This week, we interview Alfia Ilicheva, Engagement Manager at Fahrenheit 212. Interested in the Engagement Manager role? We’re hiring!
What do you do at Fahrenheit 212?
An engagement manager’s job is akin to that of a conductor of a band, making sure that the diversity of voices and opinions come together as a symphony (vs. cacophony). The nature of our work attracts a lot of passionate thinkers, internally at Fahrenheit 212 and from the client side. Everyone wants to help and add value, which is amazing. When you merge voices, however, you have to crystalize a unified vision—find different strengths and manage internal and external relationships to craft a recommendation. As an engagement manager, I am always challenged to strike a delicate balance between satisfying everyone’s opinions and pushing the project forward. In many ways, strategy is not just “what” we deliver to clients. Strategy is also “how” we deliver our recommendations.
When do you feel most creative?
Being outside of my daily routine: when I am traveling, when I am tasting new foods, when I am in a new environment. Generally, when I have completely new experiences that take me outside of my comfort zone – like swimming with seals and hammerhead sharks in Galapagos Islands! Also in my job at Fahrenheit, I feel most creative in situations when there is a rigid constraint and we need to come up with something new and exciting. My problem solving side usually kicks in full force when there is an obvious obstacle or a constraint.
Do you have any rituals for the innovation process?
I have a new notebook for every engagement. I also pretend to be the consumer and go outside and experience whatever product or service that we need to innovate. We do a lot of in-depth qualitiative and quantative consumer research, but the experience of doing something myself is deeply revealing. I also read a company’s annual report cover to cover.
Where do you call home?
Motherland is Russia. My current home is in the United States. But generally, home is wherever my husband and children are.
What do you never leave home without?
My black Moleskine, Disney-themed bandaids for the kids, and raw almonds for impromptu snacking cravings.
When did you first get into the field of innovation?
Here at Fahrenheit 212. This is my first job in innovation. I previously worked in financial services.
What innovation are you most proud of?
I worked on a project that helped moms with their laundry chores. It was a great project because I could share and apply a lot of my own experiences as a new mom. I also loved working with our clients – they were super engaged and creative. It was a true collaborative effort on both ends. We had many constraints on the capabilities side—packaging, manufacturing, R&D—and yet we were able to create a totally new and exciting proposition that brought new news to the category.
What is your go-to reading source?
The Economist and Bloomberg. I’m a huge Bloomberg fan.
What is your favorite innovation in the last decade?
DropBox and Amazon Prime.
Do you have any side projects, hobbies, or a previous life you would like to share?
My husband and I run Five Boroughs Foundation of Photography, a nonprofit that teaches photography in NYC schools.
Also, tennis and running have been my hobbies for years — I try to sneak in a match or a jog on weekends and vacation. Running in foreign places is such a beautiful way to explore a new place.