Arsenal Football Club’s Partnership Development Manager Ann Gacutan takes a look at personal and professional values, effective communication, and the difference between East and West in business and marketing in the latest episode of MAD//Fest’s partner podcast, Shiny New Object. Host and Automated Creative Founder Tom Ollerton explains.
Turn disappointment into opportunity
As a seasoned marketer who has built a career in the football world in Asia, Ann has had her share of success, but this hasn’t come about quickly or easily. In fact, early on in her career she remembers being disappointed to work hard, put in the effort, and be rewarded with very little. She turned that disappointment into opportunity when she asked one of her early employers’ HR department for more than a small monetary reward for a promotion and was turned down. Instead of looking for financial rewards, Ann asked for “coffee time” with the CEO and got a mentor and valuable work advice as a result. She says: “I can only learn from people who have more experience than me” – so she turned to the person she knew had the most experience at the time. The result was sitting down with the CEO at age 20!
Cutting to the chase is not always welcome
I asked Ann what she’d like to be remembered for in her career, and she gave me the most succinct answer: she wants people to think of her as “a brave marketer that creatively solves challenges and makes work fun and gets things done before the weekend.” That is Ann’s driving philosophy in a challenging Asian marketplace where women have been brought up not to speak their minds and not to lead in their careers.
While she is quick to have a laugh, Ann explained that being an independent, outspoken woman is difficult in her environment. Nuance is key to establishing strong business relationships so Ann’s Shiny New Object is charismatic and effective communication. It might not seem new in Western countries, but being able to express oneself fully and going beyond straightforward conversations is essential in Asian countries. Ann talks about how different the business environment is there and how one needs to foster trust over a long time before switching to pure commercial discussions.
Set and follow your own values
Ann joined Arsenal Football Club a year ago and enjoyed their value-driven approach to decision-making. As a result, she has come up with her own core values and lives and works by them. We talked at length about one of her values – challenge. To her, it means to always learn something new, but also to overcome adversity. This is how she continues to fight for the role of women in Asian marketing. She told me how different mentalities about the role of women were, even in more progressive settings. She also believes it will be many years before real change occurs – but that charismatic and effective communication will contribute to that. Like Ann says: “First you have to be really passionate and true. You will have lots of obstacles in the industry but, as you go along, you will not see them as obstacles, but as challenges.”