Podcast Episode Transcription: Season 2, Episode 2

Leah Lambart: Welcome to the latest episode of the CGA podcast. And today, we are talking all things marketing. I’m very lucky to have guests on the show, Kate Hanly, who is currently business development manager from WOO Agency, a creative agency that develops brands, campaigns, stories and digital experiences.

And we also have Emily Davis, currently in the role of head of brand and content at Mercedes Benz Australia. And she also has a very important job as President of the Caulfield Grammarians Association. Welcome Kate and Emily and thank you for joining me on the podcast.

Emily Davis: Thank you for having us.

Leah Lambart: Now, Emily, I’m gonna start with you if that’s okay. Reading through your LinkedIn bio, I could say that you completed a Bachelor of Marketing and Management after finishing school at Caulfield. Can you tell us how you first became interested in marketing and how you came to choose that particular course?

Emily Davis: Absolutely. It actually started at my year 10 work experience program. Up until that point, I always wanted to be a teacher. My mom was a teacher. I thought I was all planned out and ready to go. And then when I actually did a placement in a year 6 classroom I realized it actually isn’t for me. So that meant I had to go back to the drawing board and it was really trial and error.

I tried a lot of different industries, spoke to a lot of my parents’ friends and family friends around what they do. But it was a really good lesson for me that you don’t really know what a job does until you experience it yourself. So from the school’s original year 10 work experience program, I then I guess did my own over summer and in school holidays, until I landed at a strategic marketing firm and had a fantastic week there and never looked back.

Leah Lambart: Fantastic. And I’m so pleased to hear you say that because I’ve I’ve just been out at Wheelers Hill this after this morning and talking to them about what they can do and how work experience is so valuable. So really good to hear that that really helped you choose your career path.

Emily Davis: Absolutely.

Leah Lambart: I think I noticed also that you did some study over in Canada. Can you tell us a little bit about that experience and what you learned from that?

Emily Davis: Yeah, absolutely. So I went to Monash University and was lucky enough to take part of their exchange program. I was very flexible as to where I went. My one stipulation was it had to be English speaking. That’s the only language I unfortunately speak. So, yeah, I had the opportunity to go to Vancouver in Canada and I did 6 months at Simon Fraser University and it was an incredible experience. I learned so much in that time actually about marketing.

The culture in North America is that experts in their field retire early and then they often end up at universities in professor roles. So I was learning off incredible people, ex marketing directors of IBM and other incredible companies, but it was a fantastic experience, just to meet with people from around the world. We became very close as an exchange group program, and some of my closest friends who I still chat to today are from London, from Ireland, from Canada, and even met some people from around Australia over in Canada as well, so it was a fantastic experience and I certainly recommend if you have the opportunity to absolutely take up a university exchange program.

Leah Lambart: What an amazing experience. And you did quite a number of internships also whilst you were studying. Tell us about what you learned from that experience, and how that helped you choose a career path after leaving university.

Emily Davis: Yeah, absolutely. So I think for me when I was studying university it dawned on me pretty quick that it’s a large cohort of people and everybody graduates with that same piece of paper, a degree of, in my case, marketing and management. So pretty early on I realized I needed to differentiate myself because we’d all finished university at a similar time and we’d all be searching for work in the same field. So I felt like it was a great opportunity to improve on my skills that I was learning at university, but also be able to put it on the resume.

So I did lots of different roles strategic marketing, digital marketing, social media, agency work, client work, and what it really helped for me is work out what area of marketing I’m actually interested in. And I always saw it as an internship was just as successful if I hated it as if I loved it, because it’s really good to know what you don’t like and where your skills maybe aren’t as strong as where you thrive and you really enjoy your work. So it was really a, a great experience and some were just for 1 month and you can know straight away if this is for you or not, and others for a longer period of time where I really got to flex, the marketing concepts that I’d been learning at uni.

Leah Lambart: And after that, you went to Mercedes Benz, you’ve now had a successful career there in marketing in many different roles, and currently in head of brand and content.

Emily Davis: Yep.

Leah Lambart: Can you take us through some of the different roles that you’ve had during your time there and how, I guess, a marketing department is structured and the sort of the difference in work at those different levels.

