The finalists for WashingtonExec’s Pinnacle Awards were announced Oct. 13, and we’ll be highlighting some of them until the event takes place virtually Dec. 8.
Next is Marketing Executive of the Year (Public Company) finalist Matt Maurer, who’s chief marketing officer at ICF. Here, he talks key achievements, what has made him successful in his role, career advice and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020/2021?
2021 has been quite a year. We saw many of the values that have always defined ICF, such as public health, clean energy, resilience, economic development, inclusion and more be strongly reflected in our global markets. Our clients started to think differently about how to navigate through steep market challenges, how to be more responsible to their communities, and how to create more positive impact in the world.
This year, we amplified what we do best at ICF: help clients adapt to shifting conditions, think differently and make informed, responsible decisions on their go-forward.
A recent initiative I’m particularly proud of was the launch of the ICF Climate Center. ICF is one of the leading consultancies in the climate space. With the Climate Center, we launched a thought leadership “hub” offering compelling insights on a wide range of climate-related topics to spur innovative thinking and accelerate climate action across multiple industries.
Drawing from our 40+ years of experience across 100+ countries and a passion for sustainability that began in our early years, the ICF Climate Center has enabled us to promote our experts and drive conversations forward. Through it, we have cemented ICF as a go-to resource for climate-related projects and partnerships. We’re proud of the momentum we’ve built here and are only getting started.
What has made you successful in your current role?
I’ve been fortunate to call ICF home since 2016. And while I came to my role with 25+ years of marketing experience, a CMO is only as strong as what we promote. My team has access to over 7,500 of the most passionate and knowledgeable professionals in the world. ICF’s consultants are leading transformative changes in industries that are directly responsible for solving the world’s biggest challenges: technology, public health, disaster management, energy, infrastructure and more.
My mission is to channel their deep domain knowledge and expertise and broadly share their insights and game-changing work. Being able to collaborate and learn from my colleagues has played an important role in my journey at ICF. The successes we have had in marketing are fueled by finding and packaging the incredible stories and perspectives across ICF in a highly compelling way.
Which rules do you think you should break more as an industry leader?
Generally speaking, brands — and the people who manage them — tend to play it safe. But people increasingly expect companies to have a point of view on things beyond products and services and profit and loss. To stand for something that matters. That can seem like a risky thing to do, especially for brands that come to it with opportunism in mind as opposed to authenticity. But brands need to stand for something if they are going to be relevant.
Brands have to matter. Sometimes, that means you have to define what you stand for, or engage in a conversation knowing that not everyone will agree with you. But if you’re doing it from a place of authenticity and realness there’s a lot of value to be gained.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
A mentor of mine once shared some great advice I’ve carried with me. He said: “You don’t know how much you’re capable of.” Most people are capable of so much more than they think. It’s easy to get worn down by the grind, or to let all the crazy challenges we deal with overwhelm us.
And in those moments, it can feel like there’s no easy way to move forward. But if you step back and get some objective distance, you can see things more clearly and the question of where you can go and what you can do feels much more open. And when you get to that place it’s rarely a question of “can I?” It’s much more about “how do I?” And that’s a very good place to be as you grow your career.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
I’m proud of the world-changing work we do at ICF every day in partnership with some of the largest and most impactful government and commercial organizations. Like how we’re supporting the CDC’s nationwide syndromic surveillance platform, BioSense, to help monitor infectious diseases, including COVID-19. And how we’re harnessing the power of artificial intelligence and machine learning to automate, integrate, and modernize IT systems to help federal agencies meet their missions.
And how we’re helping NASA and its partners coordinate their research, assessments, education and communications to address the impacts of climate change. And how we’re providing on-the-ground support to accelerate rebuilding efforts across communities devastated by natural disasters. Just to name a few. The work we do transforms people’s lives, directly or indirectly, every day. And I’m humbled to play a small role in that.