I really enjoyed the marketing element of my degree at university, particularly learning how to work in a customer-focused way. When I graduated, I found it really difficult to get into a pure marketing role because most of the positions required experience. However, while I was at university, I worked at a call centre selling gas and electricity for Scottish Power; when I graduated, one of my managers encouraged me to go for a position as account manager. Since then, although I've worked across different teams for different employers, my role has always involved some sort of emphasis on the customer.
The sky's the limit
One thing I noticed when joining Sky was how supportive it was. I absolutely love working here and a lot of that is down to the people and the culture; we are given the chance to drive our own ideas forward and shape the business. I've always felt very supported and I've found that the company has a positive approach to work/life balance and flexible working that isn't always replicated at other employers.
I've had plenty of opportunities to develop my leadership skills and to use them to help support others. A key example of this was during one of my rotations in the customer operations graduate scheme. I led a team of advisors – coaching them, driving performance and managing priorities.
Although this was my first line management role and I was 'thrown into the deep end', I learned a lot about management styles and adapting my approach to each team member; these have been invaluable experiences for forming my own management style over the years. I'd say that my approach to managing is still evolving, but overall I think I'm open, honest, fair and supportive. I'm now supporting the Sky marketing graduate programme and it's great to feel as though I've gone full circle, from being a graduate myself to being someone who mentors and develops graduates.
Growing with NOW TV
When I moved to my current position in the customer management team at NOW TV, it was still considered quite a small and new company (in comparison to Sky) and my role was to bring my experience from Sky to help grow the business. It was great to help shape the team and my own position. Using data to inform strategy provided a good insight into the best ways to engage customers; this helped me to understand the 'bigger picture' and to bring different teams together under one strategy.
In my current role as head of engagement at NOW TV, my team are responsible for driving customer engagement and getting customers excited about our content and products. I like that I have the opportunity to work with different parts of the business, from finance and product to editorial and propositions. My role is fast-paced and can be challenging at times, but this is something I really enjoy as it means that I'm constantly learning and progressing.
Relationships are key
The biggest thing I've learned throughout my career is that relationships are key. In my position, how well you understand other people's or team's priorities and objectives can be the difference between harmony or tension and, ultimately, between delivering amazing results or not.
Managing work life and home life
Communication skills are crucial to building strong relationships at work and they have definitely benefited me since I've become a mum. Juggling a full time, pressured job with a toddler has its challenges but I think it is just about finding the correct balance between the two and talking to the people around you (family or team) whenever you find it difficult.
Own and drive your career
When I mentor graduates, I always look for them to be passionate, positive and unafraid to challenge the status quo. I think that career and professional development is something that needs to be driven and to come from the individual initially. Rather than waiting for end-of-year reviews, you should seek out regular feedback. Formal training and courses initiated by the company can be really useful but remember that learning can come in other forms, too.
You might gain insights through having a mentor or shadowing someone, for example, or perhaps it suits you to focus your progression around your passions – by asking to be involved in a project that interests you and will help you to develop the skills you need.
Advice to myself and others
The advice I'd give to my younger self is to try not to worry about what I can't influence or change and to always be myself. Back when my manager suggested I first go for the account management role, it felt like a lot of responsibility and I didn't think I had enough experience. Yet, the manager's guidance and encouragement gave me the confidence I needed to go into the interview with a really positive, 'can do' attitude – and it worked.
If you are starting out on your job hunt and don't know exactly what it is you want to do yet, I'd similarly advise you not to worry – any and every role you do will help you to gain skills and experience and to further build your network.
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