Feb 22, 2024 - Business

Communicator Spotlight: Micky Onvural, chief marketing officer for TIAA

Photo illustration collage of Micky Onvural surrounded by abstract shapes.

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: TIAA.

As chief marketing officer for retirement services firm TIAA, Micky Onvural is tasked with grabbing an audience's attention, and convincing them to consider and ultimately engage with TIAA's products.

Why it matters: As one of the few to have jumped between CMO and CEO roles, Onvural is adept at tying comms and marketing to the overall business.

πŸ“How she got here: Onvural held several marketing and communications roles at eBay, Trulia and Kellogg's before joining e-commerce company Bonobos as chief marketing officer. After two years in the role, she was promoted to CEO, where she served for roughly four years.

  • Onvural joined TIAA in 2022 and has "repositioned marketing and communications as a strategic growth lever" for the business.

πŸ— How it's structured: She oversees a team of nine direct reports who manage client and brand marketing, internal and external communications, creative services, martech and marketing analytics, and the TIAA Institute.

πŸ—£What she's saying: Holding the CEO role gave her a deeper appreciation for how the total business works and the role of marketing and communications to unlock growth, says Onvural.

  • "It's made me very, very focused on the outcomes and the bottom line impact of our marketing and communications efforts. Many people say to me, why did you go backward from being CEO to CMO? And I did it because I wanted to bring that kind of mindset into a CMO role," she told Axios.
  • Communicators "have to know the business as well, if not better than, the CEO. You have to deeply understand the products and services, how they're different, how they're adding unique value to the business, but also deeply understand the competitive landscape and who the audience is."

πŸ“ˆ Trend spot: How irreverent marketing can help "disruptor" brands β€” like Oatly β€” break through.

  • "Obviously Oatly is disrupting a category at large with a very differentiated product, but I think the reason they're going to win is because they have taken a very disruptive approach of how they market as well," says Onvural.
  • "It's bold and it's brave and they're not afraid to alienate an audience in the pursuit of a very distinct positioning within the market."

β›° Destress routine: She enjoys hiking and spending time with her husband and three kids in New York's Catskill Mountains.

🍽 Content plate: "I'm British and watch far too much BritBox β€” particularly shows like "Shetland" or "Happy Valley." Any kind of British thriller drama, sign me up."

  • She recently read "Hidden Potential: The Science of Achieving Greater Things" by Adam Grant and "Lessons in Chemistry" by Bonnie Garmus.

🧠 Best advice: "Always start with why."

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