Personal & Professional
Ariel Fang's ~ winding road~ Leadership Story
Love for beverage & Food culture that stems from A love for people
Food and drink fulfills many roles in a person's life. My favorite part is where it allows for people to gather. Everyone has a story about a particular dish or drink that defines their values and how they relate to the community.
My leadership style is similar to hosting a phenomenal dinner party where everyone leaves feeling accomplished in their contribution, satisfied with the results of the evening, and in eager anticipation for the next one.
Getting the opportunity to be part of these moments is a joy and a privilege.
Key Elements of an Excellent Dinner Party/TEAM
A diverse and interesting group of people that are empowered to be themselves.
Empathy and active listening to drive strong communication and best ideas. Hopefully our conversations will help us all be better to ourselves, to one another, and to our planet.
Being flexible - Making things happen especially when there is uncertainty. Things will go wrong, but transforming failures to lessons allows and learning from them keeps the party going!
From The Fine Arts World To Corporate One
I make teapots - vessels that transform water and leaves into a beverage.
But I also wanted a more academically straight forward job. So in art school I also studied art history, theory, and hot to share knowledge.
I worked in a variety of museums, galleries, and artist studios in Chicago. During this time I experienced how another "vessel" (a building with people and ideas) can transform things of little to no value into very valuable things.
But by then I missed working with tea related things and creating my own ventures. So I went to get an MBA and had a lot of adventure along the way starting new things in cafes to major flavor houses to tech startups. Here I solidified my understanding of the power of brands and the work that is required to maintain them.
Long story short - the opportunity to work with tea and coffee around the world with the largest beverage company in the world after grad school was too good to pass up. And so in 2018 I started my time with The Coca-Cola Company.
At Coca-Cola I get to actively work the science side of my brain with the art side through:
Implementable, consumer-first digital/360 marketing practices
Data-driven strategies for brands, categories, innovations that were realized through agile project management
Digitization of internal practices to "future-proof" our marketing capabilities
Needless to say, it has been an incredible ride so far!
The details along the way are what makes it good
I believe great ideas usually comes from the most unexpected places or people. So when developing brand related work I always bring in references from tangential spaces as well as non-FMCG insights and practices (ie. tech, psychology and natural science, etc.)
We will only be as good as our weakest link, so it’s important to continue being new things to the table for more robust and diverse solutions.
For example, when working on various projects with Costa I incorporated learnings from yogurt and plant based beverages to evolve brand tone, understand difference in global consumer taste preferences with additional insights from Flavor: The Science of Our Most Neglected Sense, and leverage fast prototyping processes gathered from my design education colleagues when drafting Costa Express UIUX mock ups for Japan Olympics launch.
Since joining TCCC I’ve continuously been given opportunities that are not in my “expertise”. I know first-hand the power that comes from trust and support. This not only produces a better outcome in a shorter time frame, it also pushes projects that can iterate and scale. I try to bring this respectful creative tension to all that I do.
Leading projects such as the Fuze Tea digital strategy to internal communication sites for the coffee and tea THRED connection pages to Tea Universities the most rewarding aspects was to see best practices taken and applied to other categories or functions.
My own creative process and main mode of working is to shoot for 70% and continue iterating. There are very few things that come out perfect in one shot. While we can get very close to a perfect solution, there is always room for improvement.
A concrete example of this would be any time I develop a technology based tools or method - the Global Stills Events App, virtual sessions, etc. These tools require constant updates in order to stay relevant. Brand and category architectures and strategies also require a similar approach although the time frames to see execution completion are scaled based on ambition and objectives.
Because I came in to the company through an untraditional method I am keenly aware of the support and inclusion that others had afforded me and in all instances try to do the same for others.
My proudest moments during my TCCC tenure so far has been working with cross functional teams to convince the Global Leadership to maintain Global summer internship program for the past two years. This was especially so during the pandemic summer, where fast pivots and convictions resulted in multiple interns staying on beyond their internship program time. We were able to support them during a difficult time and they were able to support the business in critical areas of need.