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EU Alumna, Fanny Lanctôt Fortier, on an International Marketing Career with Adidas

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Fanny moved away from her home country of Canada to study a BBA program at EU’s Barcelona Campus. Thanks to an internship that she undertook during her studies, she has since built a successful marketing career with athletics giant Adidas and is now Senior Director Brand Activation for Eastern Europe. As a big fan of sports herself and keen to develop an international background, the company has turned out to be the perfect match

Could you tell us about your career journey since graduating from EU? 

While I was writing my thesis, I interned at Reebok, which belonged to Adidas at the time. I originally started looking for fashion opportunities but realized that Reebok had not just the fashion side to it but also the sports energy in their culture. It was a lot more aligned with what I enjoyed.  

I really recommend doing an internship. There are so many people at the school who are there to support you and provide contacts. I had to finish my studies relatively quickly because I obtained a permanent job with Reebok in Dubai. EU was really flexible and helped me to schedule the earliest date to present my thesis

I’ve been working for Adidas for the last 10 years. I have been based in Barcelona, Dubai, Buenos Aires, and most recently Warsaw, with the company. I began my career focused on products, followed by merchandising and later category management. When I moved to Argentina, I was in the sales department, while in Poland I started in the go-to market department, which is a blend of product and sales experience. Now, I work purely in marketing in what we call brand activation.  

How would you describe your current role? 

I lead an incredible team of around 50 people. I’d say my role is what people know as marketing director, but I’m actually responsible for three departments: sports marketing, omni-channel activation and brand communications, which is everything you see in mainstream and social media, together with any events we organize or sponsor.  

Adidas is such a well-known brand, how do you keep coming up with great marketing ideas? 

As a brand, we don’t have a choice because consumers evolve very quickly. They are hyper aware of brands and marketing, and trends are constantly changing. At the end of the day, we have to give the consumers what they are looking for. It is an adaptive mentality.  

We look at what excites the consumers while staying true to who we are as a brand. We want to be the best sports company in the world, so we need to figure out how that translates to the current trends. We are kept on our toes! 

You have experience in both sales and marketing roles. Why is it important to have both departments working closely together? 

Traditionally, people think it’s sales against marketing, but it really isn’t like that. We are seeing the two departments working more and more closely together. When I was in go-to market, it was my job to create the bridge. The more the departments work together, the better the outcome because we are aligning the communication of the product with the right consumer. The results are far more impactful and efficient. 

How can the two departments collaborate more effectively? 

It’s about having an open mind regarding what the other team is doing. Sometimes you are attacking problems from two opposing angles, so when you are one side, it can be difficult to relate to how an issue is being approach from the other. It’s easy to point fingers during disagreements, but it is better to talk it out and educate each other where possible

In marketing, we are trying to bring in data to understand the impact the numbers have on the business and the role they play in the outcome. We then communicate it to the sales team so they understand what we are doing, which makes for a much stronger collaboration. 

What has working in different regions taught you? 

A lot! The markets I’ve worked in have faced different economic, political and social situations. It has taught me to be flexible and not to have a one-size-fits-all mentality. When you come into a new market, you have to be humble, listen, observe and adapt. That way you can really leverage the teams and expertise of your new region. It also allows for new ideas and proposals to be brought into the market.  

You also need to be open-minded and resilient, as moving countries exposes you to new challenges, so there’s always something to overcome and learn. Cross-country and cross-department experience is particularly useful in negotiation as it helps you to close deals in a creative, flexible manner. 

Can you tell us about any exciting projects you’ve been working on? 

I feel like everyday is an exciting project! There’s always a cool sports, music or social event that we’re working on. At the moment, everyone is excited about the UEFA Euro Cup next year, which is being hosted in Germany. Last year, we had the World Cup, which was incredible, and here in Poland, we have an upcoming music festival that we are sponsoring. It’s always super fun, the vibe is so positive! 

What has kept you at Adidas? 

It’s a combination of factors. First, I really align with the company. I have played sports my whole life and I have such a passion for the product. I love hearing all the stories behind the designs and learning about the heritage of the company. There is also a lot of innovation in the company, which keeps things exciting

Our values also align when it comes to cross-functional and international moves. Adidas really value this flexibility in their employees. For me, a positive chain of events has occurred as part of this process – I truly enjoy my life, and that is the ultimate goal. 

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