Outline: Aisté, a student at Católica-Lisbon School of Business and Economics talks about her job at Philip Morris Baltic for #Uduni job series. #philip morris careers
Introduce yourself and your work experience:
Hi! My name is Aistė. Currently, I am doing my MSc in Management (Marketing major) at Catolica-Lisbon. Before coming to Portugal I was working at Philip Morris Baltic back in Lithuania. I spent there two years: firstly, I was working as a Marketing Assistant, then I became Commercial Project Executive.
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How did you find out about this position?
By accident. I actually applied for a position in a different company through a recruitment agency. But during the interview I realized I didn’t want the job I had applied for, so they offered me other options, and one of them was Philip Morris. At first I was hesitating because I couldn’t imagine myself working for a tobacco company, but one of the positions available was just with 4 months contract, so I decided to go for that one, thinking that if I don’t like working there, I can simply leave with no hard feelings. I suppose staying there for 2 years shows that it wasn’t so bad after all. When I started working there, I didn’t have any moral issues, as I thought I would.
How was the application process for you? If applicable, please provide info on each individual interview round.
The recruitment agency sent my CV to the company (no motivation letter, whoohoo! I hate those), and then they invited me for an interview. In total I had 3 interviews:
- With a girl from HR
- With two Brand Managers. They were the ones looking for assistants.
- With Marketing Director, the head of the department
Truthfully, I don’t remember what the interviews were about because it was quite a while ago. I know for sure that in all three of them I was asked about my previous internships (during the third interview it already felt like I am citing the answer by heart), and my Bachelor Thesis (funny enough, it was about perceived effectiveness of social advertising against smoking).
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What was the exact position you were working in?
As a Marketing Assistant I was helping brand managers (at first just one, later all three) with different projects. I was quite lucky because I got a lot of responsibility right from the beginning. I had a chance to work on three important strategic and lead 11 smaller scale projects on my own. It involved everything up to the point of execution: creating scenarios, coordinating with marketing teams in each Baltic country (Lithuania, Latvia, Estonia), briefing agencies, presenting projects to top management. PowerPoint became my best friend. Once I also had to organize an event for business partners and PMI employees. That was quite stressful but also fun.
Later, when I became Commercial Project Executive, my responsibilities didn’t change much. But in addition to planning the projects and their communication strategies, I also had to execute them in Lithuanian market. Hence, I had to deal more with suppliers too, as it important to manage my budget successfully.
Describe a typical day in the job.
9.00 – arrive to work, breakfast and coffee
9.30 – 12.00 – either email or PowerPoint
12.00 – 13.00 – lunch
13.00 – till you give up… – more email or PowerPoint with more coffee breaks
During the day I would spend a lot of time discussing things with Legal Department. As tobacco is very restricted, anything we wanted to do, we had to approve with legal.
As well, we would have several different monthly meetings that would take the whole day, or other type of meetings, for example, brainstorming for a specific project.
Was there any team spirit? Tell us a little bit about the corporate culture and your colleagues / superiors.
Oh yes, of course! People at PMI were great, and the atmosphere was nice too. I never felt uncomfortable around superior managers, everyone was always open for discussions and willing to help. People were one of the things I liked the most at the company, mostly everyone was motivated and driven.
We did a lot of things together with colleagues, both in and outside of office: team building activities, team dinners, office Christmas parties (or other parties/events), kayaking in summer, beer after work, you name it. At some point it even felt that I was spending more time with my colleagues than anyone else.
Evaluate your level of responsibility.
I believe for an entry level position you cannot have more responsibility than I had. I must say I got really lucky with that, especially thanks to my manager who exposed me to serious tasks right from the beginning.
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What would you improve in your professional experience?
Perhaps it’s not what I would improve, but there are some things I didn’t like. Or something that you have to come in terms with when you work in a company like that. Firstly, it is a huge company so you cannot avoid bureaucracy. Especially, when you have to do something that you don’t understand the point of but it was created in HQ in Lausanne, so everyone has to follow. Or when even simple things in the office have to be approved by at least five managers. It becomes ridiculous. Secondly, tobacco is super restricted. Hence, there is a very limited number of things (I am talking about marketing and communication here) that you can actually do. And it is quite sad, when you realize that if you ever decide to change industries, there will be a bunch of things you will have no idea about (for example, social marketing plays such a huge importance nowadays, but in tobacco, at least in the Baltics, it’s a big no no).
If possible, please indicate the monthly compensation (if any) you received.
I don’t remember exactly, but it was well above the average salary in Lithuania. And during those two years my salary increased several times. Definitely couldn’t complain.