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Integrating Creativity in Brand Management

Meet Romy Mouzannar, a member of the MSc in Marketing and Creativity Class of 2012, who exudes passion for her career in brand management. She manages her products in the skincare industry from conception to launch, which is incredibly satisfying for her. Romy has made the most of her learnings from the programme by integrating creativity in her job everyday.

Hi Romy - What is your current position?
I am a Global Strategy & Innovation Brand Manager for Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel.

What was your position before starting the MSc in Marketing & Creativity at ESCP Europe?
I worked for three years in Lebanon before joining ESCP Europe. I started out as an Intern at L'Oréal acting as an Assistant Brand Manager in the professional hair care department. I then moved onto a role as a local brand manager for a dental healthcare brand called G.U.M Sunstar.

Please tell me a bit about your career path since graduating from the MSc in Marketing & Creativity
After graduating, I worked at Johnson & Johnson for two years. I started out there initially with my final year internship in Paris as Assistant Brand Manager for the flu brand Actifed. I then moved to London as an EMEA Graduate working on the brand strategy & product development of several skincare brands, notably Neutrogena, Aveeno and Johnson's baby.

Following this, I worked for a short period (eight months) at Mars Incorporated as UK Assistant Brand Manager on Wrigley's Extra in order to better discover the "commercial" side of brand management. For personal reasons, I had to cut my time there short and moved to Nottingham, where I ended up finding my dream job at Walgreens Boots Alliance.

What drives you at work? What aspect of your job is most exciting to you?
Managing my own business from A to Z! From having a direct impact in shaping the brand that I am managing from an innovation and communications perspective to influencing the price and distribution, I love what I do. Working on the innovation and strategy side of a brand is thrilling as you are part of every decision that will shape the future of the brand and affect the sales results. At first, it's a bit scary!  But there is a lot of excitement when you launch a new product based on great consumer insights and market analysis and it flies off the shelf! 

One of our alumni said to us that when working for big brands, the hardest part of creativity is selling in the idea and getting other stakeholders to accept and embrace the risk. Numbers, facts and analyses are good ways of selling in ideas and breeding confidence. Do you agree with this? Another one of our alumni said "If you want to be 100% sure, you will be 100% too late", therefore dismissing the idea of doing lots of research. But then again, he said this from the entrepreneur/startup perspective…
Yes, I agree: in any field It's all about managing the risk of the investment. The more you share confidence through data on the return, the easier it is for anyone to invest in it. On the other hand, if there are no risks, that probably means your idea is already out, and therefore less pioneering. If you can clearly demonstrate to your stakeholder  "why" and "what" are the triggers or the barriers to your brand growth, then you are in good shape. When you deeply understand that, your creative idea is easier to sell as everyone will be on board in finding a solution!

Were you always interested in skincare or did you just fall into it?
I actually hold a BSc in Chemistry. Even though I no longer practice this discipline, the interaction of science with the healthcare & beauty world has always fascinated me. It's an area that I am very passionate about. That said, at the start of my career I probably didn't realise it. It turned out that the roles that were more suitable for me or that I found more interesting were across this area. Looking back, I think it was my passion speaking for itself.

It sounds like your current role is quite unique in the FMCG world in that you manage everything from brand positioning to negotiating product prices and shelving space. What is more common in the FMCG world and how did you manage to have such an overarching role?
The critical difference is the retail aspect. As opposed to an FMCG business, Walgreen Boots Alliance own their brands and the stores, therefore there is an easier link to your final buyer and a stronger common consumer and business goal. In the FMCG world, there are several layers before a brand manager reaches his local buyer to influence their decisions. This is mainly done through the account manager who also needs to align the brand goals with the various business retailers' goals.

For anyone reading this article thinking "I want to do what she does", can you share any advice? Are there any other companies or fields people can look into?
Yes there are several great brands who are actually benefiting from the brand+retailer aspect: L'Occitane, Liz Earle, Sephora etc. My advice would be to start with a company that has a solid branding expertise and then move to a one that has the retailer part in order to maximise your experience.

Are you finding yourself having to be creative and innovative in your role? If so, please give me at least one example you are proud of sharing.
ALWAYS! Innovation and creativity are at the heart of my daily work. I am creative not only when I'm looking for product innovation or communication tools, but also in managing my stakeholders, the various market needs, the internal processes etc.

But as we have learned during the MSc in Marketing & Creativity, great innovation starts first with a deep analysis. It's only when you have truly understood and pinpointed the key trigger or barrier to your growth that creativity will shine at its best!

What's the most useful piece of advice you've received when it comes to your career?
Don't worry if you don't know exactly what you want. Start somewhere and give it 100%! You will soon find that your passion will speak for itself and the roles/projects that are more suitable for you will find you.

What advice would you give to yourself just after graduating from the MSc in Marketing & Creativity?
No need to rush! It is the journey that will make you a stronger person, not the destination.

Whom do you consider to be your influencers? What websites/blogs do you regularly check?
I used to read a lot of leadership books, i.e. 7 habits, Lean In, The Game People Play. However, I have lately realised that I have learned more from the people that surround me, my senior managers, my former MSc in Marketing & Creativity classmates, and the new people I get to know everyday. I believe you don't need to search a lot to find inspiring personalities; there are plenty around you already! I love to meet new people, observe and listen to their stories, careers, and experiences. The more diverse the better! Each person gives you a different way of thinking, new knowledge from their unique experiences that are more tailored to what you might be searching for, and certainly more real.

How did the content of the MSc in Marketing & Creativity help you in your career?
We learned a lot of marketing and management content during the MSc in Marketing & Creativity. But it is actually the confidence I have gained in challenging the status quo and creative way of thinking that boosted my career and shaped me the most.

Feeling enthused by Romy's career? To follow in her footsteps, check out ESCP Europe and its Marketing & Creativity programmes:

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