Codestone is thrilled to have appointed Michelle Htun-Kay as its new Group Marketing Director. Michelle has had an exciting and diverse career and will be using her extensive marketing and cultural experience to bring a refreshing new perspective to support Codestone’s accelerated business growth.
From humble beginnings
Born in Libya to a Burmese father and Romanian mother, who both experienced difficult and oppressed lives growing up in authoritarian and communist countries, Michelle knew she had great things in store. Wanting to give their children a better start in life, they moved to Texas to follow the American Dream. Michelle took this opportunity with both hands and even though the family had to adapt to a whole new culture which was difficult at times, she successfully graduated a half-year early with a double major in Business Administration and International Studies, with minors in French and Political Science. More so, she was awarded the US Fulbright Scholarship, becoming a Fulbright Fellow in Romania, studying organisational behaviour in post-Socialist Romania. Her multicultural heritage and sound business knowledge equipped Michelle well for her international career ahead.
Achieving business outcomes
Michelle is an international marketing and corporate communications strategist and has been solving business problems throughout her career, accumulating a unique set of skills on the way which is already proving to be invaluable to the Codestone Group.
Her role in Europe-wide and global communications at ABN Amro gave Michelle her first real challenge, to launch ABN bank branches in Romania. By responding quickly and putting the right processes in place, Michelle oversaw the opening of 7 new bank branches within 18 months, far more than its competitors.
Understanding that in business you need to move fast with the right team in place to gain a competitive advantage, she believes this will be key to help Codestone achieve its overall strategy.
Moving to Oman gave Michelle her next set of challenges where she led numerous corporate communications activities for Petroleum Development Oman (PDO), a Shell Group joint venture. These included carrying out the marketing strategy design and execution of In-Country Value (creating sustainable human value) and a national business development and employment programme devised by the Ministry of Oil and Gas in response to the Arab Spring and social unrest in the Sultant of Oman.
Spending time in Canada as the Marketing and Communications Director for Beakerhead was an inspirational highlight of Michelle’s career. The concept was that the sciences and the arts weren’t mutually exclusive and future problem-solving of massive scale, required skills and know-how at the intersection of science and engineering with arts and creativity. Therefore STEAM – science, technology, engineering, arts and maths – was created. And the Canadian national organisation to deliver this was created, called Beakerhead. Michelle was a founding member, responsible for fundraising and marketing of a week-long STEAM festival in Calgary, Alberta and year-round K-12 STEAM educational programmes. In its first year, it became known as Canada’s largest smash up of art, science and engineering spectacle attracting more than 115,000 visitors to more than 50 events annually. This festival literally took off from T-0 when Canadian astronaut Chris Hadfield appeared on the Beakerhead Opening Night stage to play his guitar and sing Major Tom, the ultimate live example of STEAM in action.
This project showed Michelle that you don’t necessarily need to have rigid roles within Codestone based on traditional skill sets, but by mixing and finding the right combination of skills can lead to a job being done not only better, but in a more creative way.
A bold approach underpinned with SAP credentials
Michelle wants to take a bold approach to her marketing role at Codestone by shaking things up a bit, leveraging her SAP marketing credentials, and ensuring the right skills are in place for the right tasks. Previous to Codestone, Michelle was the Global Head of Marketing and Business Development for AKT – a long-standing SAP Gold Partner for SAP SuccessFactors HXM and Qualtrics Employee Experience and Customer Experience solutions. In this role, she expanded this SAP reseller’s presence across Europe, was responsible for its go-to-market strategy for large enterprises across industries and SAP solutions. This included the first SAP Work Zone transaction for the BIC Group, where Michelle co-ran the RFP with SAP France, and AKT went on to achieve Global Innovation Winner for SAP Work Zone in 2021.
She will be overseeing all areas of Marketing across the market-leading ERP and Cloud and Managed Services portfolio at operational board level and hopes to lead a more diverse approach to business strategy.
I will be looking at whether the right processes and structures are in place to drive rapid business growth and hope to instil a new way of thinking that includes fresh views, mindset and energy.
Out of hours adventures
Travelling and experiencing different countries and cultures is at the heart of Michelle’s interests – she’s lived in the US, UK, Canada, Austria, Romania, Moldova, Oman and Israel. Her multi-cultural upbringing and extensive travels have highlighted to her the need to keep in touch with her roots as she continues to sponsor a Buddhist monastery and a blind school for children in Myanmar. Even a close encounter with the Hezbollah when travelling in Lebanon and missiles flying overhead in Tel Aviv, hasn’t put her off travelling, but has taught her valuable crisis management skills, building on her skill set even more!
A competitive edge
There is no doubt that Michelle’s international experience and marketing achievements will give Codestone a competitive edge in the world of technology. Dan Hobson, Codestone Chief Commercial Officer agrees,
Michelle has had such an exciting and diverse international career covering every aspect of marketing strategy and communications. Her work experience and managing truly unique projects will be invaluable to Codestone to help us achieve our company objectives.
Michelle is looking forward to the challenge and excited to build on the success of Codestone and will be relishing the new skills she will learn on her journey, as well as experiencing a new culture down here in Dorset! And did we mention that her Great Uncle was U Thant, the former Secretary-General of the UN? Say no more, her international values are deeply imbedded, and her worldly-wise outlook will be the biggest asset for Codestone.