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Chief Marketing Officer, Virgin Trains USA


Fortress Affiliate

Ref#: 2321

Date published: 20-Jun-2019

About Virgin Trains USA

Virgin Trains USA (VTUSA) (DBA Brightline) is two unique and complementary businesses: privately owned and operated express intercity passenger rail service that redefines leisure and business travel and the development of mixed use real estate around its stations. The operational service in Florida connects Miami, Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach and soon, Orlando. The company has also acquired and is developing a high-speed passenger rail system between Southern California and Las Vegas. VTUSA is developing transit-oriented development around its three South Florida stations (approx. 1.5msf) and its planned station in Las Vegas.

Seamlessly connecting passengers to the downtown centers of Florida’s top destinations, Virgin Trains USA offers residents and visitors a better, smarter choice while setting new global standards in passenger rail travel. The trainsets, which are built in America, feature extra-wide seats and aisles, robust Wi-Fi, spacious bathrooms and on-board food and beverage offerings. The state-of-the-art stations and related transit-oriented real estate development sites are strategically located in the places people live, work and play – steps away from cultural and entertainment attractions and major business districts.

Owned and operated by Florida East Coast Industries (FECI), the service will connect Miami and Orlando in about three hours. Utilizing an existing freight railway corridor, VTUSA trains will travel 195 miles along Florida’s east coast between Miami and Cocoa, where the system will then head west along the State Road 528 corridor, terminating into a completed state-of-the-art station at the Orlando International Airport’s new Intermodal Terminal Facility. VTUSA opened limited revenue service between Fort Lauderdale and West Palm Beach in January 2018 and to Miami in May 2018. Hourly service between the three city pairs started in August 2018. The company has started limited construction between West Palm Beach and Orlando, with service expected to start in mid-2022.

According to the 2016 U.S. Census, 36 percent of Florida’s 20 million residents live in Miami-Dade, Broward, Palm Beach and Orange counties, and more than five percent of all Floridians live within five miles of the VTUSA stations.  Each year there are more than 390 million trips taken by people traveling between the four major cities that will be served by VTUSA - Miami,  Fort Lauderdale, West Palm Beach and Orlando.

Trains operate at 79 miles per hour between Miami and West Palm Beach and will reach speeds of 110 miles per hour between West Palm Beach and Cocoa and 125 miles per hour between Cocoa and the Orlando.  Trains will run at approximately one-hour intervals with 16 round trips per weekday.  VTUSA expects to operate the trains at an overall average speed similar to the Acela Express service operating on the Northeast Corridor between New York and Washington, D.C. at 80 miles per hour, thus reducing the travel time between Miami and Orlando to approximately three hours.

The project has created thousands of direct, non-recurring jobs from construction of the rail infrastructure and stations, and hundreds of permanent jobs for the rail operations. This is in addition to the additional jobs from the construction of the surrounding transit-oriented developments, the rolling stock manufacturers and indirect jobs that will ultimately be generated by this new economic engine.

Virgin Trains West will connect Victorville, CA, and Las Vegas, NV, and final engineering and permitting are currently under development. Construction is expected to start in 2020 and should take approximately 3.5 years to complete. Virgin Trains West will serve an addressable market of 56 million and will connect the two cities in approximately 90 minutes, resulting in a trip that is less than the cost of driving or flying. The Las Vegas station will be within close proximity to the Las Vegas strip and offer significant transit oriented development opportunities.

For more information, please visit http://www.gobrightline.com/.

About FECI

Florida East Coast Industries, LLC (FECI) is one of Florida’s oldest and largest full-service commercial real estate, transportation, and infrastructure companies. Headquartered in Coral Gables, Fla., FECI has a rich history dating back over a century.  Mr. Henry Flagler first established a predecessor company in 1892, which became a pioneer in the development of Florida's eastern coast.  FECI is owned by private equity funds managed by affiliates of Fortress Investment Group, LLC.  For more information, visit www.feci.com.

About Fortress

Fortress Investment Group, LLC is a leading, highly diversified global investment manager with approximately $39.9 billion of assets under management as of December 31, 2018. Founded in 1988, Fortress manages assets on behalf of over 1,750 institutional clients and private investors worldwide across a range of credit and real estate, private equity and permanent capital investment strategies. Investment performance is our cornerstone -we strive to generate strong risk adjusted returns for our investors over the long term. For additional information on Fortress, please visit www.fortress.com.

About the Position

Based in Miami, the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) will be a member of the Executive Committee that is responsible for the day-to-day management of the business to include current operations and future growth and expansion opportunities.  The CMO will report directly to the President and will closely coordinate and be responsible for integration with the Chief Sales Officer, the Chief Financial Officer, the Chief Development Officer, the Senior Vice President of Technology and the Senior Vice President of Corporate Affairs.

The CMO candidate is a highly capable marketer with a proven ability to build a marketing organization that is accountable for significant traffic and revenue. Ideal candidates will have experience in organizations with both B2B and B2C audience/segments. Start-up and private equity experience is a plus.

He or she will maintain principle responsibility for all marketing, digital and advertising initiatives, including leading the strategy and execution of the development of a dynamic vision and mission for the marketing team. This includes developing a comprehensive marketing strategy and growth plan for a 67-mile, three station railroad that will eventually transition into a statewide intercity passenger rail system, connecting two of the most visited and congested regions in the U.S.

The CMO will be deeply experienced in digital marketing and delivering a consistent, user experience across all digital touchpoints. Also, clear, compelling messaging must be developed for each target market segment that inspires engagement.

