Alexei Orlov Talks Professional Leadership
His Journey, Qualities of a Dynamic Leader, and Commanding MTM
By Wilson Scott
Every Hour is Important to Alexei Orlov
Alexie Orlov sleeps four hours a night; no more and no less than four hours every single night. That is the max amount of rest that he needs to feel rejuvenated from the trials of yesterday and adequately rested and prepared for the coming day ahead. Orlov’s career has seen dynamic entrepreneurial progression, global branding and marketing successes, facilitation of a financial aboutface for a withering organization, even the creation of multiple multi-million-dollar-making businesses. All of his successes stretch across multiple companies and countries, even continents, yet Alexie Orlov believes they are not a result of any God-given genius or talent he owns. Orlov says each stems from his determination to wake up earlier than the rest of the world, work four hours longer than the rest of the world, and not stop until he has succeeded.
Orlov may choose to minimize the many achievements that decorate his career; curtailing his expert understanding of professional leadership, but those that work with Alexei and the team at MTM are well aware of his gifts. Whether it be from an operational management standpoint or a creative branding and marketing angle, professionals that get to work with the MTM founder are certain of one thing: Alexei Orlov knows what it takes to lead.
Many people believe that leaders are born, many others believe they are fashioned, with epic resilience, from their trials in life. For Alexei Orlov, leadership and its many traits may have been gifted to him from the beginning, but life also produced opportunities that the globally-renowned lifelong entrepreneur seized upon to stand where he stands today.
Alexei Orlov’s Early Leadership Education
Few people are aware of this, but long before entering the business world and staking his claim as a global marketing giant, Alexei Orlov was on track and training to become a member of the priesthood. Very early in life, God called on Orlov to be a leader in his church and assist people through their spiritual journeys. A priest’s province is one at a level of leadership like no other. Until a significant family calamity forced Orlov out of seminary and back home, he was convinced of his place inside the church and his pathway toward becoming a priest. He jokes to this day that he would have made quite a fine Cardinal, a terrible Pope, since he would cause more disruption than not, but a fine Cardinal.
Ultimately, the priesthood was not the road Alexei Orlov was meant to travel, and leaving seminary allowed him to discover his true calling within the business world. Quickly past seminary departure, Orlov received a job in merchandising. Half of his work focused on margins and stock turnovers, and positioning. The wonderful part of merchandising work and the skills collected in the profession is that not only was it operationally-focused, but it also exercised the creative and artistic moments inside him. Orlov worked with packaging and sizing, the palette of color, and he and his teammates worked together in terms of sightline. Without knowing it, he acquired a landscape of skills that energized both the operational and the creative parts of his brain. Orlov taught himself and cultivated these skills that unknowingly put him on a path into leadership.
Another aid in his career advancement and specifically supporting his abilities to understand and mark what dynamic leadership looked like was Orlov’s ability to ‘talk to the boss’. Very early in his career, Orlov sought the council of the Chief Executive Officers and Client Officers of the companies for which he worked. The young businessman would open up discussions with them about where they wanted to take their brands, but the conversation was always a part of a more integrated discussion of dynamics that would help their business. Alexei found himself drawn to the leaders and seeking their advice, which instilled early confidence that assisted Orlov as he decided quickly to break out as an entrepreneur and start his own business. Here, Alexei would get his first taste of what it meant to be a true business leader.
The Leadership Roles that Defined Alexei Orlov’s Professional Progress
Alexei Orlov owned and ran ROCQM and MCW, specialists in brand strategy and commercial recovery. His first business venture as an entrepreneur was a great success as he later sold the business to WPP. The company subsequently became one of the critical cornerstones of what later became RMG Connect, a global strategy service within the WPP portfolio.
Orlov sold ROCQM and MCW to great profit and took a job serving one of the largest digital specialist agencies, Wunderman. He held several leadership roles in the eight years he devoted to Wunderman, including President Europe, Global COO, and finally as Executive Vice-Chairman, Worldwide. Simultaneously, Alexei Orlov also served as the Global Strategic Lead for WPP plc for the automotive business. He co-led several clients on their collective work for Ford, Jaguar, Land Rover, Mazda, and Volvo. In the acquisition of numerous companies across the Globe, Orlov acted in a key leadership position, helming strategy for many of WPP’s biggest moves.
