Young Marketer of the Year 2021 – sponsored by Think TV

Kathlynn Lee is an adaptive, creative, and self-driven marketer with a passion for telling engaging brand stories. Her ability to deliver unique customer experiences across the bp brand has won her the title of this year’s Young Marketer of the Year.

Well connected

Kathlynn’s first exposure to marketing began during her Year 11 business studies class, where she had to create a small business and deliver the marketing plan. Following high school, she was eager to learn more about the discipline and decided to enroll in a commerce degree at the University of Auckland. 

“As part of my degree, I chose to triple-major in marketing, business analytics, and innovation and entrepreneurship. 

“I was fascinated by the intersection of these subjects and the tangible business value it delivers, such as combining insights with creativity to influence customer perceptions and behaviours,” says Kathlynn.

Craving experience beyond textbooks and the classroom, Kathlynn began marketing internships at Bauer Media, The Social Club, and Studio7. In 2019, she then joined bp as part of their two-year graduate programme, where she did rotations in brand, B2B, retail marketing, comms, and external affairs. 

In January 2021, she joined the bp marketing team as a Communications and Campaign Specialist, supporting the development of innovative products, brand offers, and communications for customers across the Asia Pacific region. 

The young marketer’s fresh energy has seen her reimagine bp’s customer relationships and create tangible moments that matter to millions of New Zealanders on the move. 

“I’m particularly drawn to customer experience, as I love how customer thinking informs strategic thinking. I’m energised by the way we can uncover consumer pain points to create contextually impactful and better experiences for our customers.”

Kathlynn’s significant contribution to the bp Thank You Coffee campaign, internal communications, social media strategy, and launch of new offers such as organic coffee and fast & fresh is shaping what ‘great’ looks like within bp New Zealand marketing.

Beyond her role, Kathlynn has completed short-term assignments including market validation of low carbon mobility in hydrogen adoption, and a mobility and convenience innovation project for bp China’s emerging retail network. 

Through these assignments, she has gained industry knowledge, cultural understanding, and collaboration with a diverse range of stakeholders. Outside work, she volunteers as a mentor for Young Enterprise Scheme companies.

Aside from working alongside incredibly talented people, Kathlynn says she loves how complex the industry is, being on the cusp of experiencing rapid change. 

“I’m excited to play a part in changing the way bp does business as we shift from a vehicle-centric business model to a customer-centric one, delivering positive outcomes for people and our planet.”

Being a successful young marketer does come with its challenges, and Kathlynn says having the courage to bring a different perspective to the table is one of them. 

“One piece of advice I got when I first started at bp is that ‘you’re paid for your opinion’, which has helped me speak up more during meetings and avoid the fly on the wall scenario countless times.”

Out of all the projects she has worked on, Kathlynn says the Thank You Coffee campaign was a real stand-out. Immediate and emotional, the campaign tapped into New Zealand’s heightened need for positivity and sharing at a time when we had emerged from the strain of the first Covid-19 lockdown. 

“While the kindness of strangers is an amazing thing, there’s nothing like receiving a gift from a friend or family member, and this was communicated to us by customers. 

“Listening to customers, I helped to launch the gift a friend feature as part of the Thank You Coffee campaign. The opportunity to test a social gifting culture has not only delivered brighter moments for our customers but has also grown our BPMe customer base.”

Kathlynn Lee.

In terms of her career, Kathlynn says her proudest moment was delivering the internal communication strategy for bp during 2020. This strategy helped bring together the corporate team of 120 people during lockdowns, major global changes in strategy, and bp’s largest-ever restructure. 

“It was challenging at the time, as we worked in a time of ambiguity and there was no ‘best practice’ to refer to. However, it gave me license at a very early stage in my career to get involved with business strategy, interact with senior leaders, and test and learn ideas.”

Winning Young Marketer of the Year has felt surreal for Kathlynn as it has been a massive year for marketers as brands emerge in a phase of recovery and repositioning. 

“I feel beyond honoured to be recognised amongst this. The nomination has also been a boost for the whole bp marketing team, who have been incredibly supportive of my career since day one.”

To become an award-winning marketer, Kathlynn recommends building a strong, diverse network of people that will support your career by motivating you and challenging you at the same time. 

“This won’t happen overnight and you must be genuine in why you want to connect and not to treat these relationships as transactional. Over time, you’ll find that these are the people that will advocate for you when you’re not in the room and open doors to new opportunities.”

Looking forward, Kathlynn aims to become more involved in leading bp’s marketing strategy in the future of transportation mobility and convenience retailing. She hopes to drive more diverse, equitable, and inclusive customer experiences in this space. 

“I’d like to see myself leading an experience-driven brand, delivering solutions that solve customer problems, from the everyday to the epic.”  

Category: Young Marketer of the Year

Winner: Kathlynn Lee

Company: bp Oil New Zealand

Finalists: Emily Reid (MediaWorks), Sarah Dillon (Trees That Count), Ashlynne Jury (Tonkin + Taylor), Kelly Kernighan (Meridian Group), Elise Le Compte (Silver Fern Farms)

This article was first published in the 2021 December/January issue of NZ Marketing magazine.

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