The CMO will be an innovative and versatile leader and have the proven ability to develop and launch distinctive, new and compelling brands. The CMO should have the ability to generate big, lofty ideas while being hands-on and able to inspire a team.

The CMO will maintain an effective communication framework across the functional areas of the company in order to create accountable and integrated alignment between all the revenue-related and communication components of the operation.

The CMO will lead world-class talent and teams. As VTUSA continues to evolve, the CMO will continue to raise the bar by conducting rigorous periodic reviews – working toward the ultimate goal of building a thriving, rightsized enterprise populated with world-class talent from top to bottom.  In managing the team, the CMO will set clear, measurable objectives, efficiently delegate responsibility and reward and recognize outstanding performance.  

The CMO will motivate, influence and persuade peers and associates across a large geographical network – as well as the ability to clearly convey ideas and gain commitment from suppliers and customers.  The CMO will be play the “face of the company role” publicly, while serving, internally, as a member of the President’s executive committee and interacting with financial sponsors and the board of directors. 

The CMO will also lead efforts to create appropriate metrics and tools to constantly assess the effectiveness of advertising, product and promotional expenditures, distribution systems and strategies and overall customer satisfaction.

Key Responsibilities

Brand Development

  • A brand cheerleader – someone who brings the brand vision to life and inspires both teammates and guests.

  • A proven brand builder who can define our product value and find unique ways to build an emotional connection with each of VTUSA’s audience/segments.

  • Lead the creation and development of a new brand, Virgin Trains USA, including experience, values and mission and purpose.

Go To Market Strategies

  • Work with the CSO to develop a clearly defined approach for B2B and B2C market segments

  • Develop a clearly defined approach for cross marketing with other Virgin branded companies, like Virgin Hotels, Virgin Voyages and Virgin Atlantic.

  • Develop new services or product attributes to drive incremental revenue, business expansion or in response to learnings from current operations.

Product Creation

  • Research, develop and define specific product offerings designed to generate various components of revenue from targeted customer segments.

  • Create and manage a system to assess and install product enhancements and modifications in rapid –response to observed operating results.

Pricing Strategies and Execution

  • Work with pricing team to optimize inventory use and yield.

  • Develop and manage tools and metrics to constantly measure effectiveness of pricing strategies.

Sales/Marketing Performance Strategies and Effectiveness

  • Develop and implement a plan to generate the demand, traffic and awareness required to achieve revenue growth from various audience segments

  • Set individual and organization-wide goals, objectives and targets for the marketing team to provide lead generation to the sales team, supporting the overall economics of the company

  • Develop and manage a set of tools and metrics to monitor specific performance of sales and marketing efforts against targets.

  • Develop and manage tools for measurement and analysis of customer satisfaction with products, services and value propositions.

Functional Alignment

  • Drive marketing and sales initiatives that support the revenue plan.

  • Provide required data and analysis to inform information technology necessary to support revenue generation.

  • Provide data and analysis necessary to support financial reporting and planning functions for the company.

Desired Outcomes

  • Align the marketing organization to support the revenue goals of the Company by segment

  • Drive customer acquisition and loyalty by developing and implementing a well thought out marketing strategy and relationship with each target audience/segment.

  • Enhance growth and the Virgin Trains USA (Brightline) brand through innovative, creative and behavior changing campaigns.

  • Bring a bottom-line results orientation that delivers on commitments and holds others accountable.

  • Develop a measurable lead generation pipeline for the sales team

  • Lead, inspire and develop a forward-thinking, winning and diverse team.

Ideal Experience

20+ years of relevant executive marketing management, ideally in a hybrid B2B and B2C environment

Significant experience leading strategy/revenue generation with a demonstrated record of quantitative results.

5+ years at an experience-driven service organization 

Hospitality and/or transportation experience is desired, but not required. 

Proven capability to lead and integrate in complex and unprecedented situations with new and disruptive products and services

Translating vision into a coherent strategy for identifying and reaching markets and opportunities.

Start-up and/or private equity experience

An undergraduate degree is required 

A graduate degree would be viewed as a distinct plus.

Critical Leadership Capabilities

Driving Results

  • Acts to surpass goals, seizing opportunities to push the envelope.

  • Sets continually higher goals that are ambitious but realistic for self and team, geared to organizational objectives.

  • Focuses on new business opportunities that enable business development targets to be exceeded

  • An ability to help build a culture that is action- and results-oriented and values quantitative analysis to assess situations and inform proactive responses.

Strategic Thinking

  • Explains specifically how changes in competitors, clients, and market segments affect own business or institution.

  • Translates broad corporate strategies into clear, specific objectives and plans for units and individuals.

  • Creates plans that address specific segments or contrasts local market with other locations or segments.

  • Thinks 2-3 years ahead.

Collaborating and Influencing

  • Facilitates discussions to enable people to collaborate with each other independently; promotes collaboration across multiple parties.

  • Identifies and meets with key players and stakeholders to help them shape a consensus collectively and engages in a dialogue to reach a final conclusion together, compromising as necessary for results

  • Develops explicit understanding of which relationships are most important to the organization and its stakeholders, builds a network prioritizing these relationships.

Other Personal Characteristics

  • Irrepressible optimism and a willingness to engage deeply with the executive team to advance ideas, initiatives and strategies.

  • Uncontrollable curiosity for evolving consumer trends, culture and technology and the creative application of learnings to business opportunities.

  • Superior written and oral communication skills.

  • Strong relationship builder both internally and externally.

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