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7 Questions with Ionut Danifeld
7 Questions with Ionut Danifeld
Name: Ionut Danifeld
Current title: CMO
Current organisation: Trapo Asia
I have professional experience of more than 12 years in digital marketing working at an international level. Currently, I'm the CMO of Trapo, a leading car accessories company in Asia, present in Malaysia-Indonesia-Singapore and Thailand.
1. What have you found most challenging as a leader of a small or medium enterprise?
Having limited resources means that you need to understand what marketing initiatives you need to go for and have immediate results. We measure ROI intensively for every marketing campaign to know if it's bringing a positive impact. We stop what is not working, and we continue what is working. We are very agile in making decisions.
2. How did you become a leader of an SME? Can you please briefly tell the story?
It's a funny and exciting story. I lived in Bali 2 years ago, focusing on my consultancy business and conducting presentations on marketing in different coworking spaces in Bali. At one of my presentations, the CEO of Trapo and we had coffee the next day.
He started to tell me about his business and his challenges in marketing, about his product that I found pretty dull, to be honest :), but he sold me the vision. I was inspired by his passion and what he wanted to achieve, one thing led to another, and 2+ years later, I'm the CMO of Trapo and manage more than 15 people, selling the sexiest car mat in Asia.
3. How do you structure your work days from waking up to going to sleep?
I try to wake up as early as possible. I usually go for a pool swim for 30 minutes, take a shower, and after, meditate for 10 minutes. While I'm drinking my coffee, I'm trying to spend 30 minutes reading some exciting websites about marketing or what is happening around the world. I tend to stay away from anything negative.
Driving to work, I usually listen to a podcast in the car. It's the only time I can do it. My working routine consists of most meetings with people in the organizations or different external stakeholders. I tend to stay away from meetings, that I actually can't bring added value.
Drive back home, have dinner with friends or my wife, read a book before going to sleep. I'm trying as much as possible not to contact the phone or TV 1 hour before bedtime.
4. What's the most recent significant leadership lesson you've learned?
The biggest lesson that I've learned is that the gap generation is real. Most of the people I manage are part of Generation Z, and you need to find that sweet spot to keep them focused and motivated. The sweet spot between giving them the freedom to grow but also being a tough parent sometimes. The reality is that I need to learn to speak their language to get things done.
5. What's one book that has had a profound impact on your leadership so far? Can you please briefly tell the story of how that book impacted your leadership?
The book with the most significant impact was probably the Screw It, Let's Do It – Lessons in Life by Richard Branson.
It's a fantastic book that created an attitude of being positive and a "just do it" mentality. I've learned that sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. When you win, be happy and don't leave with regrets when you lose. I never regret a single decision in my life or career because I can't change the past and only learn from it.
6. How do you build leadership capacity in an SME?
We always empower our employees to fail. Failing is part of the game and the learning experience. I've always admired people that know how to fail and are not afraid of failing. I'm always saying to the people that I manage: fail once and learn from it; fail twice, and it's a mistake. We also encourage employees to take the initiative and develop the areas they think can significantly impact the organization.
7. What is one meaningful story that comes to mind from your time as a leader of an SME so far?
Probably a meaningful story is when this pandemic hit us, hard and it was a complete lockdown. We are in the business of car accessories, and quite challenging to understand how we can recover. Together with the team, I've decided to change our approach and slogan. It was a bold decision to change the slogan from the "no 1 in the market" to the "most hygienic in the market". It was a brave decision not to cut our marketing spend but to invest more into awareness. It paid off, and in only 2 months, we hit an all-time high in revenue.