AB InBev’s UK marketing boss: Don’t underestimate the importance of culture when taking on a new job

Many marketer look to move between sectors to help accelerate their career but AB InBev’s UK and Ireland marketing director Tatiana Stadukhina says there are challenges so it’s important to ensure the culture is a good fit.


Tatiana Stadukhina has always worked at large companies, starting out at tobacco giant Philip Morris before moving to Unliever and her current role as AB InBev’s UK and Ireland marketing director.

Each role has provided different challenges and lessons but Stadukhina is adamant the most important factor in ensuring success is getting the right culture fit.

“It’s not just about the products but also the company that you’re joining. Culture is the hardest thing to understand when coming into a [new job] and I would advise figuring out ways to get to know the culture. You can talk about it all you like but until you ingrain yourself in it you can’t understand it [fully].

When she was interviewing for her role at AB InBev she says her CMO said ‘I am convinced you are going to be successful wherever you go but you are going to be happiest where your [values] meet the culture’. “Every company has a different culture and it is super important those values and culture align because it’s where you [spend] so much of your time.”

Stadhukina says it can feel a bit like “drinking from the fire hose” when you first move to a new job, even when there are similarities between sectors, as in the case of Unilever and AB InBev.

“You obviously do your homework but there is much you can’t learn overnight so the importance of having wonderful teams should not be underestimated. It’s also the extended team, so it’s your agencies as well as your employees and peers that you have around you,” she explains.

However, she says working across a number of industries has allowed her to take different ways of working and examples of best practice to each business she’s gone to.

She explains: “I have been able to bring things [to each company]. For example, Dove has a very clear purpose and a better world agenda. Now I am seeing our AB InBev brands develop a stronger point of view and that’s been an evolution for each of them. That’s really cool to bring and transfer knowledge. You already have these powerful brands but now we are seeing how we can bring in that [purpose for] the likes of Budweiser and Stella.”

READ MORE: The benefits of being an outsider – why brands are hiring marketers with no sector experience

Although she has successfully been able to move from tobacco to skincare to beer, Stadhukina is wary of moving outside of FMCG.

She says: “There would be very different regulations which can be hard to wrap your head around. There are fundamentals in marketing you use no matter what service you are doing but regulations can vary. Pharmaceuticals and financial services, for example, have quite a different regulatory environment and that changes how you market to consumers.”

Despite this Stadhukina is open minded about career progression arguing it is dependent on everyone’s individual career journey. She concludes: “It wasn’t a conscious choice to move sectors it was a conscious choice to move positions and companies. I’m not sure I had to move sectors to become more well-rounded, you can do that in one sector.”

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