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A Day in the Life of... Tara O'Rourke, Head of Brand Marketing at Coca-Cola Hellenic

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 1 May 2019
Updated: Tuesday 30 April 2019

Tara O'Rourke Coca-Cola

What does a Head of Brand Marketing at Coca-Cola Hellenic do? 

Working with a fabulous bunch of talented people, cross-functionally in our business and externally across a network of agencies, suppliers and customers.  Essentially everything I do is centred around solving a business challenge or problem with a clear set of actions that form the Plan.  Overall my Team is responsible for delivering sustainable profitable growth for our brands on the island of Ireland.  We develop strategies and campaigns with the goal of reaching the hearts and minds of consumers and engaging in a positive and relevant way.  It is easier to stay in peoples’ heads if you reach their hearts. In addition to creating an emotional connection with our brands my role involves creating a strategic vision, building unique positioning, a sustainable competitive advantage, an innovation pipeline and digital development.  



What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

My real door opener into FMCG was a move to Client Account Management in Nielsen. It helped me to develop a thorough understanding of the drivers of business success, gave great exposure to a wide range of blue-chip companies and well-known household brand names like Cadbury, Heineken, Denny and Dairygold and led to a number of roles in Kraft Foods Ireland and Coca-Cola Hellenic. International project experience has taken me to interesting places as far away as Australia, Russia, Greece, Hungary, Slovenia, Poland and Switzerland or closer to home in the UK, France, Germany and Vienna. 



What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Keeping a brand front of mind with a meaningful point of difference in this competitive noisy world we live in. People lead busy and complex lives, so we have an increasingly small window of opportunity to draw people’s attention to our brand or our latest campaign.  To have any cut-through, we need to be really clear about what we want people to recall and what attributes or information we want them to associate with our brand. When a brand has made it to household name status, it is so important to maintain the popularity and reputation of that brand, but this is not an easy job. Even a great brand needs investment and care if it is going to retain its relevance and vitality.  As marketers, we’re all here to drive sustainable growth for our business, so brands leading in innovation and disrupting the conventional ways of doing business tend to win. In today’s world, we know that to sustain future growth, brands need to be seen to improve the life of a consumer in a relevant way.  Therefore, a brand’s share of voice should be prioritised just as much as its market share. It is also vital to ensure spending is being used effectively. For example, if a brand campaign is not driving awareness, search, and social commentary better than its competition, then the first step is to find out why.  If a brand is already salient, then alternative growth strategies could be considered in order to decide what activities will maintain relevancy and growth.



What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

Listening and observing with curiosity is incredibly important!  It all starts with understanding the why, then moves to building the strategic plans based on the how. Storytelling, inspiring and engaging your audience is essential. You need to be able to capture, interpret and apply consumer, shopper and customer and market insights to brand communications, positioning and decision making. Excellent commercial and financial acumen definitely helps with business cases as does developing and maintaining strong relationships and clearly communicating on many levels.  As a leader you need to build your team of talent by being visionary, creative, persuasive and foster innovation while keeping highly motivated, results driven and exceptional at time and resources management and planning.  Continuous professional development and keeping knowledge refreshed is important. I always recommend strengthening skills over time with ongoing training. 



Describe a typical working day.

The beauty about Marketing as a career is that a typical day does not really exist. The variety is fabulous. One day I could be discussing TV copy or a packaging design brief with my Creative Director, sampling a range of flavour formulations with my team for a new concept or meeting with one of our Rugby Sponsorship partners to discuss event activation.  Yes, there are routines set up for weekly, monthly and quarterly business performance review meetings.  We tend to work on a constantly rolling business planning cycle. Currently we are in the Long-Range Strategic Planning phase focussing on 2025 and the longer term. We will then move into annual business planning for the next 3-5 years and specifically focus on fleshing out plans for 2020.   We all know it is important to switch off from it all and recharge in order to be our best.  To clear my head in the mornings I’ve started meditation which is really helping.  To unwind in the evenings, I’ll meet friends for a long walk, a good film or a large glass of wine! 



What do you love most about your role?

 Having a real passion for developing iconic leading brands, I love working with them along with my team.  As we own our own brands I am lucky that allows the creative freedom to shape the strategic vision of our brands and the direction of the business, to create strong, memorable and consistent brands that stand out from the crowd, impact hearts as well as minds and ultimately drive business success in terms of sustainable growth. 



To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role? 

