Soviet politics and Eastern European studies don’t exactly ring marketing bells, but you only need to take one glance at Belinda Moore’s CV to see she’s not one to follow the conventional path to the top.
Instead, her career has been a never-ending quest for “a blank sheet of paper” – a fresh challenge. Once found, Moore likes to make her mark, only to continue her search for the next blank sheet.
Moore’s CV screams variety, creativity, adventure and endurance, having worked across numerous sectors from FMCG and healthcare to travel, and most recently utilities as the director of marketing and communications at energy brand E.ON.
“I enjoy starting things from scratch, challenging the status quo and really bringing that ability to make things happen to businesses,” she says.
Moore studied Soviet politics and Eastern European studies at The University of Sussex and despite the course having “nothing to do with marketing”, she says it was a “big driver” in her career direction. After graduating she set her sights on a job abroad as she says there weren’t many opportunities for her in London unless she wanted to work in diplomatic services or become a teacher.
“I didn’t even know what marketing was, all I knew was that I was interested in people and how things worked,” Moore says.
I was used to products that came off the delivery line fully formed whereas I was faced by lots of people who were influencing my customers.
She landed her first marketing role in the Wellcome Foundation’s emerging markets division as a marketing executive and was quickly posted out to Istanbul, Turkey.
In her mid-20s, Moore says she was thrown in at the deep end, with the pharmaceutical organisation putting its complete trust behind her to help market products such as mosquito repellent. After five years she relocated to Russia, where she spent two years at International Distillers & Vintners (IDV) attempting to relaunch Smirnoff vodka back into the Russian market.
She learned a lot from working alone and abroad, but it wasn’t until she landed a role at Gillette in 1993 – prior to its sale to Procter & Gamble – that she really earned her marketing spurs.
In 1998, she returned to the UK to join Thomson Travel (now TUI) as director of new media, turning her focus to reinventing the company’s holiday programme.
After stints at Whitbread and Britvic she was headhunted by BMI Healthcare, which is when she says “things started getting really different on my CV”.
Moore spent more than eight years working in healthcare, before taking on a consultancy role while she tried to figure out what she wanted to do next.
In December 2016, she moved to E.ON, which is trying to shake up the UK utility sector with its ‘un-utility’ approach to marketing. “A lot of the challenges this sector is facing really resonated with me. My goal is to change people’s perceptions of their utilities provider,” she says.
The importance of trust
The Wellcome Foundation, sales & marketing manager, Turkey (1985-1990)
“I was the only female expat out there [for the company] and quickly became responsible for launching a number of baby products into the Turkish market. This was a tremendous demonstration of how the Wellcome Foundation just believed in you and gave you an opportunity.
“I was lucky that I had a lot of trust put into me from early on in my career but I learned from it and that’s what I enjoyed doing throughout.”
Overcoming Russia’s ‘Wild West’
International Distillers & Vintners, area marketing director, Russia (1991-1993)
“Opportunities started opening up in Russia and I was lucky enough to get the opportunity to join IDV, which is now part of Diageo. Fairly unusually, we were relaunching Smirnoff vodka [now owned by Diageo] into the Russian market – it was the first time it had been sold there since the revolution. It felt like the Wild West. It was very wacky in those days.
“I was posted out there pretty much on my own and had to set up an office, work with distributors, understand how the on- and off-trade were emerging in Russia at that time. I also had to build the brand back up because they knew the name ‘Smirnoff’ and there was a lot of interest in it but it was how we made the brand relevant again in Russia.
“We also had a trademark battle because a descendant of the original Piotr Smirnov popped up and said he had rights to it.
Earning her marketing spurs
Gillette, marketing director, Russia & Oral B, general manager, Eastern Europe (1993 – 1998)
“I always felt Gillette was a very grown-up company. It’s where I earned my proper marketing spurs because at Gillette you’re part of a big global organisation and really building a brand in a very solid way in local markets, but also developing local brands, which appealed to my innovative nature.
“There was a fantastic opportunity to develop a team as well. Gillette was very serious about building a strong, local presence and recruiting people and training them was a key part of what I was doing. I enjoyed that feeling of knowing I was able to help other people develop their careers and where they were going in marketing.”
