Q&A with Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries

MEDIA 7 | June 20, 2019

Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries is a forward thinking and result-driven Marketing expert with 20 years of experience in the FMCG marketing industry. 

In this Q&A, Kolja shares his unique marketing experiences and gives us interesting insights about PPG Industries, a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, and specialty materials which is driving innovation, sustainability and color in the industry.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into Marketing?
KOLJA EIKELMANN:
I wouldn’t be able to say when I first realised marketing was the path for me, but I think it’s been evident my whole life that I’m interested in the diversity that marketing allows. Since childhood, I have always been so fascinated with the details of a product, no matter what it is. I have an endless sense of curiosity and I think that was the major driving factor for me to enter the world of marketing.

I realised marketing might be for me when I discovered the unique opportunity it offers to be involved in all spectrums of the business; not just advertising, but also in creating solutions and analysing outcomes. The overarching goal is always to make a real difference and help people in their daily lives, and marketing allows you to both be a part of the solution as well as a witness to the outcomes.

My job with PPG is very colourful – just like my company! Within my one job title I get to explore innovation, creativity and analysis. This variety has always been appealing to me.

M7: You have an exemplary marketing experience of more than 20 years in the FMCG industry. How have the marketing dynamics changed over these years and what tactics do you feel modern marketers should adopt, to survive in this competitive world?
KE: 
As you would expect of any industry in the 21st century, marketing is constantly changing and increasing in complexity in this digital age. The increasing presence of digital media and the growing demand for ease-of-access online services, has resulted in the field growing broader than ever before. The possibilities now are numerous, but they are fragmented; you must be truly dedicated to the field to build the knowledge base of marketing tools required to thrive in such a climate. Ultimately, PPG wants to produce work that has the greatest impact on businesses, this was arguably easier in the past when you had a traditional, simple media mix, as opposed to now when success depends on mastering traditional media and online outlets, social media and digital advertising tools.

For example, it can be easy to spend a lot of money on Google ads that are expected to be high value, but instead, organizations might see greater return on sales if the money had been allocated to a faster and more agile response to SEO.

In marketing, it can be easy to get caught up in the creativity of the work – as that is most often our strength – but not fully immersing yourself in the analytical side of things is a mistake that is often reflected in outcomes. I would recommend that every marketer should always make sure to know their KPIs inside and out and try to get as familiar with Excel spreadsheets and analysis as they are with the creative work.

In this constantly changing modern landscape, marketing has become even more important than ever before. Specifically, in the paints and coatings industry, marketing was a late bloomer as it has been driven by shelf sales for so long. However, as an industry we are refocusing on innovation and purpose; and pushing the boundaries on what is expected from paints and coatings and what they can do. PPG aims to improve and protect the world through our products – but none of this is possible without proper marketing to support the business.


"A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working."

M7: Your work experience spans across highly complex matrix organizations to entrepreneurial and start-up businesses. What do you believe is your driving force behind your proven track records and achievements?
KE: 
I am very proud to say I have left behind a strong track record of positive differences within the companies in which I am working. Although I have worked in many different, seemingly unrelated industries, the knowledge and tools that I learnt at each step along the way continue to prove invaluable for each new challenge I face. From paints, to dairy, to cosmetics – your collective marketing knowledge spans across whichever business you are a part of. Once you’ve built up this knowledge base, the true challenge is not having the tools but knowing which tools to use and when.

I have always been most drawn to companies that challenge me to make a difference. This is how I’ve shaped my career and how I made my decisions on where to work.

M7: How well do you believe that a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach along with business strategy and operational execution can lead to company growth with an upsurge in revenue/sales?
KE: 
I strongly believe in a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach, as well as incorporating social and ethical capabilities. Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing. The industry today is all about knowing your KPIs and business cases, which are data rich. Working in marketing is about being able to positively impact business outcomes, and that ultimately boils down to the ability to add value for your customers and consumers. Focussing on PPG work as a service-oriented industry highlights the need for data availability – both in that of the business and that of our customers – to be able to best consult and serve. Knowing your data is the key currency for success in the 21st century.

Data analysis can provide us with information such as click through rates and viewership. We are able to access tools now that, if used right, can prove invaluable to achieving successful outcomes. Being able to use this information to your advantage will allow you to instantly see whether your data retrieval is successful. Every business case and KPI that you set out to tackle can then be achieved using the data to measure sales growth.

