At the age of just 31, Guardian Head of CRM, Aimee McIntosh has gone far and delivers sage advice. Here’s why you should always pitch yourself high.
Tell us about your role
I’m Head of CRM at Guardian News and Media, which means I’m responsible for deepening audience relationships, retaining and growing our business with Guardian’s existing customer base. I manage a team of five and together we work on developing a range of commercial and editorial activity to win and nurture customers while growing revenue streams. We cover several business verticals, including subscriptions, financial products, professional networks, events, our membership product and more.
Describe your career so far
My first job was in the environment sector, straight after my marketing degree in 2006. My focus was on events and on email marketing to B2B customers, but I really wanted to move into B2C, so I eventually made the move to Ancestry.com. Here, my acquisition and retention knowledge quickly expanded and I learned a great deal about digital, about product development and about UX testing. It was at Ancestry.com that I studied for the IDM Postgraduate Diploma in Direct and Digital Marketing. It was recommended to me by my manager, already an IDM Diploma graduate.
It was a tough job juggling work and studies, but it was a fantastic experience for the commercial knowledge it gave me (the practicalities of making a business plan for example), the exposure to digital (which was really only just evolving at the time) and brought the theory to life with real case studies – something that was lacking from my university course. After 2 years I moved to energy company, First Utility and then on to the Guardian.
What do you love most about your role?
I love leading a team with very different personalities. I enjoy the day to day variety and enjoy using data to make strategic decisions. In CRM I get the opportunity to work across multiple projects, with a diverse range of customer segments, and across all the different verticals. No day is the same and I find that really motivating!
What are your biggest challenges?
Getting stakeholder buy-in to the benefits of what we’re doing. I’ve learned you have to get buy-in early! Also, getting my hands on the data to help decision making. I’m often reliant on other teams for this, which can make me less agile.
What do you think will be your biggest challenges in the next three years?
My challenges are threefold: firstly, getting greater recognition for what marketing and CRM can do for the business. Secondly, because of the huge amounts of data we collect from multiple sources, there’s a challenge in integrating these within our existing technology infrastructure. Thirdly, there’s mobile CRM – working towards improving the customer experience, tracking and analysis of mobile and in-app interactions.
How do you stay current in the face of change?
I’ve been lucky enough to work for companies that have had designated training budgets. Training can be invaluable to plug knowledge gaps. I also get to go to a range of events where I can learn, get ideas and network with peers.
What/who has been the biggest influencer on your career path so far?
I take inspiration from the people around me and there have been two female work colleagues I was lucky enough to meet, firstly in my first job and then at Ancestry.com. Both were ambitious people who worked hard, really supported me in my career and gave great advice along the way.
What motivates you/gets you out of bed in the morning?
Exercise – 1st thing. It clears your head and puts you in a better mood and in the right frame of mind to start your day.
What do you know now that you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
To work somewhere where you’re genuinely interested in what they do or the services they provide. Also, not to compare myself to others – especially those with a lot more experience. Believe in yourself that you will get to that point.
What one piece of career advice would you give to someone relatively new to marketing?
Be enthusiastic about the work you do, even if it’s entry level – experience can come in many forms. Volunteer for as many additional projects as possible so you gain varied experience. Finally, be confident in pitching yourself at a slightly advanced level. Never be scared of your inexperience. You can always learn on the job.
If you feel inspired by Aimiee’s piece and want to enhance your marketing capabilities, then check out our range of qualifications and specialist training courses, or contact one of our course advisors on +44 (0)20 8614 0277.