Q&A with Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries

CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries
Kolja Eikelmann, CMO & Head of Marketing at PPG Industries is a forward thinking and result-driven Marketing expert with 20 years of experience in the FMCG marketing industry. 

In this Q&A, Kolja shares his unique marketing experiences and gives us interesting insights about PPG Industries, a global supplier of paints, coatings, optical products, and specialty materials which is driving innovation, sustainability and color in the industry.

MEDIA 7: What inspired you to get into Marketing?
KOLJA EIKELMANN:
I wouldn’t be able to say when I first realised marketing was the path for me, but I think it’s been evident my whole life that I’m interested in the diversity that marketing allows. Since childhood, I have always been so fascinated with the details of a product, no matter what it is. I have an endless sense of curiosity and I think that was the major driving factor for me to enter the world of marketing.

I realised marketing might be for me when I discovered the unique opportunity it offers to be involved in all spectrums of the business; not just advertising, but also in creating solutions and analysing outcomes. The overarching goal is always to make a real difference and help people in their daily lives, and marketing allows you to both be a part of the solution as well as a witness to the outcomes.

My job with PPG is very colourful – just like my company! Within my one job title I get to explore innovation, creativity and analysis. This variety has always been appealing to me.

M7: You have an exemplary marketing experience of more than 20 years in the FMCG industry. How have the marketing dynamics changed over these years and what tactics do you feel modern marketers should adopt, to survive in this competitive world?
KE: 
As you would expect of any industry in the 21st century, marketing is constantly changing and increasing in complexity in this digital age. The increasing presence of digital media and the growing demand for ease-of-access online services, has resulted in the field growing broader than ever before. The possibilities now are numerous, but they are fragmented; you must be truly dedicated to the field to build the knowledge base of marketing tools required to thrive in such a climate. Ultimately, PPG wants to produce work that has the greatest impact on businesses, this was arguably easier in the past when you had a traditional, simple media mix, as opposed to now when success depends on mastering traditional media and online outlets, social media and digital advertising tools.

For example, it can be easy to spend a lot of money on Google ads that are expected to be high value, but instead, organizations might see greater return on sales if the money had been allocated to a faster and more agile response to SEO.

In marketing, it can be easy to get caught up in the creativity of the work – as that is most often our strength – but not fully immersing yourself in the analytical side of things is a mistake that is often reflected in outcomes. I would recommend that every marketer should always make sure to know their KPIs inside and out and try to get as familiar with Excel spreadsheets and analysis as they are with the creative work.

In this constantly changing modern landscape, marketing has become even more important than ever before. Specifically, in the paints and coatings industry, marketing was a late bloomer as it has been driven by shelf sales for so long. However, as an industry we are refocusing on innovation and purpose; and pushing the boundaries on what is expected from paints and coatings and what they can do. PPG aims to improve and protect the world through our products – but none of this is possible without proper marketing to support the business.


"A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working."

M7: Your work experience spans across highly complex matrix organizations to entrepreneurial and start-up businesses. What do you believe is your driving force behind your proven track records and achievements?
KE: 
I am very proud to say I have left behind a strong track record of positive differences within the companies in which I am working. Although I have worked in many different, seemingly unrelated industries, the knowledge and tools that I learnt at each step along the way continue to prove invaluable for each new challenge I face. From paints, to dairy, to cosmetics – your collective marketing knowledge spans across whichever business you are a part of. Once you’ve built up this knowledge base, the true challenge is not having the tools but knowing which tools to use and when.

I have always been most drawn to companies that challenge me to make a difference. This is how I’ve shaped my career and how I made my decisions on where to work.

M7: How well do you believe that a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach along with business strategy and operational execution can lead to company growth with an upsurge in revenue/sales?
KE: 
I strongly believe in a service-oriented and data-driven leadership approach, as well as incorporating social and ethical capabilities. Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing. The industry today is all about knowing your KPIs and business cases, which are data rich. Working in marketing is about being able to positively impact business outcomes, and that ultimately boils down to the ability to add value for your customers and consumers. Focussing on PPG work as a service-oriented industry highlights the need for data availability – both in that of the business and that of our customers – to be able to best consult and serve. Knowing your data is the key currency for success in the 21st century.

