INSPIRING STORY BY JC INSPIRE
Joel Victoria – Marketing Director – AAT Kings
Enjoying the sunshine and ocean breeze at Balmoral Beach, Jito gets to know a bit more about Joel Victoria, Marketing Director of AAT Kings. We discuss his career path which has spanned various industries from airlines, postal services, not-for-profit, health insurance through to fashion before returning to travel.
Every JOURNEY begins with KNOWING YOURSELF
“Growing up, there was always a lot of pressure from my parents to become a doctor.” Joel tells Jito. “I dutifully followed the steps needed at school, studying the right subjects, putting in the hours.” However, a career counsellor advised him that this would entail a lifetime of studying and learning due to the ever-evolving nature of the profession.
At the end of secondary school, the prospect of a lifetime of studying seemed daunting. After some soul searching, Joel considered studying psychology because he was fascinated by people or a commerce degree because he liked the machinations of business. “Then I discovered marketing which I figured combined the best of both worlds,” he says. “It’s been a lifetime of learning anyway as technology fuels constant change in media consumption and interaction. A lifetime of learning is exciting and exhilarating when you love what you do.”
Turn the clock back and Joel’s first job was at Yamaha Music as a sales coordinator looking after the VIC/TAS market. At the time, he was studying at RMIT and students had to do practical work for a year. “There were very few marketing jobs per se, that’s when it all began, I was in sales,” he explains. “My first manager was a bit of a cowboy, a wheeler and a dealer – she was amazing and taught me some great skills.” To this day, Joel believes we take on some elements of the management style of our first managers. After completing his degree, he was accepted into the Ansett Australia Graduate Development Program at their Melbourne head office. They were actively cultivating new leaders into the business. It was an 18 month program with graduates being assigned for six-month rotations to the directors of different divisions. He spent his first six months in marketing then sales where he made quite an impression.
“The director of sales convinced me to leave the program to join the sales team. I believe the key to marketing a product is understanding the sales and buying processes involved,” he says.
Change is HARD at first, MESSY in the middle and GORGEOUS at the end.
Moving to Sydney as an agency sales executive, he was on the road three days a week and a special projects resource for the remaining two days. He then left the sales role to focus solely on special projects targeting the corporate market, a key segment for Ansett. When the business decided to launch an initiative to automate elements of the sales process, Joel saw the opportunity to combine his skills to date with a new technology platform and returned to Melbourne to work on the sales office automation project for Ansett and Air New Zealand. “After the pilot program launched, I moved into marketing to manage the B2C portfolio and was fortunate enough to be on the team during Ansett’s rebranding.” he says. This was a period of growth and learning for Joel. There are so many streams to marketing and he realised that in his current role, he wouldn’t necessarily be exposed to them. Joel left Ansett (a few months before it collapsed) and decided to do consulting work as he wanted to expand his marketing ‘tool kit’, looking to learn from different industries.
To continue his exposure to brand work, he contracted to Australia Post where he rebranded one of their conferences with a new positioning and event format. He was always fascinated by not-for-profit organisations and their challenges with limited budgets to achieve high return-on-investment. With this in mind, he worked for World Vision honing his direct marketing skills launching the Smiles Gift Catalogue and restructuring the 40 Hour Famine.
“I learnt about harnessing the power of a database, believing in your product and humanising a project,” he says. “We’re emotional beings and engage with our feelings.” Segmentation Manager at Medibank Private was the next role for Joel where he worked on launching the FeelBetter rewards program, a task which he describes as a fantastic challenge because of the complexities of the industry.
OPPORTUNITY can be FOUND in the most UNEXPECTED places
“Customer retention is a challenge in any industry, probably more so in the health insurance sector. The analysis, stakeholder management and commercial negotiations required to develop and launch a loyalty program of this size was personally very fulfilling,” he tells Jito. During a holiday to Bali, Joel met and socialised with Dato Farah Khan who, unbeknownst to him, was president of The Melium Group, Malaysia’s premium luxury fashion house.
“On my third visit to Bali, she jokingly asked if I’d be interested in coming to Malaysia to work in fashion? I initially said no!,” he laughs. “However, this was an opportunity to work in a fast paced industry and be in control of the entire spectrum of the marketing mix: events, public relations, media buying, visual merchandising, loyalty and ad production. I uprooted my life and moved to Malaysia. Every once in a while you have to do things that scare you, that move you out of your comfort zone.”
A leap of FAITH can land you in most AMAZING PLACES
As the Director of Marketing, he worked with over 30 luxury brands including Hugo Boss, Ermenegildo Zegna and Tod’s to name a few. Here he learnt the power of branding, public relations and meticulous attention to detail. “I don’t think any industry combines these elements in the same way as they do in fashion – the presentation of every boutique, engagements with media through to the event experience – every element is managed,” he says. “The brand experience begins the minute a client holds an event invitation in their hands – every customer touch point is important.” Needless to say, Joel had a brilliant time in this role and stayed for four years.
In fact, Joel would have never left the fashion industry but for the fact that his mother was diagnosed with Parkinson’s Disease. “There will be times in your life when you have to do what is right for you and your family.” he says. Family is important, so Joel relocated back to Melbourne not knowing what his next step would be. “I joined Abercrombie & Kent as Head of Marketing which leveraged my skills from my Ansett days, my contracting roles through to my luxury fashion experience,” he tells Jito. “I loved working at A&K because it’s a company that understands and cares about every guest, their needs and wants, and crafting their ultimate holiday experience. We dealt with names of guests, not client numbers.” He describes the A&K team as “amazing experts” with a true commitment to excellence, amassing destination knowledge and discovering unique experiences. “There is a culture of caring, innovation and flexibility,” he smiles.
The NEXT chapter
Joel’s newest adventure during 2017 was taking on the role as Marketing Director of AAT Kings. “The people I’ve met have a vision for the brand, are willing to resource it and are open to exploring creative avenues to realising it.” he reveals. Meeting Hans Belle also made the decision easier thanks to his “amazing reputation” in the industry and his enthusiasm for the future direction of the brand. Joel describes the simultaneous arrival of a new Managing Director and Marketing Director as a “perfect storm” that rarely happens. “To have input into the culture of a brand that has so much heritage is another highlight of my career. These opportunities don’t happen very often. I’m excited and feel very privileged to be able to contribute to their brand journey and evolution,” he says.
When asked what ADVICE he’d share with those seeking to FOLLOW in his footsteps, Joel cites WORDS OF WISDOM from his grandfather…
- Always leave a party while you’re still having fun. Take a look at your achievements, at your future and the future for the brand. If you think you’ve reached the pinnacle of what you can achieve then it is a good time to seek out your next adventure.
- When faced with two or more options, choose the one that scares you the most because it has the highest potential for you to grow and learn about yourself.
- To be able to manage and lead people is a position that carries a certain level of responsibility. As a leader you need to listen, understand your team, understand the objectives of the business and marry them together.
- As clichéd as it sounds, if you really enjoy what you’re doing you will never work a day in your life … but you need to work smart.
Article was written by JC – Inspiring Greatness Early 2017.
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