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Milena Trentadue makes history as the first female managing director at Rothmans, Benson & Hedges

The appointment embodies the organization’s commitment to transformational change

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This article is Sponsored by Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc on the National Post website. 

The team at Rothmans, Benson & Hedges Inc. (RBH) isn’t merely adapting to change — they’re leading it.

Milena Trentadue

In a historic stride toward gender diversity and inclusive leadership, RBH has appointed Milena Trentadue as its first female managing director, a significant milestone for both the company and the tobacco industry at large. This, combined with RBH’s strategic shift toward a smoke-free future, has been the cornerstone of its transformation efforts — and also what intrigued Trentadue most about RBH, an affiliate of Philip Morris International Inc. (PMI).

“I was completely blown away by the transformation PMI was undertaking,” says Trentadue of the dynamic shift that influenced her to make the leap within the industry. “Being part of an organization that had the fortitude to disrupt itself from the inside out compelled me to leverage my skills and experience for their story. I really wanted to be part of that legacy of change.”

Trentadue’s journey to the top echelons of RBH embodies resilience, dedication and a commitment to fostering transformative change within an industry often steeped in tradition. Her humble upbringing — led by modest but strong parents within a community of predominantly Italian and Greek immigrants — shaped her into the leader she is today.

“I’m blessed to have had very strong parents who were real forces of nature. My mother was a woman ahead of her time; even though she was brought up in an old-school Italian sort of way, she was not that way at all, and so it was interesting to see her relative to other people’s moms,” says Trentadue. “She had a strong mind and was always vocal, extremely tenacious and never timid. She taught us to speak our minds and to never shy away from having an opinion.”

And as the youngest daughter in a family of three girls and one boy, Trentadue also benefitted from having a father who modelled what it meant to be a powerful leader.

“My dad never raised us with any boundaries of gender or anything like that. He raised us to believe in who we are and what we wanted to achieve,” says Trentadue. “He always advocated for what he believed in and was never afraid to stand alone in his opinions. Having my mother and father together like this really demonstrated what it meant to have a voice and to use it and not be afraid to stand for what we believe in.”

Witnessing that same integrity and passion within the group of people behind RBH’s drive toward a smoke-free future is hugely rewarding for Trentadue. She has always been drawn to roles that allow her to develop relationships through her own curiosities and ability to collaborate, negotiate, influence and create impact throughout her career.

“This is the most diverse organization I’ve ever worked for. Every day, I’m encouraged by the dedication of this amazing team — a team with so many different backgrounds — now united in this cause of working to give adult smokers potentially less harmful alternatives to cigarettes,” says Trentadue.

A key milestone in RBH’s revolutionary transformation occurred in 2019 with the launch of its Unsmoke campaign, which champions the mission statement: “If you don’t smoke, don’t start. If you smoke, quit. And if you don’t quit, change.”

With Trentadue now at the helm, her aim is to continue advocating so that smokers can make informed decisions about the available alternatives to cigarettes.

“We need to work together with government on creating policies that differentiate between smoke-free products and cigarettes. We need to help others understand the possibilities of what’s out there before applying any stigmas or stereotypes and shutting down what they don’t know,” she says. “It’s critical for adult smokers to have access to this information because, if they don’t, they could continue making choices that could be worse for their health than what we have as alternatives.”

It’s clear that Trentadue is passionate about her leading role within the industry, and she’s happy to offer advice to others who may be seeking leadership roles within their own workplaces.

“The biggest opportunities come about when curating your own experiences. Focus on the things you’re passionate about or the role models that inspire you. Be purposeful and intentional about seeking opportunities yourself,” she says. “Be authentically you, and don’t apologize for it. It sounds cliché, but we should continue reminding people — especially young women — to just show up as they are and not be tempted to conform to what they believe the world wants them to be.”