Life after brand management: Myriam Thibault
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?
When and where did you work in marketing?
Ive worked in Marketing and PR for over 10 years in Australia and overseas, both in agencies and client-side. Ive worked across the marketing spectrum for major local and international brands and events such as McDonalds, MasterCard, eBay, Moët-Hennessy, Emirates Airline and Emirates Hotels & Resorts, Dymocks, Bigpond, Prada, Four Seasons Hotels, Samsonite, LastMinute.com.au, TropFest, the Sydney Fashion Week, etc.
Highest marketing level reached?
What do you do now?
Late last year (Dec 2009), I decided to go my own way and follow my passion for food and travel. I started a boutique travel consultancy called Mytinerary.
I deliver the ultimate gourmet experience by creating highly personalised itineraries, private tastings and deluxe walking tours for individuals and companies. My hero product is a deluxe tour exploring Sydneys best chocolate artisans.
My philosophy is to share the contemporary Sydney that I love – its flamboyant dining scene, passionate chefs and sommeliers, vibrant cafés and small bars, rich cultural heritage, talented creative community, and dramatic landscapes.
I guess what makes us Mytinerary different is my incredible passion for Sydney as a world-class gourmet destination and focus on a more local, contemporary experience – taking my customers beyond the city icons.
The business is still young at this stage but its definitely growing. Earlier this year I was part of the Sydney Design Festival and this month, Im part of the Sydney International Food Festival – which is really exciting.
Did you choose your path or did it choose you?
I very much chose it! About 2 years ago, I wasn’t necessarily happy with the career development options in front of me. So I decided to start working 4 days a week, so I could have an extra day in the week to fuel my creative thinking and explore other career options. That’s when I developed my project for Mytinerary.
I didn’t want to leave my day-job without a proper plan in place, which took me about a year. And then once the market research, branding, business plan, etc were ready – I took the big plunge and resigned from my marketing job!
What’s the most important skill that you’ve taken from your marketing days?
Always focus on your consumers first. Do your research, understand who they are, where they’re from, how they make informed decisions, how your product / service is useful to them, which issue you’re helping solve, etc
If you have the best product / service in the world but no one knows about it, where’s the point?
If you had your time again, would you climb the corporate marketing ladder?
Only if the role enabled me to keep on learning new skills, to keep on growing as a marketing professional. I don’t really believe in climbing the ladder for climbing the ladder’s sake. Managers and jobs come and go; skills will stay with you wherever you go.
What were the best and worst parts of your role as BM?
• Being able to work on really fabulous brands
• Learning about different industries
• Being encouraged to think creatively
• Seeing the result of our work / campaigns
• Lots and lots of meetings
• Seeing prospects steal your ideas
• Having to sometimes work with people who didn’t believe in marketing
• Impatience – eg start-ups or small brands who think that you can turn into an Apple or Amazon success story overnight.
What career tips would you offer an aspirant or current BM?
• Learn as much as you can while you have access to all these amazing internal resources (subscription to trade publications, industry reports, research, seminars, etc)
• Focus on growing these skills that will stay with you no matter which role or which industry you go to next: presentation skills, writing skills, negotiation skills, how to delegate well, etc
• Be proactive. If you want to get to the next level, take on more responsibilities, make suggestions – even if it means more work or longer hours in the short term. Or if there’s something you’re unhappy with in your job but you’re not coming to your manager to discuss it, chances are (s)he is too busy to notice or take action. So think about your ideal solution to the problem, and go and see them with your proposal. Chances are they’ll say yes.
Now that youve left the world of brand management, are you satisfied with your current role? If not, what are your future career aspirations?
The journey from marketer to entrepreneur hasnt been without its challenges but Ive been loving every minute of it!
Its been such an amazing learning experience – and really welcome at a time when I wasnt really happy with the career opportunities my marketing role was offering me.
I’ve learned more in 6 months than I would have in 2 years continuing to work as a marketer. I’ve learned heaps about finance (eg the importance of margin vs revenue), negotiation and selling techniques (for instance, I’ve given a lot of thought to the differences between copywriting for PR purposes, and copywriting for commercial purposes – they’re really different).
One of the things I love the most in my new role is the fact that whenever I decide to try something new (such as launching a new tour or new event), I can be really reactive and quick on my feet, which isnt always the case when youre working for someone else.
My future career aspirations are to keep on growing the Mytinerary business and have more time to play on my strengths (eg work on my marketing plan), now that I have all the admin / finance / compliance side of the business covered.