We’re excited to announce that Michael Williams, chief marketing officer for The Grand Prix of America, Formula 1, will be speaking at VB’s GrowthBeat Summit.

Williams joins a group of 180 chief marketing officers for the invitation-only summit taking place in Boston on June 1 and June 2. In an intimate setting combining keynotes, fireside chats, and small boardroom sessions that encourage open debate, these marketing leaders will be tackling the most pressing issues and opportunities of their time. (Request your invitation here.)

In his own role as CMO, Williams faces the challenge of bringing awareness to a sporting event that has never been hosted in America, but instead has been seen for 60 years as exclusively international. The intent is to bring the Formula 1 race to New York in June 2016 — well, actually, to Weehawken, New Jersey, where the racetrack hugging the Hudson River will offer New York City’s skyline as the backdrop.

Williams’ route to Formula 1 started in the ad agency world at JWT, but he then migrated to sports franchises. He spent three years as CMO for the NHL New Jersey Devils, and for five years, served as VP, Marketing for the San Francisco 49ers — both of which followed his work for Disney’s ice hockey team, the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Now his challenge is to get the general public, media and potential business partners understanding the importance of bringing the Monaco-tinged event to U.S. soil.

Referring to his B2B strategies, Williams deliberately doesn’t use the word sponsor. He believes sponsor is an outdated term from the time when it was enough to slap logos up in prominent signage, host some hospitality events, and call it a day. Now strategic activation and engagement are critical, and for that, true collaboration is vital.

Above all, though, he knows that the story of Formula 1 is paramount, and the passion around the event is one that makes Williams concede that the brand story may as easily originate from the marketplace, especially with the backing of fans via social communities. Trying to exert control over that — through marketers and ad agencies — comes at the risk of missing the real opportunities for fans themselves to steward and shape the brand more convincingly.

This dovetails with the overarching theme of GrowthBeat Summit: ‘Mastering the CMO Role: Merging creativity with technology to drive growth.’ Telling the brand story in a thousand different channels and devices, in a way that resonates appropriately with customers, is essential for companies. GrowthBeat Summit offers a chance to strategize with peers about rising to the challenge.

Request your personal invitiation here. 

Some of the other speakers at GrowthBeat Summit

Lynn Vojvodich, EVP and CMO of Salesforce
Vojvodich joined Salesforce in 2013 and has been very vocal about the need for change in a marketing world that is inextricably fused with technology. Speaking with McKinsey at the end of last year, she said, “As a CMO, if you’re not an agent of change — constantly innovating, constantly changing, constantly pushing the boundaries — then you’re working at a company that will be obsolete in five to ten years.”

Peter Hamilton, CEO and Partner at mobile attribution analytics company TUNE
TUNE works with some of the biggest leaders in the mobile-first space including Uber and Spotify. Just as Salesforce led the charge in SaaS, TUNE is setting the course for the way marketers use data to connect with customers in a multi-device universe.

Scott Brinker, Cofounder and CTO of ion interactive
(And the prolific blogger behind chiefmartech.com.) In his annual tracking of martech, Brinker found that the marketing technology landscape in 2015 includes 1,876 vendors across 43 categories. That’s not only an astonishing number in its own right, but it’s nearly doubled in just the one year since Scott Brinker last compiled the list.

John Kennedy, CMO of Xerox
Appointed to Xerox last July, Kennedy previously was VP of marketing for IBM Global Business Services. Last year, he was recognized by the CMO Club with a Marketing Innovation Award “based on a marketing executive’s demonstrated leadership in creating an innovative marketing environment that changes the game for ROI, customer engagement, and/or for the industry.”

Deena Bahri, CMO for Birchbox Bahri leads growth for the successful subscription service that delivers personalized boxes of beauty, grooming, and lifestyle products on a monthly basis. Last year the company was valued at $485 million with 800,000 subscribers. Bahri has talked openly about how essential data is to the success of the company. Prior to joining Birchbox in 2011, Bahri was senior director of marketing at Gilt, another e-commerce shopping destination.