Life after brand management: Leigh White
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?
Leigh White, principal, White Marketing Consultants, Sydney.
When and where did you work in marketing?
I entered the marketing world around 1992 as marketing coordinator, Transworld Publishers (a Bertlesman Group company now Random House Australia), then account coordinator, Morton Branding (graphic design) and brand manager, Activision Asia Pacific (now Activision-Blizzard).
Highest marketing level reached?
Manager of marketing team including functions of PR, Trade Marketing and Consumer functions.
What do you do now?
Did you choose your path or did it choose you?
I’d always wanted the freedom and challenge of being self employed, but the road there chose me.
What’s the most important skill that you’ve taken from your marketing days?
My experience in both client and agency side taught me a lot more than marketing including being a good listener, to focus on key priorities and to work in a strategic approach.
Today, the projects I work on include delivering marketing management services, but there is a greater demand for PR services. So my skill set has broadened to include a wider range of media and sectors.
If you had your time again, would you climb the corporate marketing ladder?
Yes, I did take every opportunity to climb and I’d do it again.
What were the best and worst parts of your role as BM?
Best: enjoyed opportunities to work above my level, have lots of responsibilities, opportunities to meet loads of famous and other incredible people one doesn’t normally encounter.
Worst: when reporting takes you away from the creative process. Sometimes there was a lot of travel and that lost its gloss in a short time!
What career tips would you offer an aspirant or current BM?
Go for opportunities in SMEs and growing brands. Try both the client and agency side.
If you truly are passionate about a career in marketing, dedication to your role will help you to stand out. Otherwise, if you aren’t committed it could be harder for your superiors believe it’s worth investing time, energy and trust in training you up.
Most of all remember that it’s important to be nice to your subordinates as you never know who you’ll be working for one day.
Now that youve left the world of brand management, are you satisfied with your current role? If not, what are your future career aspirations?
Consulting enables flexibility and provides a creative outlet through the writing, I’m enjoying doing further studies around it and I have lots of enjoyable and satisfying career opportunities through my clients’ projects.