Michelle Greenwald is an adjunct professor at Columbia and NYU. She teaches in Spanish at IESE. She’s spent time in marketing-management roles at Pepsi, Nestle, Disney and Mattel, and at JWT handling the Kraft account. She negotiated the Lipton joint venture and the Ocean Spray joint venture. She was at Pepsi when the company was redefining itself from a soda company to a beverages company. She founded marketing consultancy Marketing Visualized, and her e-book, “Catalyzing Innovation,” which she intends to continually update, published last month.
And she’s a major foodie.
In 2003 she wrote a multicultural cookbook featuring 36 of the world’s most famous chefs and self-published it. And she was Yahoo’s international food blogger for three years. Her e-book is based on the innovation approach of world-renowned Catalan chef Ferran Adria.
And that’s really just the half of it. Her other big venture is Inventours, a global innovation conference that takes executives off-site, out of their routines, to gather with innovators across fields and exchange ideas.
She joined Forbes’ CMO Network as a regular blogger recently, and I caught up with her to learn more about her philosophy and approach to marketing innovation—something we’ll hear more about from her in her posts.
“My audience is very diverse. Because I worked in brand management at all these companies…you’re almost always working on new products and dealing with all these different functional groups. I feel I can relate the concepts to them,” she said. “That’s what’s fun for me—not only relating it to the marketing industry but to individual people’s functions.”
How does she feel about the state of marketing innovation at present? “I feel it’s very random right now, it’s not super-methodical. That’s why I came up with my book.”
She hopes that companies can learn from the way Adria innovates.
“He’s super in-demand. A total celebrity. Part of what he does is get stimuli. He closes his restaurant for six months out of the year and sends his team around the world to find new equipment, ideas. He also has an off-campus workshop,” she said.
She found lessons on new-product development in his approach. “His products are not one-dimensional,” she said. “What made his meal special was not just the ingredients and the cooking, it was the location, the sequence, and separate utensils for almost every dish. He has a lot of humor. A lot of [the experience was] multisensory,” she said, adding, “the best products have multisensory innovation. My Inventours thing was to get people out of their companies, out of their countries and meet other people.”
And in the concept alone, a takeaway for CMOs: “The workplace can have a big impact on the new-product development process and creativity,” she said. “We learn first-hand from the best practitioners in a variety of fields. Just stepping back from your business and getting a little distance on it, another perspective, [is invaluable].”