British American Tobacco - Johan Vandermeulen

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Johan Vandermeulen

Chief Transformation Officer

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.

A Better Tomorrow™

As Chief Transformation Officer, I play a crucial role in implementing the Group strategy and delivering on our vision to deliver A Better Tomorrow™. We will succeed as a business by driving faster transformation, accelerating greater capability in key areas and enabling an even faster, simpler and more agile organisation. It’s a very exciting time to be part of BAT and I believe we have an even greater future ahead of us.

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 still feel very much today.

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. This was a time when the Kent brand got completely rejuvenated and the famous Kent Nanotek was launched.

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 all of our people. I hope my story inspires others and demonstrates that we mean it when we say we develop people from within.

Becoming BAT’s first Chief Transformation Officer on 1 April 2023 was a huge honour. In many ways my priorities are similar to my previous role as Regional Director, Europe, just on a larger scale: deliver business results and ensure that our transformation strategy lands wherever we operate.

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
  • 1998: Takes up role of Marketing Manager
  • 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 (Europe and North Africa region known as Europe from 1 January 2022)
  • 2023: Takes up role as BAT’s first Chief Transformation Officer.


  • Masters 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 young adult children. I love sports and played football at youth level for the now sadly defunct second division club FC Assent in Belgium. Growing up, the most important sport for me was football which I now watch from the comfort of my sofa!