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David O’Reilly

Director, Scientific Research

Marina Bellini

Chief Information and Digital Officer, Director, Digital and Information

Thriving companies must reflect the world they operate in. Women in STEM are crucial to the creation of a new way of doing things.

An industry transforming itself: moving from a single agricultural product to a multi-category consumer electronics field – BAT is leading the way.

David O’Reilly is Director, Scientific Research at BAT and is at the forefront of this change.

“Our ambition is to increasingly transition our revenues over time from a  product that uses combustion, to ones that do not use combustion,” he says.

“In the last 10 years this has become a reality and the technology is available. We want to offer consumers a range of enjoyable and responsibly marketed products, and aim to reduce the health and environmental impacts of our business while delivering good returns for our shareholders.”

From student to the board

David has seen many changes over the years: he started with the company as a student and now sits on the management board.

“We’ve come a long way,” he says. “One of the transformations was that we started to refresh the talent. We changed 60-70% of Research & Development (R&D) staff and one of the key pillars was diversity.

“We looked for different sectors, countries and nationalities; we continue to focus our efforts on recruiting a wide range of STEM skills, in particular women in STEM.”

A good mix of experiences, skills and thoughts is what helps us to innovate and make better decisions and women in STEM is a key part of this pipeline.

Indeed, David has made it a personal priority to support women with their careers within the company.

“I almost exclusively mentor women because I want more women in senior positions here,” he says. “I show them  how to unblock barriers and how to be visible to senior leaders including the CEO.

“Diversity is in our ethos,” he says. “We have initiated a range of training and development programmes including women and leadership, a 30% mentoring club, ‘Parents at BAT’, how to guard against unconscious bias as well as career break re-integration.”

Huge leaps made possible by digital technology

The whole industry has made huge leaps forward. “The industry is transforming itself and STEM plays a huge role,” says David. “All functions, notably sales, marketing and operations, are being transformed by digital technology. This is one of the most exciting companies and exciting sectors just now.  

“We are transforming the company, the sector and consumers’ choices for the better.”

Marina Bellini is Director, Digital & Information at BAT. What drew her to the company?

“I joined BAT in 2018 for the challenge and excitement of joining a company that is transforming at pace.

“BAT is in the most dynamic period of change we have ever seen in our 118-year history – from a tobacco business making a single product from plants grown in the ground, to a company offering a diverse range of products driven by world-class innovation, technology and science.

“We have a clear purpose to build a better tomorrow by reducing the health impacts of our business by providing our consumers with a greater choice of less risky products. These include vaping products, tobacco heating products and what we refer to as modern oral (oral nicotine pouches). It’s a very exciting time to be working at BAT.”

Technology delivering commercial value

“Digital, innovation and technology play a crucial role in fueling this transformation, allowing us to be a simpler, stronger and faster company.

“We are applying state-of-the-art technologies across our entire value chain to drive results. Technology and digital is also connecting us to our customers, consumers and employees in a brand new way, giving us the capabilities and the insights to bring innovative products to market, changing our culture and ultimately, how we work as a company.”

Strength through diversity

“For a consumer company to really thrive, it must reflect the people, and world, outside of it. 

“BAT is a very diverse company. We are present in 180 markets worldwide, with more than 53,000 people, bringing together different cultures, nationalities, experiences and opinions.

“We have eight different nationalities on the Management Board and two women,” says Marina, who is Italian/ Brazilian.

“Technology and digital is traditionally a very male-dominated area. We’ve done a lot of work in the area of diversity, particularly at the recruitment stage and when we’re discussing how we support people’s career growth at BAT, to eliminate unconscious bias and to truly open up opportunities for women.

“My leadership team comprises six women and 15 nationalities. While there is much more work to be done, I am proud of what we have achieved in this area to date.”

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