With its groundbreaking new commitment to a smoke-free future, Philip Morris International is working to radically revolutionize the tobacco industry. Jordan and Palestine’s Commercial Director for Philip Morris, Jindrich Preis, discusses how this shift in business has been accompanied by a commensurate shift in company culture and what all these changes mean moving forward.
PMI’s decision to transition to smoke-free and potentially reduced-risk products represent a transformative shift for the company. How do you see this transformation affecting the way Philip Morris does business? Will this change the company’s core attributes?
Philip Morris is changing, that’s for sure. We made a strategic decision to shift the core of our business, marked by our recently-stated commitment to creating a smoke-free future. It can sound surprising for some, or even provocative for others. However, we strongly believe we can achieve that ambitious goal. How? We have been developing a range of innovative smoke-free products, such as heat not burn products, which we hope will one day fully replace cigarettes. Heat not burn products provide a better choice for existing adult smokers, and heats tobacco sticks within a specific temperature (below 350 degrees), therefore eliminating the combustion factor in cigarettes. To date, over 3.7 million adult smokers have given up smoking, and are currently using our heat not burn products instead, in over 31 countries around the globe, Palestine being the most recent one, and the pioneering market in the Arab region
This is a major shift in the way we have been going about our business. It requires a different mindset along with new core attributes, to address new areas of business and functions such as Customer Care and Digital Consumer Engagement, among others. I admit, these are new and unchartered waters for us, which we are working hard to adapt and embrace.
We have clearly recognized that, as a leading company in its field, we need to change and adapt to new realities and consumer needs. We managed to develop viable and technologically advanced alternatives to smoking, and successfully introduced these products in markets throughout the world. I truly believe that we are on the right track and that our vision will eventually prevail, and I am incredibly grateful that we are changing for the better.
We’ve been talking about corporate transformation. What about Jindrich’s own personal and professional transformation. How did you, and your career, evolve throughout the years?
Looking back to my early days, I had already kick-started my career back when I was still in university, where I actively took part in several student development programs and corporate business cases which were organized by multinational companies. These were developmental programs such as PMI’s INKOMPASS, which I am delighted to see it being implemented in Jordan. These programs had such a positive effect on my personal and professional growth, in that they helped me identify what I wanted to do going forward. At a later stage, I joined Philip Morris filling the role of Financial Analyst at the reporting & budgeting department. Ever since, the journey has been very inspiring.
Being someone who genuinely believes that taking calculated risks is an integral part of one’s career development process, I moved from Finance to Corporate Affairs at a critical time, in an affiliate that required me to establish external contacts almost from scratch. After that, I moved to Sales with 35 direct reports scattered across the region, which in itself was a completely new experience. Afterwards, I made the move to marketing.
Truth be told, I made several mistakes along the way, but I made sure to learn from each of them in order not to repeat them again. I can honestly say that worked out for me. Recently, I took what qualifies as perhaps the biggest challenge in my career, by moving outside my comfort zone in the EU to a completely new region, the Middle East, where I currently hold the role of Commercial Director in Jordan and Palestine.
And this is how I have been ‘transforming’ myself at PMI!
Is this shift in company culture one of the reasons Philip Morris is frequently acknowledged as a Top Employer?
Absolutely. One of the things I love about being part of the Philip Morris Jordan team – particularly amid this transformative period – is that, as an employee, not only am I part of the ongoing historic change, but I have the power to drive and influence it.
At Philip Morris, we recognize that each of us is different, and that it isn’t about the importance of ‘me,’ but the power of ‘we.’ This is what makes it such a great place to work. We are improving every day, making decisions more efficiently and learning from each other. We are a stronger organization now than we have ever been, and I am excited about what the future holds.