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 Oliver Nutt, who’s vice president of marketing and external communications at GDIT. Here, he talks career turning points, career advice, key achievements and more.
What key achievements did you have in 2020/2021?
When facing a global pandemic, there wasn’t a playbook companies and leaders could reference on how to respond. For me and all levels of leadership across GDIT, it was doubling down on leading with compassion and empathy.
Employees were managing and continue to face different needs and challenges in their personal lives. Combining this focus on empathy with transparent communication helped bring our teams together, and it was remarkable to be part of a company that helped so many customers respond to the impacts of COVID-19.
For my marketing and communications team, a key achievement was pivoting quickly to continue serving the business by accelerating aspects of our digital strategy, looking for new opportunities to connect with customers and employees, and for creative opportunities to make a difference.
One initiative I’m really proud of is GDIT STEMulate. In response to virtual schooling challenges caused by the pandemic, the program connected thousands of elementary, middle and high school, and college-aged students across the country to free online STEM-focused technology training.
One of our differentiators is the depth of our portfolio and breadth of what we’re able to do for our customers. We launched GDIT Perspectives, an online thought leadership platform, as part of digital strategy to share points of view on the technology landscape, stories on innovations and perspectives on key issues impacting our market. This has served as an important communication platform for both customers, partners and employees.
What has made you successful in your current role?
Accountability and building strong and transparent partnerships across the organization has been a key focus. Throughout my career, I’ve always centered my strategy on the development of people and empowering them to make decisions. This enables agility and responsiveness, and is fundamental when you’re branding and marketing at scale.
I’ve been vice president of marketing and external communications for three years now, moving into the role shortly after the major GDIT acquisition of CSRA in 2018. This presented a unique opportunity to reimagine the marketing and communications organization, our team culture, brand and how we served the business.
Part of this journey is ensuring that marketing and communications is viewed as integral to business strategy. By building trust and continuously demonstrating value, we have successfully established the marketing function as a strategic business partner.
One of the questions that comes up is how are we going to measure our marketing investments? We have put the mechanisms and tools in place to demonstrate ROI, such as campaign impact to our employer brand and recruiting.
What was a turning point or inflection point in your career?
I started working for General Dynamics in the U.K. nearly 10 years ago and was given the opportunity to move to the U.S. and lead marketing and communications for our federal civilian division. This was certainly a pivotal moment both professionally and personally.
Since that time, I have held several positions at the company with the autonomy to lead some monumental initiatives, such as GDIT’s rebrand in 2019.
Internal mobility and ensuring employees have opportunities to build their careers within the company is something we focus on a lot. I have certainly been able to do this at General Dynamics. I’m passionate about developing talent, an area I focus on as executive sponsor for Aspire, our Employee Resource Group for early-career professionals.
It’s great to be part of an organization where you can shape your career and have such diverse experiences. We really want GDIT to be a place where our employees feel they can grow, take ownership and build rewarding careers.
What are you most proud of having been a part of in your current organization?
To be part of the company during a period of such significant transformation since the acquisition of CSRA in 2018 has been incredible. Establishing a new marketing and communications organization while building a brand and marketing strategy to align with GDIT’s new capabilities and culture is something I’m very proud of.
We’ve navigated through a period of constant change, from a complex organizational integration to pivoting with focus and creativity during the pandemic. The marketing team culture of trust, accountability and support we’ve built together has been the foundation for so many achievements, from completing a successful rebrand, which was recognized with the 2020 Global Rebrand 100 Distinction Award, to launching the largest national campaigns in the history of General Dynamics.
What’s your best career advice for those who want to follow in your footsteps?
Say yes to opportunities and don’t fear failure. There may be times you feel like you’re not ready for the next step in your career, but say yes and welcome the challenge. If you’re not out of your comfort zone at certain points, you’re not learning.
Be curious and constantly look to learn from the people around you. I always try to remain open to possibilities and new ways of taking on challenges. This encourages teams to bring new ideas to the table and helps build a culture of continuous improvement.