Data analysis can provide us with information such as click through rates and viewership. We are able to access tools now that, if used right, can prove invaluable to achieving successful outcomes. Being able to use this information to your advantage will allow you to instantly see whether your data retrieval is successful. Every business case and KPI that you set out to tackle can then be achieved using the data to measure sales growth.

M7: PPG Industries has been included in the list of American Fortune 500 companies. What do you think has made it possible to build a fortune for PPG industries?
KE: 
PPG has a strong culture of building the business across SBUs through investment, innovation and acquisition. We are one of the leading and largest paints and coatings companies in the world. This status is maintained by PPG’s culture of investing in R&D and constantly challenging the boundaries and expectations of the coatings world.

The opportunity to build our position as a market leader in many countries around the world is only possible through our global network and international approach. For example, our Alison Park facility in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania is a major hub of innovation for PPG – but work that is done there is often inspired by an idea from Europe, that itself was driven by a customer need from Asia. To stay on the frontlines we can’t sit still and be complacent. Our recent acquisition of Hemmelrath and a new plant in Tianjin, China is evidence of our strategy to expand our foothold, our abilities to deliver for customers and our capacity for innovation to maintain our position as a market leader.

PPG has many moving parts which all function in different areas of the world across different business units, but our central goal is to add customer value. A focus on our customers, our innovation, our people and our entrepreneurial way of working – are all elements that inspired the One PPG vision, and what most accurately represents the key to our successful way of working.


"Data-driven leadership is the key to the future – in many industries – but especially in marketing."


M7: How is PPG Industries’ tagline ‘WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD’ serving its purpose of enhancing the world through its paints and coating solutions?
KE: 
PPG is in every part of daily life – even if you don’t realise it. You touch and feel PPG in your living environment practically 24/7: from your car to an airplane, to your refrigerator, to your laptop or even your soda can. This tagline reflects how PPG’s paints and coatings cover every part of life. PPG products provide the expected functionality of adding a colour or coating to an object, but even more than that, PPG products enhance the longevity of an item and increase its appeal. Whether it is an electronics coating that makes a laptop feel smooth to the touch, or a coating that protects the body of an airplane from overheating in the sun. PPG’s mission is not to provide what is expected, but to offer innovative solutions to questions no one expected an answer for.

Environmental impact is one of the greatest concerns of the 21st century, for both our customers and us as manufacturers. As a business founded on mass production, it is our responsibility – and therefore our challenge – to be as positive a force as possible in the fight against climate change. This is why so many of our modern products are developed to align to both PPG’s mission of protecting the world and the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals: boat coatings that reduce friction and therefore reduce fuel consumption, aircraft windows that don’t need frames to reduce plane weight to help minimise carbon emissions, electric vehicle battery coatings that enable cars to travel for significantly longer periods of time per charge, increasing the viability of electric vehicles on roads. We are innovating with purpose – for the public, for our customers, for consumers and for our own PPG people.
The world cannot function without paints and coatings in our everyday life, and that’s why PPG’s tagline is so powerful. If we are going to continue to be a worldwide presence, we want to be sure we are making the world a more beautiful place in the most long-term, stable way possible.

M7: You have taken transformational business initiatives to foster incremental business changes and drive cultural change throughout the organization especially in dynamic business sectors. What are some of the advantages of taking such timely measures?
KE: 
As part of the global shift towards greater digitization, businesses have the opportunity to drive cultural change. Digital transformation is a key component, especially as peoples' buying habits are evolving and changing how they purchase products. This is acutely felt in Europe, with its variety of different countries, cultures and languages. From a marketing standpoint, the industry is offering incremental business changes in this new culture of on-demand. In the age of Amazon and digital transformation, people want easier and faster solutions from the paints and coatings industry. Customers want to get the job done as quickly and as easily as possible with support from the supplier. As a result, PPG is innovating to be more agile and fast, by developing architectural paints that take less time to dry or offering customers a more on-demand paint matching experience.


"A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer."

