Technique 3 minutes, 53 second read Mark Johnson, Editor, Just.Marketing
The start of a new year is traditionally a time when people mull over their careers and make plans.
So we asked some of the most experienced marketers in the industry to share the best careers advice they have received.
Fleur Stoppani, MD, Mindshare UK
“The only person in charge of your career is you.
“This is something I was told early on and it stuck with me. It was Martyn Rees who told me, in my first year at Mindshare; so 16 years ago. He meant: don’t wait for things to be given to you, make the most of the opportunities and experiences you have along the way.
“It is something I share with those I mentor and sponsor. For me it has always given me a greater focus on my own responsibility, not relying or waiting on others but taking action myself. It has shaped how I work with peers and stakeholders, as you never know where or when your paths will cross again.”
Robert Pepper, MD, PS London
“Probably the best piece of marketing careers advice I have received was from Clent Richardson. Clent was hired by T-Mobile to be CMO of what was one2one in around 2002. I was Head of Customer Marketing and the business was going through a huge amount of change as it re-branded from one2one to T-Mobile UK. Clent had previously worked in a very senior role at Apple and had worked closely with Steve Jobs. He didn’t really go on about his time at Apple, although it was clear that it was incredibly formative for him but I always remember one thing. He said that one of Steve Jobs’ favourite phrases was “Focus is about saying No”.
“I love this phrase. It works as a piece of careers advice when thinking about what you want to do – or not do. It works just as well as a reminder to us in the agency that I now run when it comes to deciding whether we should take on a particular project or bid for something new. And in many ways it’s just one of those brilliant pieces of business advice that rarely takes you down the wrong path if you follow it, no matter how hard it may sometimes be to do so.
“Sadly Clent passed away a few years ago, but his advice very much lives on.”
Kat Jackson, Head of Client Services, The Media Foundry
“The best piece of marketing careers advice I have had actually stems from some of the worst I was given, and that is: don’t limit yourself, be open to new opportunities.
“I was once told by a recruiter that my experience at the time would only make me suitable for a similar sector role to my then-current job. Instead, what I have learnt is to not put yourself into boxes. Flexibility is important to me, I’m also highly curious and I like finding out new information from interesting people. If I had listened to that recruiter, I wouldn’t have looked at the skills I learned in my role and what made me happy in my job, rather than just looking at my sector knowledge. I wouldn’t have worked hard to create new sector contacts to be able to learn about a range of industries and meet more interesting people.
“Instead I’ve been able to work successfully into a number of industries and I can translate learnings and skills from one to another, all while doing work which makes me happy and fulfilled. The right opportunities will see how skills can be applied, and appreciate your enthusiasm and passion rather than only seeing you in one light.”
Chris Fiorillo, CMO, Infosys Consulting
“When I was younger and still very much trying to discover my talents and strengths, a former boss (Ed Blust, former CMO of Adecco) gave me the simplest yet best advice that’s stayed with me through to this day: ‘Don’t be afraid to make mistakes and fail.’
“This helped instill in me more confidence in myself, to not always worry about ‘what would happen if...’ and to go forward taking some chances and risks. Most importantly, it helped me have more belief in my ideas, at a time when I still needed this type of positive reinforcement. For marketing to succeed, there will always be set backs. There will always be those difficult stakeholders that will question you.
“In the end, taking chances and some risks, and being bold and going forward with confidence in oneself, is absolutely the way forward, and it’s been one of my pillars that’s shaped my career.”