Head of Marketing Latin America, Uber
[People] are looking for brands that change the way they approach and feel about their everyday lives. When marketers realize that, we elevate our game and serve our customers well.
By Ashley Rabinovitch
Felipe Burgaz T’91 is the first to admit that life as a jet-setting global marketing executive isn’t for everyone.
“Having an international career sounds sexy and interesting, but you have to become a chameleon as you adapt to a new culture and a new way of doing things,” he says. “It is always challenging. On the other hand, those who embrace the challenge learn to view problems from many different perspectives and arrive at better solutions as a result.”
Burgaz has visited more than 70 countries and lived in more than half a dozen in the course of his career as a marketing executive for leading consumer goods and tech brands. For the past 30 years, he has learned to adjust to unfamiliar surroundings while navigating seismic industry transformation. But amid all the change and transition, he returns time and again to a central truth: Customers are more alike than different. To succeed at marketing is to tap into the power of human connection and need across time and place.
A native of Spain, Burgaz studied finance and international management at Georgetown University before discovering his passion for marketing during a summer stint at Procter & Gamble in Madrid. “I was captivated by this combination of art and science,” he says. “You see the two aspects come together in a well-executed marketing campaign and just marvel. That is what has kept me in the industry all these years.”
Burgaz can’t credit his Tuck experience with imparting digital marketing skills, as the Internet didn’t yet exist when he was an MBA student, but he says his time in Hanover imparted a “generalist orientation” that has equipped him to approach problems holistically throughout his career. This skillset served him well in what he deems the most significant chapter of his early career: 13 years at Coca Cola. In the time he spent rising through the ranks in the company’s Latin American and Eurasian divisions, he refined a new marketing model that broke down siloes between country marketing teams and combined forces to build truly global campaigns.
“Concepts like enjoying time with friends and feeling refreshed are universal,” he says. “By focusing on what we had in common, we not only saved on marketing budgets but produced some of the company’s best creative work.”
After building more consumer goods experience with Kellogg’s and Visa, Burgaz pivoted to tech in 2017 when he accepted a role as the head of marketing for Amazon in Mexico. For three years, he oversaw his company’s first retail launch in a country where e-commerce comprised only 1–2 percent of transactions. “We had to start by running TV ads to introduce the idea of online shopping,” he says. “It was quite a ride convincing Amazon engineers that we needed to be on TV.” During his time in leadership, Amazon launched Prime in Mexico and normalized the concept of ordering and receiving items within one to two days.
Ready for his next challenge, Burgaz accepted his current role as the head of marketing for Uber in Latin America in 2020. From advertising transport by motorcycle in Guatemala and the Dominican Republic to introducing consumers to Uber’s new grocery delivery service, he and his team of 50 marketing specialists create campaigns that drive the company’s Rides and Eats businesses forward.
Burgaz feels fortunate to have lived through the digital transformation that has made the marketing function more data-driven, more personalized, and more focused on the customer experience. “I earned my MBA during the ‘spray and pray’ period of marketing, where we broadcasted messages to large groups and hoped it worked,” he says. “Now I have the privilege of working for a mobile-first company with endless ways to reach our customers. The challenge has shifted, in part, to determining which channels to select for maximum impact.”
He has also undergone a personal transformation from consumer goods specialist to tech leader. While consumer goods companies rely on their brand reputation to drive product sales, tech leaders tend to view the product as the starting point. Burgaz leverages his experience to remind the people around him that competitors can duplicate products, but they can’t duplicate a brand. A well-curated, consumer-focused brand will always come out ahead.
Whether he is building brands in consumer goods or tech, in Latin America or Europe or Asia, Burgaz remains laser-focused on what unites customers. “At their core, people across the globe need the same things,” he says. “They are looking for brands that change the way they approach and feel about their everyday lives. When marketers realize that, we elevate our game and serve our customers well.”
This story originally appeared in print in the summer 2023 issue of Tuck Today magazine.
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