Is it just me, or have we all thought about blogging at some point? I’ve been going nuts about whether to write a blog or not. So many people have been asking me; Where’s my blog? Why haven’t I written it yet? What are you waiting for? So here goes my first blog on my career in Marketing and how I launched The Grad Hub…
Finishing University and Finding a Career in Marketing
Where do I start… So, back in 2001 (wow I feel old), I decided to head off to Keele University to study a Dual Honours in Law & Business Admin (Marketing). Yes, two degrees! I’m mental I know. Well over the three years I managed to scrape through the Law side of the degree but totally excelled in the Business Admin (Marketing) degree. And at that stage I knew my future was in Marketing.
In my final year of university, I started looking for jobs in marketing, but nowhere was interested in my CV. Marketing roles were sought after and I had no work experience in marketing. I left university in 2004 with a job offer from a recruitment agency, and I decided to take it, maybe because I was looking at the potential earnings I could make from all the commission. The highest earner was taking home over £100k and was driving a Nissan Z350! If you don’t know what car it is, here’s a picture.
My First Two Jobs
I was sold at the idea and then the working life began, but it wasn’t what I signed up for. I was recruiting International Doctors into the UK, but to be located in Manchester and I knew nothing about Manchester. Everyone wanted to come to London. I was picking up the phone and putting it down, making call after call to get a sale in. After a couple of months of trying I decided it wasn’t for me and found a job as a Branch Manager at Threshers (the wine shop). I thought this is it, this is my way in to marketing and using my degree to good use.
Oh boy was I mistaken. Yes, I managed to get a lot of experience from people management, running P&L accounts, customer service, promotional activities, etc but I wasn’t using my brain to good use and it wasn’t actually marketing.
2 years came and went, and I eventually thought it’s time to move on and actually find something in marketing or there abouts… so I made my way into advertising sales for Newsquest Media, I guess it’s more sales than marketing, but sales and marketing go together, don’t they? (well that’s what I was thinking at the time). Let me tell you one thing, sales 10 years ago weren’t the same as it is today. Back then it was mostly cold calling and you’ve guessed it; I was making cold calls selling magazine advert spaces to businesses. I only lasted a few months but made some great friends that are still in my life today.
I then joined EMAP, where I was working within their conferences marketing division as a telemarketer. Result, this was definitely my way in. After a few of months of delegate sales, a marketing assistant role became available, and I jumped at it. This was surely going to be it, and woohoo I got the role as a Marketing Assistant for the conference’s division. This started my journey within marketing.
My Marketing Journey Begins
2 years had passed and I decided to move on from EMAP and began a role as Marketing Executive at UBM with their exhibition’s division, working on some of the largest interior design exhibitions in the world.
After spending another 2 years at UBM, I took the next step in my career, and began working as Exhibition’s Marketing Manager at IQPC, before spending a long stint at the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors (RICS) building and growing the Conferences Marketing Division.
Here is where I became the marketer I am today, working on over 600 events, ranging from small scale to large scale events, local and international events, award ceremonies, dinners, and more. I built a team of marketing executives, had full control of the budgets, strategies, plans and learnt how to be creative, whilst executing campaigns on time and within budget. I was in control and I loved it!
The Best Move I Made
After 4 ½ years, I was approached on LinkedIn by a company called Staffing Industry Analysts (or otherwise known as SIA). If you take one thing away from this blog post, it’s this LinkedIn approach. You must, must, must have a LinkedIn profile and the earlier you can get this created the better. Anyway, back to SIA.
After reading the LinkedIn message, I thought who are SIA!! I had never heard of them, so I did a little research and then thought let’s go for it, I’ve got nothing to lose. And then I went through one of the longest interview processes I have ever been through. In my first stage I had met the VP of Marketing, the Executive Director of Global Research, the SVP of Contingent Workforce Strategies Council and the President. A week later I had a telephone interview with the Marketing Director in the US, followed by a call with the SVP of Strategy and Solutions, and I probably had some more calls (I just don’t remember now).
After a month, yes, a month, I was given the role as Marketing Manager of the London office. (FYI According to Jobvite’s 2018 Recruiting Benchmark Report the average time-to-hire is 38 days, so don’t be disheartened if you don’t hear back within a couple of weeks, although you should hear something). The role here was fantastic! Another role where I was given reign to think on my feet and do something different. I was working across the US, EMEA and APAC and was putting my experience to good use by helping the company grow internationally. I made the best move ever.
The Launch of My Own Business
3 years passed and I found myself thinking, I need to do something else. Something that I’ve been wanting to do since leaving University. I wanted to run my own business, but I didn’t want to quit my job. So, in January 2018, I decided to launch my very own website, and called it The Grad Hub. (Oh, by the way I am still working at SIA and was promoted to Director of Marketing in January 2019)
This was my time to do it and I had been wanting to do this for so long, I just didn’t have the experience and more importantly, the funds. But it wasn’t going to be easy as I didn’t know a single thing about setting up a business. What do I call myself, Founder, CEO, a different title altogether! I was so confused.
After speaking with several colleagues, I was pointed in the right direction. I touched base with an accountant and got my business registered as a Limited Company. Once registered I reached out to a web developer and worked with past designers to create The Grad Hub promotional items.
This Was It. It Was Happening and There Was No Turning Back
I was working a full-time role at SIA and would come home from work, have dinner, put the kids to bed and then work on The Grad Hub website until midnight. In September 2018, I booked The Grad Hub into Royal Holloway, Birkbeck and Aston University freshers fair’s and began promoting The Grad Hub as The Online Marketplace, Local Business Directory and Jobsite for UK Students. I was go, go, go and students were interested. Who wouldn’t be? It’s a free marketplace for students to sell their books, clothes, furniture and more. Plus, there’s a job board full of part-time, temporary and full-time jobs and not to forget the variety of brands offering students discounts, nights out, accommodation, travel and more.
What’s Next For The Grad Hub and Me
It’s now April 2019 and it doesn’t end. It’s 10pm and I’m here writing my first blog post. Sharing 14 years of experience with you. It’s been a rollercoaster ride but I’ve enjoyed every moment of it. I have gained so much experience, met so many wonderful and inspiring people and built my very own website. I can say I have reached my goal as becoming a Marketing Director and owning a business, on top of having a wonderful family to support me every step of the way.
I now look back and wonder why I thought sales and marketing didn’t go together. Without my sales and marketing, I wouldn’t have been able to build The Grad Hub. I’m glad I worked in sales, it definitely helped me grow. The future is bright, and I look forward to doing so much more with The Grad Hub and my career. I would encourage everyone to never give up on their hopes and dreams, there is always a light at the end of the tunnel.