michael-collinsMichael Collins

Managing Director and Chief Marketing Officer
CFA Institute



What was your first job?

I started out as a newspaper carrier for The Herald-Whig in Quincy, Ill. My route had 126 customers on it for the daily edition and Sunday morning paper.

Most exciting campaign you’ve seen in action recently

IBM’s latest Watson ads catch my eye. Artificial Intelligence (AI) is a salient topic right now, and I’m fond of the way IBM is blending the practical business case for different industries with a bit of humor that is both humanizing and approachable.

Best line or phrase you’ve heard in an agency meeting

“Your company’s brand has a bounty of uniqueness.” That made me laugh. I can’t help but wonder how many times they used that line with different clients.

Who’s an influencer you admire and why?

The first that comes to mind is Guy Kawasaki, chief evangelist at Canvas, brand ambassador for Mercedes-Benz and executive fellow at UC Berkeley. Whenever I read any of his writing or hear him speak, he’s inspiring. Few others can weave together the themes of innovation, evangelism and entrepreneurship like Guy.

Best new tech innovation you are most interested learning more about

Honestly, anything Apple creates always piques my interest.

Favorite social media platform

LinkedIn. It connects me to meaningful content and serves as a virtual rolodex of contacts I’ve made – and one’s I’d like to make. From a marketer’s perspective, it provides excellent analytics and insights into how and which of our customers are engaging on the platform.

What’s on your reading list?

I’m currently reading The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business by Charles Duhigg. It’s an insightful take on patterns and psychology, with some actionable lessons for both marketing and everyday life.

Where do you go for inspiration?

Our agency, which is in part why we chose it. Spending time outside of my office and in a creative environment, with diverse perspectives and people not immersed in our business 24/7, really can inspire fresh thinking. That said, I find the same inspiration visiting with our staff and CFA Societies around the world. I think a common barrier to inspiration and innovation is that people just don’t get out enough. Changing the view, the environment, the sounds, the smells… nothing beats it for sparking ideas.

What keeps you up at night?

Daily, the New York City traffic outside my window. From a business perspective, it’s how to meaningfully reach our audience in 160 countries and territories with the budget we have. I’m constantly turning over ideas in my head about how to do that, new things to try and evaluating what’s worked, what hasn’t and – the million-dollar question – why things succeeded or failed in each case.

Best advice for someone working in PR today?

Get a well-rounded view of the full marketing spectrum. All channels are converging. There will always be a place for specialists, but the most effective PR strategists are those that understand how their work complements and integrates with all the other pieces in a campaign. No one succeeds by operating in a vacuum.