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?


Hayley Dean, owner of me marketing agency.

When and where did you work in marketing?

My initial start in marketing began when I was studying at university. I worked for a country radio station, developing campaign ideas for clients.

After university, I worked in an account management position for Singleton, Ogilvy and Mather. Then by a twist of fate, I ended up in the marketing communications department at Sony Australia.

Highest marketing level reached?

Business brand manager

What do you do now?

I now run my own business, me marketing agency specialising in social media management and marketing solutions for SMEs.

Did you choose your path or did it choose you?

I would have to say that despite my determination to select my own path, my path ended up choosing me.

I started out in advertising and ended up client-side working for one of the largest brands in the world. However in 2009 I was made redundant following a significant corporate restructure (thank you GFC) and struggled to find another BM role as I was repeatedly told that I either knew too much, was over qualified, too senior or too junior. Employers were in the position of being able to ask for a jack-of-all-trades and literally offering the pay of none!

Rather than simply give up on my passion for marketing altogether, I decided to set up me marketing agency and have enjoyed every last sleepless minute of it ever since!

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


I am always hearing myself talk about the importance of starting a conversation with the right people and to always consider the bigger picture….. “You can’t be all things to all people”, “If your competitors are doing it then that does mean you should be too”, “What do you want to achieve by doing this?”

When it comes to social media, he who types is the voice of the brand so I use my brand knowledge, my ability to strategically develop plans, my budgeting skills and my project management skills – all learnt as a BM – to effectively ensure my tonality always remains on brand and within a set of guidelines that I respect because I understand their importance.

If you had your time again, would you climb the corporate marketing ladder?
No, I really enjoy the sense of self-satisfaction I achieve from running my own business. These days, the harder I work, the luckier I become and I know that if I fail, its because I have missed something, not because my chain of command didn’t have my work on their KPIs.

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

The best parts were definitely the sense of achievement, the education and the relationships. You had to work hard and even the smallest wins felt amazing. I learnt so much and had the chance to work with so many wonderful people both internal and external to the company. I am very much a people person so I loved being able to work and achieve as a team.

The worst part was the constant feeling that you were always fighting a never ending uphill battle all the time, especially when it came to dealing with the finance team (you all know what I am talking about!).

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

To consider these points carefully:

  • Will you be OK with the expected long hours and short deadlines?
  • Can you equally and successfully manage multiple things at any one time?
  • Are you able to handle conflict?
  • Are you good at negotiating?
  • Are you willing to always remain open minded?

If you have answered yes, then brand management is for you.

If you are like me and have a passion for marketing and advertising, then doing what we do comes easily. Don’t let political battles and policies kill the passion burning inside. Find a way to embrace it and always remember that you don’t have to fit anyone’s mould by dressing the right way and talking in a language no one understands outside of this magazine, come on, we are in marketing! Find a better way to start your own conversation and connect.

Learn as much as possible. Don’t just take it for granted that the online team will be able to read your mind and develop a msite with little direction. Spend time with each team you work with and get to know their world, their terminology, and their timelines. As you move up the ladder you will be expected to have abroad knowledge of the departments you manage, so start early!

If you feel like you are no longer learning and growing, move. It’s that simple. Move somewhere you will.

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

Yes, I am extremely satisfied with my current role! I love what I do and my only regret is that I didn’t start sooner. My dream is to grow the business so I can turn ‘me’ into ‘we’. I love the idea that my business will always be based on passion, not politics and that my clients will learn and grow right along side with me.