25 years on from graduation : career reflections from an old alumni

I was flattered to have my old University (Manchester) reach out to me to share my career experiences since graduation for their latest intakes.

On reflection a degree in computer science, a stint in sales and a curiosity about new channels to market continue to serve me well as a B2B marketer in the digital age. And I'm eternally grateful for the time I spent in Manchester, as being scientist at heart is now more than ever the foundation for a career in marketing.

Here's what i said:

What is your current job title, organisation and your main responsibilities?  

I'm currently European Marketing Director for Adobe, the creative & marketing software technology company. I lead the marketing team responsible for raising awareness and driving demand for Adobe's Digital Marketing business in Europe. Our products help marketers in brands such as ASOS, Aviva, BT, Marks & Spencer, Nestle Sky & Sony build compelling & engaging digital experiences for their customers. 

I studied Computer Science at the University and since graduation have worked exclusively in the software industry. I've thought hard about my career and have tried to progressively build it through promotions and moves. The technology space is fast paced and quite fluid, so its not uncommon to move relatively often either through mergers, acquisitions or redundancy. You learn to be quite resilient - the change and dynamism is what I love about the industry 

My first job was for a small financial services software company in London, who I found through one of the "jobs on offer" directories that made the rounds in my final year. It was a Business Analyst role and attracted me as I knew I wanted to be involved with software technology, but at a more business than technical level. They were a small business, but had a graduate intake programme, and after several interviews I was one of two graduates they took into their business.

My next step was to move into sales, then into some of the leaders in software, and then into marketing. I've worked at Oracle, SAP & Microsoft and throughly enjoyed the opportunities given to me at each. I've expanded my remit from UK to European to Worldwide, and also gained invaluable experience at smaller technology businesses in CMO-type roles. 

Recently I've majored at working in digital marketing technology - its an area I can relate to and get passionate about. Adobe lets me bring all of these experiences together - and as I always say, marketing marketing technology to marketing people is a dream job for a marketer! 

How has your degree helped you in your career?  

Invariably software companies have complex, technical products that need explaining to both IT and business folk alike. My degree has stood me in great stead, as my role as a marketer is to understand our products' capabilities and simplify them for our customers. 

Also, marketing is more analytical than ever - so having a science background is a great boost to being able to deal with large amounts of data analysis. It also gives me a natural curiosity around tech - the geek inside me just loves to try out new technology and ideas. 

What is your greatest achievement to date?  

Being awarded "Marketer of the Year" by B2B Marketing magazine. It was in recognition of the work I'd done introducing a marketing automation platform at a start-up I was working for at the time. It was the project itself that I am particularly proud of, as it transformed the ability of a very small business to reach a wider audience than they'd ever dreamt of before. It started my interest in digital marketing technology and changed my career path to one that ended up with my joining Adobe. 

What advice would you give to someone thinking of pursuing a similar career route and what skills/experience do you consider to be necessary?  

The opportunities in marketing are so far ranging - from deeply technical (e.g. SEO, analytics, web development) to project management to highly creative (e.g. brand, design, UX) - so sometimes I need people with very specific technical skills or at least adjacent technical skills. I would advise anyone interested in technical roles to take an online course in internet/digital marketing as a good first step. 

More generally though, I look for people that are strong in three main areas - Change, Curiosity & Risk. I need employees that can respond rapidly to fast moving markets (Change), can help us stand out from our competitors (have the Curiosity to try out something new or different) and are not afraid to fail & learn (are willing to take a Risk). If you demonstrate these three strengths in your experiences then you're off to a good start. 

What did you most enjoy about your time at Manchester?  

I applied to Manchester as I knew it was one of the best for the subject I studied. And I wasn't let down by the quality of the teaching and the platform it gave me to build my career and travel the world. It was also great socially - being a music fanatic I was spoilt for choice in terms of gigs and clubs.