My Career in Marketing – Victoria Allers Wismer

Read about Victoria’s career in marketing.

Tell us briefly about the job you do and in which company

I work as Marketing Manager in Pierre Robert Group’s Marketing Department. That means that I am responsible for half of Pierre Robert Group’s product portfolio (incl. women’s underwear, children’s underwear and socks) and for three product managers who are each in charge of one of these product categories.

What is your educational background?

A BSc in Business and Administration from Copenhagen Business School, including an exchange semester at the University of British Columbia, Canada.

A MSc. Cand. Merc. EMF, Marketing from Copenhagen Business School, including an exchange semester at Sydney University, Australia.

Tell us a little about yourself

I like having lots of plans and staying active. In my free time I therefore try to combine family life with spending time with friends, in addition to riding at Øvreroll Racecourse and running and, in winter, cross-country and downhill skiing. At work, I am passionate about marketing, and particularly love seeing marketing as an integral process from consumer research that leads to new consumer insight and new product ideas to the finished product with a total “communication package”, and where everything is based on an overarching business strategy.

Tell us about your career at Orkla, from day 1 to where you are today

There are so many opportunities in Orkla, with different companies and positions, which I have been fortunate enough to be able to take advantage of. My career path has been defined by my desire for new challenges, and since completing my studies in 2007, I have had three different jobs in Orkla.

I started out at Orkla as Product Manager for Define and Lypsyl at Lilleborg. Having responsibility for such big brands and their innovation processes was really the dream job. I was the one in charge of the brands’ development, and I was there when the decisions were made. My learning curve was tremendously steep, as there were new challenges every day. My biggest moment was when I stood in front of the store shelf and saw my first “very own product” that I had worked with for over a year – I’ll never forget that.

After four years as Product Manager, I was eager for new challenges and was offered a new position as Product Category Manager at Sætre (now part of Orkla Confectionery & Snacks). There I was responsible for half of Sætre’s biscuits brand portfolio (including Ballerina, Dots, Gjende and Bokstavkjeks) and for one product manager. Besides the fact that I was now learning a great deal in my new management position, there were many other new challenges involved in changing categories from personal hygiene products to biscuits and working in another company.

Two years later, I was offered a position as Product Category Manager at Pierre Robert Group with responsibility for three product managers, which I think was the perfect next step towards developing my leadership skills and enabled me to work with one of my great interests, which is fashion.

Why did you choose this career direction?

The direction my career has taken has been determined along the way. I’ve always enjoyed working with numbers and business at school, so that was an obvious choice when it came time to choose a degree programme. In my broad-based bachelor studies, the marketing subjects were what interested me most, as I like working with very specific problems, such as what makes a person buy one product rather than another? I therefore wanted to specialise in marketing at master level. My decision to work with the fast moving consumer goods (FMCG) category was based on the combination of being able to work with a specific product (such as panties) and the pace you have to maintain to be competitive with products that are continuously being improved.

Why did you want to work at Orkla?

From the very first moment I heard about the product manager position at Orkla, I was certain that this was where I wanted to work. To be allowed to be in charge of a brand’s entire innovation process (both product development and advertising) really appealed to me, and still does. This, combined with good training programmes and extremely competent co-workers, makes Orkla the best marketing school you can attend, in my opinion.

What is a typical working day for you?

As product manager, I worked with one or two specific brands and was responsible for all documents, holding meetings, presentations, briefs, budgets, etc. relating to these brands. A working day could consist of a briefing meeting with a design agency to discuss next year’s styling products, planning the next advertising film for Define Shine Shampoo with the advertising agency, e-mail correspondence with the factory and the purchasing coordinator who were having problems with the production of the Lypsyl cap, coordinating the next Define in-store campaign with the category department, and writing an innovation document for a new lip balm that was to be presented to the management team two weeks later.

Now that I’m working as Marketing Manager, my sphere of responsibility is more general, covering such things as the strategy for several product segments. I also supervise almost all the brand managers’ activities. A working day now consists of assisting one of the brand managers in presenting one of his or her new ideas for children’s underwear to the management team, providing feedback on a new sock concept to one of the other product managers and working on the strategy for women’s underwear up to the year 2020.

What does it take to succeed in your job?

You have to have business understanding! Apart from that, you should enjoy being proactive and having a lot of responsibility, at the same time as you have to be humble and open to learning. There’s always something new to learn in marketing.

What’s the best thing about your profession, and what, if anything, do you dislike?

I really thrive on the fact that no working day is the same as the next, and that every day brings new challenges. I never have time to be bored. It’s also very motivating to know that you are helping to improve consumers’ everyday life.

Orkla’s new vision is “Your friend in everyday life”, supported by the values “Brave”, “Trustworthy” and “Inspiring”. How do you relate to the new vision and values in your job?

I think that we‘ve always strived to be the best alternative for consumers and our customers, and the new vision and values merely underscore how important this will continue to be in future. Orkla’s brands and products must be the best choice for everyone. The vision also encompasses the way we as colleagues should interact, which fits in well in what I see today as a sociable, positive culture.

Are there any special requirements for working in your profession (personality, academic qualifications, fields of study, etc.)?

You can learn a lot as you go, but in my opinion there are a number of qualities you should possess in order to be happy in a marketing position: drive, analytical skills and a liking for working with numbers and analyses, combined with creativity. You also have to like to work closely with other people, as a great deal of the job is teamwork.

Although most of the staff in Orkla’s marketing departments have business degrees, I think you can be successful with a variety of educational backgrounds. That just makes the marketing departments more diversified and even better. That said, four years of higher education is a requirement.