'We As Women Need To Know How To Navigate This Male Environment, And Adapt Our Mindset'

Industry Insight from Belen Pamukoff, Brand Director at Heineken


Ahead of her presentation at the Women In Strategy Summit in New York on March 21 & 22, we spoke to Belen Pamukoff, Brand Director at Heineken.

Belen serves as brand director for Tecate and Tecate Light, part of the Heineken USA portfolio of Mexican brands. Pamukoff is focused on growing the Tecate franchise, managing all consumer marketing communications including national broadcast and digital marketing. Under her guidance, Tecate and Tecate Light have seen tremendous growth and expansion in the Sun Belt States in 2015.Prior to transitioning to the Tecate marketing team, Pamukoff served as brand director for other key Heineken USA brands including Amstel Light, Dos Equis and Heineken. In these roles, she has worked on award-winning campaigns ranging from Dos Equis’ 'Most Interesting Man,' to the launch of Heineken’s 'Departure Roulette.' Previous to joining Heineken USA, Pamukoff worked at Moet Hennessy USA.

How did you get started in your career?

I started my career at a media agency 17 years ago – back when it was just TV, radio, and out-of-home. I eventually transitioned to the client side, moving over to Moet Hennessey and then to Heineken. Here, I worked with the Heineken brand, contributing to some of their most successful campaigns including 'Departure Roulette.' I moved over to the Tecate team a few years ago, and have been really excited to contribute to this brand’s incredible growth.

What are the main challenges your industry faces in the age of disruption?

The main challenge is that everyone is trying to figure out how to be disruptive. For alcohol and beer companies, this is magnified even greater due to the national and state rules and regulations that are weaved into our industry. We have to walk a very fine line in legal parameters to be disruptive in the industry. When you ideate, you need to have very specific parameters in place because not every idea you come up with is executable.

Another great challenge is that in order to gain exposure, you need to have a lot of media dollars behind it, amplifying the message to the people you want to reach. If you’re a brand with a huge budget, you can break through faster but for smaller brands, you need to be more creative. You have to tap into pop culture in order to gain timely, cultural relevance. As a result, you’ll find that a lot of the smaller brands are quicker on their feet, creating campaigns that react to what’s in the news – similar to what we did through the Tecate Beer Wall campaign. The trick though is you have to have a really good sense of your brand’s DNA, and know what conversations are appropriate for you to be part of, and which you’re better off sitting out.

What does Leading Through Disruption Mean to you?

To me, leading through disruption means that your brand communications are not only breaking through the clutter, but they are also inspiring your consumer and making them think differently about something. It should be exciting for them, as well as opening the doors to broaden your consumer base. That’s leading through disruption. Often times, a brand will lead a very successful disruption campaign but will focus on a negative message that does little to help brand equity.

What are the main challenges female entrepreneurs and professionals face in the workplace?

In Corporate America, there are still workplaces that are very male oriented. Male vocabulary. Male behavior. Male energy. We as women need to know how to navigate this male environment, and adapt our mindset. Many women may find this intimidating, but it actually provides a really great opportunity to put ourselves there more, and show the unique value that women offer to the workplace.

What can be done to improve female representation in the business world?

As a woman, we need to support each other, and stop competing. We need to mentor other women and create a constant communication with each other to build a network of support. We need to participate in events like the Women in Strategy Summit and other events that lift women up and nurture the feminine side of business. I often notice that we as women will try to mimic the masculine energy that is dominant in the workplace, but we need to resist that urge and just be ourselves. Corporations and the world in general needs more natural feminine energy.

You can catch Belen's presentation at the Women In Strategy Summit in New York on March 21 & 22.

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