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Malika Vitarigova

2015 Alumna
BA Business Administration

While pedaling my Rekola bike to meet Malika in one of Holešovice many trendy cafes, I simultaneously pedalled through thoughts of how we met… It was one of those classic AAU conundrums, where you don’t exactly know which class or mutual friend it was, but you just know them, you know?

Stirring her malinova limonada, she told me her story of transitioning from student to project manager. Much more seamless than most, she told me she had an advertising class with a professor who was also the Art Director at Havas Prague that woke her interest in advertising. She applied to Havas shortly after graduating in 2015, got the job, started as a trainee, and now she’s the Project Manager for the pharmaceutical company “Sanofi” for their Russian markets.

What were some of the biggest learning curve you had to overcome on the way from starting as a Trainee to a Project Manager today?
Probably some of them are working under big stress (huge amount of work, tight deadlines) and being able to achieve high results.

Even though we’ve all experienced many tasks at the same time in university, at work it moves to the next level, where you have more responsibilities. The second one is how to combine all the tasks you need to do in order to maintain all stakeholders satisfied.

The third thing is learning how to communicate with very different people in order to make everything work. When you’re Project/Account manager, you’re the one responsible for the final result, so you need to involve all needed resources and people.

My favorite skills are critical thinking and problem solving. When every challenge is a chance to test yourself and to see what you’re capable of achieving, work becomes much more interesting and satisfying. This way you can grow professionally and personally.

What intrigued you about advertising?
The most intriguing thing about advertising is that it’s always with us, it grows, changes. It’s never stopping process, which is very interesting to observe and understand.

Also I was always curious of how psychological skills can help you in business, so it’s the best place to learn it.

A lot of people’s first reaction to advertising is that is manipulative. What do you think?
Of course the goal of advertising is to sell, and there are manipulative ads, but it all depends on the point of view you have. Since my client is a pharmaceutical company, I see that advertising for this company is not only about “please buy my medicine”, but also about informing doctors and other medical workers about rare diseases and treatments for them, as an example.

There are so many people, companies and ads in this world, that you can’t just tell that the whole advertising is manipulative and evil, it all depends on the initial goal of marketers and advertisers and of their way of selling.

I love this quote you said; “We’re always advertising”. Can you elaborate?
Actually, this quote got to me after reading a book called “It’s Not How Good You Are, It’s How Good You Want To Be” by Paul Arden, who was Creative Director in Saatchi & Saatchi. The main thought of this quote is that there are many ways when people advertise themselves and their beliefs in ordinary life without even noticing it. Personal life, religions, different ideologies, the list of the spheres, which just are not official ways of advertising, can be very long.

How do you think advertising has and is evolving?
It’s very quickly moving from the traditional channels to social media and digital, so now the stakes for these ways of advertising are very high. People are more and more aware of the psychological ways of influence, companies are more transparent, so now it’s not only about selling the product, but also about creating connections between brands and target audience.

Social media trends are changing progressing every day, so now you have tо be in learning mode constantly.

You wrote your thesis on Marks & Spencer. Why?
We were discussing different companies with financial problems during one of my classes, and Marks & Spencer got first to my mind. It’s a brand which produces very good quality clothes but doesn’t have very strong communication towards one of the fastest growing target markets – younger adults. The goal of my thesis was to think of Strategic marketing plan for Marks & Spencer.

I’m one of those kind of people who love to challenge themselves by finding a problem and trying to come up with a solution for it, so this company was a great choice for me. I thought of the ways how to involve younger generations in buying M&S clothes.

What was/ were your most influential classes at AAU?
“Intro to Advertising” was certainly the most influential class. During these lectures I finally understood in which sphere I want to grow, I finally understood what I want to do in the nearest futures. Since my teacher Alena Foustkova has worked in Havas Prague, she was the one, who motivated me to dream of getting there. And now it’s already 1 year and 7 months of me working in this company.

Aside from a degree, what are some of the other soft things you left AAU with?
I left AAU with a strong feeling of gratitude. Gratitude to this university for giving me the education, great environment and chance to meet great people from all around the world. It includes both students, professors, faculty and staff. I think I will always feel very nostalgic towards AAU. It was a great place to find yourself, what you want to do in life.

Not only is your office in beautiful architectural masterpiece with a great view, you’re in Letna, one of Prague’s up and coming neighborhoods. What are the best lunch spots on your radar?
Definitely, some of the best places in our area are Bar Cobra, Cafe Letka, Farm Letna, Mr. Hot Dog. And you want some coffee, you shouldn’t be disappointed of it in places like Dos Mundos, Bistro 8, Solista espresso bar.