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Ten Questions, One Hot Seat: Mitch Levene

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Posted on 16/05/2016 by Gary Robinson

We love speaking to our clients who are experts in their fields; finding out what wisdom they have to share and how they’ve made it in their specialist sectors.

This month we put Mitch Levene, Managing Director of Artsana UK, in the hot seat to answer 10 questions about his career and how he got to where he is today:

1. What did you want to be when you were at school?

I really wanted to be a gladiator! You have to understand the context though. I was at St Andrews Infant School, aged five when I was taken to the movies and loved the battles scenes. I did get it out of my system by training in martial arts for over 30 years. Whilst at secondary school, I looked at sports journalism, although by the time I finished studying at Warwick University, I was clear that I wanted to get into consumer marketing. 

2. When did you first start out working in the FMCG?

I left university in the 1980’s! I was fortunate to have spent my formative years working at Coca-Cola Enterprises. Amazing training, surrounded by superb people.

3. What attracted you to working in marketing & sales?

I guess it suited my personality and motivations. Creative mind, outgoing and a passion for delivering obvious results.
 
4. What does your day-to-day role involve?

Variety. There have never been two days the same in my role. I do have some structure though! I start around 6am with follow ups to do or sending important emails and any other communications, whist also re-checking the details of another fun packed day ahead. 

I conduct phone calls on the way to and when returning from work whilst in the car, which allows me time to dedicate to my employees and external contacts, such as key retail partners and agencies once I am in the office. 

It’s always a working lunch although I should aim to be healthier! The working day normally finishes around 7pm, which provides time for family, friends and martial arts.

5. What are the biggest challenges faced by the FMCG / Retail sector?

A lack of true strategic dynamism. Without thinking and acting differently, the results will merely be similar at best. To make real gains, we have to keep searching for the next ‘best thing’.  

6. How have your team at Artsana adapted to cope with these challenges?

The team have managed to virtually double sales during the past few years! The kind of people we employ and develop are proactive, driven, results orientated team-players. Whilst this kind of fast-paced culture doesn’t work for everyone as it means we are continuously changing and building, for most, it is a positive and rewarding experience. 

7. What sets Artsana apart from your competitors?

Four factors; our people, our brand, our innovation and our partnerships, especially with key retailers and agencies. 

8. What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?

Success is not a straight line; you have to take detours to get to be the best. 

9. What one piece of advice would you give to young people starting out in their career?

Work hard, but be effective, whilst building from successes as well as from mistakes. That’s probably more than one piece of advice! However, it’s tough out there when young people are starting out.

10. What top three skills do you think make a great Managing Director?

Strategic and operational results orientation, judgement and positive influencing.  If performed well, this leads to setting great visions, motivating people, rewarding and recognising great performance whilst also ‘rolling up your sleeves' and setting an example.  

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