Michelle Santillan: The 2018 YMMA Awardee has your Dream Job, Chocolate Marketer

Michelle Santillan has a job chocolate lovers will envy. And her many achievements in marketing iconic global brands such as Cadbury Dairy Milk and Toblerone as the Chocolates Category Manager of Mondelez Philippines and Indonesia are proofs that the path to success can be as delicious.

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Poster child of homegrown success: Michelle Santillan, the multi-awarded lady behind the Cadbury and Toblerone brands in the Philippines and Indonesia.

A showcase of the Mondelēz International talent pool
Among Michelle’s latest accolades is the prestigious 2018 Mansmith Young Market Masters Award (YMMA). The YMMA recognizes the talent and creativity of outstanding marketing professionals in the country who excelled not just in corporate performance but also in mentoring and leading their teams to success. “I consider the YMMA win as a showcase of the marketing talents in our Company and I am very proud to be representing that. I have been with the Company for 13 years, so I consider myself homegrown, with skills that are honed by working with a talent pool that is open, diverse and rich in work experience in various marketing arenas across the globe,” said Michelle.
“This award is symbolic of how embracing boldness and fearlessness translates to tangible internal results and external market share gains. Being bold and fearless is about being a trailblazer and thinking innovatively. It does not have to always require big resources but we have shown boldness by incorporating new thinking in utilizing existing platforms in a different and unique way,” she added.
“I consider myself fortunate to work for a company where the ultimate goal is to unleash the power of its people. People are at the heart of Mondelēz International, be it by creating some of the world’s best loved brands or creating a great place to work. The Company culture encourages its people to grow their capabilities so they can be empowered to enable growth not just locally but also internationally.”
Delicious Milestones
Under Michelle’s leadership, her team bagged multiple recognitions from various marketing and award-giving bodies for innovative marketing campaigns. One example that won the Mondelez AMEA Fly Fearless award is the Toblerone Blank Pack campaign that empowered consumers to make personalized and therefore more thoughtful gifts. It was also under Michelle’s guidance that Mondelez Philippines became the first fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) company in the country to launch a multiple and customized video campaign delivering 522 video ads reaching a targeted audience with very specific and relevant messaging leading to an uplift of in brand consideration.
These winning marketing moves enabled Michelle and her team to contribute substantially to the company’s overall operational excellence, with the Company posting back to back double-digit growth in both the Philippines and Indonesia in the last two years alone. According to 2016 Nielsen data, market shares are steadily on the rise, with Mondelez Philippines and Indonesia ranking second and third respectively in their own chocolate industries.
Best of global, best of local
Michelle also admitted she likes “to shake things up,” to always challenge the tried and tested. “One of the biggest challenges of selling premium chocolates is to not only survive, but also to thrive in the intensively competitive marketplaces where local competitors boast of products with low price points, vast network distributions, consumer affinity and strong heritage assets,” she related. Adopting Mondelez International’s unique philosophy of “the power of Big and Small”, she founded her campaigns inspired by the best practices of a company that markets in 160 countries and executed with the speed and agility of a new start up.
“We have the advantage of having the best of global and local strategies to accelerate our growth momentum. These allow us to work smarter and faster while sustaining our drive and passion to cater to our customers’ needs. It is also a source of pride that we are part of the Southeast Asia region which is one of the profitable growth engines for Mondelēz International. And when you are embraced by a collaborative high-trust culture anchored on a consistent vision of ‘Creating More Moments of Joy’, there is no other way to go but up,” said Michelle.

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