People who shine, stand out in a positive way and have made a real difference. Those who have made something of their lives, despite all odds and those who have turned around a crisis into an opportunity can blow me away.  Inspiration is everywhere - from the words of my favorite writer to those of a global leader or a colleague in the office.  You just need to open your eyes. In the strangest of places thoughts on how to develop a new concept, improve a process, create a more effective team, or a marketing opportunity may strike.  I get inspiration from finding humanity and often the most simple things can inspire the most. As a little girl I remember my folks teaching me about integrity, perseverance and your personal best. One Summer I recall being upset for what I saw as a failure of being last in the Community Games swimming race. However, my parents pointed out that I had achieved third place out of the entire Community, that I would be getting a medal (albeit bronze) for this achievement and that I must always strive to beat this personal best next time round.  It is important to surround yourself with people who inspire you. I’m lucky in that I’ve grown up in a very close family with two super smart sisters. Sometimes I find it helps to talk to others to get ideas about what gets their creativity juices flowing. I look at past and current colleagues and industry peers and find inspiration in what they have achieved.  At Coca-Cola we always say it is the amazing group of talented people we work with. We raise the bar and aim for Best in Class in everything we do. On the global stage reading the work of leaders, online blogs, books, quotes and simple poetry by Rumi are great for inspiration. Studying successful people definitely helps spark creativity. Recently I read a short little blog by Jacob Share ‘Inspired by People’. It outlines how everyone has people that have inspired them to do something better, higher, faster or simply to do something. Another source I look to is Mindvalley a company focused on “unleashing the full potential of humanity”.



Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

Today’s fast paced world means we are constantly learning, evolving, experiencing and embracing change. My current path is focused on being more agile and developing a growth mindset of never failing but always learning.  I want my next step to lead to a role with greater responsibility in terms of team and deliverables. I’d like to broaden my remit to cover a greater business responsibility, territory (Europe/Global) or budget.  In the meantime, I’m in the midst of a Digital Selling Diploma. As Marketers traverse a whole new host of technologies, in the form of Artificial Intelligence (AI), Augmented Reality (AR) and Virtual reality (VR) technology, we need to be clear on our branding to work out how to translate our offering to these new platforms and ultimately achieve business growth online.

 

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News of Feargal Quinn’s death received with great sadness

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Thursday 25 April 2019

The professional marketing community throughout Ireland has been saddened to hear of the death of Feargal Quinn.
 
The Superquinn founder was a business leader and a visionary who inspired many people throughout his life, and he left an indelible mark on Irish retailing.
 
Tom Trainor, Chief Executive of the Marketing Institute of Ireland, said “Feargal was a Fellow of the Institute, he served as President of the Institute, and  he was a recipient of our Marketing Champion Award. He was a steadfast supporter of the work of the professional body. Our deepest condolences go to his family”.   

 

Feargal Quinn
Feargal Quinn makes his acceptance speech after receiving the Marketing Institute of Ireland’s Marketing Champion Award in 2009.

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Coca-Cola and Enterprise Ireland help small businesses grow with the Thrive Project

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 17 April 2019

Petre Sandru
Petre Sandru, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland.

 

Petre Sandru, Country Manager, Coca-Cola Ireland, discusses how the Thrive Project came to life, how it helps the next generation of food companies grow through unique insights and learning, and how it fits into Coca-Cola's strategy.

 

How did the Thrive Project come to life?
 
The Thrive Project that is operated by Coca-Cola and Enterprise Ireland ran initially as a one-year pilot project in 2016. It was established by Irial Finan who at that time served as Executive Vice President and President of Coca-Cola’s Bottling Investment Group. Irial is a Roscommon native and had a 36 year career in Coca-Cola working right up to the highest levels of senior management in Coca-Cola HQ in Atlanta. He was invited to participate in the Irish Government’s Global Irish Economic Forum and committed to establish a mentorship programme for emerging Irish food and drink businesses giving them access to senior Coca-Cola leaders and exposure to how Coca-Cola runs its global business. In turn the companies would be challenged to apply what they learned from Coca-Cola to their own business to help them to scale and grow internationally.  Enterprise Ireland kindly agreed to partner with Coca-Cola in this new project and the first eight companies were selected for the initial pilot. And from there, The Thrive Project was born.


 
Tell us a bit about the initiative.
 
Thrive has evolved in its four years, but the main principles stay the same. We begin the programme with an intensive two-day workshop at Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta. There the companies meet senior Coca-Cola executives and hear from experts across functions – supply chain, strategy, packaging, procurement, new brands, and many others. They have a unique opportunity to hear how a company on our scale operates and segments its business. They also meet some of the Irish people who hold senior positions in Coca-Cola’s global management. Due to Coca-Cola’s manufacturing footprint in Ireland there are opportunities for Irish people to develop in the company, and it is always good to connect with them during the programme. After Atlanta Enterprise Ireland run a series of business diagnostics with the companies to identify what areas of their business can feel the benefit of our programme. We then bring the companies to our Western Europe headquarters in London for a crash-course in Coca-Cola marketing. Once again, this is led by one of our Irish leaders who give them an overview of the practices and processes that have helped make Coca-Cola so famous for its excellent marketing campaigns. In London the companies also visit Innocent and hear about their own journey from disruptive start-up to major businesses, and how it manages to maintain its own unique identity and culture while simultaneously being owned by The Coca-Cola Company. The business diagnostic then enters a final phase before a formal graduation from The Thrive project.


