As channel marketing director Asia for Carlsberg Group, Sviatlana Filonava’s remit spans some 14 markets across the region, meaning a lot of travel and exposure to some of the world’s most dynamic and fastest-growing markets, including China, India, Vietnam, Nepal, Laos, Hong Kong, Singapore and Malaysia.
In between a busy schedule, she took some time out to speak to Marketing about what keeps her inspired and what changes she would like to see the industry embrace in the years ahead.
How did you get into the industry?
By accident. I was part of British American Tobacco startup in Eastern Europe heading logistics and primary supply chain, but when an opportunity came to join marketing in 2004, I gave it a go. I loved it and stayed.
What’s the best part about working in the marketing industry?
Marketers are the people who make us just do it, entice us to try probably the best beer in the world and open happiness. We create brands people love, services people want to use and places where people want to be. Today it’s a great challenge – people have more choices than ever and their expectations are constantly increasing – but very rewarding to find new ways to engage and delight people at every turn.
What’s the most challenging part of your job?
I have a regional role covering 14 markets in Asia, so the immediate response is staying in one country for more than three days. But on a more serious note it is doing more with less. We are expected to deliver greater results with fewer resources, simplifying ways of working and getting people to operate in a more entrepreneurial way.
What’s the best career advice you have been given?
“Find a way to say yes to things”. It’s a very simple motto I try to live by. Saying yes to meeting new people, saying yes to moving to a new country, saying yes to learning something new every day. Yes is how I got my first job, and my current job (and this interview) and my spouse and even my kids.
What is the proudest moment in your career so far?
I was setting up a commercial team in one of my previous companies, where we were entering a difficult and very regulated market with no track-record, no clients and strong competition. Within a few years, through hard work and leveraging everything humanly possible, we’ve gained 20% market share, achieved benchmark supplier status and became the voice of the industry to the key stakeholders. It was the biggest project that I was involved in: from getting the license to operate to the actual performance on the market was an exciting time.
What keeps you inspired?
People. I’m fascinated by people and I truly believe that people are the most valuable asset of any company – and they inject fun into the workplace. All brilliant people, I had a chance to work with -in different jobs, different countries, different companies – and also those, who I was fortunate to know outside of the job –contributed to who I am professionally and personally – and continue providing constant inspiration. They are encouraging and stretching, open-minded, intelligent, imaginative, engaged and engaging, always with a good perspective to share, honest and clearly passionate, they are building enthusiasm for change, they are making things happen, setting a personal example of excellence and giving constant support.
What is the biggest change would you like to see the industry in 2016?
We need to start clearly measure impact and return on marketing investments. That means measuring marketing’s contribution to the business in relevant, quantifiable terms. We will have to quantify and analyze the results of our marketing initiatives to enhance our effectiveness and efficiency. And capture learnings to improve for the future.
What’s one piece of advice you would give to someone just starting out in the industry?
Be curious and courageous to take calculated risks. Say yes to things. And surround yourself with inspiring people.