Young marketers’ leadership strategies

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Marketing Week speaks to four Marketing Academy scholars about their personal game plans.

Be confident but humble

Paul Ridsdale, 32, head of marketing, ITV

My own leadership brand is still a work in progress. I don’t want to just copy somebody else’s. I want it to be about “humble confidence”. You need to be confident to be brave and try new things but there’s something about humility that means you don’t get complacent.

I’ve been in marketing for about 10 years. I started out with Sky and then went to BT to help launch BT Vision. I moved to ITV about three years ago.

I look after the marketing for half of ITV1’s content. This is a product that pretty much the whole country uses every day so there is a lot of responsibility. Managing my team and their careers is a big responsibility too.

I’m now firmly established in the world of TV marketing, and it feels now that I’m at a point where I need to think more seriously about my career and start having a plan for it.

At the bootcamp, I was impressed by the advice from Sarah Warby, a former marketing director at Heineken, who said that it’s your leadership abilities that will determine whether you get to the top, not your skills as a marketer. I’m certainly starting to think about what will get me to that next level. It’s not something you can learn from a textbook, rather it’s about developing a leadership style that is effective and you can deliver on.

Brands that impress me include Apple, which does not look at the competition but really cares about its own vision and achieving that. Red Bull is an amazing brand too and Honda has very clear values and thoughts. In terms of leaders, I admire Sir Richard Branson because he has a restless ability to keep reinventing himself.

My plan for the future is to broaden my knowledge outside of marketing so I can take on more senior roles. It would be great to be a consumer marketing director or group marketing director.

Develop your team

Helen Lawrence, 28, marketing manager for new platforms, Asos

Defining my personal brand of leadership is something I have struggled with. In every job I have been in they have said “we love your Helen-ness”, as I always keep up a level of energy. I’d like to be someone who thinks about things differently from others.

It’s difficult to move away from the day to day and be the kind of leader that is more people focused. I’d rather be known as a leader that is good at developing their team than one that just gets through lots of short-term things.

I began my career at creative agency Holler, where we worked on campaigns for Skins, Jarvis Cocker, Peep Show, Toni & Guy and DJ Shadow. Then I was at Dare for four years. As its only social media planner, I built that function into a department. I am massively proud of the team I put together there.

During my time at The Marketing Academy, ISBA director general Mike Hughes has given great advice when he talked about not only being responsible for ideas but being responsible for helping everybody else’s ideas come to life. Also James Scroggs, who founded digital agency HOOPLondon, has a kind of rock and roll “what’s stopping you” attitude with his message being that you can achieve anything you want if you come up with a plan of how to get there, and you shouldn’t be scared to do that.

It has also been interesting to hear Katie Vanneck-Smith of News International talk about finding a balance of being a strong leader and being honest with staff about what was going on during the phone hacking situation. She had to come to grips with what she needed to be in the middle of a crisis.

I only joined Asos in September. It’s a completely new role, which is a challenge. My role includes mobile and tablets, as well as the Marketplace and Fashion Finder features of the brand. I really want to develop this side of innovation and technology and get closer to the business side of things.

Lead by example

Bryn Snelson, 29, head of marketing, eHarmony

Your personal brand is different from your leadership brand. My personal brand involves bringing a rigorous problem solving approach to marketing, but how I lead would be a bit different. There are some leaders I look to in the world of sport, such as England rugby union manager Martin Johnson and England cricket captain Andrew Strauss. They lead by example. I think the best leaders also have a huge amount of openness with people.

I did an engineering degree and then joined a strategy consultancy called OC&C. We used to advise board-level clients on long-term corporate strategy.

I then ran a mobile start-up – a service that allowed people to order drinks and food in pubs via their mobile phone when it’s busy.

I came to eHarmony because I wanted to be somewhere between a raw start-up and the corporate world. I was one of the founding team of eHarmony UK. I’ve worked in product and customer care and I have stuck with marketing; it isn’t something I have been exposed to much before and I think it is really useful in launching new companies so this is something I would like to keep doing.

At The Marketing Academy, I’ve learned that ideas and talent can come from all kinds of people. The scholars are at a stage where we’ve proved our technical skills and personal abilities and now we are starting to think about how to get more out of the people we work with.

In terms of the mentors, Tim Duffy, UK chief executive of M&C Saatchi, reminds me about how being a great leader and successful senior manager is not about being the best at everything but knowing what you are good at, and surrounding yourself with complementary people.

Start-ups sometimes see marketing as the realm of London’s West End and lavish parties, so I would like to take what I learn about marketing to the start-up world.

Be ethical

Karla Paff, 28, brand manager, Shelter

You don’t have to be brilliant at everything, it’s about understanding what are the key things about you that can lead and inspire. For me, it is about bringing people together to achieve a shared goal and making sure core values are part of that process.

I studied public relations but decided against working for a PR agency because it seemed very ego fuelled and competitive. I read a book by The Body Shop founder Anita Roddick, which opened my eyes to the opportunities to use the skills I had gained to make a difference.

I then took on a marketing and communications role at the Surf Life Saving Australia charity, which is a strong brand with really strong products, such as the Iron Man and Iron Woman events, that are attractive to corporate sponsors.

I came to the UK to do the work and travel experience that many Australians do and to also get a more global view of marketing. When the role at Shelter came up, it was the perfect opportunity because not only is it widely known, but there are a lot of challenges. I work on brand development and a lot of product-led initiatives, such as our digital advice channel.

One bootcamp speaker I found really inspirational was Mark Palmer from Green & Black’s because he gave up a secure role at Burger King to follow his heart and work for an ethical product. The concept of ethical as a differentiator has brought the brand success rather than limiting it to being a niche product.

The Marketing Academy has taught me how important it is to know my future vision, but at the same time you can’t be too specific because there is always an element of following your intuition. I am now trying to unpick what I thought I knew and establish what it is I love about what I am doing and looking at where I want to take that. I do see myself in a social enterprise kind of role in the future.



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