Annabel Venner is an experienced commercial marketer who has worked at a number of big name FMCG brands including Coca-Cola and Burtons's Biscuits. She recently made the leap into financial services marketing and is currently global brand director of Hiscox.
We speak to her about her career so far, how she got to where she is today, and what interested her in marketing.
I studied chemistry at Bristol University and then went travelling for 12 months after graduating. My first job was as a production graduate at Smithkline Beecham in St Helens. After two years at the organisation I quickly moved to a brand manager role within their marketing team in London. Over the next five years I worked in a number of different companies including British American Tobacco, Cott Beverages and Burtons Biscuits, before ending up at Coca Cola.
I then worked at Coca-Cola for nine years; starting out as an innovation manager, working on Powerade, Oasis and Dasani before becoming the ‘My Coke’ marketing manager. In my time at Coca Cola I was lucky enough to work on both GB and European projects including the launch of Coke Zone, consumer activation of the Beijing Olympics, and a pan-European promotion with iTunes. I joined Hiscox in 2009 as head of marketing and in October last year was promoted to global brand director.
Marketing wasn’t my initial choice of career, in fact at university I was thinking about joining the RAF as a pilot. During my first job I got to work with the marketing team on new product development and packaging launches and found the consumer research and insights fascinating. It was also great to be involved in projects from start to finish and to see the results of your work on the shelves and in advertising. I therefore leapt at the chance to transfer to a marketing role.
In my current role, I am responsible for driving the effectiveness of Hiscox marketing across the Group, specifically in the key markets of the UK, US, France and Germany. I run and sustain the ‘Hiscox Marketing Excellence’ programme, own the Hiscox brand architecture and ensure its local activation, whilst providing technical support, guidance and best practice to all markets.
Marketing wasn’t my initial choice of career, in fact at university I was thinking about joining the RAF as a pilot.
Strong communication skills and the ability to build relationships across the business are key. It’s also important to have superior consumer skills, commerciality and leadership skills. In my role the ability to prioritise and input into multiple projects is really important
The basics will include checking emails, attending meetings and signing off new initiatives. The day might also include a call with a marketing manager from one of the markets - I try to have these at least once a month. A typical day will usually include a meeting with the team to discuss key projects and deliverables as well as meetings on key Group research and digital projects. Often I will speak to brand learning, our marketing capability partner, to discuss progress on training materials. I will also have to review and feedback on creative work from the local market
If you want to make the leap from FMCG to financial services I would say choose a company whose values strongly resonate with you, and that the employees love, and a brand that you believe in.
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