Jessica Rowley, managing director, Techdept

As managing director of marketing technology agency Techdept, Jess Rowley is at the heart of the action where marketing and technology converge. "Technology is a very collaborative sector; and, naturally, many marketers are curious about that start-up culture and how it can inform their business," she says.

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In the wake of the recession this "lean start-up method" has become an attractive model to major brands, which see the benefits of taking a test-and-learn approach to innovation.

Women are seduced into believing that multi-tasking is good. But to be truly brilliant you have to focus on one thing at a time

Rowley has built her career on being at the forefront of trends in digital marketing. As a director of brand-activation agency Neon, which became BMB Neon after its acquisition by Beattie McGuinness Bungay, she was immersed in the world of social media prior to the days when any given content strategy had to be neatly packaged up in 140-character missives. 

"What social media offered marketers was a way to get up close and personal with their consumers, but, increasingly, brands are finding ways to reach them directly," she says. In future, brands will need to question more rigorously whether social enhances the customer experience.

"We are entering an age where you can’t put lipstick on a pig – brands need to deliver a great customer experience. If the technology fails, then you’ve blown it; you only get one chance."

The intersection of marketing and technology is clearly a vibrant and fast-moving space. With the aim to build £10m of revenues in the next five years, Techdept has significant ambitions and Rowley is at the forefront of driving this growth.

Refreshingly, she does not turn to technology when she needs to unwind; the Headspace app has no place on her smartphone. Instead, she embraces the appeal of pure and uninterrupted meditation. "It is about pace and focus – you have to find ways to pace yourself, or you won’t create good work," she adds.

There is a healthy understanding that businesses that succeed will see culture as fundamental

While some in the technology sector have fallen headlong for the ‘cult of the entrepreneur’ and its ‘always working’ associations, Rowley is focused on the power of less. She explains: "Women are seduced into believing that multi-tasking is good. But to be truly brilliant you have to focus on one thing at a time."

Breaking free of the long-hours prison

It is a focus that has helped to shape an innovative and sustainable culture at Techdept, where leaving at 5.30pm is not a sign of lack of commitment, but rather of a job well done and well-managed. "Lots of people equate long hours with success, but technology is one of the most open cultures when it comes to understanding work-life balance," says Rowley. 

Rather than relegating culture to mere window-dressing she believes that fostering the right culture is the most important driver of business. "There is a healthy understanding that businesses that succeed will see culture as fundamental, while those that fail still believe it is ‘nice to have’." 

In building not just a growing business but a thriving, healthy working culture, Rowley proves that ambition and integrity are not mutually exclusive pursuits.


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Job description: Digital marketing executive

1 Job description: Digital marketing executive

Digital marketing executives oversee the online marketing strategy for their organisation. They plan and execute digital (including email) marketing campaigns and design, maintain and supply content for the organisation's website(s).

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