M7: You have an amazing experience of working with top leading companies like Nestle, L’Oreal and currently PPG Industries, how influential was your role in transforming marketing tactics for these organizations?
KE: 
My roles in these organizations were really diverse. For L’Oréal, I was more into sales and worked within category management. This later proved very influential for my future marketing career as it introduced me to the integration between marketing and sales in helping to serve customers in the best way possible. Integrated communication between marketing and sales is an essential tool in connecting both ends with the business purpose while still staying customer focused. You need to drive your campaigns forward and also sell your products in a much more complex way that is completely focused on the customer’s view. In order to do this, you need to know what is best for the customer when you place your products within a category role. This requires a lot of analytical skills to convince a customer what is best for them. You need to oversee the whole thing and act almost as both an internal and external consultant for your company. This whole picture view of the marketing process really influenced my journey and helped me strengthen my skillset for my future roles, such as when I was head of digital for Nestle.

When it comes to marketing, you can’t just pick the most creative, 360 media campaign available and offer it to the client. A successful campaign is one tailored to the needs, style and audience of the customer. To be best at what we do, it is essential to build an in-depth understanding of your customer’s view and what is best for them. This experience came with me into my work for PPG in using this knowledge to establish myself in a more leading role. At PPG I am also the communicator in the company and need to understand everyone’s view and connect with all the different departments. I am not only the marketer in my department but I’m also responsible for looking at the whole value chain within this digital leading role. PPG has experienced double-digit growth in the past two years in both B2B and B2C and this success is down to how closely we collaborate here.

M7: Kolja, what is your super power?
KE:
I would say my super power is a combination of my visual and analytical skills, articulated through my courageous and enthusiastic mindset. Being able to both develop a specialized skill set and confidently acknowledge my areas of expertise and strength makes for a very beneficial cocktail to drive progress. Having empathy and other social skills are important to exert a positive influence within my team at PPG. However, these qualities should also be backed by facts – knowledge, experience and history -- which is a combination I have not seen in many people. Being self-confident and believing in my strengths is a powerful tool in business, and something that has greatly helped me along the way.

M7: Knowing what you know now, what advice would you give your younger self?
KE:
I’m really driven by being up to date and well informed in as many areas as possible, and I would advise my younger self to do the exact same. I’ve always been a very curious person, but I would tell my younger self to be even more so and to take in as much information as possible. In this fast-moving world, that is just getting faster as we become more digital, there is always something new to learn or discover. If you remain stuck in one point of view or one way of thinking, you are already behind the curve. Stay flexible, stay interested and always remain in a constant state of learning.

ABOUT PPG INDUSTRIES

PPG: WE PROTECT AND BEAUTIFY THE WORLD™
At PPG (NYSE:PPG)
, we work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, we operate and innovate in more than 70 countries and reported net sales of $15.4 billion in 2018. We serve customers in construction, consumer products, industrial and transportation markets and aftermarkets. To learn more, visit www.ppg.com.

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Mitsubishi Chemical’s over 40 years background in computational chemistry and PsiQuantum’s domain specific knowledge for quantum control is a great fit with the collaboration effort of improving calculation accuracy on quantum device. We hope the partnership will accelerate the innovation of revolutionizing computational studies in chemistry and materials science.” About PsiQuantum PsiQuantum is a private company, founded in 2015 and headquartered in Palo Alto, California. The company’s only mission is to build and deploy the world’s first useful, large-scale quantum computer. Many teams around the world today have demonstrated prototype quantum computing systems, but it is widely accepted that much larger systems are necessary in order to unlock transformational applications across drug discovery, climate technologies, finance, transportation, security & defense and beyond. PsiQuantum’s photonic approach enables rapid scaling via direct leverage of high-volume semiconductor manufacturing and cryogenic infrastructure. The company is partnered with the SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory at Stanford University and Sci-Tech Daresbury in the United Kingdom. About Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (MUFG) Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc. (MUFG) is one of the world’s leading financial groups. Headquartered in Tokyo and with over 360 years of history, MUFG has a global network with approximately 2,000 locations in more than 50 countries. The Group has about 160,000 employees and offers services including commercial banking, trust banking, securities, credit cards, consumer finance, asset management, and leasing. The Group aims to “be the world’s most trusted financial group” through close collaboration among our operating companies and flexibly respond to all of the financial needs of our customers, serving society, and fostering shared and sustainable growth for a better world. MUFG’s shares trade on the Tokyo, Nagoya, and New York stock exchanges. About the Mitsubishi Chemical Group Corporation Mitsubishi Chemical Group Corporation (TSE: 4188) is a specialty materials group with an unwavering commitment to lead with innovative solutions to achieve KAITEKI, the well-being of people and the planet. We bring deep expertise and material science leadership in core market segments such as mobility, digital, medical and food. In this way, we enable industry transformation, technology breakthroughs, and longer, more fruitful lives for us all. Together, around 70,000 employees worldwide provide advanced chemistry-based solutions to deliver the core elements of our slogan — “Science. Value. Life.”

