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PROFILE: Lauren Flaherty - Head of Global Advertising, IBM

You may not be familiar with the name Lauren Flaherty, and if you met her in the street or the supermarket, you would probably not be overawed, dumbstruck, or feel you were in the presence of greatness. But despite her unassuming manner, this 40-something woman from Connecticut, USA should be the closest thing business-to-business marketing has to a global superstar.

Why? Very simply; because during a few short years in the mid-1990s, as its head of global advertising, Flaherty played a pivotal role in the complete reinvention of the then ailing computer giant IBM.

This has proven to be one of the most successful brand overhauls in history. Since 1997, the company has become a byword for all that is excellent in B2B marketing, and the subject of cult-like admiration by marketers in a diverse range of industry sectors. If you don't believe me, take a look at the Q&A pages of B2B Marketing over the last two years. IBM crops up at least every other month as the answer to either or both of the questions: “which B2B brand do you most admire?” and “what is your favourite B2B campaign?”.