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Brandonomics from Savage - Ralph Vasami

Ralph Vasami

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Are your employees living the brand? They should be! Robin Tooms asks Ralph Vasami, president and CEO of Universal Weather and Aviation.

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Robin: Hello, and welcome to Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies. I'm Robin Tooms, VP of Strategy at Savage Brands, and my guest again today is Ralph Vasami, CEO at Universal Weather and Aviation. So Ralph, I'm so glad you're back on Brandonomics.

Ralph: Thank you, Robin. Good to be here, again.

Robin: Well, Ralph, we have talked about the brand that you have at Universal Weather, but really it's a B2B company and it's obviously many times the employees, through their actions and behaviors, that's what's representing that brand. So I want to know more about how you're helping to ensure their living the brand that you set forth.

Ralph: That's been our biggest challenge over the last couple of years because as the market changes, you've got to enable your employees to adapt to those changes but still feel an emotional tie to what they're trying to achieve that is greater than just their jobs. So I always use a 300-year-old metaphor about the bricklayers. You're either coming to lay bricks or you're coming to build a cathedral, and with Universal, we're trying to help our employees understand how they're contributing to building our cathedral, which is a global community, an ecosystem of support, for our customers' missions, to help them with their missions.

I think the most profound part of it was when our employees finally understood that a flight was more than getting them from Point A to B, where it was all about just good service or good price and they started to understand the reasons that these customers take the flights, like humanitarian, where we actually enrich and save lives. There's a lot of business reasons that actually helps move global commerce and worldwide economies, which is true when they do these big business deals, or it could be as simple as getting a mother or father home in time for their child's soccer game where the airlines couldn't enable that.

Robin: Yeah, so I understand you've been kind of on a personal mission internally to deliver this message as well, so how did you do that?

Ralph: I did it one step at a time. I did 50 sessions with all of our employees. We broke it down into about teams of 12 and I did it here in Houston first and then I took it to all of our regional centers around the world, and it was important that all of our employees heard the same message, but this time, the difference was our internal message was completely aligned to our external message in what we're trying to sell to customers.

Robin: That's very amazing. I'm thinking that other CEOs should take a page out of that playbook.

Ralph: Yes. I think there's a lot of lessons learned in a CEO taking the time to help their employees understand how they contribute to the customer success.

Robin: All right. Well, I'm so glad that you shared that. Thank you, Ralph.

Ralph: Sure.

Robin: This has been another edition of Brandonomics, an inside look at top brands and their marketing strategies.

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