Living your brand ‘inside-out’
Thomson, director new media, general manager innovation & development, general manager Europe (1998 – 2003)
“The chief executive at the time wanted to bring someone with an FMCG mindset to the company and I was tasked with leading a scheme to try and reinvent the company’s holiday programme so customers would attribute their holiday experiences to Thomson [now TUI], who they booked with.
“It was innovation, it was development and it was a blank sheet of paper. The other thing it gave me was a really good grasp of operationally-led businesses – how you get people to deliver your brand, which now is very important. It’s about how you live your brand inside-out.
“I think Thomson really gave me my first exposure to that and it was challenging at first because I was used to companies that were absolutely driven by marketers. I was used to products that came off the delivery line fully formed whereas I was faced by lots of people who were influencing my customers. So that ‘living the brand’ piece really started to resonate with me.”
Leading a strategic review
Whitbread, marketing director (2003-2005)
“Whitbread could be seen as ‘leisure service’ so it was somewhat similar to my role at Thomson but it was very, very UK-based. We had a proposition called Brewster’s which was a family-friendly pub-restaurant chain and I was essentially brought in to do a strategic review. It did fantastically well at weekends and school holidays but was dead during the week because adults didn’t really want to go there.
“It essentially resulted in us rebranding it as Brewers Fayre, which is still family-friendly but not as much ‘in your face’.”
Developing local strategy
Britvic Soft Drinks, head of international marketing & operations (2005-2007)
“In 2004, Britvic didn’t really have an international business. It had a big export division which sold products to expat communities, but what we hadn’t done was penetrate local markets.
“It very much appealed to my ‘blank piece of paper’ ideal. This time it was a case of looking at the customer proposition and the market entry strategy?
“During my time there we launched Fruit Shoot into the Netherlands and Belgium. We also took Robinsons Squash into Scandinavia and started the launch of Fruit Shoot into the West Coast of America, which is now a big and successful part of the Britvic business.”
Head hunted into healthcare
BMI Healthcare, group marketing director (2007 – 2011)
“[General Healthcare Group, which owns BMI] had been taken over by a private equity firm and employed a new chief executive named Adrian Fawcett who had worked for Mars and all sorts of FMCG companies.
“He absolutely got marketing and believed very strongly that the healthcare sector lacked a real customer focus.
“We did a complete rebrand and repositioning of our value proposition and I was responsible for building a brand new marketing team.
“The private equity ownership sharpened me as well. I always think I’m a very commercial marketer but when you’re owned by a private equity you have to be very eloquent in selling your business case. It sharpened those skills.”
Care UK, group marketing & communications director (2011-2015)
“The whole brand proposition was focused on fulfilling people’s lives, for both the people who worked there and also for the services we delivered. The real opportunity was to drive through change, to put new structures and digital strategies in place.
“It was an opportunity to bring a real customer lens into what we did. I felt there was a very clear purpose and that mattered.
“I’m not very good at managing the status quo. I like to be disruptive, I like trying new things and to look back and see the results of what I’ve done. To be able to look over my shoulder and be like, yep that’s happened, that’s delivered.”
Shaking up the utilities sector
E.ON, director of marketing & communications (2016-present)
“A lot of the challenges this sector is facing really resonated with me. The utilities sector has become very competitive over the last year with more than 60 players in the marketplace so it needs to change, it needs to become faster moving and it needs to understand the competitor environment.
“E.ON has embarked on a whole new strategy and that whole piece about changing perceptions and driving consideration differently really appealed to me.
“We have a digital-first agenda, so that was something I felt I had a lot of experience with and something I found really interesting. This is a company in a sector going through a huge amount of change. So it became a case of how do we bring some of that old FMCG marketing into it and how do we ensure we have a very sharp customer lens on everything we do.”
Belinda Moore’s CV
The Wellcome Foundation
Sales & marketing manager, Turkey
International Distillers & Vintners
Area marketing director, Russia
Marketing director/general manager
Thomson Holidays (now TUI)
Director new media, general manager innovation & development, general manager Europe
Britvic Soft Drinks
Head of international marketing & operations
Group marketing director
Group marketing & communications director
Iceni Marketing Solutions
Director marketing & communications