Emily Davis: Yeah. Absolutely. So being totally honest, when I first applied for a role at Mercedes Benz, it was in their campaigns team and I didn’t even really know what that meant. I think we learn so much at uni from a technical perspective, but often we don’t understand how teams are structured and what those roles do in day to day life. So, it was a 12 month contract at Mercedes Benz in their campaigns team, and I started as an IBL, which is industry based learning.

So I essentially deferred my degree for 12 months to do this work experience placement. And as you just said, Leah, I’m still here 7 years later. So I think that just goes to show you never know where a job opportunity is going to lead. I certainly didn’t think when I signed the 12 month contract that I’d still be here 7 years later. But I’ve had the opportunity to do various different roles. In terms of how a marketing team is structured when your client side, it’s really based on functions typically. So as an example, a snapshot of our department is events, sponsorships and public relations. We then have an e commerce team that is dedicated to our online store. We then have a digital and CX or customer experience team who manage all the website touch points, EDMs, electronic direct mail.

So that’s I’m sure we all have signed up to our favourite brands to receive email notifications when they’ve got a sales event or a new product launching. So they manage all of that. And then finally, my team branded content. So that looks after all campaigns, product launches, retail campaigns, social media, all editorial articles. So that’s kind of new stories about the brand. So it’s a really diverse team, which is exciting, and it gives you exposure across all touch points. I’ve really stayed in the campaigns side of the business, So I started as an IBL. I then got an opportunity as a retail marketing executive, so working purely on offers for the brand or tactical marketing, you might hear that referred to.

I then stepped into a product manager role, so I was responsible for all product launches. So every time a new car arrived in Australia, I’d work out the strategy of how to best launch that, how to best position it. And then now in my role as head of brand and content, I’m I’m really more responsible for managing the team, who who are rolling out all of our communications. So it’s really any time you see our brand advertised, whether that’s in radio, out of home, which is billboards you see when you’re driving on the road, digital marketing. So that might be when you’re reading the news and there’s ads that come up around the articles. My team look after all of that. So it’s it’s really diverse and we work every single day with our agency partners. So we’ve got a creative agency and a media agency. And I know Kate will speak to agencies, given that’s her area of expertise later on, but we really work with them daily and they’re really an extension of the team and they’re just as invested in building the brand as we are working, working for the brand.

Leah Lambart: Great explanation. For those of us who don’t have a marketing background, what, like, would a campaign be a couple of weeks? Would it be months? Could it be years? What would be sort of the scope of the campaigns that you might work on?

Emily Davis: Yeah, it really depends on the objectives, Leah. So some of our campaigns, let’s just use a tactical offer as an example. The campaign can only be in market for as long as the offer is available. So that might be 4 weeks, it might be 6, it might be 8 weeks. So that’s normally shorter burst campaigns. Something like a product launch that will be in market for a little bit longer because we want to really increase that awareness and understanding that we have a new product and what the great features are. So it really depends on the objectives of what the campaign is trying to achieve that will determine how long it’s in market for. But I’d say it ranges from a few weeks to probably up to 6 months for our bigger brand campaigns.

Leah Lambart: Okay. Great to know. And, Kate, now I’m gonna come across to you. And your career has been quite different from Emily’s because you have worked more on the agency side. Can you explain the difference to someone who’s perhaps considering a marketing degree? You know, what is the difference between a different clients across a lot of different industries.

So, obviously, MS with Mercedes, so that’s just cars. And then other offers that they have that car related or brand related. Whereas I could work with anywhere from a car. So we’re we’ve got automotive under our banner. So we work with Ferrari, Alfa Romeo, Fiat as well. I could work with them in the morning, and then I could be working on a financial industry regulator in the afternoon. And then that could vary from day to day as well. So, you know, then the next day it could be a law firm or the day after that could be property. So really it gives you a different scale and scope.

Leah Lambart: And did you choose a career agency, So, like is from you know completing your degree or doing some internships, did you feel that that was going to be a better fit for you than in house or is that just how it worked out?

Kate Hanly: Probably not intentionally but I think for me it’s definitely a better fit, for the way I operate. No 2 days the same. I’d love that part about agency side. And I also love the fact that, you can watch a campaign come together from the absolute very starting point, and then you watch it evolve over time, and then you can see how it changes as well. And like I said, no 2 days the same. That’s really important for me, and I like being busy, which I’m sure Em would be too in her role. I have no doubt. But I think it’s just yeah. That variation for me was really important.

