From Call Center to the C-suite: Nationwide’s Ramon Jones Shares Lessons on Achieving Success     

From Call Center to the C-suite: Nationwide’s Ramon Jones Shares Lessons on Achieving Success    

 Ramon Jones has reached the pinnacle of corporate power as executive vice president and chief marketing officer at Nationwide. As CMO and a member of the senior leadership team of the Columbus, Ohio-based insurance and financial services giant, he oversees departments that promote Nationwide’s “On Your Side” pledge with its stakeholders – customers, partners, communities, and associates. Since being elevated to his current position in 2019, this 22-year veteran has been responsible for brand and marketing strategies, advertising, creative services, social media, and corporate communications. In this essay, he shares his career journey, business philosophy, and lessons for success: 

I got my first job at 13 years old—cleaning school buses. My older brother was a bus driver at the time and helped me and my twin brother get the job. Looking back, it’s fair to say I didn’t always appreciate the opportunity. I loved going to work with my brothers. I did not love washing school buses, especially outside during Philadelphia winters. But my big brother impressed upon me the importance of working hard and making yourself invaluable, regardless of the job.  

To this day, I live by his words. Today, I proudly serve as the chief marketing officer of a Fortune 100 company. I’m often asked about my career journey—how did that young kid from Philly get here? In short, my path wasn’t a straight line to the C-suite. It required sacrifices, the willingness to put in the work, and, most importantly, help from many people along the way.  

There is no checklist for climbing the corporate ladder, but experience has taught me several valuable lessons.   

Spend time on the front lines  

After college, one of my earliest jobs was as an insurance underwriter. I worked in a call center where I heard, first-hand, the questions and concerns of policyholders in some of their most difficult moments, from worries about making next month’s payment to reporting car accidents and house fires, and sometimes worse. It was eye-opening and taught me a lot about listening and conveying empathy. It also gave me invaluable insight into the needs of our customers.  

Even if you are not in a customer-facing role, spend time interacting with the people who buy and sell your products. “Front line” experience provides many learnings that are hard to replicate. 

Understand business basics  

No matter your responsibilities or aspirations, know how your company generates revenue and profit. Understanding the income statement and how your business’s performance is measured is vital foundational knowledge. Additionally, learn how to leverage analytics and interpret market research to make data-driven decisions.  

Couple these hard skills with soft skills like effective communications, mentorship, and creativity, and you can enhance your leadership potential and be better equipped to manage increasing responsibilities.   

Create a development plan  

It can be difficult to advance without a career roadmap. Spend time assessing and re-assessing your career situation and identify actionable steps to take and connections to make to help reach your goals. Speak up, lean on your network, and seek opportunities to partner with people who have accomplished something you aspire to do. Be open to that “stretch” assignment that may be outside your comfort zone; it can be a springboard to something bigger. 

Build your own board    

Much like companies have a board of directors to enforce accountability and ask questions, individuals can apply that model by assembling a personal board. Seek advisors with diverse perspectives and experiences, and most importantly, seek people who will tell you the truth. The composition of your board may evolve over time, but the members should always challenge you as much as they champion you.  

 Take time to give back  

I am fortunate that my company, Nationwide, lives its “On Your Side” brand promise by encouraging associates to take part in volunteer events and community giving campaigns. If volunteerism or activism is important to you, make time for it. Better yet, work for a company that shares your values as it can lead to longer-term fulfillment.  

Charting a path to corporate leadership is not a linear or solitary exercise. Focus on what matters to you and stay accountable for your progression. Stay true to yourself. And just as you look to others for support, paying it forward and guiding those around you will ultimately contribute to your success.  

This post is sponsored by Nationwide.