From Berlin to Bangkok: how I spent 4 months at foodpanda Thailand
A job can take you all over the world. This has certainly been true for Anna, International Markets Manager at our Berlin headquarters. As part of her role, Anna works closely with our local teams in Asia – and that means frequent travel. Last year, Anna spent 4 months at our brand foodpanda in Bangkok, Thailand.
WHY I MOVED TO THAILAND
I started at foodora (one of the Delivery Hero brands) in January 2017. Three years have gone by so fast! I originally joined the CRM team and in December 2018 I moved to international marketing. As the central International Marketing team in Berlin, it’s our mission to support local marketing teams with best practices, processes, and also to step up and support in challenging situations.
Last year, our team in Thailand experienced exactly the type of challenging situation where we felt we had to support. The Thai market is one with high investment, high growth potential, and an ambitious but young team.
Originally, I was asked to go to Bangkok for three weeks to support on the ground with building up a long-term marketing strategy and then the offer was extended to three months as hiring was taking some time. Everyone was happy with my performance, so I got the offer. There was not much time to hesitate as everything happened so quickly, and I knew that these opportunities don’t come up every day!
When I took on the interim role of Head of Marketing in Bangkok, my day-to-day looked completely different than in Berlin! The only thing that didn’t change was that I was still working with marketing budgets, which I luckily already worked on a lot before going to Bangkok.
As an International Marketing Manager, I’ve always collaborated very closely with the regional team of foodpanda Asia as well as with the central marketing teams in Berlin. We cover topics like budgets, planning, processes, and sharing business updates from both sides. Our main goals are to facilitate efficient communication and alignment between local and central teams, and oversee the marketing performance in the region.
On top of that, each member of our team has an ongoing special marketing topic that they are in charge of, ranging from reporting, competition, new business directions… and in my case it’s marketing budgets. I personally enjoy doing something analytical.
Going from 0 to 7 people reporting into me was definitely a massive change. But this actually turned out to be one of my personal development highlights.
I would say one of the biggest changes in Thailand was becoming a people manager, which I’m not in Berlin, so going from 0 to 7 people reporting into me was definitely a massive change. But this actually turned out to be one of my personal development highlights. I’m lucky to have had some great managers in the past, so I learned a lot about managing from them, and luckily there were some great leaders in the Bangkok office, which supported me with more challenging situations like conflict resolution.
As one might expect, as a Local Head of Marketing you are much more involved in all the operational aspects, like campaign launches, channel mix, content, and various ad hoc requests; whereas in central marketing you generally deal with more strategic, data-focused topics.
HOW I SUPPORTED & WHAT I LEARNED
In order to support the local teams, one of the biggest gaps I had to fill was support in planning, which included lots of coordination within the team and between other business functions like sales, account managers, logistics, regional teams, and the management. Other important topics were analysis and running the numbers, from planning to monitoring the performance of ongoing campaigns and post-campaign evaluation. The people in the local team have amazing creative ideas, so they didn’t need me much on that.
Most of my time was spent on monthly 360 marketing campaigns, from June through September. We had a chance to try out different promotions, to see what resonates best with the customers, along with larger-scale, brand-building campaigns.
Coming from an online marketing background, I learned a lot about local offline channels like restaurant marketing – which is getting more and more important as competition grows – flyers, and offline events which are a very unique type of activation and acquisition that I’ve never seen anywhere outside of Asia. Another important learning was working with media buying and with agencies in TV and Out of Home (OOH) channels that were completely new to me.
HIGHS AND LOWS
I would say the biggest win was achieving hypergrowth. Numbers really speak for themselves: monthly acquisitions grew by 150% from May to August 2019. That was a result of many hours of hard work of all departments, including marketing, which I’m personally very proud of.
In terms of challenges, I don’t even know where to start! There was about a week’s time between meeting the team, getting acquainted with the Thai market and planning the first monthly campaign to launch in another week – the speed of everything was crazy. Besides that, I was not very familiar with Thai culture, lifestyle, media consumption, buying behaviour – but luckily I had a wonderful team that I could rely on for the localization aspect.
It’s definitely more of an opportunity than a challenge. The experience I got during those 4 months is very unique and valuable, and I feel very grateful that I was trusted with this opportunity.
In terms of projects, the Pride campaign was definitely one I feel great about – even though it was relatively small. I’m very proud to be a part of a company that takes a stand on a topic that really matters.
Another very fun campaign we did (and this was a huge one!) was the Pink Attack: the team developed a concept and booked 2000+ OOH screens (including all major screens) on Bangkok streets, to paint the entire city pink for 1 hour! A huge shout out to both the Thailand marketing team and the regional content and design teams that did a great job to make it happen. On the day of the “attack”, the whole foodpanda office split into groups and went to different locations in the city to watch it and take pictures (we made a small competition out of it).
DISCOVERIES, FOOD & TRAVEL
Bangkok is a fun city to be in: I had been there before while traveling, but living there has shown completely different sides of it. With friendly colleagues and a big expat community it wasn’t difficult to feel part of the city at all. One of the most fun and terrifying discoveries about Bangkok life was bike taxis – they are the fastest way to get around during rush hour, but it took me a while to get used to.
Also, Thailand has 23 (!) state holidays, so I managed to go on two mini-vacations during my stay: to Laos and to the beach in the south of Thailand. Bangkok is a real foodie paradise, especially if you work at foodpanda – I absolutely love Thai food, and now I can tell the difference between Southern and Northern dishes. I even tried a century egg – and I swear it tastes better than it looks.
SEEING THINGS FROM A NEW ANGLE
I would say that global mobility is already a big topic at Delivery Hero, and I think it’s an amazing opportunity to get to know the business from a new angle that’s virtually impossible if you stay in HQ.
It’s definitely more of an opportunity than a challenge. The experience I got during those 4 months is very unique and valuable, and I feel very grateful that I was trusted with this opportunity. There were many challenges along the way, but in hindsight they look small compared to all the amazing things I got to learn and experience.
As I mentioned, a big part of my job in International marketing is alignment and communication between global and local teams. After getting to know how local teams operate from the inside, I believe it made my day to day job in Berlin easier. To sum up, I think this experience made me more insightful and one step closer to becoming a true 360 marketeer.