Leah Lambart: Yeah. From what I understand agency is extremely fast paced. What are some of the key skills or personality traits do you think you need to survive in that environment?

Kate Hanly: So I think probably number 1 is time management or project management skills. Really clear communication is also really essential because you’re working with in so in our agency space, we’ve got a group of designers, we’ve got a studio manager, we’ve got a content strategist, a creative strategist. So you work with a lot of different types of people and also creatives are very different in the way they communicate. So I think it’s also understanding their communication skills and how that can then be translated to a client that may not understand what you’re talking about. So I think that’s really being able to translate how a creative thinks and then how that will actually look and what that execution will be like.

Leah Lambart: So it sounds like there’s a lot of collaboration in the agency but then again also with the client, obviously, to make sure you’re all on the same page. Is that correct?

Kate Hanly: Yeah. Absolutely. That’s probably the biggest thing is being able to translate what we think about in house and then how that will look for the client and so that they can understand it and how it will look for their campaign.

Leah Lambart: What have been some of the highlights for you Kate in your career working on agency side?

Kate Hanly: Gosh I work with the CGA so that’s pretty exciting we’ve actually just done the Wheelers Hill wall launch so it’s a 10 meter long installation and it features 6 of, the Wheeler’s Hill alumni, and it just tells their stories. So it’s really it’s that was a great piece. And then like I said, you know, Ferrari, I’ve worked on some great campaigns with them their international women’s lunch was really exciting, what else have I worked with There’s yeah too many to name I think.

Leah Lambart: And so Kate on agency side are you working on events as well as campaigns and content? What I guess what is the the scope of your role?

Kate Hanly: Yeah sure so I guess our agency, we can deliver everything from strategy through to execution. So that obviously is events, digital, traditional. So when I talk traditional, like, your print, your billboards, like, touch on before, and then your digital, obviously, is, like, your EDMs, and those campaigns. So, yeah. We do everything and everything. PR, media.

Leah Lambart: So we need a very broad set of skills by the sounds of it too to work in agency. A lot of people seem to start in agency and then move in house. That seems to be quite a sort of common career path in marketing. Have you ever thought about moving in house and I guess made the decision to stay in an on agency side?

Kate Hanly: I did it for a minute and yeah just wasn’t quite for me I think it was just a different stage of my life and I think like I said before you know I really enjoy that fast pace and working with different clients. So yeah. Not for me at this stage, but who knows where the future takes you.

Leah Lambart: I’m gonna come back to you. What do you believe are the key skills and attributes and traits that you see make someone successful working in marketing?

Emily Davis: I think the key skill sets are actually quite similar. It’s time management, project management, but I think it always comes down to attitude and being a team player and being able to work with lots of different stakeholders. Kate spoke to a lot of her internal stakeholders.

We have them too. They’re just a bit different. We’ve got a legal team we need to align on. We might have a product team that we need to get to approve our our campaigns, a sales team who we we collaborate with on tactical offers. So, those core skill sets really are transferable across both. But I think at the end of the day, you can teach a lot of the practical skills of marketing, but it’s much more challenging to teach a positive mindset, teamwork and really attitude at the end of the day.

Leah Lambart: Are there any particular skills that a marketer that you look for in a marketing graduate? So obviously, marketing graduates have completed a degree. But would you be looking for additional, you know, digital marketing skills or social media? Like, are there other skills that they could do outside of their degree that would help them be more employable?

Emily Davis: I think yes, formal training is always great but what I’m a look for is experiences. So, ways that they have clearly demonstrated those skill sets. So that might be being involved in university clubs and societies. So as an example, I know Monash have the Marketing Student Society, being on that committee, being involved in organizing events, whether it’s corporate events or social, or leading that of organisation I think demonstrates to me great leadership skills, great communication skills, which would absolutely be beneficial to any marketing role.

Leah Lambart: So I think what I’m hearing is they don’t necessarily have to have worked in marketing or had marketing work experience, but it’s some of those soft skills that are transferable that you were talking about previously.

Emily Davis: Absolutely. And I think any experience can set you apart. As I kind of spoke about earlier with trying to build my resume up early, early on in my career and studies, I would encourage everybody to do the same. I think a great exercise to do is look up typical interview questions.

