09 December 2021

Values as a compass at a digital marketer's career crossroads

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When talking to newcomers (and sometimes to a more experienced audience) about digital marketing, they frequently isolate the word marketing, and when they think about marketing, they easily come up with preconceived ideas related to it (thanks to TV shows and their many clichés). Marketing is a world of sharks who use every means at their disposal to convince you to buy things you don't need, a world where marketing managers rule, those monstrous creatures who have lost their humanity, their soul and their sense of values. And what if now, this concept too is just a big stereotype that deserves to be scrapped?

Human after all

With this in mind, and in order to talk about the kind of healthy and conscious marketing that speaks to us at Ariad, in a recent session of Beyond Digital we highlighted a digital manager who is far from preconceived ideas. Kristien Segers is eCommerce Integration Manager for the Swedish furniture giant Ikea. And if Kristien now has a highly responsible digital position, she has managed to get there while remaining true to herself and above all, to her values.

"In the end I chose my own path based on what gives me energy and on my values".

Kristien Segers, eCommerce Integration Manager @ IKEA

As with many workers, Kristien has been faced with a number of crossroads in her career. Often these choices were between heart and mind. For Kristien, the heart will always have the last word.

Once, while Kristien was comfortably settled in a marketing position, she was presented with three options: Continue working in marketing in an agency, become a part-time consultant or change jobs with a highly demanding but inspiring opportunity at Google. The first two options were the most reasonable and the safest, offering attractive salaries and a great work/life balance.

Of course, it was the heart that decided, and the challenge of Google and the values of the brand pushed Kristien towards this path. The experience at Google turned out be rewarding and even offered her the opportunity to work for an inspiring employer while travelling by accepting a position as Marketing Manager at Google Singapore. Following her values for personal and professional growth had paid off, and would guide her through many more decisions to come.

"If I'm not fully 100% behind this product, I'm not going to survive on the project and I'm not going to feel happy."

Kristien Segers

Use your values as a compass

Following your values means always being true to yourself, so using them as your guiding compass will always lead you to the position where you can offer the best of yourself.

At a later professional crossroads, once again faced with the search for work with a positive impact, Kristien’s compass pointed in the direction of IKEA, and it really showed her the right way. Indeed, IKEA, behind the billions of euros in profits, is a company which cares for its people, with a strong awareness of its environmental impact and which frequently questions its products, their design and their impact on the environment.

And the match was perfect and fast. Ikea's commitment and willingness and Kristien's skills and values allowed to quickly bring out the best in her new role: eCommerce Integration Manager.

Restriction feeds creativity

In this role Kristien is responsible for the digital transition of the furniture king. A smooth transition, as a team that was in the best of all possible worlds. But then an unexpected guest turned the business upside down: Covid-19. When the pandemic invites us to stay at home and pushes retailers to close their doors, digital integration is no longer thought of in the long term, but in the very short term. You have to be able to maintain a sales volume without a physical sales area-and if you’re IKEA, do so while securing convenience for your customers and caring for your co-workers.

But Kristien is not short of inspiration, and not surprisingly, quotes Ingvar Kamprad, the legendary founder of Ikea: "A crisis brings out the best in us.” Thanks to learning this value early in her career, appreciating the creativity that is born from restriction, Kristien had the winning mindset primed and ready to surmount the challenges that would come.

Despite the unprecedented situation and the vague prospects of reopening, the team had the support of the company and the rapid digital integration was a success, without Kristien and her coworkers having to experience unbearable working conditions. Add to this the fact that the brand has taken positive actions such as offering some of its products on a perishable basis and establishing a solid ecological plan to limit its carbon footprint in the coming years, and it is easy to understand why the eCommerce Integration Manager now spontaneously says of her professional relationship: Me and Ikea, it's a match!

Valuable value-centric digital workers

Kristien is not the only one who has this mentality, which is based on the certainty that being in tune with a brand and its values is a prerequisite for good work. Indeed, during the conversation, the majority of other the Beyond Digital members followed the same pattern as her. Everyone has had crossroad moments, and furthermore, we know when we are compromising our values. More and more, digital professionals agree that professional success is the greatest when in line with fundamental values. Are mentalities changing? This discussion between professionals only reinforced their choice. A rich discussion, marketing managers who are often top in their field, but above all right to listen to their hearts.

Want to join in on the discussion? Ariad’s digital professionals knowledge sharing club Beyond Digital brings together future-forward individuals working across industries in the largest brands in Belgium. No member fees, just a community of ambitious minds! Apply here for more information about this monthly event.