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Life after brand management: Karen Hawkins


Life after brand management: Karen Hawkins


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?


Karen Hawkins, Mum of Will (16 months) and mum to be of ?? due in June. Living in country Victoria and working part-time in marketing for Brown Brothers Wines.

When and where were did you work in marketing?

I’m a self confessed, promiscuous FMCG marketer. Career started in a Pharmaceutical company – Rhone Polenc Rorer (now Aventis) as a marketing grad, then made the move over to FMCG as an ABM at Nestle Confectionery. Career then progressed through the ranks at Nestle, Rank Hovis McDougal (two year UK stint), Nestle again, Colgate Palmolive, Masterfoods (contracting), Unilever and now Brown Brothers Wines in Milawa, country Victoria.

Highest marketing level reached?

Marketing manager

What do you do now?

I work for my toughest boss ever: he’s 82cm tall, solid build, expects food and fun on demand and has a wicked sense of humour. In my 2 days off a week I visit a beautiful town called Milawa in country Victoria and help them with their brand planning, surrounded by gorgeous vineyards. Pretty tough gig.

Did you choose your path or did it choose you?

I definitely chose it. I believe that you make your own breaks. Your future is in your own control, no one else’s. To get there just work hard and have fun doing it. Make sure that every career step can benefit from the experience you have gained in your last (or previous) jobs – even if it’s a lateral move.
What’s the most important skill that you’ve taken from your marketing days?

Learning to deal and work with all types of people. Bringing the best out in people makes your life so much easier, and much more enjoyable.

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

Yes. No question. Invaluable skills to take into any future business or personal endeavour.

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

Best – agency parties, lunches and entertainment freebies.

Worst – being the centre point of so many different business functions and external agencies, you get the responsibility but also all the flak.

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

Be likeable and never burn your bridges: the industry is too small.

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, very satisfied as a mum, also happy keeping my little toe in the waters of brand management here in the country side. Perfect life for me really.


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