The leadership opportunities continued to find Alexei Orlov as he took on the Chief Marketing Officer position for Volkswagen Group China. He was responsible for all marketing, brand strategy, and positioning for Volkswagen Brandsfull portfolio across Greater China and ASEAN.
Alexei then took on the role of Senior Advisor to the Chairman & CEO of DAS Group of Companies. DAS is an International $8B division of Omnicom Group. Global Chief Executive Officer of RAPP: Core Dialog™ Worldwide, another Omnicom Group offering, followed his stint with DAS. Alexei joined RAPP in 2014 and oversaw the company’s turnaround back to profit with a highly acclaimed global business and rebranding reset.
In 2017, disinterested in continuing his work in international leadership roles inside other people’s companies, Orlov stepped back into his entrepreneurial pants to part ways with Omnicom and finally build the Boutique Holding Group, MTM.
Alexei Orlov’s MTM has since acquired four major specialist agencies highly regarded in the brand/media activation world. Alexei Orlov finally allowed himself to exercise those two fundamentally different career interests he had always loved and had mastered individually during his career. His creative brain and expertise in operational management were part of his daily work life. Orlov currently still retains the titles of founder, CEO, and top dog leader of MTM.
With MTM, Alexei Orlov is a trusted advisor to a diverse collection of companies crossing the Globe—guiding blue-chip leadership teams to work through their brand, communication, and operational challenges. Alexei took the ‘art of leading’ to a new level, acting not only as MTM’s commander-in-chief but finding himself in a leadership role to the leaders of the brands, counseling those that come on board as clients with MTM.
Foundational Data’s Importance to Leaders
“No businessman is successful unless they learn to test the efficiency of what they are doing.”
– Alexei Orlov
Alexei Orlov will tell you that one essential piece of knowledge that a successful business person will always innately seek to understand is their business’ foundational data.
Foundational data is data that you can rely on to make educated business decisions. Basic metrics such as Impressions Delivered to blended KPIs like Revenue per User need foundational data, and every sound leader will instinctively understand and learn to articulate this set of metrics to their team.
The business leader may need assistance in communicating this clearly to his colleagues at times. Still, he is always aware of the primary foundational data required to move forward with significant business decisions successfully.
Fundamentally, and building upon foundational data, you cannot be a great businessman and leader if you do not understand the intricacies of business basics like cash flow and its power and importance to your business. You will need to understand accounts/receivables and its need to take precedence within your company. A great business leader also understands the importance of and utilizes data analysis. If you are the leader, you must understand these core fundamentals of business to succeed. If you are the leader and you don’t, find people that do and keep them close.
Alexei Orlov, a Leader of Leaders
Successful leadership sometimes means surrounding yourself with other experts whose skills complement and round out those parts of the business where you might lack the expertise. Alexei Orlov has used every moment of his career to educate himself and learn from those placed around him to become an expert himself on many different layers of the business landscape. Orlov just happens to enjoy, and, in turn, to focus on both the operational management business as well as the more creative portions of the business , making him a much more capable, well-rounded leader than most.
So, when MTM began acquiring agencies with built-in leaders, the acquisitions were seamless, both for the agency as a whole and for the people who made those agencies breathe. Alexei Orlov’s intricate understanding of so many of an agency’s fundamental departments and their needs, made him an excellent source of knowledge to the leaders of each agency acquired. With great knowledge, a leader can acquire trust. With trust, Alexei Orlov was and is the correct man to be leading other leaders.
Though he will be the first to tell you that he doesn’t excel in every aspect of the business landscape, no CEO does. But knowing that, Alexei Orlov surrounds himself with experts in the portions of his business where he cannot focus and does not excel.
Alexei Orlov is a leader of leaders, and MTM continues to see fantastic growth strides through the correct acquisitions that make sense for MTM as well as the agencies they acquire. Orlov dedicates himself to finding the correct partnerships so MTM always acts as a value added partner to each agency providing strategic, financial, and sound operational guidance to each new acquisition. Each agency under the MTM umbrella remains unique while interconnected allowing everyone to thrive together. Such a beautiful professional puzzle could only be crafted by a true, knowledgeable, and empathetic leader. For MTM, that man is Alexei Orlov
Learn more about Alexei Orlov and MTM at www.thisismtm.com
About Alexei Orlov
With experience spanning 30 years across 40 countries and more than 50 brands, Alexei Orlov is a proven specialist in global brand strategy, regional and cross-cultural marketing deployment, and operational change management.