How did you get into this, then? A question I get asked all the time.
Growing up in the 00s my cousin was an actress and she got me involved in amateur dramatics (I still cringe when I think about it!). When the rest of the cast were practising their lines and getting excited about the performance, I was only interested in the posters and flyers – how soon could I get my hands on a batch so I could post them through every door on our street. As the performance loomed closer, the prospect of getting a first glimpse at the programme meant way more to me than remembering my lines and delivering them on stage.
Am-dram wasn’t my bag but I loved the thrill of the behind-the-scenes magic that happened to fill the theatre with paying customers. When my Y9 work experience options came around, I had an amazing few weeks working in the marketing team at my local theatre – I’ve still got the thank you note from the team.
I’d come to realise that I enjoyed being creative and initially thought about becoming an artist (even enrolled on an arts degree) but something didn’t feel quite right with that route.
At 16 I faced a difficult and life-changing decision – hairdressing or marketing. Decisions decisions. I consulted my Nan, who had dementia at the time, she had no clue what the hell I was talking about but I ended-up choosing marketing and I secured an assistant role in the very same department that I did my work experience. The right decision…although I do still think I could be a brilliant hairdresser.
I worked there for a couple of years. Loved it. I learned loads. Not just about marketing but life skills. I was the youngest in the team, very naive but I developed a solid work ethic. It’s there that I started my professional marketing studies at night school (online learning had not been invented yet).
I spent the following 13 years as a career-driven woman on a mission to climb the marketing career ladder. Assistant to officer, to co-ordinator, to manager. Marketing certificate to diploma, to post-grad. No team to big team, underperforming team to awesome teams. No budget to nice big budget. Little campaigns to epic ‘all singing all dancing’ campaigns (quite literally sometimes, I created a flash mob for one promotional campaign….cutting edge at the time).
Ta-dar, I’d made it. I’d packed my brain with as much knowledge and experience as I could. I’d carved a career that included the public sector, the private sector, further education and the third sector. I became a qualified Chartered Marketer, a CIM member and I loved it.
Now I thrive from the buzz I get when something I have created behind the scenes is in the limelight. Press coverage, a successful event, an award win, a rebrand, a new website, new systems, new methods.
Until 2015, I’d landed a role with a national charity. I was the wildcard option. Yes, I’d nailed the person spec with my knowledge and experience but my way of working was entirely different from what they had experienced before. I am not about doing the same old thing for old times sake. I not about making a change just for the sake of it either. I’m about getting right to the centre of the challenge, carving the best possible solution and getting it done. That is where I started to get my ‘kicks’.
Now a couple of things happened to me to become confident in my approach. I became a mother – I realised that I have a finite amount of energy, mental and physical, to dedicate to a task at any one time. I really don’t have the time or energy for office politics, sticking my oar into other people’s business or caring about stuff that has no relevance to me or whatever I’m working on.
I also turned a bit smushy. It transpired that I actually care, a lot, about people. More than I had ever realised. I really care about how the right marketing can reach out to people and show them new things – things that will help their wellbeing, things that will help them socially, things that will shape their lives and provide them with experiences, skills and knowledge that will stay with them forever. Do you see what I mean about turning smushy now??
And that’s where I’m at now. I share my skills, experience and marketing know-how to help people. That person may be the CEO of a small charity who needs to reach more beneficiaries and funders. That person may be a business owner who needs a firm grip on their marketing. That person could be a marketing professional that needs coaching and mentoring to help them succeed in their role.
I listen, I evaluate and I carefully craft a plan for each of my clients. That plan is unique and embraces their objectives, opportunities and challenges. It’ll almost always include some strategy development, operational planning and implementation tools. It sometimes includes workshops with teams, skills development training and conversations with your stakeholders. It will lead to changes in your business and the client’s I work with are ready to fully embrace this.
I hang around (not literally), I offer solutions where we touch base to evaluate, plan and tidy-up any niggling issues.
I can be hands-on, getting the nitty-gritty bits done in the background while you concentrate on your own job.
I can be hands-off, dropping in (a bit like Nanny McPhee) when you need me the most, to motivate you, get you back on track, be a critical friend and set you off in the right direction.
Phew…that was a long one!