To answer a lot of those questions, you need to have experience. So, and when I say experience, that doesn’t mean that you’ve got a formal role, but it might be, you know, a short term work experience or as I said through a university alumni or club or society. Any experience that you can draw on to communicate your soft skills as well as your hard skills, will greatly benefit you.

Leah Lambart: Excellent advice. Kate, what about you when you’re recruiting for the agency, are there particular things that you look for that would distinguish a marketing graduate from to stand out from the pack?

Kate Hanly: Yeah I think Em definitely covered it in saying other skill sets so any leadership positions or I think also a big one for me is volunteering because it shows that you’re willing to give up your time which I think is a great personality trait, you know, there’s not a lot of people, you know, time is money and a lot of people it’s very time poor these days. So I think if you can show that you volunteered in some capacity, it shows me that you’re willing to give up something.

Leah Lambart: That’s a really good one and I think you can find if you go to SEEK Volunteer or, Volunteering Victoria there are often volunteer roles that may only be a couple of hours a week or a month. But it might be some content writing for a website or assisting with some direct marketing campaigns. So there’s definitely lots of opportunity out there. Going back to you, Emily, what would be some key advice that you would give a marketing graduate or someone studying at university who’s interested in pursuing a career in marketing?

Emily Davis: My number one piece of advice is try anything. You don’t know where it’s going to lead. And as I said earlier, it’s just as important to find what parts of marketing you maybe don’t like as those that you do. So I think my advice would just be to throw yourself into any opportunity, say yes, experience it. You will learn something from it and it will only help further your career and experiences by doing so.

Leah Lambart: Emily, just one thing that you mentioned with the internships.

Emily Davis: Mhmm.

Leah Lambart: Were they formal internship programs that you applied for or were
you quite proactive in approaching agencies directly and asking for an internship?

Emily Davis: Always the latter. The only formal program I ever did was at Mercedes as a part of their IBL 12 month program. All my other internships were sourced through individuals. So a few examples were using your Caulfield network. So a lot of my friends, parents or alumni were in marketing. So I would just ask them would they be happy to meet me for a coffee or would they be happy for me to tag along for a week and see what they do.

I think a lot of people find that quite a scary thing to do, but I have never been told no people are really willing to help if you are vulnerable and ask. So yeah, the other one was at university, we often had people from in industry come and present, about their company, what they were doing, so at the end of those sessions I’d always go down to the front, introduce myself, and say that I would be interested in working with them. And I actually did a fantastic, ended up being 6 months at Tiger Pistol, a digital marketing agency, which was from Troy, the CEO, coming to present at Monash in one of my classes and, yeah, going up and and talking to him and and saying I’d I’d love to to do an internship with him. So I think there’s opportunities everywhere. Don’t wait for a formal program. Be vulnerable and just ask.

Leah Lambart: Excellent advice. And the worst thing that happened is that they’re too busy or they do say no and really at the end of the day you’re no worse off so I think that’s great advice. What about you Kate did you take the same approach?

Kate Hanly: Yeah absolutely, I think Em just stole all the words right out of my mouth which is great because it shows we’re like minded people, But what I was gonna say was, yeah, just ask a question. I mean, especially in my role now, business development manager, like, it’s terrifying asking people for your time, for their time, but honestly, the amount of people that I’ve had say no is so minuscule compared to the people that I’ve had say yes to me. And even if they have said no the likelihood is that they’ve been referred me on to someone else or they’ll think of an opportunity for you elsewhere that would be a better fit.

Leah Lambart: And Kate what sort of advice would you have for someone who’s considering a career in marketing?

Kate Hanly: Just enjoy the ride. I, it wasn’t my first choice. I did a bachelor of media in comms. I wanted to be a journalist. I didn’t end up being a journalist. I actually went on to work in fashion. I was a buyer for a very well known brand in Melbourne. I fell into that again, it’s all about your networks, who you know, people that help you I think that’s the biggest thing and particularly the CGA network the alumni and using parents friends your family friends neighbors. I think people don’t realize how wide their network is unless they actually sit down and think about all the people they know and all the people that those people know. So even for people who say they have no network, I’m sure they’d still know at least a 100, 200 people.

Leah Lambart: Excellent advice, both of you, Emily and Kate. Thank you so much for coming on the podcast. Wishing you both the best of luck in your future careers. We look forward to watching where you go next. So thank you for your time today.

Emily Davis: Thanks, Leah.

Kate Hanly: Thank you, Leah.