Marie Polet

President & Chief Executive Officer,
Imperial Tobacco Canada

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Marie Polet

“When I graduated from university and landed my first job as a marketing trainee at British American Tobacco, I could not have imagined the road I have since travelled and the experiences I have lived. I have seen the world and lived in several brilliant cities, including London, Amsterdam, Copenhagen and Montreal. Today, I run BAT Canada: a 550-strong company that operates in an extremely challenging and regulated tobacco market and is one of the Group’s big revenue generators.

“I started out in the field where I built relationships with our retailers to drive sales. This time on the front lines of the tobacco industry taught me how our business works. From there I held various jobs in brand marketing, trade marketing, strategy & planning and general management; a lot of my assignments were market-based, but I also spent considerable time in regional and global roles. Each stop gave me a new perspective on our business and our company.

“Along the way I had two daughters. People often ask how I was able to build a career and raise a family. Let me tell you that it wasn’t always easy but my husband and I worked hard to balance the commitments that go along with raising a growing family and our careers.

“I moved into my first General Manager’s role in Belgium, my home country. I stepped in during a particularly challenging time for the Benelux operations. Labour tensions and a merger gave us a few hurdles along the way but we quickly got the company’s operations back on track and achieved a true turnaround.

“Part of moving up in an organisation is being thrown into and adapting to completely new environments, countries and corporate cultures. Each time you have to get to know the business; each time you have to gain the respect of your colleagues, understand how they do things and, ultimately, build your credibility. It is an incredible intellectual as well as professional challenge.

“When I look back at my career at BAT, I have to say that I am still as excited about my job as when I first started. How many people can honestly say that? I am very lucky indeed.”