From mogul to Google… how a stats graduate went from ski guide to industry leader at one of the world’s biggest technology companies.
What does your role involve?
I work with large technology brands to help them get the most out of digital.
What made you choose marketing as a career?
I didn’t! At university, my interests lay in stats and analysis and I thought marketing was just about making ads. I had no idea that marketing is about using data effectively, blending insight with the right creative thinking to make the most of evolving trends.
So what was your first job?
An internship as an actuary for a big financial firm. It wasn’t for me. So I quit and moved to a French ski resort! Over the next four years my roles included: lifeguard, club rep, kids’ entertainer, and ski rep.
A bit of a leap to get into marketing then?
Not as big as you might think. During my final season, I started temping in a tour operator admin office. That helped me get a permanent position in Product & Marketing at the UK Head Office, and it was here that I got so interested in online as a channel. I ended up making a sideways move into an online marketing role for the whole business. It was one of the most difficult, but ultimately one of the best moves of my career.
How did you compete with people with more marketing experience?
My protracted career break in the Alps meant I was always playing catch-up. So in 2006 I took the IDM Postgraduate Diploma in Direct Marketing
. It increased my knowledge at a pace that on-the-job learning couldn’t match and gave me the breadth of knowledge I needed to earn a promotion to Online Marketing Manager relatively quickly afterwards.
What do you love most about your job now?
My role allows me to see a much broader picture of digital across multiple organisations and verticals. I can still see so much opportunity for digital across industries and with rapid technology innovation. The landscape changes daily.
And what is your biggest challenge?
Because I work primarily in an advisory capacity, I don’t get the opportunity to work from inception to completion, which I miss from client side.
What do you think will be the biggest challenges for marketers in the next three years?
The proliferation of internet connected devices will lead to increasingly fragmented user interactions. With organisations as slow as they have been to adopt mobile as a platform, I hope that they’re able to keep up when people are doing their weekly shop direct from their fridge!
What has been the biggest influence on your career so far?
A piece of advice: “Remember, at a certain level it’s all just spreadsheets”. It’s so true, if you’re working with data and numbers, it’s still data and numbers whether you work for Disney or for a rivet manufacturer. So work somewhere where you love what you do, not necessarily the product or service you sell.
How do you stay current, or ahead in the face of change?
I don’t worry about being up to speed with every emerging trend as I used to, but digital is now mainstream so it’s impossible to keep up. At Google we say ‘focus on the user and all else will follow’. It’s an ethos I’m very comfortable with.
Which current or future trends are important for marketers?
The main trends have actually remained unchanged for a couple of years now, but there are still only a handful of organisations that are really capitalising. In my view, every marketer should have a plan for the following three things: Using data effectively, Multi-device behaviour and how to build a brand in a digital world.
What career advice would you give to someone relatively new to marketing?
1. Build and maintain a strong network. In this industry you tend to bump into people time and time again!
2. Try to stay focused on your goals and what you need to do to achieve them.
Looking back, are there any regrets or things you’d have done differently?
During university a few of us built a utilities comparison website that got a small amount of funding. We turned down the opportunity to further develop the business in favour of continuing our studies. Eight years later, uSwitch was sold for £210m. I think about that daily!
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