Andrew Cunningham, Managing Director of Skruf Snus, has worked with Imperial Tobacco since the day he finished university. Starting as a graduate trainee, he worked across different roles in manufacturing as well as sales and marketing before taking on his first managerial role. His progression through the organisation saw him take on a number of senior management roles in the business in Ukraine, Belarus, Kyrgyzstan, and Macedonia until 2006 when he moved to Stockholm to take up his current position.
Ive had a fairly international background. I grew up in Singapore and my parents are long-term expats, so that helped with my openness in jumping to different countries. I got a nice flavour for different companies, different countries, different cultures, and different businesses while still remaining within Imperial throughout that experience. So it was quite a nice match being in one company but working across five or six different businesses.
Having to manage people and manage teams in a variety of different countries and geographic situations with different cultures is probably the biggest learning curve. Things that work in one particular culture may not necessarily transfer into another culture and geography. So its learning to adapt your style, techniques, and skills, as well as learning new skills, to effectively manage teams in different environments and cultures. I think thats the biggest lesson Ive had over my years with Imperial, and its something that holds me in good stead for life.
There have been various challenges throughout Andrews tenure, particularly in light of the strict marketing laws surrounding tobacco products. It just changes the ballpark a little bit in terms of what we, and other manufacturers and tobacco companies, focus on. It makes other things, that have always been important, even more important. For example, the packaging itself; that is a big part of being able to speak to our consumers. The quality of the product itself becomes even more important because youre not able to talk about your product as effectively, so the product itself has to stand on its own two feet.