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Robotics and Automation

Formic Releases New Software That Makes Everyone A Robotic Automation Expert

Formic | January 23, 2024

Formic Technologies, a provider of Robotics-as-a-Service automation for US manufacturers, announced the release of a suite of software tools to accelerate and simplify the deployment of robotic automation systems for businesses with no internal expertise, while also empowering their existing workforce to thrive and grow with the new technology. The Formic software is based on data and experience gathered from hundreds of thousands of hours of real production time across the Formic robot fleet - from state-of the-art Fortune 500 production facilities to small 30 person local manufacturing plants. Formic’s software enables operations teams and delivers results for every business size. The Formic Core operating system makes working with robotic automation solutions as easy as using your smartphone, Apple CarPlay, or Netflix. The intuitive multilanguage touchscreen UI allows all existing employees to operate Formic robots and program the equipment to meet production needs - all without any advanced training. At the same time, the software transforms the robot into a “smart system” capable of automatically adjusting to new obstacles in the vicinity of the robot, connecting to any new peripherals, and monitoring all sensor data, production rates, uptime, cycle times and more. “As the labor shortage continues to impact US manufacturing to the tune of more than one million jobs going unfilled in 2023, business leaders need to figure out how to get more out of what they have,” said Formic CEO, Saman Farid. “Formic Core makes it simple for business leaders to adopt automation by leveraging the existing capabilities of their workforce to streamline production while improving safety, quality, and throughput - all without any required capital expense.” All of the process information captured by Formic Core feeds into the powerful Formic Colony 2.0 performance dashboard. This command center software monitors total system performance across a wide range of deployments and uses AI to analyze the data coming from all robots, enabling predictive analysis of anomalies and preventative operations to minimize downtime and even prevent it. This data is accessible to facility owners and operators in real-time through the Formic App available for download on the Apple App and Google Play stores. Formic's technicians can use this data and the remote system access provided by the new software to resolve issues from a distance, enabling a swift return to production should any stoppages occur. While the Formic Colony toolkit is primarily leveraged by the Formic operations team to service customer deployments, it is also available for larger businesses to use internally with more advanced teams responsible for automation systems in multiple locations. The Formic FAST software suite enables the Solutions Engineering team to provide robotic system specification, quoting, and augmented reality (AR) demonstrations faster than ever before, reducing design and deployment times from months to weeks. This accelerated service delivers a best-in-class customer experience by expediting the path to greater productivity on the production floor. “Advanced automation has historically been elusive for all but the largest manufacturers,” said Shahin Farshchi, General Partner at Lux Capital. “Formic is changing that. By leveraging advanced AI and proprietary algorithms, Formic has automated the labor-intensive and expensive process of automating a work cell, and makes automating as easy as hiring workers for all logistics and manufacturing companies - large and small alike.” With the addition of these new software products, Formic now boasts a full complement of $0 CapEx robotic automation solutions, powerful workforce enabling software, a complete system monitoring platform, and solution identification, augmented reality, and simulation software to deliver US manufacturing businesses scale and growth. Formic is building a robotic workforce that can be used in every American manufacturing facility, with the aim to bring prosperity and abundance by making everyday items easy to produce and deliver. About Formic Founded in 2020, Formic makes robotics and automation accessible for all US manufacturing businesses. The Chicago-based “Robotics-as-a-Service” company delivers robotic automation for a low hourly rate, including 24/7 monitoring, 100% maintenance coverage, and guaranteed performance without the need for large, risky capital investments. Driving continuous improvement in safety, quality, and throughput is now possible for every business. With 7x growth in production hours YoY, Formic is currently entertaining Series B funding.