 
How were the participants selected?
 
Enterprise Ireland select eight food and drink companies with high potential to participate. These companies must be established in the domestic market and are now looking to expand their operations internationally. They must be committed to the programme for six-months and we ask that one individual at senior management level (usually the company CEO and/or founder) participates throughout. This helps the dynamic among the group that is a key component of the project.


 
Tell us about their journey.
 
The Thrive Project participants are all fully committed to their businesses. Generally they have been there from day one, as founders or early leaders. They may be operating across functions and very much involved in the day-to-day running of their business. They will have achieved a certain level of success locally but are now seeking to expand their business and their markets. They may be experts in one field of their business but are eager to develop a certain side of their business to the greatest possible extent. The Thrive Project is designed to help them but also to give them some time and space to reflect on how their business is evolving. It also allows them to see that a company the size and scale of Coca-Cola also faces similar dilemmas. We also don’t get everything right. But when we don’t we try and learn from it and build from there. I think that hearing that from Coca-Cola and listening to how we operate our business gives them both inspiration and confidence to develop their own business models.


 
How does the initiative fit into Coca Cola’s strategy?
 
The Thrive Project has been a real success for us and is something we are proud of. It is a project that exists only in Ireland, yet other Coca-Cola markets are looking at implementing similar business development projects. For Coca-Cola it is about recognizing our place in the Irish food and drink industry and adopting a leadership position to help others to grow. It is also about developing a strong network of Irish businesses and individuals both within Coca-Cola and in the wider industry in Ireland.

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A Day in the Life of... Sheelagh Hawkins, Head of Client Solutions at Dataconversion

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 17 April 2019
Updated: Tuesday 16 April 2019

Sheelagh Hawkins

What does a Head of Client Solutions at Dataconversion do?

Dataconversion has been architecting and building complex data & software solutions for clients across both the private and public sectors for over two decades. We are passionate about all aspects of the customer journey and believe that brands should not only seek to meet but exceed customer expectations. I’m essentially a solution specialist who works with the client to ensure their needs and requirements are championed within Dataconversion. As a result, it’s a very dynamic role that sees me interacting with all teams across the business, as well as our clients. This is great for getting a feel for how all parts of a company run. I am an enthusiastic solution-driver who puts our customers at the core of everything we do.

 

What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

I’ve been extremely lucky to have worked in some amazing organisations, specifically in the IT Software and analytics sector. The complexity of some of the projects I’ve worked on has enabled me to bring that experience into my current role. I started my journey in sales in the UK over 18 years ago and I embraced technology very quickly. I got to work with smart people from diverse industries and backgrounds. I’ve worked with both enterprise CEOs and entrepreneurs in Fintech start-ups. I decided I wanted to work for a solutions company given the endless amount of innovation that happens within the digital spectrum. Dataconversion was the perfect fit as it allowed me to apply the skills I’ve acquired from my previous experience. Similarly, it offered me the tools to work on projects that have an influence on clients and businesses.

 

What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Client acquisition is always a challenge. We live in rapidly changing times, especially for businesses. As technologies change practically at the speed of light, it’s vital for companies to innovate or be left behind. I need to articulate how we offer value. Providing information about price and features won’t cut it. I need a deep understanding of the client’s needs and pain points. I must ask probing questions and listen carefully in order to get to the underlying motivations for purchasing. This is the only way that enables me to adequately provide value and win new customers. Fortunately, we are in a position of high customer retention and with over 45 years in business we have evolved with the constantly changing technological landscape and the ways in which data has transformed business. This unique expertise coupled with the smart integration of data, technology and communications has enabled us to gain the trust of great clients, including BOI, KBC, SKY and AA Ireland.

 

What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

As Head of Client Solutions for Dataconversion, having strong interpersonal and client-facing skills are essential. I’m responsible for understanding client needs, serving as a subject matter expert on Dataconversion’s product offerings, and leading successful client engagements. I work directly with the Sales, Marketing, Technology, and Operations teams to ensure flawless execution and superior customer service. I love technology and keeping myself up to date with the current trends in the technology space.

 

Describe a typical working day.

