We had the pleasure of interviewing Lara de Miranda, a participant of our Women Talent Pool program (WTP) and Consumer and Commercial Marketing Lead for Middle East and Africa at Lenovo. Having worked as a marketing manager for the African sections of major companies such as SAP and Samsung, Lara elaborates on the different work cultures that countries bring with them to their target markets. She emphasizes the need to adapt marketing strategies both over time and for each country of operation, as well as the importance of having influences that support Women in Leadership in the workplace. Read the interview below to find out more!
Having completed your education in South Africa, do you think you were offered a different perspective than if you had studied in Europe?
Studying in South Africa certainly offered me a different perspective compared to Europe. There are some world-class educational institutions in South Africa, but at the same time South Africa is still considered an ‘emerging market’. Thus, the experience isn’t comparable to studying in a ‘developed market’.
Having worked at three companies, Samsung, SAP and Lenovo, with different geographic origins, do you find that the way of doing business differs among these companies, or do they follow a similar model? How well do you think they have adapted to the African markets?
All three differ slightly in their model but have adapted admirably to the African markets. Samsung has adapted well to the South African market even though there is still a strong Korean influence present. The SAP model runs with precision. Lenovo has adapted to the South African market due to a strong collaborative local team. The South African division has a strong leader who understands the market and cultural diversity and greatly supports women in leadership as exhibited with the active efforts made to ensure female inclusion in varying events and programs.
You recently became Lenovo’s Consumer and Commercial Marketing Lead for Middle East and Africa, marking your first foray into the Middle East market. How have you had to adapt your approach to markets in these countries, and has it been greatly different from your experience with African markets?
Every market is unique and each country has its own cultural and politico-economic particularities. Consumer buyer behaviors also differ across countries, and this holds true whether in Africa or in the Middle East. Thus, you do have to adapt your strategies depending on the countries targeted since it isn’t a one-size fits all approach, making it a challenging yet enjoyable process!
Fundamental cultural differences certainly exist and influence consumer buying patterns and behaviors. There are also differences in terms of seasonality. For example, in the South African market the education cycle starts in January, whereas in the Middle East it would start in September. Hence there are differences in the planning and execution of varying marketing strategies!
Every market is unique, and each country has its own cultural and politico-economic particularities
How has the field of marketing evolved since you first began studying it? Is there a need to rethink certain strategies?
Things within the marketing field have changed drastically in the last 20 years or so. There has been a big shift from traditional marketing strategies, which were minorly complemented by digital marketing when I first began studying. Now, you need to adapt marketing strategies to include digital and social media as integrated parts of marketing plans. I predict in the future that the scales are going to tip even further towards digital marketing, and the role will be reversed for traditional marketing.
What are some valuable lessons, ideas and thoughts you have taken away, whilst being a Women Talent Pool participant?
I am very grateful for the opportunity to be part of the WTP program! The exposure and the learnings have been invaluable, with the panel discussions and networking sessions being the highlights of the program. The topics that the panels discussed such as digitalization, diversity, sustainability, CSR, AI and startups were often those that you don’t have a chance to discuss daily, lending a different perspective. It is also quite inspiring to see women in high-profile positions, and to learn about their journey and the challenges they faced!
It is quite inspiring to see women in high-profile positions, and to learn about their journey and the challenges they faced!
We always end our interviews with a question from Proust’s questionnaire, therefore: What do you consider to be your greatest achievement?
So far, getting my MBA with a distinction for my thesis has been my greatest achievement! My move to Dubai and looking after the African and Middle East markets in my new role has also been quite an achievement for me. However, ‘Watch this space’ because I’m not finished yet! I am hopeful there will be bigger achievements to come!
“Watch this space’ because I’m not finished yet, I am hopeful there will be bigger achievements to come!