Opinion

Be a one-hit wonder: 5 things I wish I'd learned earlier in my career

In the latest of our Lessons from the Next Generation Power 100, Rob Bayne, director at Mountainview Learning, and a member of the NxtGen Class of 2010, shares the most valuable lessons that experience has taught him - so far.

I must start with a thankyou. I was in Barcelona when Next Generation 2010 came out in Marketing, and remember the phone call – Coca-Cola was looking for a Europe brand lead and had seen the article (I hadn’t). That was five years ago, and you know what they say about time flying… I owe Marketing a drink.

I’m no longer a brand-owner. My focus now is working with brand-owners to engineer growth. I joined Mountainview Learning to help businesses shift from traditional to evidence-based marketing – this has the attention of chief executives and chief marketing officers, so I’m positive about the future.

This is the first time I’ve been asked to look back on my career – I would prefer to think of it as a half-time report. These are five lessons I wish I’d learned earlier.

  1. Work for someone you admire

    There’s little benefit in having a manager – find a mentor. At the start of my career I thought the fast track was based on the skills you have, but it’s based on the skills you develop. The smart move is to focus on learning from the people a few feet away, rather than trying to impress them. A brilliant mentor will put you on the fast track to the fast track.

  2. Find the right ladder to climb

    I joined an advertising agency, but was better suited to brand marketing and moved. I’m thankful to an ex-Unilever marketer who hired and trained me. Adland experience has been invaluable in my marketing career, however. Some people find the right ladder first time – they’re missing out.

  3. Have a point of view

    In my first year as a brand manager I stepped into an elevator with the chief executive of Johnson & Johnson. He asked what I was working on, and in a moment of brilliance I told him I was just catching up on emails after the weekend. You never know when you’ll get a moment in the spotlight, and there won’t be many of them – don’t let it be unexpected. Get into the discipline of having ideas and insights worth sharing.

  4. Be a one-hit wonder

    It’s better than the alternative. Each year you’ll remember (and be remembered for) one or perhaps two achievements. In 2006, I worked the longest hours of my career, but had the least to show for it. Look for a few big ideas that can be noticed and will make a big impact.

  5. It’s a people business

    At Coca-Cola I hired a brilliant creative director who I’d worked with 10 years earlier agency-side. At the start of my career the idea of ‘networking’ seemed contrived; later on, you find the doors that open tend to have familiar faces behind them – people you have listened to, learned from and laughed with.

View Nxt Gen 2015