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Manufacturing Technology

Detroit Manufacturing Systems Strikes Partnership with InductEV to Accelerate Adoption of High-Power Wireless Charging for Commercial Vehicles

Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS) | January 11, 2024

Wireless commercial vehicle charging took a big step forward with an agreement between Detroit Manufacturing Systems and InductEV. In the landmark agreement, DMS, a large-scale, U.S.-based assembly provider, will bring its operations, manufacturing, quality by design, and supply chain expertise to InductEV allowing the latter to more quickly scale to meet customer demand. InductEV is reinventing how electric commercial fleet vehicles charge their batteries by charging on route, using clean renewable electricity. With its wireless induction solution now deployed worldwide and with 18 patents granted and 23 in process, the King of Prussia, PA-based company is the global leader in high-power, high-speed wireless EV charging and AI-software powered energy management. Under the terms of this agreement, DMS will Manufacture InductEV's hardware, including in-ground and under-vehicle inductive pads. Manage InductEV's supply chain and procurement. Utilize engineering expertise to facilitate high quality, design for manufacturing and assembly. Co-develop design optimizations to prepare for a 100-fold increase in production volume. "We couldn't be more pleased to have a manufacturing partner, known for its high standards and operating rigor, combine forces with our proprietary engineering," said Barry Libert, Chairman and CEO, InductEV. "Our complementary areas of expertise will enable us to meet the growing demand from commercial fleet owners and operators, as well as Intermodal facilities and Ports, for our advanced, AI-managed wireless charging solution." Among its product offerings, Detroit Manufacturing Systems currently handles manufacturing for the Ford EV F-150 Lightning signaling its expertise in advanced electric vehicle components and systems production. InductEV's patented technology is currently being used in locations throughout North America and Europe, including in Washington State, Indianapolis, Martha's Vineyard, and in Gothenburg, Sweden, Volvo's hometown. (Volvo Ventures is an InductEV investor.) The company is poised to announce the largest commitment by a U.S. port facility to its wireless charging technology. "We recognize and applaud InductEV's efforts to wirelessly electrify commercial fleets, the biggest contributor in transportation to greenhouse gas emissions worldwide," added Bruce Smith, Chairman and CEO, Detroit Manufacturing Systems. "We look forward to bringing our manufacturing, quality and supply chain expertise to this partnership and creating a successful venture that will help reduce this sector's carbon footprint at a considerable cost savings for all involved." InductEV's proprietary, on-route wireless charging solution shifts EV charging to daytime use of renewables. It reduces the need for large EV batteries, lowering vehicle costs, and eliminates the need for recycling by extending battery life by a factor of 4-8X. Wireless charging also enables the broad deployment of autonomous vehicles. About InductEV InductEV is revolutionizing how electric commercial fleet vehicles charge their batteries. With its proprietary on-route wireless solution now deployed throughout North America and Europe and with 18 U.S. patents and 23 pending, the King of Prussia, PA-based company is the global leader in high-power, high-speed wireless EV charging and AI-software powered energy management. The company just opened one of world's first R&D centers for wireless vehicle charging. About Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS) Detroit Manufacturing Systems (DMS) is a contract manufacturing and assembly company that is committed to and is constantly striving for manufacturing excellence and perfect quality. This is achieved through meticulous mistake proofing and a culture of continuous improvement. DMS' GIFTED & RICH fundamental beliefs, management principles, and core values guide the staff in proactively and transparently engaging with customers and suppliers. DMS is also committed to protecting the local and global environment and minimizing the environmental impacts concerning their activities, products and services.

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PPG Industries

PPG Industries

We work every day to develop and deliver the paints, coatings and materials that our customers have trusted for more than 135 years. Through dedication and creativity, we solve our customers’ biggest challenges, collaborating closely to find the right path forward. With headquarters in Pittsburgh, w...

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