There’s no such thing as a typical day when it comes to client relationship management - every day is different. I usually take the DART into the office in the morning, giving me time to catch up on emails and plan for the day. As team communication is key, our morning meetings guarantee that we’re all following the same road-map. This establishes where we stand, and it allows us to plan our next steps. If I have client meetings, I always prepare in advance so that I understand their business needs, enabling us to offer a solution that provides them with the best value. I move from meetings into client calls where we catch-up and engage on new initiatives to help solve their various pain points. I am constantly challenged here at Dataconversion, but that is part of the fun.

 

What do you love most about your role?

I love seeing clients reaching their goals and being part of that story. I love that my job involves understanding how various businesses operate, how they’re struggling and then problem solving. The culture in Dataconversion is motivating in itself. The CEO constantly encourages me to balance my strengths to have the most impact, resulting in finding solutions for the business needs of my clients. I still view sales as the top priority of any company. I get high on the thrill of the deal and I thrive on the puzzle-like challenge of discovering my customers' needs. I live for the buzz at the close of a successful sale. We have recently been shortlisted for an AIM award that we are very proud of and I’m sure there are many more to come.

 

Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

I am always looking to upskill and learn new things. In Dataconversion we are encouraged to progress within the business. There are endless opportunities. Although I hold a senior position within the organisation there is always room to grow and that was one of the main reasons that brought me to Dataconversion. We have a high retention of loyal skilled staff that continue to grow and further their careers within the organisation.

 

To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

I recently finished reading Michelle Obama’s autobiography “Becoming”. Obama has also been honest about finding her own path in life, which is what has fuelled much of her success along the way. I also love Richard Branson as he’s a leader who puts his employees' interest first. As a team in Dataconversion we are lucky to have a CEO who gives us the autonomy to do our jobs. We are trusted and not micromanaged which is key for staff morale and continued success. She also happens to be one of the growing number of female tech CEOs in Ireland. 

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A Day in the Life of... Pat Stephenson, Founder and Head of Account Management at Boys + Girls

Posted By The Marketing Institute, Wednesday 10 April 2019
Updated: Tuesday 9 April 2019

pat stephenson boys + girls

What does a Founder and Head of Account Management at Boys + Girls do?

Working with the team in here to establish and maintain great relationships with clients so that nothing gets in the way of us making great, business building, effective work for them.

 

What were your key career moves to get to your current role?

Leaving my job in McConnell’s to set up Boys + Girls with a group of 5 like minded naive optimists back in 2009. Taking a leap we believed would pay off centred around a desire to just make better work. It helped I found out my missus was pregnant with twins a couple of weeks into starting up. There’s nothing quite like having to make it work, to make it work.

 

What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?

Trying to utilise my time in a way that is most effective for the business. An agency of 60 people (as we are now) is very different to the agency of 6 we were when we started. It’s easy to be busy. Using my time effectively and on the right projects is the key.

 

What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?

You need an avid interest in life, business, society, culture and people. You need to simultaneously be able to understand a client’s business context and problems, alongside their business culture and ways of working. You also need to have a feeling for what is going on right now and just around the corner in society. Finally pulling that all together you need to be able to create the right environment of encouragement and constraint that produces the best creative work that answers the clients problem.

 

Describe a typical working day.

A typical day for me is hard to pin down. What my day is planned to look like and what it ends up being are never the same. I try and use the morning for thinking projects but inevitably I come into something that needs attention.

Part of my job is a manager. We’ve a really great team in account management and i want to create an environment where they can be involved in the best work of their career. Part of it is judging when to step in and help and when to let go.

Although I don’t really work on day to day client business there are still accounts that I keep an active role in  - and I still love working with clients. I also am responsible for managing the marketing and PR functions in the agency, alongside new business - but I’ve a great team leading that in here. So my day is usually juggling all those different hats.

 

What do you love most about your role?

The very best part of my job is being trusted to look 'under the bonnet' of a client’s business. Getting a full and frank understanding of how their business operates. Working out how marketing communications can best help them achieve their business goals. Then working with the client and the team in here to try and deliver something exceptional. It demands the best of your management, strategic, creative and organisational skills. Best job in the world.

 

Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?

I want to continue to help build Boys + Girls into one of the leading creative agencies not just in Ireland but in the world, building on the amazing journey over the past 10 years. We have big ambitions and the talent and people to match so i just want to ensure we continue to make the agency the best it can be for us and our clients.

 

To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?

John Fanning. I had the pleasure of working with John for 7 years and I was never short of inspired by the latitude, depth and creative agility of both his thinking and his cultural understanding. The real founder of planning in Ireland - but to call him a planner does not cover his range of abilities - it was a privilege to work with him. 

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