I work for Scottish Enterprise, Scotland’s Economic Development Agency, which is trying to bring inward investment into Scotland to create employment.
My role is to attract companies to come and work in Scotland and to support Scottish companies export abroad. In particular, and most recently, in renewable energies.
Q.How did you get interested in what you do? What advice was available to you when you chose this career direction?
When I was about 16 at school I was given a job aptitude test and one of the career options that my abilities and personality seemed to suit well was sales and marketing.
Q.What was your journey to reach the role you are in today? (talk perhaps about education/choices/university, college, training or apprenticeships/ CPD or professional exams/job progression)
It all started whilst I was still at school. I had a very enjoyable summer job on a market stall selling fruit and veg! I learned the discipline of working hard, dealing with the public, persuading people, how to display goods attractively. Also I learned how to use pricing effectively to reduce waste e.g. to sell off short dated stock at reduced prices. Also, how to get along with colleagues and people from different backgrounds to my own. Latterly the business owner, who was a great mentor to me, gave me responsibility as a teenager to manage his staff one day every week.
I got good A level results so that allowed me to choose which University I went to. Thirty years ago there was only one University in England that offered a Business Studies/Marketing degree which was Lancaster. In Scotland it was only Strathclyde University.
I did quite a few graduate “milk round” interviews with big companies and I was offered a number of jobs as a graduate trainee. The most attractive offer was with Scottish and Newcastle to market beer in Edinburgh now called Heineken.
Following a year as a graduate trainee in marketing, I was then asked to work in sales in the South West of England for about 18 months before moving back to Edinburgh where for the next 8 years I worked my way up to being Marketing Manager for the Scottish Pub side of the business who sold beer to all of Scotland’s pubs, sounds like an ideal job – even got free beer!
I was then offered an opportunity to set up a new Design Agency in Edinburgh and be the Account Director in charge of new business which was really interesting and useful in giving me insights into other businesses which I had not worked in before.
I also took the opportunity to do a post graduate course in marketing to refresh and update my knowledge which I did in my own time in the evenings and weekends.
This was around the time that I had rejoined the beer company and did marketing for a range of beers and lagers.
I did further work in marketing for Higher Education and Health Scotland before being offered a role working for my current employer Scottish Enterprise 5 years ago. This was doing marketing to help regenerate the business community on the Clyde in Glasgow e.g. this project brought the BBC and STV to the Clyde but most recently I added the marketing of Scotland’s energy industry including Scotland’s renewable energy.
Q.Talk me through a day in your life... what sorts of things would it involve?
Actually there isn’t a typical day it is very varied and challenging in that respect.
However, the main elements range from planning marketing promotional activity ( need to be good at maths and analysing information), communicating either in meetings, via presentations or via publicity material including the web, twitter and as a result I have learned more about social media. I am often involved in meeting partner organisations and suppliers across Scotland. There is a big need to monitor results and expenditure. Importantly you then must deliver your promotional/advertising campaign activity and plans which might include exhibitions and publicity events. I am also involved in media campaigns or being interviewed by the media. My type of job can involve travel and in my days with Scottish and Newcastle I visited many different places from Brazil to Monte Carlo!
Q.Was it your planned career when you were 18?
Yes I think it was.
Q.What did your mum and dad want you to do?
They encouraged me as my Dad was in recruitment at the time and my mum was a teacher and they thought it would suit me.
Q. What advice would you give to someone interested in your career?
It is a great career because marketing should be at the heart of any customer orientated organisation and it is a nice mix of organisational, creative and people skills whether with internal or external customers.
You don’t have to have studied marketing at University but it helps but you need to be a hard worker willing to work independently or in a team setting.
If you do get the chance to work for a company that is really good at marketing then grab it with both hands as you will learn so much that you can apply it almost anywhere e.g. today that might be Diageo, Heineken ( used to be Scottish and Newcastle), Tesco or O2.Q.What other directions could you go in /work in within your field other than the job you have chosen?
You can certainly acquire the skills in marketing to move on to be in Project Management (e.g. each marketing campaign or new product launch is like managing a project). It is possible to move from management of tasks to do more management of people rather than products or services eg at Health Scotland I managed 20 people so these are transferable skills to any sector, which my career in the last 10 years has proven.
Q.If there is anything you have not covered about your area of expertise, please feel free to add here.
Marketing involves lots of things e.g. in addition you also learn about procurement, managing agencies, I learned a bit of law in my degree which you need as there are increasing rules and regulations in marketing. As the Scottish Government are our boss I need to learn how the Scottish political system works and what the main economic objectives of the Scottish Government and certain local authorities are.