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

MEDIA 7 | June 20, 2019

CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries
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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Fullstack Academy CEO Jerrad Tausz will remain as the chief executive for the company’s operations. “This acquisition marks an exciting opportunity for our organization,Simplilearn is the world’s No. 1 online bootcamp. Together, we share an aligned mission of transforming lives by helping students from all backgrounds and skill sets learn the technical skills needed to secure in-demand jobs. We are very confident in the future success of our organization and excited about what the change of ownership will bring to all staff, students, partners, and alumni. I look forward to leveraging our shared vision with Simplilearn to bridge the digital skills gap in the U.S. market.” Tausz, CEO of Fullstack Academy. Founded in 2010, Simplilearn offers over 100 programs that teach early- to mid-career professionals the digital skills needed for careers in cloud, DevOps, data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, digital marketing, and cybersecurity, among other industries. Simplilearn also partners with top global and Indian universities and corporations, such as Caltech CTME, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, UMass Amherst, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, IBM, and Amazon, to provide training to help individuals and organizations keep up with the constantly changing demands driven by digitization. More than 3 million professionals globally have studied with Simplilearn to date. Bootcamps have been an extremely popular concept in the edtech industry, and there is no denying that learners are looking for the holistic learning experience that bootcamps offer. Through Fullstack Academy’s strong footprint in the U.S. with its bootcamps and elite partnerships with top universities, we are confident that this collaboration will enable us to accelerate our global expansion plans. It is amazing to find a business whose vision is similar to ours and complements our pedagogy and belief system. We are certain to leverage each other's capabilities in a prolific way to attain synergies,” said Krishna Kumar, Simplilearn Founder and CEO. Tyton Partners acted as financial advisor and DLA Piper acted as legal advisor to Fullstack Academy and its parent company. About Fullstack Academy Fullstack Academy is a national tech education provider based in New York City. Founded in 2012, it offers web development, cybersecurity, data analytics, DevOps, and product management bootcamps. Fullstack Academy also offers the Grace Hopper Program, an immersive software engineering course for women and non-binary students, in addition to partnerships with leading universities nationwide, including Virginia Tech, Caltech CTME, and Louisiana State University. Graduates have been hired by Google, Facebook, Amazon, Fortune 100 firms, and startups.

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CORPORATE EDUCATION AND TRAINING

PPG recognized for employee opportunities and career advancement

PPG | October 18, 2022

PPG today announced its inclusion in the inaugural American Opportunity Index, which measures efforts to create opportunities for employees. PPG ranks #44 among the largest 250 U.S. public companies. The focus of the assessment is on workers’ access to role, wage and career advancement. “At PPG, we know our greatest strength is our people, who are focused on fulfilling our purpose and protecting and beautifying the world every day. We protect their well-being and ensure our employees are safe, healthy, engaged and valued for the diverse talents they bring to PPG,Our inclusion in the American Opportunity Index recognizes our efforts to make opportunities available regardless of education, as well as our competitive wages and benefits.” Kevin Walling, PPG vice president and chief human resources officer The index, developed by Harvard Business School’s Project on Managing the Future of Work, the Burning Glass Institute and the Schultz Family Foundation, measures which companies are most likely to create opportunities for workers in roles open to non-college graduates across three criteria: access (who is able to join the company); wage (how well they are paid); and mobility (how far a worker will advance—either at that company or once they leave for another company). PPG scored top marks in providing a career launchpad - hiring workers without experience, training them, and enabling them to move on to better positions – and growing talent - filling roles by promoting from within, and whose managers and executives are mostly likely to have risen from within. PPG has more than 6,000 positions in the U.S. that do not require a college degree, of which the vast majority are in sales, retail and at manufacturing and distribution center locations. The company offers a variety of education, training, networking and advancement opportunities, including: Providing specific on-the-job trainings for different roles. For example, in manufacturing plants there is a series of process trainings. Offering access to a PPG-run mentoring platform and PPG’s online Learning Management System with nearly 25,000 digital learning resources. Supporting and funding PPG’s eight Employee Resource Networks (ERN). Offering tuition reimbursement for continuing education and certifications. Making available various external platforms, including LinkedIn Learning, Rosetta Stone for language skills, and Udemy for upskilling in areas of interest. In addition to the American Opportunity Index, PPG has been recently recognized for its employment efforts in the Human Rights Campaign Foundation’s Corporate Equality Index, Forbes Best Employers for Women, Forbes 2022 America’s Best Employers, FORTUNE World’s Most Admired Companies list. PPG’s ranking of #44 is based on its overall index score, which is a weighted average of nine measurements of opportunity a company affords workers or helps create beyond it, based on access to work it provides, ability to advance within the company, and wages. PPG: WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD At PPG, we work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for nearly 140 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 75 countries and reported net sales of $16.8 billion in 2021. We serve customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets.

