Ileana Dumitru (BAT): Sights set on innovation, science, and new technologies

Mihai-Alexandru Cristea 21/03/2023 | 16:30

For BAT, last year was about learning to always be prepared to manage uncertainty by encouraging innovative thinking and creative solutions. Ileana Dumitru, legal and external affairs director for the Central South Europe Area at BAT, talked to Business Review about the company’s achievements and its efforts to support tobacco harm reduction strategies around the world.

By Anda Sebesi

 

2022 was an important year for BAT Romania, when the company celebrated 25 years of presence on the local market. “As part of this anniversary in Romania, we reflected on how the role of corporations keeps evolving along with the social and economic context, with global companies contributing not only to the local economic growth, but also generating stability, attracting further investments, and driving structural evolution, societal development, and wider opportunities,” Dumitru says. The company currently has 3,000 direct employees across its three legal entities and it has so far created 30,000 jobs in the distribution chain. “In our 25 years of operating on the local market, BAT has had a total contribution of EUR 125 billion to the economy, of which EUR 24 billion were paid directly to the state budget, in excise and taxes*,” Dumitru points out.

The company’s transformation is a huge process and it focuses on innovation, new technologies, and science, which are the key elements driving change. “Our scientists have conducted over 300 studies on glo, our flagship tobacco heating product, in different areas of research, and in 2022 we published our first real life clinical study spanning one year**. The results showed significant reduction in indicators of potential harm over 12 months for smokers switching to the exclusive use of glo compared to continuing to smoke.” Dumitru adds that this is a major step forward in supporting tobacco harm reduction strategies, a transition towards reduced risk*** alternatives for millions of people around the world.

Beyond the company’s achievements, 2022 was another year that taught the organisation to always be prepared to manage uncertainty by encouraging innovative thinking and creative solutions. “We pride ourselves with our company’s ethos of having bold, fast, and responsible people who are not afraid to take calculated risks and embrace the transformation process, something that is quite visible in the local business model, which is highly reliant on digital platforms and interactions,” Dumitru explains.

Talking about her leadership style, Dumitru says that it has been focused on growth, both personal and professional, as well as at the individual and team level. She focuses on recognising and nurturing the strengths of each team member and working with them to improve the entire team’s performance. “I also believe in doing things with passion, dedication, and the excitement of finding new approaches and better alternatives, therefore I’m looking for different backgrounds, skills, and capabilities on my team, which can position me as a transformational leader who is focused on creative thinking and innovation.” She has also been increasingly aware, especially in recent times, of the importance of a balanced life, people’s wellbeing, and a safe work environment, so she strives to be adaptive and flexible to appropriately address changes in the socio-economic environment and her colleagues’ need for stability and growth.

“The biggest satisfaction comes from the people I work with, the challenges we overcome together, and the projects we develop as part of BAT’s purpose of building A Better Tomorrow, with sustainability front and centre in everything we do.”

3 business goals for 2023:

  • Continuously adapting the organisational mindset;
  • Contributing to the company’s transformation, which is a major process and a very exciting experience;
  • Across all our forms of marketing and communication, being responsible in our commercial behaviour both internally and in our relationships with commercial partners, and preventing minors’ access to nicotine products.

*According to BAT’s economic impact in Romania analysis, conducted by independent consultancy and market research group CIVITTA

** Evaluation of behavioural, chemical, toxicological, and clinical studies of tobacco heated product glo and the potential for bridging from a foundational dataset to new product iterations – ScienceDirect

*** Based on the weight of evidence and assuming a complete switch from cigarette smoking. These products are not risk-free and are addictive.

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