Inspirational Woman: Dany Atkins | Chief Brand Officer, Kodak

Dany AtkinsDany has global responsibility for the iconic Kodak brand, across PR and brand strategy both B2B and B2C, the in-house creative agency and campaigns.

She leads on the creative direction of the iconic brand through every medium and across all channels; from classical re-branding, buzz marketing campaigns and artistic and brand collaborations, to packaging and product design, and employee communications.

As part of this work Dany has been involved in incubating and launching new businesses, and pivoting the Kodak brand into new categories. She has been a key member of Kodak’s Executive turnaround team.

Dany previously headed European marketing Beats by Dre. She has also held senior marketing positions at Nokia, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Innovision, where she was responsible for dressing the city for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, including the remarkable installation of the Olympic Rings on the Tower Bridge.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m Dany Atkins, Chief Brand Officer at Kodak. I am responsible for creating integrated marketing programs, including experiential activations, brand partnerships and public relations initiatives, to build the Kodak brand and deliver measurable results cross the company’s commercial and consumer businesses. We do a lot more business development than a typical marketing function. Critical for our team’s success is the in-house creative agency that I run which includes graphic design, motion graphics and animation and a content team working on print publications and films.

I came to Kodak from Beats by Dre where I headed European marketing. I also held senior marketing positions at Nokia, Price Waterhouse Coopers and Innovision, where I held full P&L for the Entertainment Division and was responsible for dressing the city for the 2012 Olympic Games in London, including the remarkable installation of the Olympic Rings on the Tower Bridge.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I wouldn’t say I sat down and planned my career. I think that I have always wanted a job I’m passionate about. Being in a creative role is important to me, personally. As I became more senior, I have been more mindful about the roles when I changed positions. When I moved from the global brand team at Nokia to work in EMEA, it was because I wanted accountability for driving revenue and sales and to build a deeper knowledge retail channels. I was very mindful about building that experience into my career path.

I’m much more intentional now about the new roles I take on. I’ve long had an ambition to make chief brand or chief marketing officer – and so now I’ve reached that goal I want to excel in the job but my next role will be to go back to running a business either as CEO or GM. Additionally, I am focussed on achieving a Non-Exec Board position.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Everyone faces challenges all the time. You must have challenges in order grow and get better. Sometimes you have to actively force yourself to do things that are most difficult. For me, that meant going beyond execution of the creative or the campaign and throwing a huge amount of energy into the development of my team and my leadership of that team.

Another challenge I am faced with is working in a company amid a turnaround with limited budgets.  We’ve had to be innovative by essentially creating an in-house agency and by leveraging our brand with creators to make content and exploring new categories – like fashion – to pivot the brand into.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

In all honesty, my biggest achievement to date are my two sons. I’m extremely proud of being a woman in a senior, global role and being a parent to my two boys and watching them grow up.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

My dad had a phrase, and it’s a mantra I live by. “Pin your colours to the mast.” I always decide what I want to do, and I go and do it. Unapologetically.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

Mentoring and coaching are an extremely important part of achieving growth. I had a manager that recruited me early in my career, and she said to me, ‘always hire people who you think can go further than you.’ Seeing my team develop and grow to be successful is hugely rewarding.

I have also spent a lot of energy particularly in this role here at Kodak specifically nurturing young female creatives and giving them opportunities, because I feel that it’s really important to support women in our industry. They actually give me a lot back as well. You develop yourself as a result of  working with young people especially other determined young women making a name for themselves in the creative industry.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?

I would change the culture of childcare for working parents to increase flexibility and ensure they can balance home and work lives. It’s still a challenge for many people today, and I would love to companies of all shapes and sizes do more to support their employees in this way.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Invest in companies like Amazon and Netflix!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

Seeing Kodak back in the top 50 brands is long term goal. That is what I’d hope to achieve in the future, seeing the Kodak brand back where it belongs.

When I became CBO, we restructured the team with a much bigger focus around business development and developing the brand as an asset. For me personally, I’m looking to take on more GM or revenue responsibilities running a business within the company. In marketing there is only so high you can go – but I still have an ambition to make CEO for a brand-centric business.

Do you have any advice for women rising through the ranks?

Maintain a sense of humour. Find allies. Stick to your own morals, trust your instinct and don’t be afraid to push back or ask for what you want.

Additional thoughts:

Someone observed that I’m a migrator. If you look at my experience I have worked at an agency at the start of the Dot Com boom and then I moved into broadcast production and then I worked in event management, so my experience is pretty broad.

I think because of the way technology has changed and the way brands communicate having that broad experience for me personally set me up well in this current role to be able to connect the digital piece, the social piece, the content and the brand directly to driving band fame and then how to convert that to revenue.

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