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

Elevated Education Aligns with Partners to Get Teens & Young Adults Back into School

Elevated Education For Teens | December 01, 2022

Elevated Education announces four unique partnerships established as part of the on-going effort to restore hope among the state's most academically vulnerable and disengaged youth. Effective immediately, young people ages 13 to 21, who need extra guidance in their educational journey, can seek out the Teen Victory Program at: Yavapai Accommodation School District, Paradise Valley Unified School District, ASU Prep South Phoenix and Tempe Union. The program's breadth and reach is made possible thanks to funding from the Arizona Governor's Office. The Teen Victory Program is a one-to-one, customized support system for students that need extra attention and inspiration. "Thanks to a targeted investment by Governor Ducey, our innovative Teen Victory Program provides a positive alternative to teens and young adults seeking to reengage in their academic success, As a leader in academic reengagement, we are humbled by the support of our partners and are committed to locating, mentoring and providing a pathway to educational success for disengaged youth." James Meehan, CEO of Elevated Education. The Program takes a 'whole-student' approach to reengagement including: Analysis of participant's education history Academic mentoring/coaching Develop individualized learning plan School reengagement Student Victory Team meetings (students, parents/guardians, school counselors, elevated mentor) Ongoing mentoring throughout the school year There is nothing more meaningful than helping young people rediscover joy in learning and imagining a future where they are the best version of themselves, said Meehan. About Elevated Education Elevated Education's mission is to cultivate a rigorous and innovative environment that focuses on each teen's unique abilities and needs to foster profound transformative growth and learning through alternative education and programs. The Elevated Education team has reengaged and educated thousands of teen students over the years.

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EDUCATION TECHNOLOGY

Fullstack Academy Joins Blackstone-backed Simplilearn

Fullstack Academy | November 30, 2022

Fullstack Academy, a trailblazer in tech education, announced today it has been acquired by Simplilearn, the world’s leading online learning bootcamp offering digital skills training and courses to working professionals globally. Simplilearn is based in San Francisco and Bangalore, India. Backed by Blackstone, Simplilearn has had exponential recent growth, launching new programs and scaling its operations to successfully serve over 70,000 active monthly learners and over 500 enterprise clients. Simplilearn is dedicated to bridging the digital skills gap by providing learners across all career stages with the professional skills needed to succeed and keep pace with the rapidly evolving digital economy. News of Simplilearn’s acquisition of Fullstack Academy comes after a recent new funding round led by GSV Ventures to boost growth plans in India and international markets. This acquisition establishes the edtech company as the largest digital skilling company in the United States. Fullstack Academy will continue its current brand and bootcamp offerings and operate as an independent business unit within Simplilearn. Fullstack is poised to undergo continued growth, building on its 10-year history and experience in the U.S. bootcamp space.Since its founding, Fullstack has expanded its offerings, introducing new bootcamp programs and disciplines within Fullstack Academy, the Grace Hopper Program, government programs, and twenty university and industry partners, growing to over 7,000 alumni across the U.S. In 2022, Fullstack Academy was designated an AWS Authorized Training Partner, enabling delivery of official AWS Training and Certification in high-demand skills areas such as cloud computing. Fullstack was selected to join the 2023 Amazon Career Choice program, offering bootcamp programs to eligible Amazon employees across more than 30 metropolitan areas. Additionally, Fullstack Academy was selected by LinkedIn Talent Solutions as the winner of its 2021 LinkedIn Talent Awards for Best Acquisition Team in the Education category. Simplilearn credits Fullstack Academy’s established reputation for quality outcomes, positive student feedback, trusted partnerships, and talented employee base as the primary factors behind its acquisition of the tech bootcamp provider. Following the acquisition, all of Fullstack’s employees will remain in their roles as part of the combined organization, bringing Simplilearn’s total employee count to over 2,500. Under the agreement, Fullstack Academy will keep its name, leadership team, and staff. It will continue to serve its students and partners as it does today, with no changes to its bootcamp delivery or offerings. Fullstack Academy CEO Jerrad Tausz will remain as the chief executive for the company’s operations. “This acquisition marks an exciting opportunity for our organization,Simplilearn is the world’s No. 1 online bootcamp. Together, we share an aligned mission of transforming lives by helping students from all backgrounds and skill sets learn the technical skills needed to secure in-demand jobs. We are very confident in the future success of our organization and excited about what the change of ownership will bring to all staff, students, partners, and alumni. I look forward to leveraging our shared vision with Simplilearn to bridge the digital skills gap in the U.S. market.” Tausz, CEO of Fullstack Academy. Founded in 2010, Simplilearn offers over 100 programs that teach early- to mid-career professionals the digital skills needed for careers in cloud, DevOps, data science, artificial intelligence and machine learning, digital marketing, and cybersecurity, among other industries. Simplilearn also partners with top global and Indian universities and corporations, such as Caltech CTME, MIT Schwarzman College of Computing, UMass Amherst, Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur, IBM, and Amazon, to provide training to help individuals and organizations keep up with the constantly changing demands driven by digitization. More than 3 million professionals globally have studied with Simplilearn to date. Bootcamps have been an extremely popular concept in the edtech industry, and there is no denying that learners are looking for the holistic learning experience that bootcamps offer. Through Fullstack Academy’s strong footprint in the U.S. with its bootcamps and elite partnerships with top universities, we are confident that this collaboration will enable us to accelerate our global expansion plans. It is amazing to find a business whose vision is similar to ours and complements our pedagogy and belief system. We are certain to leverage each other's capabilities in a prolific way to attain synergies,” said Krishna Kumar, Simplilearn Founder and CEO. Tyton Partners acted as financial advisor and DLA Piper acted as legal advisor to Fullstack Academy and its parent company. About Fullstack Academy Fullstack Academy is a national tech education provider based in New York City. Founded in 2012, it offers web development, cybersecurity, data analytics, DevOps, and product management bootcamps. Fullstack Academy also offers the Grace Hopper Program, an immersive software engineering course for women and non-binary students, in addition to partnerships with leading universities nationwide, including Virginia Tech, Caltech CTME, and Louisiana State University. Graduates have been hired by Google, Facebook, Amazon, Fortune 100 firms, and startups.

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