Life after brand management: Craig Reardon
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?
Craig Reardon, director of The E Team
When and where were did you work in marketing?
I’ve actually worked as part of the marketing machine for the bulk of my 25 year career – first making corporate videos before running my own video and graphics firm before deciding to have a crack at the corporate world. After completing a number of postgraduate marketing units at Monash in Melbourne I joined Yellow Pages to work on their initial forays into the online world before joining Telstra as Product Manager of Music Services, which eventually evolved into Big Pond Music.
Highest marketing level reached?
What do you do now?
Run Australia’s first independent web services firm servicing the online needs of smaller business, The E Team. Following a four year trial of our unique business model, we are now franchising the business and actively seeking marketers looking for their own business opportunity in or near their own homes.
Did you choose your path or did it choose you?
A bit of both. I left Telstra at the height of the Dot Com boom to try my luck with two online entertainment concepts. Despite some interest from significant financiers, I missed the boat by just a few days before it all crashed.
The fallout was that the bottom fell out of the web industry and jobs were being shed like Autumn leaves. I eventually found some work with a web design firm and then a small marcomms firm before developing the concept for The E Team.
What’s the most important skill that you’ve taken from your marketing days?
I think backing up my previous creative and promotional skills with the more scientific and strategic approaches taught at Monash. It was fascinating to learn about the nuts and bolts of consumer behaviour and market research which I’d really only had minimal exposure to previously. It made it easier to present to a room full of managers when you had the theory behind you.
If you had your time again, would you climb the corporate marketing ladder?
The notion of a secure job and regular pay cheque are very appealing indeed. But as many who have run their own show will tell you, once you’ve run your own business its very difficult indeed to go back to being an employee – particularly within a highly regulated monolith like Telstra where any communication piece needed seven separate approval signatures!
What were the best and worst parts of your role as BM?
Best – learning about the client side of marketing and product management and getting the opportunity to work with some exciting communications developments.
Worst – the bureaucracy and working for bosses who were really out of their depth in the new media.
What career tips would you offer an aspirant or current BM?
Be passionate while being a team player. Try to attract a mentor who’s done it all before.
Now that youve left the world of brand management, are you satisfied with your current role? If not, what are your future career aspirations?
Because I have something of an unfulfilled entrepreneurial streak, the fact that after much trial and error we are now ready to franchise is something of a dream come true. Now to the tricky part – attracting good franchisees!
Whilst I love servicing clients I think I will relish the move to coaching and supporting franchisees and helping them succeed.
Beyond that I hope to get The E Team to be self sufficient enough to look at other business opportunities combining my passions for the web and entertainment.