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Innovation Marketing

The Shiny New Object Podcast: five things I learned from The Coca Cola Company's Susan Tucker

By Tom Ollerton

October 16, 2019 | 6 min read

Interviewed in the latest installment of the Shiny New Object Podcast by Automated Creative’s Tom Ollerton is Susan Tucker, Head of Operations & Innovation (Singapore Malaysia Group) at The Coca-Cola Company. Here are five things Ollerton found out as a result of the conversation.

Coca- Cola

The Shiny New Object Podcast: five things I learned from The Coca Cola Company's Susan Tucker

The future of marketing will be led by Asia

A punchy start to this podcast, with Tucker making a pretty hefty claim that Asia is where the future of marketing lies. She’s got the stats to back this up - the region has the youngest population, highest mobile penetration and the highest incidence of ecommerce. All these factors lead to a space that is constantly challenging marketers to innovate. Just look at the evolution of WeChat - it’s a completely integrated ecommerce and multimedia experience that the West has yet to fully appreciate. She also points out that Asia is where the highest percentage of the global Muslim population lives; they have significant spending power but are currently neglected by both big and small companies alike. She sees huge potential for marketers in Asia to be at the forefront of how to speak to these underserved consumers.

Co-create your culture

Tucker admits that she used to be an extremely results-oriented person early in her career - and not in a good way. The end result took priority over everything, including the people around her and even her own health. She’s learned with experience that to get the best from people, a long-term approach is far more effective. Better to have a team who can consistently achieve great things over time, than have a huge burst of energy followed by a burn out. One way she’s looked to achieve this is by working with her team to co-create ‘Culture Commandments’, which set out how they operate and treat one another. She says this process of co-creation gave everyone a sense of ownership and accountability from a peer perspective.

Tech is empowering women (but it’s not enough)

As Tucker's shiny new object, she cites the items that allow her to work flexibly and remotely, as well as the online shopping tools that make life a little easier. She says that, as a new mum, technology empowers her and enables her to keep her life running smoothly - whether it’s video calls, WhatsApp or Amazon Prime. However, she doesn’t believe that tech is the ultimate solution for giving working mums a successful work/life balance. She points out that there is still underlying unconscious bias at play, where it’s assumed that women will fall into the role of leading childcare or the household, just because of their gender. We need to keep talking about this, she says, and make sure that both men and women are supported to fulfill fair and equal roles in their working and personal lives.

Tackling unconscious bias takes real effort

The subject of subconscious or unconscious bias came up a few times in our conversation, and Susan agreed that it’s such a difficult area to tackle. One way she tries to do this is through books - she’s an avid reader and always has a stack of books next to her bed, both fiction and nonfiction. She admits though, that it’s easier to pick up and read a book when it’s a subject that she’s interested in or agrees with. It’s much more difficult when she’s trying to challenge herself and her beliefs. However, she says that reading ‘real’ books is a great way of getting around this - the item itself is constantly acting as a very physical reminder that it’s still there, waiting for you to get stuck in.

Stressed? Take a nature bath

Anyone who works in marketing knows how overwhelming it can be - the constant cycle of new platforms and technologies is incredibly difficult to keep up with, let alone stay on top of. I asked Tucker how she deals with this - how she keeps her mind healthy and focused in such a busy environment. Her answer? Pop out for a nature bath. Not as weird as it sounds, this is simply taking a short amount of time - five to 15 minutes - to immerse yourself in nature. Whether it’s sitting in the sun or going for a stroll in the park. Tucker says it’s proven not just to relax the mind, but also have a physical impact by reducing the stress hormone, cortisol. Her other tips include trying to look for the funny side of situations, and to keep track of things you feel grateful for on a regular basis, which gives you some perspective when times aren’t so good.

You can listen to the conversation in full below.

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