Lucy Robinson (mark 3, Melissa Bell) from Neighbours was the answer.
Nothing odd about this I suppose until you know the question. ‘Who inspired me to choose marketing as a career?’
Favourite daughter asked the question recently, an event which in itself was as unexpected as the response.
While I wanted to say my awakening came from someone more inspirational – or even relevant – she asked the question with such genuine interest (I could tell because she popped out those omnipresent white earbuds), that I felt it only right to give her a genuine response.
Favourite daughter is the same age I was when my teachers asked what I wanted to do when I left school and at a time when I spent weekday evenings from 17.35-17.55 glued to BBC 1 for my daily fix of Aussie indulgence.
I remember the day well. I had just discovered the subject of ‘business’ and couldn’t put down my copy of Peter Drucker’s The Practise of Management. I looked up from the open book to see the front door of the Robinson house swing open, Lucy bounce in, announcing to Jim and Helen that she’d decided she was going to work in advertising… Light bulb!
It’s not as superficial as it sounds. I always had an intuition for enterprise, an eye for identifying a market need.
At the age of eight, my Mum collared me for ‘procuring’ rhubarb from our garden which I was selling door to door from the basket on my bike. I had built a good customer base of neighbours who were happy to pay five pence for my product. I was providing a much-needed service as the rhubarb was a key ingredient for that evening’s crumble.
At the age of 10, I attempted to exploit the fact that I lived on the main street of my village with lunchtime trips to the shop to buy two or three packets of sweets. I’d take these back to school, rip open the shiny wrappers, spilling the contents into my tray, and sell each sweet individually to my more restricted classmates who were forced to have a school-based packed lunch.
At the age of 16, I was running a stall at a local Sunday market. I provided products I could buy cheap and sell with a mark-up that covered costs and left enough for me to justify getting out of my bed a 6 am on a Sunday morning. Now there’s an education into the world of business, but a far cry from my ultimate goal – Marketing Director of Chanel!
But, no one can play shop forever and I had to decide what I wanted to do. It was always going to be business, but the likes of finance and HR, operations just didn’t sit right with me. Marketing was the natural choice so off I went to university to learn more.
That was in 1994 and this year marks the 20th anniversary of my graduation (gulp-really?!), and I can truly say I have never looked back.
Yes, as with other professions there are challenges.
How do you get marketing seen as a strategic function, not an operational task, by business leaders?
How do you manage the colleagues and clients who think themselves a bit of a marketing expert (not something the accountant amongst us will have to deal with often)?
How do you overcome the perception that all marketers do is produce leaflets and posters?
And, especially now, with the paradigm shift that is digital marketing. How do you stay relevant as a professional?
Over the course of the last two decades, I have watched my lifelong university friends change career and, in most cases, move further and further from marketing but not me.
Yes, I have tried other things but I always come back to what I know and love and my commitment to continuous learning is as unwavering today as it was in 1994.
I have a persistent passion for my profession.
And the soundtrack to this blog? It can only be Suddenly by Angry Anderson.
If you’d like to work with a marketing professional who is passionate about marketing and what it can do for your business, get in touch.