Life after brand management: Carolyn Loton
In this careers feature, Liz Foster asks the question, with the number of corporate marketing roles shrinking as you climb the ladder, where do all the brand managers go?
Carolyn Loton, director, Juntos Marketing
When and where were did you work in marketing?
I started out in marketing at the Pacific Brands Food Group (PBFG), which does not exist anymore as it was sold to Simplot. I worked at Simplot and PBFG for eight years, in both sales and marketing roles, and on a range of brands, mainly in the bakery division. When we moved from Melbourne to Sydney in 2001 I did some work for the Cancer Council NSW in their events and communications area, as well as a number of contract roles including at Goodman Fielder/Uncle Tobys.
Highest marketing level reached?
What do you do now?
I run a marketing consulting business called Juntos Marketing. Our focus is helping businesses and organisations to develop strong and strategic marketing plans. As well as pure planning and strategy, we run a range of marketing training programs, help marketers improve their efficiencies through tailored systems and processes (such as processes for innovation) and undertake marketing coaching and consumer research.
Did you choose your path or did it choose you?
Somewhere in the middle! I started out very much focused on wanting to climb the corporate ladder – but I have also always been open to taking a risk and trying different things.
When I started out I never would have imagined that I would be where I am today. In retrospect I don’t think I understood the wonderful world of opportunity beyond the more traditional marketing roles.
What’s the most important skill that you’ve taken from your marketing days?
Project management – being able to work with a range of different people and organisations, managing lots of competing tasks and priorities and working to tight deadlines.
If you had your time again, would you climb the corporate marketing ladder?
Times have changed a lot since I started in marketing, and I think there are a lot of exciting opportunities outside big corporates now. Having said that, FMCG companies are really fantastic places to learn all about marketing and business more generally.
What were the best and worst parts of your role as BM?
The best part of working as a BM was definitely the camaraderie that came with working in a large marketing department. We all worked hard but had some great laughs. I worked with so many wonderful and talented people and I have really happy memories of working as a BM – particularly in my days at Simplot.
I can’t say I miss the meetings, nor the politics that occasionally got in the way of getting the job done.
What career tips would you offer an aspirant or current BM?
Try to learn as much as you can and really make the most of each stage and experience along your career path. Enjoy each part of the journey.
If you aren’t enjoying where you are and you have given it a really good go; be brave and make a change – life’s too short to stay in a job that makes you unhappy.
Now that youve left the world of brand management, are you satisfied with your current role? If not, what are your future career aspirations?
I am very happy with where I am professionally. I really enjoy the challenges and the flexibility of working for myself, and I find the variety of work very stimulating. There are still many things I would like to do in the future – the hardest part is finding the time to pursue all the ideas.