Specialty Marketing Calls for Deep Industry Expertise

Elsevier is a leading provider of information solutions that enhance the performance of science, health, and technology professionals. Its R&D Solutions division offers chemical companies critical data and technology capabilities in order to accelerate innovation and time to market, while reducing risk and driving greater profitability. Elsevier is a part of RELX Group, which employs 28,500 people and serves customers in more than 180 countries. In 2014, the company’s revenue approached $8.5 billion.

Christina Välimäki works to meet the critical needs of Elsevier’s chemical industry customers. She’s helping move Elsevier’s chemicals business forward with a focus on product design, commercial and communication strategy, and new opportunities. Välimäki and Elsevier face a sophisticated industry becoming more so: executives throughout the chemicals ecosystem need to understand and contend with regulatory, environmental, political, and macroeconomic influences. Välimäki learns on-demand from leading experts in all of these fields and from top practitioners across the chemicals business to understand where her industry is going and how it’s going to get there. For her, it’s important to strip away what she thinks she knows and approach each interaction with a fresh perspective as she reaches outside of her own expertise.


I come to work excited almost every day because my job is fundamentally about learning. I had a professor in business school who told us, “Don’t look for the jobs that pay the most, look for the job where you’re going to learn the most.”

I’m Christina Valimaki I work for Elsevier as the Senior Director of Chemicals Industry Marketing.

Traditionally, Elsevier has served the chemicals industry in the spheres of knowledge around new product development as well as efficiency of production of those products.

So when you look at the period since the 1970s in the chemical industry, we’re really looking at a mature market. That means it’s characterized by a relatively steady product set, relatively steady demand.

What’s new for them increasingly, and new for us, is an understanding of how there are various influences on that new product development decision set. Those influences can range from the colleagues of those personas; so the environmental health and safety group, the marketing group, the sales group. It can range outside that company from regulatory bodies all the way back, in some cases, to the legislatures who are creating the laws that influence how this industry can operate.

But increasingly we are seeing a very sophisticated industry become more so and looking holistically at the different spheres of knowledge that they need to integrate and we are looking at how we can supply them with information in order to make those innovation decisions quickly.

Partnering with GLG has been important in our learning journey because what we’re trying to do is understand the various perspectives of experts, practitioners within in a high performing industry and knit those different perspectives together into a new narrative a new story around unmet needs.

But when you’re trying to talk to the market, it becomes a question of access. How do you get relationships that you don’t have before? How do you do that quickly in order to get yourself onto a playing field of being able converse and more deeply understand the challenges that they’re facing and brainstorm how you can bring value to solving those problems.

Essentially the only way that you can do that is really through conversation and dialogue. We can locate a pocket of expertise and within hours be talking to someone who has a long verified career and have an in-depth conversation with this person from a business as well as a scientific perspective.

We create these mental models and foundations of what we think we know. But frankly, it’s changing all the time and so we have to be able to strip away what we think we know and really take on the humility about learning from someone else and acquiring as much of their understanding as we possibly can.


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