Just like Florian, Ieva and I both did a Masters in Communications Science at the University of Amsterdam. We both eventually ended up in London, where, when Ieva set up a beginner friendly yoga practice a few years ago she helped me perfect my downward facing dog (still a work in progress). We caught up at the end of June, I, in my Stoke Newington kitchen/living room/office and she in her Clapton yoga studio/office/living room.
Ieva’s role at Refinitiv, a business created in 2018 when Thomson Reuters spun off its financial and risk product portfolio, is focused on global marketing campaigns. She took on her current role in January, having previously focused on European marketing initiatives. Refinitiv’s customers include companies with large supply chains that need to understand who their agents, distributors and suppliers are, as well as regulated financial institutions that among other things need to go through very specific checks when on-boarding new clients.
On the face of things, perhaps not the sexiest topic area. But a few days after our conversation the German payments company Wirecard filed for bankruptcy in what looks like one of the worst ever accounting scandals in Europe. It immediately put compliance, auditing and financial fraud at the top of the news agenda. For Ieva, who focuses on marketing activities regarding risk and compliance for corporate and financial institutions, key topics include third party risk, supply chain risk and consumer due diligence. It’s an area that’s interested her since her student days.
“I did my bachelors in law in Lithuania and if I continued with a masters I would maybe have been a compliance officer now. But I decided to move into communications and started my career working with Greenpeace International in Amsterdam where I became interested in global supply chains, transparency and activism. After working there for four years I understood the NGO perspective, but I wanted to understand the other side of the story as well. I had a few roles in other NGOs before I joined Refinitiv.”
With that in mind, it isn’t surprising that Ieva rebukes the idea that compliance is a dry topic.
“I really believe in what we do, at least a part of my job involves fighting financial crime and money laundering by raising awareness. I’m not a compliance officer, but our solutions help them do their job. Compliance isn’t a function that says no all the time anymore, they're more and seen as a function that can help a business progress, so it can be quite exciting from that perspective.”
I’m curious to understand how Ieva has found the move from the NGO world to the corporate world. She believes that her ability to understand both perspectives and viewpoints has helped her develop some new approaches in her role.
“When we do events, rather than only having speakers from our industry we can bring the NGO perspective as well, which is completely different really. There is a nice bridge between our different areas. I’m not sure if I will stay in the corporate world for the rest of my life but my NGO experience was early in my career and I thought that if I continue there I will only see that side of things. We need both sides and I still really admire Greenpeace and a lot of other NGOs that push their agenda in drastic ways sometimes.”
Ieva also finds that large global organisations, like Refinitiv and Greenpeace, share many similar characteristics.
“Even if they are different worlds, in a way the aim is very similar if you look at supply chain transparency, even though of course the ultimate goal for Refinitiv is also profit."
The importance of networks and collaboration has been a recurring theme in the Weak Ties Project interviews, and it’s something Ieva says will become increasingly important.
“We see a lot of private and public sector collaboration. Two years ago Refinitiv was a founding partner of the Global Coalition to Fight Financial Crime together with the World Economic Forum and Europol. It’s now grown to include thirteen organisations that share best practice and approaches to improve anti money laundering regimes.”
Unsurprisingly, Covid-19 brought significant disruption to Ieva’s marketing plans. With face to face events traditionally forming the backbone of the marketing strategy, webinars have been the natural replacement. It’s a trend that Ieva expects will continue even once travel restrictions ease.
“It’s an opportunity for marketing to think more creatively in the digital space and be more than just the team putting on events for sales. We ran quite a few webinars before Covid-19, what’s changed in the frequency and that we do more and more video instead of slides and audio. We tried video before, but it was difficult to convince internal speakers. Now there is no choice and it’s cool because you see a moderator in her living room in Madrid and another speaker in Dubai and another in London. It’s more personal and once you are on video I think people are less likely to disconnect.”
Covid-19 has delivered an avalanche of thought leadership reports and other client engagement materials as organisations fight for clients' attention. It has left clients in some sectors overwhelmed by the endless flurry of marketing materials and Ieva thinks marketers need to critically look at what they do.
“It can be difficult to step back when you are in marketing and say we will do less. How? You don’t have a list of activities and things going on, how come? We need to be critical and look at what works and what doesn’t and how to make it more personalised. How to make it really relevant. It’s a bit of a buzzword, but storytelling is important. Coming from Greenpeace where we did very engaging campaigns I did think going into the B2B world could be a bit boring, but you can bring in that storytelling element. We’re a data company so I’m interested to see what we can do to visualise data and really tell a story. In the end you need to understand the person who will consume and buy your solutions.”
Ieva during one of her online yoga sessions
Ieva tackled lockdown in a bit of an unusual way; by starting daily 6pm yoga classes Monday-Friday on Facebook Live. It was her online teaching debut since getting her teaching certificate in India three years ago. The idea came from a conversation with a friend in Lithuania who asked why she didn’t just try it, with the promise that she would join in. Ieva ended up recording a short video announcing the first class, and with a small group attending Ieva realised it wasn’t as scary as she thought.
“It was almost like a challenge for myself and it really helped me structure my day those first few weeks [she did daily classes for the first ten weeks of lockdown before reducing the frequency to a couple of times a week]. I felt that I knew what I was doing and what message I wanted to convey. It’s nice, it’s a small group that includes some of my friends from Amsterdam, from London, and my dad often joins as well. It’s a nice way to connect with your breath and relax your mind, when all these things are in tune life is maybe a bit easier.”
Ieva’s yoga classes on Facebook are available for anyone who is interested in trying yoga here: facebook.com/yogabeets. They are super beginner friendly and a great way to try out yoga if you haven’t tried it before. You can also follow her on Instagram.