Participant Story

Becky Bond

Headshot of Executive Becky Bond

Exploring the Art and Science of Digital Marketing

  • Role

    Principal, Head of Marketing, Europe, Vanguard
  • Industry

    • Finance

I gained a better understanding of marketing, but in a different time and way than I'd ever experienced before.

Becky Bond is the head of marketing for Europe at Vanguard. While transitioning into her current leadership role, Becky began looking for ways to ensure that the most relevant digital marketing information was at her fingertips. The company's head of global marketing recommended Marketing in the Digital Era (now titled Strategic Marketing for Driving Growth) at Harvard Business School, which he had previously attended. After talking with her manager in Europe, who had participated in several HBS courses, she decided that this program would be the ideal opportunity for both upskilling and networking.

What made you choose to attend Strategic Marketing for Driving Growth? Were your objectives met?

Although I have some background in marketing, things have evolved significantly since. So, I wanted to get a better sense of what marketing looks and feels like now and explore the best thinking around marketing in the digital era. By the time I completed the course, I’d been in the role for seven months, so I was able to bring some real business opportunities to the discussion as we went through the cases to help me practically apply what I was learning.

HBS has a unique approach to learning that I had heard about from colleagues and was certainly one of the reasons for me wanting to attend this course. Individual case study exploration followed by discussion groups before a broader debate with the professors was a great way to learn new things and hear varying views on topics. The combination of that along with a focus on upskilling and networking—were central to my decision to attend. The program helped me to successfully onboard into a leadership role in a new domain.

What key program takeaways are you applying in your professional life today?

The overarching theme that I took away is the importance of customer orientation and how digital tools can enable that focus. I enjoyed exploring how to digitally enable the customer journey to add scale, save costs and benefit the client experience, and then also determine when a human touch still matters most. I also gained more insights into AI which we're experimenting with at Vanguard, and how it can benefit marketers in driving client and business outcomes.

I gained a better understanding of marketing, but in a different time and way than I'd ever experienced before.

I think of marketing as an art and a science, and the program does a nice job of bringing that to life through learning about the data and the metrics, but also balancing that with the creative and intangible elements of marketing as well.

Did you enjoy your learning group?

The discussion groups in the mornings were brilliant. The HBS learning approach of taking an individual deep dive into the case studies, bringing it to a smaller group where you discuss and debate, and then bringing it back into the classroom was really powerful for me.

The in-person aspect of the program was another important part. Genuine relationships were formed that will help us with our career journeys going forward. We also have a WhatsApp group that has remained very active where we can ask questions and share our ongoing career journeys with one another. As we travel to different countries, hopefully we can catch up in person (this has already happened with a number of my colleagues on the course).

How would you describe the value of the program to someone who is thinking about applying?

First, it's Harvard Business School! You’re learning in one of the most prestigious places in the world, and the learning approach around the case studies exposes you to the greatest thinking. Second, the people and the diversity are amazing. I couldn't believe the variety of backgrounds, nationalities, and sectors represented in the course. And third is the immersive learning experience, including the social side of it.

For me, the greatest value comes from building those relationships and staying connected with those individuals going forward. If I'm thinking about a challenge from a marketing perspective, I can reach out to those people for advice.

And finally, as a leader, you bring back some great program content and takeaways to share with your team. I've been inspired to lead a few discussions with my team on my return and allow them to contribute their own ideas, which in turn will prompt ideas for how we can do things better for our clients.

What advice would you give to someone who is considering the program?

I would offer the same advice my colleagues gave me: clear the calendar. If you're going to do the course, make sure you can do it 110%. That was the biggest piece of advice I got that really paid off as it means you can fully immerse yourself. The value is doubled if you’re not distracted and dipping in and out of things.

And the only other thing–there's a fair amount of pre-reading to do, so try and get that done before you arrive so you can maximize the time you have on campus!

Featured Program

Strategic Marketing for Driving Growth