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?


Darren Attard, director 1300Procorp, a promotional merchandising company 

When and where did you work in marketing?

Initially involved with Rowntree Hoadley as an assistant brand manager and in various sales roles. Nestle took over Rowntree in 1987/ 88, most of the people who knew what was happening got good payouts or bought shares and left. So I was poached to go up to Sydney (more like I was one of the last ones left with some experience and willingness to move). It was a bit scary as Rowntree was like a little family, but a great learning environment. However moving to Nestle proved not only to be a wonderful learning experience but also a great place to meet like-minded people with a drive to succeed and also to have a good time as well. Nestle, or rather the management team at the time, created an environment for us to develop our skills to ensure successful outcomes for the business and ourselves (although come to think of it I am not sure we hit budget too often!!)

Highest marketing level reached?

Group product manager Nestle Confectionery Indonesia. Wonderful local Indonesian people. It was an experience to work under a Swiss/German managing director who was married to a South African (what a combination) and a French man who made Benny Hill’s walk look slow. For a boy from West Melbourne it was …..Interesting!!

What do you do now?

I run my own promotional merchandise company in Melbourne,

Did you choose your path or did it choose you?

I chose to do an accounting degree and after six months I realised it was not for me. However I decided to choose all marketing electives which helped pave the way into marketing. I did work as an accountant for 6 months at Peat Marwick & Mitchell. I’ve never written in red or green pen since!

I came to be involved in the promotional merchandise industry as I received an offer that was too good to refuse. I could see the pyramid was getting skinny at the top and I was not necessarily the type of person that was going to succeed in the high end corporate area. (Not enough brains and too much BS).

So I eventually chose this path in my mid 30s and have never looked back

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

Planning, planning, planning. (Also never go to the pub with a six-foot-five Englishman on a Friday night in a shout of 10 schooners and expect to be able to drive home – I didn’t, but could have). If you plan you have time enough to ensure that you understand your brand and its competition and how it is positioned in the market place .

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

No, as far as I was able to climb up the corporate ladder was enough. Now I am in charge of my own destiny.

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

Being in a dynamic industry such as confectionery meant that there were always various kinds of activity happening – a relaunch, product extension, new TVC or trade activity, so you were never bored and there was something new to learn all the time.

Dealing with sales departments who were still stuck in the 1970’s had to be the worst part.

What career tips would you offer an aspirant or current BM?

Suck the knowledge base of your employer and then find something that you enjoy and do it yourself.

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 run my own business so I am responsible for whatever actions I under take. The aspiration now is to grow the business to a level that will sustain its long terms future. I am sure a few of those marketing tools I picked up will come in handy to ensure its success.