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INSEAD Participant Interview
Gaining Marketing Insights and Seeing the Other Perspective
Head of Public Affairs, SEAT PG
“It broadened my understanding and vision of marketing. It gave me new insights – new ways to look at, and develop, a marketing strategy, how to conduct analysis, how to explain the project decision-making process to my stakeholders."
Can you please introduce yourself?
I am head of public affairs at SEAT PG, a leading Yellow Pages and web/mobile services company that offers its services to businesses in order to help them promote their activity. We do this via a network of sales reps and agencies all over Italy. I am in charge of advocating my company’s interests in front of policy makers and institutions, both at the national and EU level. I therefore serve also as the company's spokesperson towards the media and I represent my company in a range of trade and industry’s Associations. In this role, I need also to communicate clearly the business decisions we make.
I completed the Strategic Marketing Programme (SMKP) back in 2001 and at the time I was a marketing manager. So, I’ve got quite a lot of marketing experience.
Why did you choose to come on IMKP?
In 2001, I was helping move Italian telephone books (the white pages were traditionally a very profitable business in our country) from a “old style” product into a multi-media range of services. We had to create a new Brand Identity, under the umbrella brand name “Pagine Bianche® (print, Cd-Rom, online). It was an important project for my company. As marketing manager, I needed the right tools and instruments to make the change successful. Indeed, we were revamping the product from a print only version to a multi-platform device one. We needed a good marketing plan and a good strategy. I came on the programme to learn how to implement both of these and to gain new marketing insights. It turns out it was a great investment and a very useful experience. It helped me work on the project successfully and helped me to understand the broad principles of marketing.
So, it sounds like the programme was very useful once you were back in the workplace?
Yes. It helped me a lot. I came onto the programme with a few years of marketing experience behind me. But, what SMKP did was give me the ability to look at things from a different perspective. It broadened my vision, it gave me new insights – new ways to look at, and develop, a marketing strategy, how to conduct analysis and how to explain the project decision-making process to my stakeholders – both within the company and with my client. I was able to come back to my project and better understand the direction we should be taking and how to put in place, and implement, our strategy and marketing plan. This was thanks to not only the programme content, but also the interaction with the other participants
How did you feel about the programme when you were on it?
I gave very positive feedback at the end of the programme and even 12 years later, I still feel the same way! I think the working method at INSEAD is very good and the content of the programme excellent. The professors chose very interesting case studies that highlighted good examples of marketing. These case studies helped blend the practical side of marketing with the theory. Alternating the theory with the practical was very helpful.
I think that it’s thanks to this teaching method and learning environment that INSEAD is so well known and has the international reputation that it has. For me, it’s one of the best schools you can go to.
Do you feel that the programme gave you greater confidence?
Of course, yes. When you are immersed in such a well-known business school, you go back home more confident about your professional insight and vision.
What about the other participants on the programme with you?
During my time on the programme I was able to develop good professional networks. INSEAD is a very international environment, with participants coming from all over the world. We had a Brazilian manager on the programme and others from the Netherlands, UK and Switzerland, for example. In fact, I am still in touch with a Chinese lady who attended at the same time as me. The cultural mix was great. Furthermore, we all came from different backgrounds, with different perspectives, professional experiences and interests. I was in advertising. Others came from the luxury sector, the beverages sector, etc. Many industries were represented. Listening to the other participants’ challenges and problems was a very effective way to learn about marketing. We heard about the points we had in common in terms of our approach to our work and our markets, as well as our differences. We were able to share ideas, insights and thoughts.
And the teachers?
They were very involved and not too formal. They were very accessible and knew a lot about the topic. They were able to share their knowledge in a very friendly and engaging manner.
Would you recommend SMKP?
I would absolutely recommend the programme. INSEAD is a great place to learn. The facilities are fantastic, the campus very nice, the follow-up system also very useful in the following years (newsletter, LinkedIn groups, etc.). It’s a very special and enriching experience. Go and benefit from it: not only the teaching but also from the network you can, and will, develop.
My time at INSEAD was a great investment and my expectations were fully met.