A marketer’s passport to global success

Almost a year ago Nokia’s UK marketing director, Will Harris, revealed in Marketing Week that a promotion to marketing director for Nokia’s South East Asia and Pacific division would see him and his family resettle in Singapore. Before he left, I spoke to Harris at length about the challenges that faced him. We spoke of his excitement about the job but we also talked about the challenge of learning to be successful in an alien business climate. How quickly would he learn how best to operate in his new territory? How long would it take him to learn the cultural language needed to motivate his new teams? How long, quite simply, might it be before he would build a comfortable life outside of work for himself? Before he could honestly begin to call his new location ’home’?

Not that Harris needed my help, but at the time I suggested he might contact a fellow I’d met just prior to our conversations. The man I referred to was James Thompson, Diageo’s CMO Asia Pacific, also based in Singapore.

Thompson is an Englishman who has not worked in the UK for almost 15 years. Instead he has worked in three different international markets for the drinks giant. He has held senior roles in Asia Pacific since 2007. If anybody could give Harris a few pointers as to how he might settle quickly it was him.

MaryLou Costa speaks to both of them, and others, in this week’s cover feature about how to make that jump. What you need to learn quickly when an international promotion comes along, and what you should look out for if you want to succeed and prove yourself in a new culture.

“Every one of Diageo boss Andy Fennell’s senior marketing team has worked in a foreign market for at least four years. He sees it as a requirement”

Reorganisations to deal with changing global priorities are not rare – we’ve seen restructures of global marketing teams at Coca-Cola, Vodafone and Walmart among others in the recent past.

Diageo’s top marketer Andy Fennell told Marketing Week earlier this year that every one of his senior marketing team has worked in a foreign market for at least four years. He sees it as a requirement in their development.

Fennell says that Thompson’s work for the company in several regions is one of his strengths as a marketer. “James sees the world through a broader perspective,” he says.

Let us know if you have experience, good or bad, of moving abroad to work on a brand that you think it would be useful to share with others. Click here to read the feature and leave a comment.

Mark Choueke, editor


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