How did you get to where you are today?
I had a slightly unorthodox route into marketing and PR; I did a degree in Spanish and Latin American studies, which included a year working abroad. I chose to work for a grass-roots charity in Colombia.
I started out focussing on teaching literacy and numeracy, but as the attendance levels grew we needed to fundraise to purchase a building to hold the classes. I realised that the charity wasn’t well known in the local area, and that we needed to raise the profile of the organisation in order to raise funds. Historically, charity status had been abused in Colombia as a front for other activities, so there needed to be some trust built between potential influencers (such as local entrepreneurs) and the charity’s management team. We organised interviews with national media, as well as events where potential donors could come and see the charity in action. This, combined with the drive to launch a new website and social media feeds, was my first taste of integrated campaigns.
I continued my experience in the third sector with communications internships at the Newcastle United Foundation and Pancreatic Cancer UK. I was given a great opportunity by Sam Gibson, a third-sector communications specialist, where I worked closely with her on a range of charity clients’ PR. Being able to work directly with experienced professionals has always been the big differentiator in my career. First with Sam, and then at Catalysis, where the flattened hierarchy meant that even as a Junior Consultant I worked in a client facing role, and alongside the directors of the agency.
I was given a great opportunity about a year into my time at Catalysis, where I was seconded in-house at the client’s request, to cover the maternity leave of the communications managers for EMEA. I owe a lot to Sarah Lloyd, she was the client who had faith in me even in the very beginnings of my career, and requested my help at Polycom. Since then I have always focused on being a generalist; I’ve never got too bogged down in the detail of any one marketing communications channel, but always focused on higher level campaign planning and execution. This means I’ve been able to work on a whole range of really creative projects, rather than being limited ‘repeat business’.
Why did you get into the technology industry?
I have always been surrounded by technology, my Dad has been in the payments technology industry for a very long time, but I supposed I ended up in technology marcomms because it was difficult. I never wanted to work in a job where I didn’t have to learn something new every day. I prefer the B2B side of marcomms, because you have to be so much more specific, and in many ways more creative. The sales cycle of a B2B technology solution could be two years, and there might only be 250 targets in the UK who are in a position to buy that solution. Grabbing their attention and maintaining it over two years requires you to really apply the core principles of marketing to everything you do.