Where there’s smoke, there’s fire. And in this case, it’s Jim

August 24, 2017 Katy Roberts

For close to 20 years, Jim has been instrumental in driving transformation and affecting change within the tobacco industry.  From the start, Jim was destined for doing great things, and as part of British American Tobacco, was quickly promoted to senior management roles, living and working in eight countries with direct responsibility for over 60 markets during his tenure. From the tobacco to the e-cigarette and, more recently, the legalised cannabis sector, Jim’s track record in helping organisations maximise their potential is one that most organisations would want to get their strategic hands on.

We speak to Jim and understand the driving force behind his career and the challenges facing the Tobacco industry today. 

 

“I was very fortunate, from early on in my career, to be able to develop a truly global perspective of the tobacco industry, both within developed markets such as the USA, Singapore and Japan, as well as developing markets in Africa and South East Asia, and it has been that perspective that has allowed me to be able to relate to the many different challenges, and value deliverables of the tobacco industry”, he tells me.  Having extensive experience as GM, CFO and Strategy & Planning manager in public and private organisations, Jim has worked with industry leaders such as KPMG, PepsiCo, British American Tobacco and, more recently, Sodexo where Jim fulfilled the CFO position of Sodexo’s $1.6bn Corporate Services division. 

 

What are they up against?

I ask Jim about the challenges facing the Tobacco industry, and without hesitation he tells me, “Regulation and Taxation. The companies in this industry are facing a market that is slowly shrinking, as the adult population gradually moves away from tobacco, and, coupled to that are the increasing tax burdens and regulatory restrictions on the product.  There is a range of severe marketing, sales and product restrictions which is becoming the norm around the world.  Large brands are having to rely on decades of established brand equity to maintain their market position, but this is not something that will last forever”, he says. 

One of the biggest challenges that the Tobacco industry, and all producers therein, face is the ever-increasing investor demands for return over time in the context of a market that’s shrinking year on year. “They’re up against an evolution of cost and VAT structures. You’re trying to increase returns to shareholders while at the same time trying to find the best talent you can in a shrinking market”, Jim comments. “When looking ahead at the industry as a whole, the development of reduced-harm products such as e cigs provides and opportunity for the industry to mitigate the losses seen from traditional tobacco products. There is change underway and organisations are starting to realise that they need to adapt both their products as well as  their organisation in line with these changes.”   

 

Why the Tobacco industry is turning to Independent Consulting talent

Jim tells me that the nature of the way people work is changing rapidly. The old model has been discarded and a new working model is developing where managers function more as n independent contractors – in particular, highly-experienced, qualified, skilled individuals.  Loyalty toward companies is waning and the old retirement model that used to keep people in an organisation for an extended period is largely non-existent (especially in the USA).  The industry, and in fact the global business world, realises that they now have access to a high-octane injection of a consultant that can help them with a certain issue, as opposed to the necessity of hiring talent for the long-run but having to manage the risk of them not always working at maximum capacity or have the broad knowledge base required. 

 

Why you’d want to work with Jim?

Within the consumer goods sector and namely the tobacco industry, Jim’s extensive experience lies not only in the financial function, but more so in the M&A, Post Acquisition Implementation, and the Corporate Integration functions where his remit has been to identify and drive strategy and integration forward as quickly as possible. He uses his knowledge and drive to help companies achieve specific results, often under extreme time pressure.  That’s where Jim stands out. He knows the industry; he’s worked in this field and his reputation exceeds him.   He loves what he does, is passionate about delivering results to his clients and proudly brings positive energy to the engagements and business projects he works on. 


To find out more about how to harness the experience and insight that Jim, and many like Jim, have to offer, speak to us today. 

About the Author

Katy Roberts

Katy is an independent marketing consultant and founded Fresh Brew Marketing out of her love for the cuppa. A seasoned marketer, Katy writes for several global publications and provides outsourced marketing services to businesses throughout the UK. She is a keen geocacher and rates running around in city centres dressed in Christmas lights as one of her most successful Social Media campaigns to date.

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