People Business » Q&A: BAT FD Tadeu Marroco on progress and development

Where did you study before BAT?

I had a great time studying electrical engineering at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). After graduating, I studied for an MBA at the UFRJ COPPEAD School of Business and the ESSEC Business School in France. These gave me a great foundation for life in a business as international and diverse as BAT.

What made you join BAT in 1992?

It was an easy decision to make — BAT was an international business and was, and still is, highly regarded in Brazil. I joined the company in 1992 as a finance analyst for Souza Cruz (our Brazilian subsidiary) and a few months later I moved to my first managerial role as finance manager in a factory in Sao Paulo and have never regretted it.

28 years later, I’m on the management board and the excitement is still very much there.

Our business is transforming at pace, and we have a new corporate purpose to reduce the health impact of our business by offering consumers a greater range of enjoyable and less risky products. It’s an amazing time to be a part of BAT – we are changing the way we work, the products we offer and how we bring them to market.

BAT is well known for developing careers in finance–was there a career path set out for you at the tobacco giant?

The great thing about BAT is that no career path is the same – and finance is no exception. BAT fosters a culture of diversity in our work force so regardless of your background, gender or where you’re from you can build an exciting career.

BAT empowers staff to shape their career in a way that enables them to gain a breadth of experience by working in many different departments. Finance, in particular, allows you to work in matrix with other departments. For example, I started as a finance manager in a Souza Cruz factory, but have also held financial roles in the marketing department, distribution, leaf department in addition to corporate finance types of roles (as group finance controller). I also had the opportunity to join the Management Board as Business Development Director being responsible for M&A, S&P and IT, leading the group target operating model implementation.

One of my recent roles was regional director for Europe and North Africa which gave me unrivalled first-hand insights into just how diverse our workforce is, and how the business environment, consumer preferences, distribution and regulation vary in each country.

What did you need to do to ‘step up’ to senior roles after 2014?

Rather than just simply ‘stepping up’ into senior roles, I encourage my team to think more about gathering as much experience and knowledge as they can through their career paths. They need to be curious not just about matters related to their own roles but also the impact they can have in the business. This approach is more empowering, and I believe it enables staff to be better leaders and equips them to make bold, yet well-informed, decisions when they need to. I have experienced a variety of roles in different geographies, and this mix really helped consolidate my understanding of the group and gain a deep understanding of how the business operates. It has certainly equipped me well for life on the board of a large multinational like BAT.

How did your role as director, group transformation chime with the group’s move to address changing global conditions?

When I started in the role of director, group transformation in August 2019, BAT was in the process of streamlining its business and preparing for the delivery of a new corporate purpose – all of which was guided by changing consumer preferences.

BAT is committed to building a better tomorrow by reducing the health impact of our business. This has seen us accelerate our transformation with a multi-category approach where, alongside cigarettes, we offer a range of potentially reduced risk products including vapour, modern oral and tobacco heated products.

However, this has required a significant shift in the way BAT operates and how we deploy and invest our resources. As such, much of my time has been spent working closely with the Board to continue simplifying our structures and processes to accelerate our transformation and ensure the company remains best placed to meet evolving consumer needs. A huge focus of my role is to deliver savings to be reinvested in the growth of our portfolio of New Categories.

Almost one year later, it is going well, we continue to see strong performance in the New Category sector, and we are on track to secure our £5bn revenue ambition in 2025.

How have you started to finesse the finance function since becoming group FD and how does finance support strategy and innovation?

Over the years, BAT has consistently provided superior and sustainable returns for our shareholders and typically have delivered high single digit growth. Although our business strategy is evolving, we remain committed to consistent and sustainable long-term growth because ultimately it provides us with a strong foundation to invest in the transformation of our business.

I knew the finance function needed new areas of focus more integrated to our commercial agenda and developed three key priorities.

The first of which is to release funds to support our growth agenda and our journey to build a better tomorrow, whether that be investment in science, R&D, product development or building our brands such as Vuse, our flagship vapour brand, Glo, our tobacco heated product, and Velo, our modern oral tobacco-free nicotine pouch brand. Secondly, we look to maximise our marketing spend and effectiveness to ensure we get the best return for these investments and finally we will generate cash so that we can continue to deleverage our balance sheet.

Ultimately, BAT’s continued financial delivery is critical to supporting our new purpose.

 How is BAT addressing the changes brought by COVID-19?

This is a challenging and unprecedented situation for all of us but, as reported at our recent half year results, BAT has continued to deliver for our shareholders. Our multi-category approach, our diverse geographic footprint and determined people are enabling us to navigate the challenging Covid-19 environment and we remain committed to delivering on our 2020 guidance and continuing to build a better tomorrow.

 

While COVID-19 has impacted the financial performance of the group, we believe we are well placed to continue delivering for our shareholders – we are continuing to invest in our New Category products and fully intend to exit the Covid-19 crisis in a stronger position than we went in. An ambition reflected in our ongoing commitment to our 65% dividend policy.