she worked in the early days of big data at Signet Bank, he learned management,
people and how a company fits together, starting on the factory floor. On the
night shift at the Richmond, Virginia, headquarters of cigarette-maker Philip
Morris, he wore steel-toed shoes and earplugs.
were the first jobs of Rosemary “Ro” and Martin King after they graduated from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business in 1991.
the last 24 years, they have crisscrossed the globe and are settling this fall
in Asia again, this time in Hong Kong. Martin is now president of the Asia
Region of Philip Morris International, his ninth major career move for the
company. Along the way, Ro, with partners, has built and sold a Charlotte, NC
data-based marketing firm, Quaero; lectured widely on the topic of global
customer experience management; taken Indonesian heritage to new heights;
become a certified sommelier; and now serves as chair of the UVA Darden School
of Business Global Advisory Council.
couple’s journey together began in the mid-’80s at Harvard University, where
they met as “audiovisual
she as a history and Russian and Soviet Studies major and he in government.
after marrying, they were lured to Darden for its value and reputation and
Martin’s Virginia family roots. Assigned to different sections, she, a
Philadelphia native, was drawn to quantitative analysis, while Martin, a
Shermet scholar, was deeply influenced by Professor John Colley, who sparked
his interest in operations.
their first jobs in Richmond came Charlotte, then New York, then Lisbon,
Portugal, where Martin served as managing director for the country. Professor
Emeritus Les Grayson influenced their decision to go global.
than two years later, Philip Morris sent them from Europe to Beijing, where
Martin experienced the complexities of working in a government-controlled
market. Said Ro, “I plugged into the Darden alumni network in China. They are
amazing. They oriented me.”
soon came calling, when Martin was asked to lead a $5 billion acquisition there
— the company’s, and Indonesia's biggest ever.
cigarettes, called kreteks, are made of tobacco and cloves and sometimes
rolled by hand,” said Ro. “More than 2,000 women work in each of the 20-plus factories. It was a huge opportunity to
make a difference for these women and their families, and for farmers as the
company planted over a million clove trees.”
the next four years, Ro and Martin immersed themselves in Indonesian culture.
She became chair of the Indonesia Heritage Society and supported educational
initiatives in remote areas of Indonesia, writing books and articles about
vanishing ethnic groups. She had coffee with sultans, ate slugs and learned how
to make a poison arrow.
2009, they left the tropics for Swiss efficiency, when Martin was transferred
to head Operations in Lausanne, Switzerland, headquarters of Philip Morris
International, with sales in 180 markets and factories in more than 40
they bought and renovated a house, and Ro received a Diplôme de Sommellerie en vin and Diplôme de Juré Expert at L’École d’Ingénieurs.
their recent move to Hong Kong, a second stop in New York followed, when Martin
was made president of the Latin America and Canada business.
they have traveled many roads.
“Darden was the start of our grown-up life,”
said Ro. “When we left Charlottesville, there was no way in our wildest dreams
that we could have ever predicted our life. Yet, when you look back, the road
seems clear. It all makes sense, and it all connects to Darden.”