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?


Corinne Noyes 

When and where did you work in marketing?

Started with Gillette Australia in 1989 in my first full time job as Marketing Assistant. Stayed until 1995, leaving as Senior Brand Manager to explore creative alternatives and travel. Returned to Australia two years later and took a marketing role managing Leggo’s for Simplot Australia. Left as Marketing Manager in 2000 to move into a part-time role at Simplot in Corporate Development – again to explore alternatives.

Highest marketing level reached?

Marketing manager

What do you do now?

Managing Director of Madame Flavour Pty Ltd, a business I started in 2008. We sell tea to around 1500 Australian supermarkets, and foodservice outlets nationally.

Did you choose your path or did it choose you? 

It chose me. I had been searching for something for a long time. I loved the thrill of building brand – the psychology, the problem solving, development of strategy, working with switched on people – which in both roles I was lucky to have in spades. I also loved the product development – as a foodie with French background it was great and natural to develop recipes for new ranges. But I was bored by the maintenance and often frustrated with the (by my standards) conservative and slow moving nature of the industry.

What’s the most important skill that you’ve taken from your marketing days?

Understanding that to succeed I need to offer something unique and desirable to my customers and living that.

If you had your time again, would you climb the corporate marketing ladder?

No, can’t imagine ever working in a 9-5 role (make that 8-6) for someone else again. I just love the freedom that comes with being my own boss – and controlling the way we run the business – from brand, product, staff, financials, hours, look and feel of office… 

What were the best and worst parts of your role as BM?

Best parts were having substantial financial and people resources to make spectacular things happen – whether it be the Gillette Sensor launch, which revolutionised category management and how big a launch package could be; or Leggo’s – where I got to create a new range called Stir Through, visit our Antipasto packers in Florence, develop the Talking Italian TV campaign… and be involved with many wonderful conferences and intense working experiences with others who were also passionate about success.
The worst parts…voluminous paperwork, blockers, products I didn’t believe in.

What career tips would you offer an aspirant or current BM?
Get genuinely interested in your consumer – attend the groups, don’t just read the reports.
Spend time thinking deeply about your brand and your market and your competitors. Get excited about the analysis. It is the basis for all that you do. If it is lightweight, so will your plans be.
Get good at financials and statistics – makes all the difference in a business case / presentation to senior management – and for you to have a real basis for your proposals and projects.
Stay passionate. Be determined to find a way, a gap, an opportunity even when it seems like it can’t be done.

Now that youve left the world of brand management, are you satisfied with your current role? If not, what are your future career aspirations?

Love it. Have created a beautiful brand and product range that are completely aligned with who I am, and deeply satisfying as a result.