I had to make a decision,” she states matter-of-factly, “whether to stay in groceries or take the skills I had and move into a new industry. That’s when I moved over to footwear. So, I went from Stride Rite to CMO of Brookstone to here [Arnold].”