By Jess Washington
One of the pillars Dallas Weekly stands on is the power of legacy and what that means to make way for a better future. As one of the oldest black news publications in Dallas, it’s fortuitous that for Women’s History Month, we reached out to our partners at JP-Morgan Chase, who happens to be one of the oldest banks in America.
We asked whom they believe should be featured for our momentous issue and I was beyond thrilled when they gave us the opportunity to highlight Renée Horne, Chief Marketing & Customer Experience Officer at Chase Auto. Horne is a graduate of University of Missouri and is no stranger to executing marketing plans for multi-billion dollar portfolios with some of the largest companies in the world like FedEx and USAA. For me, it was important to present Black women of various industries within this issue. Knowing that the auto industry is such a “boys club,” I was intrigued to hear directly from Horne about how it all started, what her daily life looks like and what she foresees in the landscape of the auto world not only for Black women, but all people of color.
We met to chat at Chase Bank’s massive corporate campus in Plano, TX. I asked the St. Louis native what about the marketing industry sparked her interest. Renée connects her success in marketing to her passion for understanding the business and the customers she serves in every aspect. For her, it goes hand-in-hand. Horne states that “It’s one of the unique areas that starts with the customer, ends with the customer, starts with the data, ends with the data. It touches almost every facet of the business, from product to pricing, sales, operations, finance.” Considering that Renée began her career as a senior business analyst, financial analyst, and then quickly moved up the ranks in various managerial marketing positions during her 16 years at FedEx, it is clear that Horne has a meticulous point of view on the customer experience.
I asked Renée what a typical day looks like for the CMO of Chase Auto. Renée made it clear, first and foremost, that her day starts with the endearing love she receives from her husband of 22 years and their two wonderful children. But when she steps onto the Chase campus, it’s all about the team. Horne is responsible for overseeing both marketing and customer experience. To do that, she relies on her “diverse team of professionals that have unique skill sets.” They provide a myriad of market research reports, from trends to customer feedback which indicates how their services impact the overall customer experience. And Renée states that it’s imperative that her team has the ability to work cohesively with other teams in order to “get the job done”. On the other hand, as a leader she knows she must set the tone in order to achieve the objectives set upon them. This is where that meticulous personality trait comes in handy. Horne details the numerous factors she takes into account when team building. Gender, ethnic background, racial composition, and overall chemistry are all important factors for Renée when
determining who will join her squad. It starts with fulfilling the immediate skills and experience required for the role and diversity is part of the equation.
Today, there are more women in leadership marketing positions than ever before, but it’s no secret that the auto industry is a white-male dominated industry. Renée being well aware of this fact, broke down the numbers
“So just thinking about the auto industry. If you think about US employee demographics, overall, women make up about 47% of the workforce. But when you step into the auto domain, that number drops in half for manufacturing workers. It drops down to like 20% for wholesale workers in Auto. And it drops to about 22% for auto workers in the dealership space. And so obviously, there’s a ton of opportunity to make progress there”
As Renée climbed the executive ladder, she knew the importance of creating a network of mentorship for women and women of color. She also is sure to stay connected and check in on women she has worked with previously. Horne believes another way to normalize women in leadership positions within the auto industry is to be visible. Participation in trade associations, industry based organizations and connecting with women in various positions across the industry can help even the playing field and create more opportunity for women who want a career in auto. As the saying goes, it takes a village! Renée beams as she recalls women who she had mentored and now, not only hold executive positions themselves, but do their own work to pave the way for the next generation of female leaders.
One thing that really caught my attention when researching Horne’s illustrious career, was her unique insight to the power of social media and digital marketing. She said it was about a decade ago that she noticed a huge shift in how people consumed media. And she’s done various presentations on how executives should use social media to enhance their brand equity and create trust with their customers. With social media trends constantly changing, I was curious to know through Renée’s lens how using social media data impacts the marketing strategies she and her team at Chase Auto create. And she explained, there are various methodologies to obtain this data. Social media is a necessary branding tool in her industry, not only to communicate to customers from a marketing standpoint but also interpret what the customer needs from the services provided. Everything from insights to influencers helps Horne determine what the next move should be for the brand. Assuredly, Horne proclaims that social media is “one of the greatest phenomena of our lifetime.” Naturally, she also uses social media platforms like Twitter and LinkedIn to stay connected with her mentored network.
It’s no question that the global COVID-19 pandemic impacted all industries during 2020 and much of 2021. And Renée began her role at Chase Auto right in the middle of it. During this uncertain time, she is very proud of the philanthropic commitments Chase made company wide to help out their customers across the globe. $50 million for healthcare initiatives and $350 million to help grow Black, Latinx and women owned small businesses. Nationally, Chase issued almost $1.2 billion for payroll protection. The team at Chase Auto remained customer focused. For over 340,000 customers, they offered lease extensions and payment deferrals. And this year, they launched Chase Auto Finance and Drive, a digital car-buying and financing platform.
I truly believe that success isn’t only measured by what you do when you’re on the clock but also what you do when you’re off the clock. As women, especially those of us who wear multiple hats as wives and or mothers, we are cognizant of the influence we have over those that look up to us. Renée Horne understands this as well. Renée is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta sorority, a board member of the National Black MBA association and a board member of Digital Futures Initiative. I asked what inspires her to be resourceful and mentor the way that she does. Horne recalls her upbringing in a suburb in the Midwest during the 70’s and 80’s. She recalls her family sometimes living check to check, and knowing very little about savings or investments because the opportunities to do so were infrequent. This is a very familiar depiction of life for a lot of Black families in her community and Black families across the nation. And it’s these experiences that showed Renée the importance of giving back.
“I have an obligation. I’ve always felt that way. I was taught that from the Church, from schoolyards, that particularly as Black Americans, we have to give back. We have to pay it forward and take the village. And it’s not always necessarily within my household, but it’s the neighbor’s child or a sorority sister or someone who’s connected to my associations outside of work that might be listening to me that can benefit from a lesson or some advice that I can pass on. So it is in my DNA. And that’s just how I was raised, to pay it forward.”
Horne’s statement echoes the meaning of the popular phrase, “representation matters.” And it does. Renée knows that existing in this space, holding the title of Chief Marketing & Customer Experience Officer allows that little brown child, teen, or young adult to dream bigger.
As we started to conclude our chat, I saw what I believe those who work for and with her see, a great leader. Renée Horne’s strong foundation, education, business fundamentals and service to others all equate to the success she humbly claims. She imparts emphasis on the women in her life like her mother, grandmother and aunts who were examples of perseverance, provided so much guidance and paved the way for her. Horne is also thankful for the barriers broken by industry leaders like Rosiland Brewer, the CEO of Walgreens Boots Alliance, Ursula Burns who is the former CEO Xerox and Thasuanda Brown Duckett who was the former CEO of Chase Consumer Banking and is now the CEO of TIAA. Renée knows that as a Black woman at her level, it’s imperative that she uses her voice to allow space for the next woman that looks like her. But she also states the importance of white women in positions of leadership to use their voice to propel women of color as well. I agree
that as a unified front, women can level the landscape and see real equality.
Oprah Winfrey once said, “The world’s most prominent women leaders show the importance of honesty, courage, impact and decisive action leadership.” Well, Renée Horne checks all the boxes and then some. As an executive, a daughter, a wife, a mother and as a Black woman, her path to success is quite aspirational. It was a true honor to celebrate her for Women’s History Month.