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?


Who?

Justine Waddington, business owner of A Rendezvous for Singles.

When and where did you work in marketing?

Before starting my own company at the end of 2006, A Rendezvous for Singles, I was working as the consumer marketing manager for Octopus Travel Australia since 2005 – a global online travel company offering discounted hotels worldwide, apartments, sightseeing tours, travel guides and other travel related services.

Prior to Octopus Travel Australia I had various roles including product management and other marketing manager roles. My position as marketing manager for Chatswood Chase Shopping Centre (for almost four years) has been one of my most important roles in developing my brand management skills.

Highest marketing level reached?

Marketing manager

What do you do now?

Since the end of 2006 I have run my own business, A Rendezvous for Singles. It’s a unique online business catering to single Australians, offering holiday groups for single travellers to destinations in Australia and across the globe. We also organise group dinner events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.

Did you choose your path or did it choose you?

I think in my early years out of University, it probably chose me. It was not until my late twenties that I started realising my strengths and where I found most enjoyment from in marketing. I recognised that consumer brand management was where my strengths could shine.

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

Versatility. I believe you need to be an all-rounded individual to be strong in a marketing role.

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

I think the skills learned, experience gained and opportunities that present themselves from working for large organisations are invaluable. If you ever think you may run your own business then your ‘learnings’ from the corporate world provide important foundations not only for your marketing skills but also general business skills. So yes, I would do it again. It suited me but I know it may not suit everyone.

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

I think the worst part of a BM role is explaining to people what you do when they are not in marketing or getting comments like, “So you are in sales?” In the past there’s been the sentiment that marketing is not a real job but I think that’s changed in more recent times.

I think the best part is the job variety. I loved it that one day I could be working on a very creative and exciting new advertising campaign but then the next day it could be all about the financial side and budgeting or the next day working with the sales team. A BM’s role is dynamic and touches on so many diverse skills. The best thing about the role is that, if you love variety and a dynamic environment and have talents that spill into the creative field, are a good communicator and also possess a strong acumen for numbers, then you are going to enjoy your job.

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

I tend to think of this from the viewpoint that you will not always be a BM so I would have to say that it would be to develop skills that are outside of your current job requirements. For example; if you work in a large organisation and work on a lot of online projects you probably have teams or outsourced providers for the work. Rather than just understand the basics, step up your knowledge; take a web development course or learn some design software. It’s just an example to demonstrate that skills outside of your current job requirements could expose you to new industries or opportunities that you may otherwise have not considered.

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

There is no question around satisfaction as I am completely satisfied with where I have landed; I love running my own business.

However, if I have to compare the roles from a monetary perspective then it’s a whole new ballgame. When you start your own business there’s no guaranteed income and there are ups and downs with cash flow – something you don’t have to worry about when you’re an employee. With your own business it’s all about you so you need to have incredibly high drive and passion for your business!