Identifying the Best Leaders: Soft Skills vs. Hard Skills
Aulona Noka believes in innovative thinking. As Head of Global Marketing for Surrey-based Garaventa Lift and founder of branding and earned media agency Minimal K, she maintains an effort to push the boundaries of B2B marketing and recruit a diversity of talent, while taking a glocalized approach to international marketing.
The Importance of a Global Perspective
“Among the many factors in this type of position are a global perspective and flexibility,” says Noka.1
Garaventa Lift, who designs, installs, and maintains custom lift solutions, has a presence in North and South America, as well as in Europe and Australia. This global scope creates a challenge that Noka seems to relish.
As an Albanian who grew up in Italy and studied in Paris before moving to Canada, Noka understands that different geographies have different cultures, value systems, and ways of approaching commerce.
“Adapting to other ways of working involves considerations that range from the banal things like time zone changes, to the complex, such as behaviours, mindsets, and the working environment itself,” she says. “I don’t only speak Italian, but I understand the Italian mindset and behaviours. That’s really important.”
The Glocalization Approach
When tailoring the brand’s message for different parts of the world, Noka uses a process referred to as “glocalization”.
“Different markets have different audiences,” she says, “but there is common ground. When I create brand guidelines, I start with the brand and the story the brand wants to tell, and then decide how these brand elements can be connected to each audience.”
Noka has witnessed other brand managers take decentralized approaches with their Canadian, American, and other international markets.
“This leads very quickly to the creation of silos between marketing, communications, and the local teams,” she believes. “It manifests as broken, inconsistent, and not aligned with brand guidelines and brand direction. Having a global brand guideline is really important, but so is the ability to adapt it to each market.”
B2B Marketing Too Conservative
Noka is an advocate for innovative thinking but finds it sorely lacking, particularly in business to business marketing.
Noka understands the hesitation to innovate when dealing with professional, experienced audiences, but believes that such an approach can pay off.
“We could have monsters and Frankensteins,” she admits, “but it’s worth trying. It could result in something new, something better.”
Diversifying Your Recruiting Practices
According to Noka, more diverse opinions can result from a more diverse approach to recruiting.
“Recruiters should be open to candidate profiles which are less typical or traditional,” says Noka. “We mustn’t limit our searches to candidates who’ve worked for company X and company Y, or who have studied at SFU or UBC. Those with a narrow scope not only limit their opportunity to hire highly qualified people, but also their opportunity to innovate.”
Noka believes that the imperative to recruit diverse talent also has a pragmatic component in a tight labour market. Time and again she has put her values into practice.
“I have had team members from India to Switzerland to Abbotsford,” she says. “We have been able to do some interesting things, while building a very unique environment.”
In-Person vs. Online Events
Noka believes that travel is an important part of her role and has been glad to see numbers at trade shows and conferences rebound after the lull experienced during the pandemic.
“Event marketing plays a very important role in the overall marketing efforts of a manufacturer,” she explains.
While virtual events do serve as an alternative to physical attendance, Nova does not believe they are a long-term solution.
“Virtual events have suffered in terms of attendance, efficiency, and ROI,” she says. “If these events are for the purposes of networking, retention, or lead generation, they do not work as well.”
In contrast, she believes that an online approach to the education process is a natural fit.
“Audiences and individuals in general are more used to learning virtually,” she says, adding that video plays an important role in this.
“We lead a lunch and learn for architects which has benefited from the shift towards digital,” she says. “The advertising, subscription, and delivery are all digital, which works with a digitally literate audience. It fits better with their schedules.”
Though virtual events are not always optimal, they do play a role in the post-pandemic world, representing the kind of innovative thinking that Noka utilizes, both at Garaventa and Minimal K.
“I love connecting with other marketing professionals and discussing ways of adapting strategies that come from outside of B2B and outside of the manufacturing world,” she says. “I think it’s great to surprise your audience.”