Traveling the World While Accelerating Core Business Skills: My Unique Mars Leadership Experience

I always wanted to join an organization where I could have an influence and I was looking for a company that was making a positive impact in the world. My interview process with Mars was perhaps not quite your typical journey to getting on the Mars Leadership Experience program – I was headhunted. While doing an internship at a winery in Spain, I was called up by a resourcer from Mars, who spent quite a bit of time on the phone with me, introducing me to the company and explaining what was on offer.

Mars is an organization driven by their Five Principles: Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom. It is these principles that differentiate Mars from other companies in the same industry – they are embedded into our culture and are the drivers behind every business decision. Ultimately, the opportunity to work for a value-driven company who is committed to developing their talent is what led me to join Mars.

The Mars Leadership Experience

My first-year rotation was as Brand Manager in Bucharest, Romania, working within Petcare. I was unexpectedly put in charge of the biggest growth drivers in the market – and I didn’t yet speak the language! It was a massive responsibility in every way. That year I moved abroad, set up a life in a new country and started working on my second day in Bucharest, where I was entrusted with managing two very different brands. One was already very established, and the other brand was much smaller. These required two different marketing minds, which kept me on my toes and demanded constant learning. On top of that, I had to learn Romanian so I could communicate with my team. Mars were wonderful at helping me adapt to working and living in this new country, and provided training, tools and resources to help me settle in.

For my second rotation, I was appointed as Strategic Revenue Manager, based in Vienna, Austria. It was the perfect opportunity for me as it was a workstream that placed me in the middle of the Sales and Finance functions. The main objective of my project was to manage the trade expenditure in a more efficient way. It was a huge project, working within the Balkans, Baltic and Adriatic (BBA) market, which is made up of 12 very diverse clusters across brands. This was especially ambitious for me as I hadn’t had any experience in Finance before – but I was afforded all the support and guidance I needed. In the end, the project worked out so well that we became the best practice example for the rest of Europe.

Joining the Mars Ambassador Program

I got an unexpected surprise near the end of my second year when I applied for the Mars Ambassador Program in India. Although I’d had plenty of encouragement from my manager, I never really thought I’d be accepted on to such a high-stakes program. I was ecstatic to have been offered a place. I went away for 6 weeks and joined a co-operative of self-employed women from underprivileged backgrounds producing medicines, helping them define a strategy for their operation, which helped to secure the income of 600 families.

In my third and final rotation, I became an E-commerce Project Manager for Multisales Italy. The most surprising aspect was that I just expected to work on the e-commerce channel in general, but ended up becoming the point of reference for e-commerce development for the whole of Multisales Europe. After developing a completely new e-commerce strategy for Italy, it became the blueprint that was replicated across other Multisales regions in Europe. I subsequently visited other markets and ended up helping over 15 countries to develop their own strategies. Here, I was given a lot of freedom and support to lead this project – again, I started off not really knowing the language, but had become fluent in Italian by the end of the rotation.

I will shortly be finishing the program and starting my new role as Brand Manager for M&M’s and Maltesers Iberia (Spain and Portugal), predominantly based in Barcelona. Finally, at the end of my rotations, I am going back to my native country, Spain. I shall miss being exposed to different cultures – until perhaps my next foreign assignment some time in the future!

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