Diageo: Marketers are general managers, making marketing a better route to CEO

Generation Exchange: Ed Pilkington, Diageo’s marketing and innovation director, Europe and Nicholas Cornbleet, brand manager for Smirnoff Europe on the career opportunities marketing provides.

Marketing is at the heart of Diageo’s business. It dictates the overall strategy for brands such as Smirnoff and determines the best way to grow these brands, as well as communicating to the rest of the company how to do it.

“In marketing today, brand managers are the general managers for their brands. They are the ones that shape the strategy and develop the growth drivers for that brand and, ultimately, for the business,” says marketing and innovation director for Europe Ed Pilkington. “So marketing teams are structured differently from how they were five years ago.”

This change in team dynamic and the addition of more specialists has taught Pilkington a breadth of new skills. “I wouldn’t claim to be an expert on data, for example, but I’ve got a much better idea of what a data strategy looks like than I used to,” he adds.


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