M7: PPG Industries has been included in the list of American Fortune 500 companies. What do you think has made it possible to build a fortune for PPG industries?
KE: 
PPG has a strong culture of building the business across SBUs through investment, innovation and acquisition. We are one of the leading and largest paints and coatings companies in the world. This status is maintained by PPG’s culture of investing in R&D and constantly challenging the boundaries and expectations of the coatings world.

The opportunity to build our position as a market leader in many countries around the world is only possible through our global network and international approach. For example, our Alison Park facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a major hub of innovation for PPG – but work that is done there is often inspired by an idea from Europe, that itself was driven by a customer need from Asia. To stay on the frontlines we can’t sit still and be complacent. Our recent acquisition of Hemmelrath and a new plant in Tianjin, China is evidence of our strategy to expand our foothold, our abilities to deliver for customers and our capacity for innovation to maintain our position as a market leader.

PPG has many moving parts which all function in different areas of the world across different business units, but our central goal is to add customer value. A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working.


"Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing."


M7: How is PPG Industries’ tagline ‘WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD’ serving its purpose of enhancing the world through its paints and coating solutions?
KE: 
PPG is in every part of daily life – even if you don’t realise it. You touch and feel PPG in your living environment practically 24/7: from your car to an airplane, to your refrigerator, to your laptop or even your soda can. This tagline reflects how PPG’s paints and coatings cover every part of life. PPG products provide the expected functionality of adding a colour or coating to an object, but even more than that, PPG products enhance the longevity of an item and increase its appeal. Whether it is an electronics coating that makes a laptop feel smooth to the touch, or a coating that protects the body of an airplane from overheating in the sun. PPG’s mission is not to provide what is expected, but to offer innovative solutions to questions no one expected an answer for.

Environmental impact is one of the greatest concerns of the 21st century, for both our customers and us as manufacturers. As a business founded on mass production, it is our responsibility – and therefore our challenge – to be as positive a force as possible in the fight against climate change. This is why so many of our modern products are developed to align to both PPG’s mission of protecting the world and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: boat coatings that reduce friction and therefore reduce fuel consumption, aircraft windows that don’t need frames to reduce plane weight to help minimise carbon emissions, electric vehicle battery coatings that enable cars to travel for significantly longer periods of time per charge, increasing the viability of electric vehicles on roads. We are innovating with purpose – for the public, for our customers, for consumers and for our own PPG people.
The world cannot function without paints and coatings in our everyday life, and that’s why PPG’s tagline is so powerful. If we are going to continue to be a worldwide presence, we want to be sure we are making the world a more beautiful place in the most long-term, stable way possible.

M7: You have taken transformational business initiatives to foster incremental business changes and drive cultural change throughout the organization especially in dynamic business sectors. What are some of the advantages of taking such timely measures?
KE: 
As part of the global shift towards greater digitization, businesses have the opportunity to drive cultural change. Digital transformation is a key component, especially as peoples' buying habits are evolving and changing how they purchase products. This is acutely felt in Europe, with its variety of different countries, cultures and languages. From a marketing standpoint, the industry is offering incremental business changes in this new culture of on-demand. In the age of Amazon and digital transformation, people want easier and faster solutions from the paints and coatings industry. Customers want to get the job done as quickly and as easily as possible with support from the supplier. As a result, PPG is innovating to be more agile and fast, by developing architectural paints that take less time to dry or offering customers a more on-demand paint matching experience.


"A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer."

M7: You have an amazing experience of working with top leading companies like Nestle, L’Oreal and currently PPG Industries, how influential was your role in transforming marketing tactics for these organizations?
KE: 
My roles in these organizations were really diverse. For L’Oréal, I was more into sales and worked within category management. This later proved very influential for my future marketing career as it introduced me to the integration between marketing and sales in helping to serve customers in the best way possible. Integrated communication between marketing and sales is an essential tool in connecting both ends with the business purpose while still staying customer focused. You need to drive your campaigns forward and also sell your products in a much more complex way that is completely focused on the customer’s view. In order to do this, you need to know what is best for the customer when you place your products within a category role. This requires a lot of analytical skills to convince a customer what is best for them. You need to oversee the whole thing and act almost as both an internal and external consultant for your company. This whole picture view of the marketing process really influenced my journey and helped me strengthen my skillset for my future roles, such as when I was head of digital for Nestle.

