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Marketing & Communications DirectorElsa Dang

Tell us a little about your background in hospitality

I have been working in the hospitality sector for more than 6 years now and particularly in digital solutions to help hotels and restaurants.

I come from a Vietnamese family where we are taught hospitality from a young age and especially when we have guests at home. I grew up in a very large family sharing many meals. My grandmother ran a restaurant in Vietnam, my mother works for one of the world's leading airline caterers. My father works in the IT sector, which gave me a bit of a geeky side, so I have to say that food tech was the ideal sector for me.

I started working in this industry in operational marketing before becoming a marketing manager, and then a marketing director.

Tell us about your role now

I was marketing director at Easilys f&b since 2018 before the company became part of the MAPAL Group in June 2021. Today, I have the chance to continue my role as marketing director within the group. It is very exciting to manage more people, with different cultures and backgrounds, based all over Europe. It's a real opportunity for me and a new challenge. And I have to say that both my old manager at Easilys and my new one at MAPAL have really helped me through this transition and adapt to my new role.

How did you get into marketing and was there anyone who specifically helped you along the way?

My first role was in marketing was in an accounting firm, working on the implementation and management of a CRM.

The second role was also my first experience in food tech as an operational marketing manager. There I found my first mentor who really helped me to gain both confidence and competence even though he was not my direct manager. I can't thank him enough for his support, advice, and kindness.

Furthermore, I think what gave me the ambition and strength to become a marketing manager at 30 (or earlier) was meeting a 32-year-old CFO who had already helped several companies grow at only 30. If she could do it, then I could do it too.

At MAPAL, my former direct manager has always supported me with a lot of kindness, as has my new manager. I don't have children but people in our team do. I w really inspired when  James, my new manager, spoke about how we could balance the two and that he would be the first to help us to re-arrange our schedules should that happen. I like how attitudes are changing and how women are getting more support from men.

Although there are often more men than women in management positions, I have to say that if the environment is caring and healthy, you notice the power difference: on the contrary, we are all equal and that we are there for our skills and our know-how.

What excites you most about the future of digital technology?

What I find exciting about the future of digital technology is that it allows us to adapt to changes in consumer behaviour and to get to know consumers better. It can also be an ally when new legislation is introduced. This is sometimes seen as a constraint, but most of the time new laws are an opportunity for companies to take the plunge and go digital. 

I also think that digital has a positive impact, not a negative one (contrary to the movies that my own generation Y grew up with):

  • It removes human contact when there is a need, and when a human doesn't bring any added value. I'm thinking of those 24-hour stores in Korea where anyone can eat a bowl of hot instant noodles with toppings for only $3 (this price is always feasible when you don't have to add manpower). Everything is assisted by a terminal like a vending machine.
  • And apart from these blinds, all the other restaurants are of course places to live, to meet and to experience. And a successful experience requires a good atmosphere and good energy from both the kitchen and the dining room. And a good atmosphere also depends on employee well-being? We can do this by improving the boring and non-value added tasks, by giving them the means to progress and the tools to help them.

Digital technology is still evolving, and I think there are still some nice surprises to come in this area.