Johan Vandermeulen

Regional Director, Europe and North Africa

I started my career with BAT Belgium as a Marketing Trainee in 1992, but I never thought back then that I’d end up on the Management Board! What I did know, though, was that BAT Belgium was a great, exciting place to be.

Transforming Tobacco

As Regional Director for Europe and North Africa (ENA), I play a crucial role in implementing the Group strategy and delivering on our Transforming Tobacco ambition. In ENA we are very much on the front foot in terms of innovation across our potentially reduced-risk products. We are just starting out on this journey at BAT, but it’s one that gives us huge opportunities in terms of offering consumers potentially reduced-risk alternatives to smoking.

My first role was as a Brand Manager in ‘roll-your-own’ and ‘make your own’ which gave me a great grounding in the business. I loved the passion that our consumers had for our products – a passion that I felt very much too.

I then had a variety of roles in marketing and after eight years’ hard work I was proud to become General Manager of BAT Belgium. It was a hugely formative role as it gave me a great headstart in my career. That’s one of the great things about working at BAT – there are great opportunities to demonstrate what you can do and, if you take them, you’ll make fantastic progress. Being General Manager in both Turkey – where I led the US$1.72 billion acquisition of Tekel – and Russia were fantastic experiences too, as was being Global Brand Director for the Kent brand.

Joining the Management Board in 2014 as Regional Director for Eastern Europe, Middle East, and Africa (EEMEA) was a definite career highlight. To make it that far after joining the company as a trainee I hope is motivational for our people. I hope my story inspires others and demonstrates that we mean it when we say we develop people from within.

Nationality: Belgian

Career to date

  • 1992: Joins BAT Belgium as a Marketing Trainee
  • 1993: Has first full-time role as a Brand Manager
  • 1995: Promoted to Group Brand Manager for Rothmans
  • 1998: Takes up role of Marketing Manager for BAT Belgium
  • 1999: Becomes Merger Integration Manager as BAT merges with Rothmans
  • 2000: Takes up first General Manager role, with BAT Belgium
  • 2005: Moves to the UK as Global Brand Director for Kent
  • 2006: Joins BAT Turkey as General Manager
  • 2010: Becomes General Manager of BAT Russia
  • 2014: Joins the BAT Management Board as Regional Director EEMEA
  • 2018: Becomes Regional Director for Asia-Pacific and Middle East as new regional structure comes into effect
  • 2019: Appointed Regional Director, Europe and North Africa

Education

  • BA in Engineering, Commercial with a major in Finance from the University of Leuven in Belgium
  • MBA, with a major in Marketing, from the University of Leuven

Personal interests

I’m married and have two teenage children. I love sports and played football at youth level for the now sadly defunct FC Assent in Belgium. Growing up, the most important sport for me was football which I now watch from the comfort of my sofa! A highlight was watching the Belgian national football team finish third in the 2018 World Cup.

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