Andrew Mansfield – observing the Asian notion of honor

Andrew Mansfield, Asia Pacific marketing director of ATG, enjoys nothing more than "helping a company build up a marketing function from scratch and seeing the results have a direct effect on the bottom line".

Andrew MansfieldAndrew Mansfield enjoys nothing more than "helping a company build up a marketing function from scratch and seeing the results have a direct effect on the bottom line". The Asia Pacific marketing director of online CRM and e-commerce company Art Technology Group Inc. (ATG) has helped several IT companies roll out new products, services and initiatives that he believes have helped made "a positive difference" to the businesses.

The IT business is extremely competitive and Mansfield reckons that good marketing initiatives are often what give companies the edge against the competition. Any marketing campaign needs to be specifically tailored to meet the unique requirements of the market, as every territory differs in terms of IT development and customer needs. You can't afford to become complacent for "more than a minute", Mansfield adds, or your rival will get ahead of the game with some new solution or product.

Read more about the man in this interview.

Describe your typical workday. Is there a specific schedule that you keep or is everyday a different day for you?
That’s the bit of my job I love – no two days are the same! One day I could be jumping on a plane with two hours’ notice and the next I will be trying to wade through millions of e-mail at my desk! Marketing is a real people business and face-to-face interaction is extremely important, so as you can imagine, a lot of time is also spent in meetings. I must say that, with such an unpredictable schedule, it is extremely important to have such an understanding wife!

But at the core of all this activity is one simple aim: stimulating demand for my employer’s products and services. That’s what marketing’s all about!

Has the birth of the Internet helped or hampered your way of life?
The Net has completely changed my way of life, in good ways and bad, by giving me access to more information than I know what to do with, but which has enriched me to an incredible extent, [and by] increasing the speed and tempo of my life, thereby creating a real challenge to balance my life.

Overall, it’s important to realize, however, that it isn’t the Net that’s changed our lives, but the uses that people find for it. So we’re really changing ourselves!

What kind of mindset do you think is needed to survive in this digital age?
To survive these days you need:

  • flexibility – the ability to change your thinking without changing your fundamental vision.
  • speed – the need to think and act quickly but in doing so, maintaining quality outcomes.
  • openness to change – the digital age has, in every sense, redefined the maxim that nothing stands still.
  • a sense of balance – information and decision-making should not be solely made or driven through the Internet. It is merely one of a number of important channels.

    Do you think technology isolates people or brings them closer together?
    Without doubt, technology has made communication between people far simpler and more effective. We’ve all experienced how a single press of a button can reach a vast number of people simultaneously though e-mail anywhere in the world at very little cost. But we’ve also experienced how e-mail can be easily misinterpreted and impersonal, This is a fact that disturbs me, because it erodes the benefits of technology.

    Is a backlash on technology inevitable?
    I don’t see a backlash but I do see a settling down of some applications of technology, a trend we have seen before: only 20 years ago, for example, drive-in movie theaters made sense. Today, they have nostalgia value only and no longer suit our lifestyles, even though we have more cars and traffic than ever.

    Similar things will happen with technology as we figure out how to use it best, and new technology makes different things possible.

    What wouldn’t you compromise on when it comes to doing business?
    Integrity and trust. If the people I am dealing with are prepared to act in a less-than-ethical way, then I don’t want to do business with them. I’m very clear about this point because when I do business, I’m doing it as me, Andrew Mansfield, the marketing person, but also as Andrew Mansfield, the human being. And because I value personal integrity and honesty, and always seek to engender trust, I expect the same in business.

    Which aspect(s) of the Asian culture do you think makes for a good or bad business edge in the global IT market?
    Everywhere I travel in Asia I meet well-educated and informed people who are entrepreneurial and honest. These are values I believe are very prevalent throughout Asia and will stand any business person from any country in good stead.

    I have also had some experience of Asian business people’s sense of honor and feel that this is something more strictly observed than in some other cultures. I think I’ve gained a fair understanding of the Asian concept of honor, and I’ve come to appreciate that it makes this region a place where business can be done very safely and transparently, despite the cultural differences between us.

    Who’s your role model?
    I have met a number of role models in my business life who are not famous but who all have something in common – the ability to lead by example. The most important lesson they have taught me is that it is OK to make a mistake as long as you learn from it and move on. They have also taught me the value of communication and that a true leader needs to be a visionary who possesses the courage of his/her convictions to stand by what he or she deems to be right.

    Do you consider yourself successful?
    Success can be defined in a number of ways. Marketing initiatives are a success when they make a positive impact on the bottom-line, especially when that impact is positively disproportionate to the investment. On a personal level, I feel that I am successful if I am constantly learning in my job and enjoying the process at the same time. It is also important not to let your job take over your whole life, as the ultimate goal must be to feel successful in life in general – with a good balance between a successful marriage, social life and work.

    So how do you relax to take your mind off work?
    The most important thing for me to relax is to get away from my laptop and my mobile phone! My favorite form of relaxation is to be spending time with my wife and enjoying exciting travels together. I also love golf, good wine and socialising with my friends.

    Are there any particular Web sites that you surf regularly?
    I have a number of personalized Web pages that keeps me very closely informed on the markets, key trends and the latest opinions in the IT industry I have a personalized My Yahoo! Page so that it pulls together a lot of information from many different sources. I enjoy the Wall Street Journal, which consistently breaks IT news stories ahead of others while is an incredible source of financial and tech news. The Economist online is well worthwhile when I need to get a rounded perspective on an issue. Business Week and Forbes online are good too. And to get inside the mind of a CIO, I really do read ZDNet, especially eWeek.

    When I need different perspectives, I like Wired News and The Register, which has an extraordinarily cynical way of looking at IT that is amusing and a good wake up call at the same time.

    Which gadget is on your most wanted list?
    Give me the most up-to-date connected PDA. Repeat every three months! Otherwise, there is not enough space for my list!

    What is your most prized possession?
    My sanity! Today’s environment exacts a considerable amount of pressure on me, my team, the broader group of people I work with, and my friends – many of whom are in the same industry. Keeping in perspective what’s really important to me, and those who are important to me, is what counts at the end of the day.

    With so many Internet acronyms such as B2B, ERP and HTTP, do you have a personal favorite?
    Hey, where’s eCRM?! That’s my favorite. I have to say that there are too many acronyms flying about in our industry. My job is to make sure that people really understand what’s behind the acronym and the value that it brings to their business.

    More about People: Managing Asia.