John Padgett

Commercial Engagement Manager,
LEX, Costa Rica

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John Padgett

“I used to work in the Honduran Chamber of Commerce, where I was a liaison for all different kinds of businesses. That’s where I came into contact with BAT, who I supported in their engagement over the country’s Tobacco Control Bill. When they approached me to join them, it was a pretty easy decision. I liked the people I’d worked with in the Chamber, and they had a great reputation as an employer.

“Diplomacy is about 50 per cent of what I do, as I’m constantly dealing with government officials. In my region – Central America and the Caribbean – we have around 24 markets, and my team have to support engagement strategies for each one of them.

“I’ve only been in this role for six months, but it’s already clear how important Commercial Engagement is to our business. We look at key areas such as changes in excise, trade negotiations and the illicit trade, which accounts for roughly 13 per cent of the total market. Working with governments – here in Honduras and throughout the region – to tackle this issue is a big part of our job.

“Just the other week, we engaged with the British Chamber of Commerce in Honduras to organise a workshop on illicit trade. It was very successful. Officials from governments across the region – including police, finance ministers and customs officials – came together to share ideas and to devise solutions to combat illicit trade.

“I’ve heard it said that our people must have the company’s logo tattooed to their bodies, such is their level of commitment. And you know, that’s not far from the truth! Before I came on board at BAT, I remember listening to some of their people talk about their business. They were saying how they’ve got to do this and do that if they want to increase their market share. I assumed that their current share must be something like 50 per cent. But it turned out to be 90!

“That tells you everything you need to know about the culture here. If we have 90 per cent of the market, that’s still 10 per cent we feel we’re ‘giving away’ to our competitors. It’s like everyone here acts as if they’re the owners of the business. There’s no real boss because everyone bosses themselves, pushing themselves to do better. It makes for a very competitive environment, but a fun one too.”