When it comes to marketing, you can’t just pick the most creative, 360 media campaign available and offer it to the client. A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer. To be best at what we do, it is essential to build an in-depth understanding of your customer’s view and what is best for them. This experience came with me into my work for PPG in using this knowledge to establish myself in a more leading role. At PPG I am also the communicator in the company and need to understand everyone’s view and connect with all the different departments. I am not only the marketer in my department but I’m also responsible for looking at the whole value chain within this digital leading role. PPG has experienced double-digit growth in the past two years in both B2B and B2C and this success is down to how closely we collaborate here.

M7: Kolja, what is your super power?
KE:
I would say my super power is a combination of my visual and analytical skills, articulated through my courageous and enthusiastic mindset. Being able to both develop a specialized skill set and confidently acknowledge my areas of expertise and strength makes for a very beneficial cocktail to drive progress. Having empathy and other social skills are important to exert a positive influence within my team at PPG. However, these qualities should also be backed by facts – knowledge, experience and history -- which is a combination I have not seen in many people. Being self-confident and believing in my strengths is a powerful tool in business, and something that has greatly helped me along the way.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
KE:
I’m really driven by being up to date and well informed in as many areas as possible, and I would advise my younger self to do the exact same. I’ve always been a very curious person, but I would tell my younger self to be even more so and to take in as much information as possible. In this fast-moving world, that is just getting faster as we become more digital, there is always something new to learn or discover. If you remain stuck in one point of view or one way of thinking, you are already behind the curve. Stay flexible, stay interested and always remain in a constant state of learning.

ABOUT PPG INDUSTRIES

PPG: WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD™
At PPG (NYSE:PPG)
, we work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, we operate and innovate in more than 70 countries and reported net sales of $15.4 billion in 2018. We serve customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets. To learn more, visit www.ppg.com.

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Boxlight Announces Launch of New Website

Boxlight Corporation | June 27, 2022

Boxlight Corporation (Nasdaq: BOXL), a leading provider of interactive technology, digital signage, classroom audio, and services, announces the launch of their redesigned website to better serve partners, customers, and investors. The redesigned website will offer visitors improved navigation and functionality, a user-friendly experience, and differentiate the Boxlight solutions, including those from Clevertouch Technologies®, Mimio®, and FrontRow™. It will also give better access to resources such as EOS Education Professional Development, the Virtual Classroom, digital guides, free training, and webinars. Visitors to the new site can expect: Smooth user experience that guides them through our solutions for education, enterprise, retail, higher education, and house of worship Comprehensive information about and from our Boxlight brands - Mimio, Clevertouch Technologies, FrontRow, EOS Education Regular success stories from customers about how our solutions have benefited their organizations Updated news and information for Partners and Investors “We are excited to share an updated Boxlight website to reflect the full breadth of our technology solutions and services across all brands. It has been an eighteen-month journey with a team of marketing, product, development, sales, and analytics teams to bring together a vision of all our brands and solutions with our customers, partners, and investors in mind. This will be an ever-changing project to keep up with the demand of our users and our always-evolving product offerings. We welcome feedback to ensure it meets visitors' needs,” - Sunshine Nance, Sr. Vice President Marketing & Communications. Along with the recent announcement of the new MimioPro 4 interactive display from Mimio, the new IMPACT Max and CleverStore 3.0 upgrade from Clevertouch, and Campus Communication systems from FrontRow, the company continues to provide innovative technology and solutions to appeal to a broader market. The strength of solutions available for all markets, including those from brands Clevertouch Technologies and FrontRow, is being recognized and the Company was recently named Overall EdTech Company of the Year by EdTech Breakthrough. To showcase why we are a standout in the market, our Company and brands will be at ISTELive in New Orleans, LA, June 26-29 - Boxlight (booth #1122), Clevertouch (booth #330), and FrontRow (booth #2824). ISTELive attendees will be able to explore the various solutions including, but not limited to, the MimioPro 4 and MimioSTEM product suite, the IMPACT Max from Clevertouch, Campus Communication and Lyrik portable audio system from FrontRow. The new Boxlight website will help the company continue to drive towards its goal of becoming a leading provider of interactive technology solutions and services around the world. To explore the newly redesigned website, please visit Boxlight. About Boxlight Corporation Boxlight Corporation (Nasdaq: BOXL) (“Boxlight”) is a leading provider of interactive technology solutions under its award-winning brands Clevertouch®, FrontRow™ and Mimio®. The company aims to improve engagement and communication in diverse business and education environments. Boxlight develops, sells, and services its integrated solution suite including interactive displays, collaboration software, audio solutions, supporting accessories and professional services.

