‘Boost Your Employability’ by Izzy Bruning, UEA student review

The latest CIM Marketing Club event on the 5th of May focused on boosting your employability to help get into a marketing career. The guest speakers were Helen Hepworth the founder of “Collective Stories”, a management consultancy and Vicky Murray the cofounder of “Atalante”, a strategic marketing consultancy. The event was focused on employability and is the first of its kind. However more will follow in the future.

Vicky started the event by speaking about her career path and the opportunities she took that led her to co-founding her company. One tip she mentions to attract recruiters is coming up with creative ways to send your CV off with job applications and unique ways to brand yourself. Furthermore, she suggests looking at where your skill gaps lie to help make you a better overall marketer. Overall she reflects a really positive attitude and you can sense she has a real passion for marketing.

Vicky then goes on to talk about the five key elements of brand management. This include things you need to be able to demonstrate when looking for a job. The first key element is knowing the numbers, Vicky emphasises that brand management is a very commercial job and that if you want to be taken seriously you need to know your numbers and be prepared to spend time looking at numbers. As a brand manager, you need to be able to figure out what is happening with your brand and where your consumers are coming from. A tip she notes for interviews is being comfortable demonstrating your ability to handle data.

The second key element of brand management is insight not information. Insight and research are the lifeline of brand management and talking to people to figure out the trends is key. The third key element of brand management is guardian of the position. You cannot make up the positioning of an item, it is something that is already there and a brand manager’s job is to speak to people to figure it out. The fourth key element is getting people on board. If you cannot persuade people to get on board then it is never going to go anywhere. The fifth and final key element is making it happen. The job is not done until the product is in the consumer’s hand and on the way home. As a brand manager you have to figure out ways to overcome obstacles and overcome issues.

Finally Vicky talks about how the Chartered Institute of Marketing helped benefit her career. She first talks about the practical application the qualification has added to her career. When recruiting employees, she looks to see if people have the CIM qualification because it gives you the practical application rather than theory and knowledge. Furthermore she says the CIM qualification has given her the connections needed to help meet people and boost her career. Finally she says the structures and frameworks you learn about in the qualification, help to demonstrate your ideas in the everyday workplace.

After Vicky, Helen spoke. The Chartered Institute’s post-graduate diploma helped her move from an academic mind set to a practical and real-world application. Her CIM diploma also helped her achieve her fast-track masters. She also showed a lot of excitement and enthusiasm for her career and emphasised that you need to love what you are going to do and have excitement for your potential career.
Helen spoke about her job as a category manager which involves making sure you are marketing the right product in the right way to meet the needs of the competitive market. A category manager will review what is going on the shelf and make sure the company have picked up on the right trends.

She then revealed five tips to become an effective category manager and storyteller. The first thing she emphasised is clarity, if you do not know the product you are trying to sell then your story will never be conveyed effectively to the consumer. The second tip is to avoid the path well-trodden: This means making sure people are not telling narrative that are the same and entering a different market. The third tip is form and content, this involves making the presentation stylish and focusing on the economy of work to keep it simple. She also emphasises that you should never loose substance over style. The fourth tip is to focus on the end. The end of the presentation should never be the end, it should be about what is next. You have to take the audience on the journey. The fifth and final tip is to be a Firestarter. You should ignite tiny fires in your audience. You are never going to be able to get people to do what you want them to do, unless you inspire them.

The final section of the event was the Q&A section. The first question asked was ‘What are your top three resources for university students that are free, to help find top trends in the market?’ Both Helen and Vicky agreed that MarketLine, Mintel and Statista are perfect for looking at the top trends. Helen also suggested that speaking to the subject librarian is perfect for picking out select information. Finally they suggest utilising LinkedIn to help find information as it is always full of up-and-coming trends.

The final question was ‘How to get a foothold in the job market?’ Vicky talked about not letting other people set your limits for you as most jobs are about setting competencies rather than experience. She suggests demonstrating that you can do the job based around your own creative experiences, such as your degree experiences or extra curriculum. Demonstrating your passion for the market also helps.

A recording of the session will be uploaded to the CIM’s YouTube Channel.

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