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Successful Digital Transformation: Key Learning and Advice for Chief Digital Officers

Patrick Hoffstetter, chief digital officer at Renault and director of the Renault Digital Factory, and Tanya Cordrey, former chief digital officer at Guardian News and Media (GNM), talk to Spencer Stuart about guiding their organisations through digital transformation. In this video, Hoffstetter and Cordrey explain how getting the engagement of top management is critical, but you have to educate them on the issues and, if necessary, expose them to Silicon Valley. Digital transformation is a long, complex journey, and definitely not a one-man job. It is a marathon, not a sprint.


Video Transcript


After a few years in the role, I ask myself, if I could start again what would I do differently? Honestly, so far I have absolutely no regrets on all the projects we did and the organisation I set up. What I would change is the internal engagement at top management level. On that I have been catching up recently. The one thing that we always underestimate is the level of pedagogy and explanation you need to do on those topics.

Top management was not against it, but not really supportive either. When you are benchmarking the different CAC40 companies or any big corporation across the globe, the key success factor is the level of engagement and push from the top management.


If I was to have my time again I would push harder on the relationships in Silicon Valley earlier on. Initially, for the first 3 years, I and some of my team were doing a lot of the partnership work and I remember one of my colleagues turning round and saying “you are always in California” – in fact I went once a year. It wasn’t until I got some of my peers and the CEO etc. to go to California as well, and have some of those conversations, that they also found it both energising and useful for the organisation – not just from a product and engineering point of view, but from a commercial and an editorial point of view.


One thing that is important is very quickly to be able to find allies within the corporation, not just at executive level but also in the different business units, in the different markets, because the main risk for the CDO is going on a lonely journey. When you talk about your digital transformation it is not a one-man job – you have to have the right connections, put in place the right governance, and really make sure that beyond your own team you have got the right scheme internally, because let’s face it, it is a long and complex journey.


If I was to talk to my younger self I would probably say, you are not invincible. An amazing job at a fantastic company can be all-consuming and actually the truth is you have got to take time for yourself, for your family and friends. I don’t wish to give the impression that I’ve neglected all of those things, but I think there are times where you realise that the role can be so consuming that you slightly forget those other things or you don’t spend as much time on them as you need to – and they are the things that give you the sustainable energy to do a great job in the long term. So, it’s marathon, not a sprint.

For additional chief digital officers insights, view other videos in the series.

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