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British American Tobacco Australia

  • 50,000 - 100,000 employees

Casey Novak

I love the challenge of working in one of, if not the toughest marketing environments in the world.

What's your job about?

British American Tobacco Australia is one of the largest FMCG companies operating within Australasia, and the largest listed tobacco company in the world. Currently, I’m in the South Pacific Brand Team looking after our brand portfolio and managing our activation workload across 4 key markets. Daily tasks could involve workshops with creative agencies, creating Brand, Product & Activation presentation, presenting to senior stakeholders and creating activation plans. One current project I’m working on is the delivery of a new product in Fiji, as a part of the project, I am involved in many cross-functional meetings with Supply Chain, Trade, Legal and IT. On a regular basis, I’m required to travel to the end markets, as recent as last week I was in the Solomon Islands and in late December I was in Fiji. On these trips, you immerse yourself into the culture of the South Pacific and the individual country. It’s very much an eye-opening experience and you walk away having grown personally and professionally.

What's your background?

I like to consider myself a country boy at heart who grew up in the city. Until I was 14, I lived in the Southern Highlands of NSW. I was then lucky enough to have the opportunity to go to a Sports High School in Western Sydney where I lived in Kings Langley. After I finished High School, I attended UWS, where I had some of the best years of my life while working part-time to support myself at Castle Hill RSL. Through UWS, I applied for and received a Columbo Scholarship and was part of a group who went to Singapore to learn more about Start-up culture. There I visited and learned from individuals who work for Grab taxi, Google & Skyscanner.

One of my best decisions in life so far was when I finished year 11 and decided to lose 30 KG (from 120 to 90), because I wanted a healthy outlook both physically & mentally. What I didn’t realise is that when I achieved my health goal my personality also flourished. I began to thrive with a new-found attitude and perspective, and I became more motivated to achieve the rest of my life goals that lay ahead of me.

I made it to my current position through quite an interesting route. I’ve only been with the company for two years, but this is already my fourth role. I first started off as a Trade Marketing Representative, before being an Area Manager in NSW and then being an Area Manager in WA. I really loved each of those roles because you had such a hands-on and impactful job, something which has continued on today.

Could someone with a different background do your job?

Yes, it would be. A really easy example of this would be within the Brand team of 20 people, there are nine different nationalities. Three skills that I think are important to succeed in this company and in life are to be resilient, to be honest to yourself and others, and to make mistakes and learn from them. I think these are truly universal skills and ones which translate across different cultures, nationalities and languages.

What's the coolest thing about your job?

I love the challenge of working in one of, if not the toughest marketing environments in the world. It gives you a lot of self-satisfaction as well to know that you are doing something so uniquely different to others across marketing. I love how there are so many opportunities for myself to grow both professionally and personally. For example, in 2018 I MC’d part of our national conference, I travelled to the UK with 116 other Global Grads for our Global Academy, and I lived and worked in another State!

What are the limitations of your job?

One limitation is that you have a lot of responsibility in your role from Day 1, which isn’t for everyone. Whether that be defining a strategy for execution or building an activation plan, you are responsible for the work in that role. Another limitation for some people is that you have a lot of autonomy. In one way its designed specifically like this for you to make mistakes and learn from them quickly, but for all the perfectionists out there who like set instructions, this may become frustrating.

3 pieces of advice for yourself when you were a student...

  • My First piece of advice would be to take every opportunity that is offered to you early on in your career.
  • Be honest to yourself as an individual on what you want out of life, this will allow for better and clearer decision making.
  • Read More & Ask More Questions, you are surrounded by some incredible minds and have amazing content at your fingertips, utilise it!