Irena Bozhilova recently joined Carlota Pico to talk about her role as EMEA international brand manager for Keds and PRO-Keds at Wolverine Worldwide. Irena discussed the history of Keds’ work to champion and support women through their products, campaigns and messages. She explained how they’re dealing with the current global situation, outlined the qualities of a successful global marketer, and shared the women-led groups that inspire her.

You can watch the full conversation in the video above or on YouTube, listen to the podcast on Apple and Spotify, and read our recap below.

Key takeaways

  • Keds creates meaningful products and inspiring messages for women around the world. They created the first sneaker for women in 1916, and have been helping women expand the possibilities of what they can do and who they can be ever since.
  • Global marketers should have a passion for international business, understand different cultural needs and possess excellent communication skills. Having a can-do attitude is also a cardinal quality for any global role.
  • Keds often works side by side with groups such as AllBright, a members’ club that creates networking opportunities for women and supports women-led businesses, as well as the UK-based Female Narratives, a community that supports women in creative industries.
  • Keds relaunched in the UK in the spring of 2020—which was challenging timing. They hired 5th House PR agency to track and increase brand awareness, and one channel that’s been fundamental to this effort is Instagram.
  • For International Women’s Day in March, Keds launched their “Made for women, whatever that means” campaign, which included an extensive visual guide to the brand’s identity. This helps to ensure that the brand is represented consistently across the globe, while also featuring women from each of the countries where its partners are based.

With the current situation, it’s become clear that you need to be very quick to pivot, to be flexible, to be nimble, and to be ready to welcome change every single day.

Rapid-fire recs

What’s an app or tool that you can’t work without?

If I had to say one app, I think it would be Instagram. I use it all the time for work and pleasure. I like seeing what my friends are up to, catching glimpses of their holidays and seeing snaps of sunny places.

A marketing influencer who you follow?

It’s not just one person, but rather the amazing communities I surround myself with, such as AllBright and Female Narratives.

The team at AllBright is amazing—it’s the best team I’ve ever worked with. The women there are truly inspiring, and the founders, Debbie Wosskow, OBE and Anna Jones, are super empowering. They’re big believers in sisterhood: women supporting women. I’ve definitely benefited from being part of that sisterhood, with women who I really admire.

A valuable resource, event or group?

I’m currently reading an amazing book called “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones” by James Clear. I love it, from both a personal and professional point of view. It explains how to create a routine with habits that can really pay off and help you grow, follow your dreams and achieve your goals.

Connect with Irena and Carlota on LinkedIn.

This post was edited by Mary Kresge, a freelance content creator based in Madrid.

For more insights into the role of a brand manager:

Optimize influencer campaigns – Alessia Coletta, global brand manager at Trainline

A toast to positivity – Galya Korukhchyan, global brand manager for Malibu Rum

To see the full transcript, click on page number 2 below.