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY,ONLINE EDUCATION

Standard School District and Fulton Public School Partner with Auvik for Network Management Tools

Standard School District | June 27, 2022

Standard School District and Fulton Public Schools have been collaborating with Auvik, a notedsupplier of cloud-based network management software, leading to enhanced productivity, real-time network visibility, and a significant return on investment. 2,200 students attend three elementary schools, a middle school, a high school, and an early care center in the fully certified Fulton Public Schools district in Missouri. 3,100 children are served by the three elementary schools and one middle school in the California district known as Standard School District. Both districts have specialized IT teams that keep an eye on the technological requirements of each district's schools. As more districts continue to offer virtual learning choices, increase the number of linked security devices, and implement interactive learning technologies in classrooms, network management has become an increasingly important demand in educational institutions. The teams used manual configuration and monitoring procedures prior to installing Auvik's network management software, spending a significant amount of time traveling to each school and attending to individual equipment. The teams may now concentrate on other issues because Auvik's software offers remote management and maintenance. “It took just a few days to get a return on value from the entire implementation, We’d tried a few open-source tools before Auvik, but they were very configuration heavy and took up a lot of senior-level staff’s time. The team also explored some commercial offerings but found they were either too vendor-specific, cost-prohibitive or both. Auvik’s out-of-the-box configuration was up and running in just under an hour and has helped us streamline our business operations, allowing our junior-level techs to find and resolve network issues directly, while our senior-level techs invest their time in larger projects. Auvik is a visual tool that helps the team quickly understand where to look first if there’s an issue. We are currently conducting intensive planning for long-term growth, which includes additional IT equipment, so centralized management was a big priority for us.” - Jeff Davis, Director of IT, Standard School District

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

ViewSonic Announces Investing in Metaverse for Education

ISTE | June 24, 2022

ISTE Live 22 Conference & Expo in New Orleans, Louisiana, June 27–29, 2022, will feature UNIVERSE by ViewSonic, the newest EdTech solution from ViewSonic Corp., a major global provider of visual solutions. An immersive 3D virtual world designed for learning is shown in the beta edition of ViewSonic's UNIVERSE. For times when classes cannot be together in the same physical space, it allows interactive learning experiences that drive engagement, enhance collaboration, and foster a feeling of belonging. "The pandemic has changed the education landscape, and we've seen how digital innovation and technology has helped the education community overcome unforeseen challenges during this time. Through ViewSonic's continuous commitment to innovation in EdTech, we've created an immersive digital learning platform designed to enhance out-of-classroom learning experiences. UNIVERSE by ViewSonic aims to support educators teach with more creative freedom within online learning environments." - Kevin Chu, director of UNIVERSE Business Unit at ViewSonic Immersive virtual learning environments like classrooms, lecture halls, and collaborative areas are offered by ViewSonic's UNIVERSE. Through individualized avatars, students can communicate with peers and express themselves. They can interact with classmates in a secure digital environment using intuitive controls, making it easy for them to form a personal and meaningful connection. Emojis, realistic spatialized audio, private and group conversations, and all forms of communication can be carried out naturally. To best meet the needs of each class, teachers can use all-inclusive teaching methods like screen-sharing, showing a video feed, and developing pop quizzes. While this is going on, students can work together in the main learning area through open conversations or separate into individual meeting rooms for more concentrated talks. Depending on the learning circumstance, teachers can switch between the Lecture Mode and Discussion Mode using features designed specifically for classroom management. Additionally, after every session, teachers may get thorough learning reports that give them data-driven insights for better learning outcomes in a digital learning environment. These reports also give insight into the engagement levels of the students.

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