During my final year at university studying politics, and having decided that a career in politics was not for me, I was really struggling to find a commercial career path that would genuinely excite me.
After reading dozens of company prospectuses I came across the profile of the Brand Manager for Soltan at Boots. I was immediately struck by the sense of owning a brand portfolio, of placing your arms around a brand and managing every aspect of it, driving a business through your vision, passion, and creativity.After a role in field sales where I learned skills of persuasion, collaboration and the crucial importance of humility, I moved to join the graduate trainee scheme at Philip Morris Rothmans Partnership becoming an Assistant Brand Manager.
From there, I've had the most rewarding, stimulating, and at times challenging career that I could have imagined. After learning my initial marketing skills on brands such as Marlboro, I progressed to Bulmers plc in the drinks industry building brands such as San Miguel and Strongbow. I was extremely fortunate that from the very beginning of my career I was given great levels of autonomy and responsibility, matched with significant marketing budgets and was fully involved with brand strategy, comms and NPD development, activation, and commercial delivery, very much operating in a combined brand owner, distributor business. Something I would recommend considering in developing a marketing career.
I moved to London, and joined Unilever working in the frozen foods division and Cadbury managing their sharing and gifting brands, both hugely impressive businesses with marketing training which is second to none. However, I'd always been attracted to work globally across a wide variety of cultures, and so I joined Pernod Ricard as a Global Marketing Manager for some of the world's leading spirits brands such as Chivas, The Glenlivet, and Royal Salute. Working across all continents, researching campaigns one minute in Shanghai andthe next in Sao Paulo, and seeing the results of my team's work in every market around the world was a thrilling journey.
I moved within Pernod Ricard to become Marketing Director for Vietnam, moving to Ho Chi Minh City with my young family, and on to Dubai as Marketing Director for Pernod Ricard Gulf Region. I found the challenges and rewards of embedding yourself in an entirely different culture and tackling a wide variety of commercial opportunities opened my own horizons and thinking in so many different ways. The food and nightlife were also terrific!
I returned to the UK in 2016 joining Pladis (formerly United Biscuits) first as Marketing Director and then as a Business Unit Director for Savoury and Healthier brands and have had the opportunity to develop my role beyond Marketing functional management into General Management. I have been able to recognise more than ever that Marketing is not only about knowing how to build brands, but most importantly knowing how to engage with others and to build winning teams as we rely on each and every function to pull together to make things happen and to enjoy the journey as we do so.
It's said that if you choose a job you love, you will never have to work a day in your life. I can genuinely say that my career has given me 20+ amazing years and an unimaginable variety of both experiences and brilliant people I've had the pleasure to work with. Those initial impressions I had of Marketing have remained true and are still at the heart as to why I still enjoy my career. I wish I could thank that SoltanBrand Manager for his inspiration!