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?


Jo Macdermott

When and where were did you work in marketing?

The Securities Institute of Australia, The Micromarketing Group, Brumby’s Bakery, ALDI (as an Area Manager – non marketing role), Crane Aluminium Systems, and UCI.

Highest marketing level reached?

National marketing manager.

What do you do now?

Director and owner of Next Marketing.

Did you choose your path or did it choose you?

I did a Bachelor of Arts/Commerce degree at Deakin Uni and marketing was the only commerce unit I enjoyed and was good at as well… accounting and statistics were just not my cup of tea. So perhaps it was meant to be!

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

Being many things to many people – most companies I worked in had very small marketing teams so I quickly learnt to be very versatile and be able to juggle many tasks at the same time. It wasn’t uncommon when I was at Crane Aluminium Systems to have up to 12 major artwork projects on the go at any time. When I left that role they replaced me with three people… I am not exaggerating!

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

Yes. My last two roles were national marketing manager roles. They really did set me up to take the next step which was starting my own business.

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


  • The variety and challenge,
  • Getting to travel interstate and overseas for work,
  • Learning about different industries, and
  • Meeting some switched-on people.


  • Suppliers who were lazy and tried to pull the wool over my eyes,
  • Internal politics – I was never good at it,
  • Limited training budgets: it’s a challenge to “keep up” and I found that employers weren’t keen to invest in training,
  • At times (not all the time) having to justify everything, and
  • Reporting to bosses who had no idea about marketing…

What career tips would you offer an aspirant or current marketing manager?

  • Find a good mentor,
  • Don’t work for bosses/companies who aren’t good people/employers,
  • Learn as much as you can as fast as you can in every aspect of your career, and
  • Stay in each role as long as possible.

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

I took the plunge out of marketing management and into the world of small business management. I created a marketing business and brand from scratch which has been challenging but also very rewarding. It has also helped me to manage the arrival of baby Grace. One of the challenges for the marketing industry is to offer opportunities for those (men and women) in senior marketing roles who are now trying to raise a family and sustain a career.

Since starting Next Marketing, I have also had the opportunity to mentor an up and coming marketing student. As a business owner I have more flexibility around my schedule and now have the luxury of being able to take on projects/roles that would have been difficult to manage in a full-time corporate role. It has been a very rewarding experience.

My big picture career plans are to grow the Next Marketing business.

Jo Macdermott writes a monthly column for Marketing magazine entitled ‘On a Shoestring’, focussing on how SMEs can market themselves.