On the Rise: Leanne Varney
Associate manager of marketing communications | Apollo Tyres Ltd. | Age: 38
What was your first job in the industry?
Team secretary to the chief marketing officer and global marketing office.
What attracted you to the industry?
I wanted to be in an industry bigger than retail, a company with global reach and with leaders who inspired me.
What’s the biggest challenge you have faced in your career?
Without intending to state the obvious, the tire industry is quite male-dominated, and I wasn't used to that. I was more of an introvert. At first, I found it quite challenging to fit in. However after a few years at my company, I was empowered by my colleagues to push for more. I wanted to be part of a team that put our brand out there, and who helped the company succeed. I wanted to be part of exciting projects and say, 'Hey, that was us! We did that!' I've overcome many hurdles, most of them set by myself!
Who has had the biggest influence on your career?
Our head of marketing communications in London has supported my growth within our company from the beginning, giving me confidence I never believed I had, and the head of marketing in our U.S. team has continued to empower me to push for more, entrusting me with exciting projects, bigger than I've experienced in my career. My colleagues the world over are always inspiring me and it is my goal to continue being an asset to them all.
What’s your biggest accomplishment in the industry?
My biggest accomplishment was making my move into the marketing world. I never realized how passionate I had become about the company I work for, and how much I wanted it to succeed and grow. If I can help make that happen by getting our brands out there, then I know I can be proud of myself.
Tell us about your current job and responsibilities. How do you spend your work day?
I am currently working as an associate manager in our marketing communications team based in London. I am quite fortunate to be located in London, as I’m central to the various time zones. If I am supporting my colleagues in Europe or APMEA I can focus on their needs in the morning, while also actioning any emails that came through the evening before from my colleagues in Atlanta or our agency in Los Angeles. That means that my afternoons are typically when the majority of the meetings happen. It can mean that there are calls or meetings later in my ‘work day’, however, working for a global organization, I have always approached my role with a flexible attitude.
What’s one thing you wish someone would have told you before you took your current job?
Not to take those quiet periods for granted, as they are few and far between!
Tell us about your family.
I live just outside of London, with my partner and our continental giant rabbit by the name of Oscar. I am from quite a big family, with five brothers.
How do you recover from a bad or stressful day?
Usually, a conversation with my partner or my mum can help me to unwind. It’s that or a nice single malt.
Name one thing you wish the average American better understood about the tire industry.
Quality tires are manufactured the world over. I think there is a lot of misconception about quality based on a brand being new to the market or being manufactured in Asia. Quality has been at the heart of what we do since our formation. We invest heavily in R&D before our products are manufactured, and we take pride in the results.
If you could have lunch with a celebrity, who would it be, and why?
Ryan Reynolds – I admire his entrepreneurial spirit; his success outside of Hollywood; having his own successful gin brand in a very competitive market; the purchase of a UK football club, Wrexham FC; and working in the marketing industry with his adverting agency MNTN. I would ask him, what’s next?
Name a talent you wish you had.
If not learning how to play a cool musical instrument, I could do with brushing up on some Excel skills! Spreadsheets are not my forte!
What’s the biggest issue facing the industry today?
Getting the tires to the customer. The shipping delays caused setbacks across the industry, with customers having to wait months for their orders; add to that the cost of getting the containers on U.S. soil led to manufacturers being forced to keep increasing their prices.
Tell us your biggest pet peeve.
What’s the best book you’ve read lately?
I like a good detective novel usually, and a series by an author named Alex Scarrow had me glued to my Kindle for quite a few evenings during the Spring.
If a tire dealer asked you for advice to find good employees, what would you suggest?
Hold an open day, meet people in an informal setting and get to know them outside of an interview room.
What do you expect to be doing 20 years from now?
I enjoy the variety and challenge of working in marketing communications so I would love my journey to continue, while also seeing how marketing evolves in the tire industry across physical and digital spaces.