British television viewers may recognize her as the one-time “Muse of Marketing” on Sky News or for her appearances on BBC’s version of The Apprentice. But countless business executives know her in a more personal light – as a trusted advisor who helps refine their marketing strategy and guide their expansion into new markets.
For the past three decades, the art of bridging cultural barriers has been Allyson Stewart-Allen’s passion. As the founder and CEO of International Marketing Partners, she’s helped more than 200 businesses leverage new opportunities in the United States and internationally.
As an American-born California native who has called the United Kingdom her home for nearly 30 years, Stewart-Allen brings first-hand experience to the international business challenges her clients face. “My goal is that, by helping people bridge cultural or organizational divides, they and their organizations are happier and more able to fulfill their purpose,” she says.
In addition to her work as a consultant, Stewart-Allen has also been active as a public speaker and as mentor for the Mayor of London’s International Business Programme. In addition, she co-wrote Working With Americans, a book designed to educate foreigners on America’s business culture.
This year, she’ll don another title – Judging Committee Chair of the Marketing Awards categories in The 2017 International Business Awards. It’s a role where she can draw on her expertise to not only select winning companies, but provide input that other entrants can draw on as the move forward.
“The Stevie Awards are one of the few business competitions that are truly international, providing judges with a great opportunity to compare the achievements of businesses from a global, rather than local, perspective” she says.
An emphasis on ‘localization’
“I have always been fascinated by how businesses operate, particularly in the areas of leadership, sales and marketing,” saysStewart-Allen.
After attending the University of Southern California’s Marshall School of Business as an undergrad in the early 1980s, she earned her MBA under the tutelage of Peter Drucker, one of the most influential business thinkers of the past half century.
She went on to work for multiple blue-chip advisory firms – PwC, PA Consulting Group and Hay Management Consultants – before establishing International Marketing Partners in 1991. There, she’s surrounded herself with a group of marketing and business development specialists who bring experience in a variety of industries.
Stewart-Allen and her team have counseled dozens of businesses, including the likes of Burberry, HSBC, NBC Universal and SAB Miller. Her firm provides market analysis as well as insights into foreign business cultures that companies can leverage to attain better returns on their marketing investment.
“I am a hands-on CEO, so I define what my clients require and work with the Board and their operational teams to meet the agreed objectives, which could mean running a workshop one day, talking to a CEO about the strategy for international growth, running leadership courses or undertaking market research,” she explains.
An improved understanding of overseas markets helps ensure that clients avoid a one-size-fits-all strategy that may not work in every corner of the globe. “As a result of more local approaches and effectiveness, my clients achieve increased brand loyalty, employee loyalty and stakeholder engagement,” Stewart-Allen notes.
In the age of social media, she says, the stakes are even higher when organizations step outside their comfort zone. “It can bring a company’s mistakes to the consumer’s attention within minutes and thereby detrimentally affect the company’s brand, reputation and ability to bounce back.”
Leading the panel of judges for the marketing awards is another avenue for Stewart-Allen to help companies get it right. “My goal is to help businesses operate profitably in an increasingly global environment, at a time when the future is hard to predict,” she says.