To showcase the calibre of Worshipful Company of Marketors members, this ‘Getting to Know’ series is a monthly interview exploring the careers of our members, asking them about their careers, why they joined the Marketors and why they would encourage others to join the city livery.
What did you want to do when you were growing up?
When I was a child my parents were ex-pats and consequently I did a lot of long-haul flights with BOAC. In those days, the stewardesses let young children serve boiled sweets to passengers (remember the sweets!). I would be given the blue uniform hat plus a silver tray full of wrapped sweets and off I’d go, up and down the aisle. As a five-year-old, I thought this would be the perfect job.
When and why did you join the marketing profession?
I had my first marketing role straight after university. I worked in Product Marketing for the semiconductor manufacturer, Texas Instruments. Marketing was my specialist subject in the final year of my business management degree at Leeds University and I couldn’t wait to put the theory I had learned into practice. I soon discovered that, rather than a product marketing role, what I really wanted to do was PR. So I was to spend the next 16 years in PR – in agencies, in-house and working for myself. Then I reached a point where I just wanted to focus on writing. So since 1999, I have been a marketing copywriter.
Who is your marketing hero and why?
Although I’m sure I’d find him an irritating person if I met him, Richard Branson is my marketing hero. As a copywriter, I love the fact that whether you get a mailshot from Virgin Active, Virgin Media or Virgin Money, the tone of voice is consistent throughout all the brands.
What has been your most significant achievement?
Being self-employed since 1991. And, along the way, being lucky enough to undertake copywriting projects for a number of Top 20 law firms and FTSE100 companies. Other highlights have been: being part of the PR team that launched Sir Clive Sinclair’s C5 (the product certainly wasn’t right but it got huge amount of publicity!) and organising the ‘My Favourite Tree’ exhibition while I was Head of PR at the Financial Times. This showcased the works of 55 leading professional artists, photographers, public figures, Government ministers, members of the Royal family and celebrities who were concerned for the environment. All proceeds raised by the auction (undertaken by Sotheby’s with guest auctioneer Maureen Lipman) were donated to the Forestry Commission’s East of London Community Forest.
What are the major challenges facing marketing professionals today?
Keeping up with, and responding to, the pace of change. Not just technology change and the latest social media platform but also consumer tastes and attitudes. So, for example, alcoholic drinks companies are having to come up with non-alcoholic drinks in order to meet the demand of many of the under 30s who are choosing to go teetotal.
When and why did you join the Worshipful Company of Marketors?
I joined at the Bowden Charter dinner in 2013 when Sally Muggeridge was Master. I’d been a guest at a couple of informal events and I immediately knew this was an organisation I wanted to be part of. I believe that you get out of something what you put in so, soon after I joined, I became part of the events team. I had organised all manner of events when I was at the Financial Times but, as a copywriter, I didn’t get to do this. So joining the Events Committee ticked all the boxes for me. I would advise any new member to join one of our committees – it’s a great way to get to know people and to become known.
What role do you see the Marketors playing in the City?
In addition to the current role we play as part of our Aim 1 (to actively support the Mayoralty and the City of London Corporation), I believe we need to be more active in promoting the whole concept of the livery world. It surprises me how many people who actually work in the City think it’s something to do with either freemasons or horses. I also believe we need to communicate the importance of marketing to many of our fellow livery companies. I’m amazed how many of them have old-fashioned websites that fail to engage and how many have no presence on social media.
Who should consider joining the Marketors and what does the company offer them?
If you have spent your career in marketing and are interested in City traditions, in giving back, and in spending time in the company of like-minded people then you should definitely join. You will enjoy events, experiences and fellowship that only being part of a livery company can give you. Where else can you follow the progress of the swan uppers on the Thames, take part in a lively marketing debate within Portcullis House, or be given a private tour of a Royal Navy frigate?
What is your standout Marketors moment from the past 12 months?
During the course of 2019 I have been Chair of the Events Committee so there has been a huge amount going on! For his year, Master Andrew Cross came up with a very varied schedule of social events and business lectures where members have enjoyed such events as a tutored wine tasting in the Penthouse of the New Zealand High Commission, a joint panel discussion organised between us and the Worshipful Company of Distillers and a trip to Studio 434 - the UK’s largest private collection of classic cars.
Current Master Andrew Cross’s theme this year is ‘Optimism Offers Opportunities’. What does this theme mean to you?
I firmly believe in the adage that ‘what you focus on you get more of’. So, when you look for the positives in any situation rather than dwell on the negatives, opportunities will come to you.