Wise words from the Marketing Academy mentors

Four mentors give their top tips for young marketers, and their own mentor memories

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Helen Kellie


Director of global brand and marketing, BBC Worldwide

Top tips: There are lots of different marketing careers – there isn’t one that’s right or wrong. Being happy to move across industries is a healthy thing for marketing. I left the UK for a role in the States that I didn’t know much about but that really paid off. Trusting your gut instinct is important – it has been pivotal to shaping my career. If you can’t take risks when you’re young, you never will.

Mentor memories: During my time at Reckitt Benckiser, the then global category director, John Honey, was a passionate marketer and he taught me important lessons. Later I worked with Andy Duncan, who was the first proper marketing director at the BBC, and he was all about focus – pick three things to focus on and follow them ruthlessly.

Kristof Fahy
Marketing director, William Hill

Top tips: You often know what it is you want to do but it often takes talking to a neutral person to bring it out. And enjoy your work. There’s only so much you can pretend if you are working on a brand or product you don’t agree with.

Mentor memories: I was lucky enough to work for Alex Batchelor at Orange. He is one of the brightest marketers ever and we still talk now.
When I was at Yahoo! it had a mentoring programme and I worked with Stewart Newstead. I met him every few months and he gave me advice and used stories from his past to provide a new perspective. I have also worked with enough people in my time to show me how I don’t want to be.

Michele Settle
Marketing director, Comic Relief

Top tips: Be passionate about what you do; be enthusiastic and have energy for your job and products. A glass-halffull mentality is important. And if you don’t have the creativity to deliver great ideas, you will never maximise the potential of what you are trying to market.

Mentor memories: I’ve never worked for anybody I didn’t learn anything from or enjoy working for – if there is no enjoyment, you shouldn’t be in that job. The chief executive of Comic Relief, Kevin Cahill, is a creative visionary. It totally energises me to work with someone who looks at the world how he does and has achieved what he has.

Philip Mehl
UK head of marketing, HSBC

Top tips: Be clear on the legacy you want to leave and why you want to be a marketer. Many marketers are good at managing brands but haven’tthought about their own brand. If people have a deeper understanding about their strengths and weaknesses they can develop
their careers better as they won’t pretend to be something they are not. Don’t feel the need to be an all-rounder because brands shouldn’t be all-rounders.

Mentor memories: When I was KFC head of marketing, the UK managing director was Graham Allan – an amazing leader and now global head of Yum. He was warm, easy going and during breaks in big meetings he would thank me for the preparation I had done. That simple appreciation has stayed with me.

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