Women to Watch 2013

Women to Watch: Michelle Klein, Smirnoff

VP-Global Marketing, Age 36

By Published on .

Michelle Klein
Michelle Klein

As the top marketer for the world's largest vodka brand, Michelle Klein must keep a global perspective. Lucky for her, that comes naturally.

Born in South Africa and raised in Australia, she has lived on four continents. "Often when you're in a global role you tend to sit in global headquarters," she said. "If you haven't seen the world, then I think you have less of an appreciation for global culture."

Ms. Klein joined Smirnoff owner Diageo seven years ago, overseeing digital for the vodka brand, which at the time didn't even have a website. Today, she must constantly feed the pipeline with new marketing programs to keep Smirnoff on top of the ultra-competitive category.

An example is the social-media-fueled "Nightlife Exchange Project," in which people in 50 countries exchanged party ideas for one global bash that included bringing a South Beach vibe to London and British food and music to Miami. Smirnoff's latest effort is "Midnight Circus," a global tour that features performers, mixologists and interactive art exhibits.


Best advice:
"Don't be afraid to fail."

First job?
Shop assistant in a woman's wear store. I was 14.

A daschund called Archie.

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