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What does a day in the life of the head of marketing entail?
My day typically starts with putting together a 'To Do" list for the day. Then I go through the mountains of e-mails I arrive to every day! I set aside some time to go through them and respond to the urgent ones. The rest of the day is mostly made up of dealing with design agencies, sitting through research meetings and strategy discussions, and interacting with colleagues on various activities on the go.
Why did you decide on this career?
When I was in high school I developed an interest in marketing. I was always fascinated by what goes into developing products and how these are communicated and sold to people, and how people become loyal to certain products and brands.
How did you get into this career?
I studied a B Com degree in marketing management and was recruited on the Unilever management R5 recruitment programme as a graduate. The rest, as they say, is history!
What's challenging about the job?
The biggest challenge with marketing is keeping up with the continual changes in your customers. It's pivotal to ensuring that you are relevant and remain top of mind with your clients. But in the age we live in change is constant, and so rapid.
I think this is exacerbated by the fact that there are so many channels of consumer expression that some things can go unnoticed if you are not in touch. Keeping my finger on the pulse is a must.
What do you enjoy the most about it?
I enjoy uncovering new consumer insights and constantly being at the face of change. You're continuously forced to step out of your comfort zones because you might be dealing with a target audience or a product that you are not familiar with, but you have to learn and know it inside out.
You are continuously learning about people and new themes taking place in the world, and how people are affected by this. If you're in the right industry it can be very interesting, and fun.
What type of person will make a success of this position?
A person who is eager to learn, who is open to change and being in unfamiliar situations. A person who is adaptable.
You need to have a strong ability to look at the bigger picture, be a doer and pay attention to detail. You need to be able to express yourself and your thoughts clearly to be able to influence and sometimes direct change.
And probably the biggest one is being able to work in - and lead - teams. Marketing is not a loner's job. On any given day you have to deal with agencies (advertising, media, design, etc), internal stakeholders (product development, field activation, etc).
What subjects do you need to pass in high school to be able to study towards this career?
You can never go wrong with commercial subjects, that is maths, accounting, business management. These will help you understand business as a whole, irrespective of what career path you choose.
What does one study at tertiary level to be able to get into this career?
There are various courses available, but I did a B Com marketing management degree, and this included a broad perspective on business as a whole, which has stood me in very good stead for the role that I'm in.
What growth prospects are there for this career?
There's a huge opportunity for growth if you work hard and apply yourself. There are so many experts in marketing that one can learn from if they are open to this, and that's how you grow, not only upwards from a career perspective, but also in depth and knowledge as a person. It's very interesting.
What career opportunities exist within marketing?
For one, you are not limited to any one industry and, depending on which companies you work for, you might get an opportunity to work on various brands, products, target audiences, etc - the opportunities for growth and change are endless.
What is the entry-level salary for this career?
It varies with different industries you start in, but I would assume in general, the entry-level salaries are comparable to other graduate salaries if you are qualified with a degree vs other forms of qualifications.