Smooth seas don’t make skilful sailors
One of the best pieces of advice I have been given is: "If you want to accelerate your career, find a business with a problem and make yourself the solution."
In other words, don’t choose roles because they are with sexy brands or because they are comfortable. Find a business that has a challenge and dive in.
The harder it is, the more you’ll develop, as solving big challenges hones your marketing skills and makes you more resilient. You also get more satisfaction when results come in and better stories to tell in interviews. In the end, employers want tenacious problem-solvers, not brand babysitters.
Art and science
The world has changed immeasurably over the past ten years as a result of the explosion of digital and data. In this brave new world, marketers are ideally placed to help our businesses adapt with the new digital consumer.
To do this, though, we need to broaden beyond the traditional conceptual marketing skillset. We need to be deeply immersed in all things digital, have a solid grasp of data and not be afraid to get our hands dirty in the technical details.
Marketers who can leverage both art and science will lead our industry in the future.
Know thy self
Emotional intelligence is an amazing muscle to build up. Read everything you can on it, invest the time for self-reflection and be open to feedback so that you understand and manage your emotional self.
It’s game-changing when it comes to your ability to lead.
Whether you are a natural planner or not, I would always recommend being as deliberate as possible when it comes to mapping out your career.
Thinking ahead about the steps you need to take and what you need to do to ensure you have the right blend of skills and experiences will aid your advancement. No doubt you will meet successful people who say "I was just in the right place at the right time" – but, in my experience, this tends to be true only in a very small minority of cases.
By being deliberate with your career plan, you reduce your reliance on luck or fate and increase the likelihood of achieving your ambitions. As the old saying goes: "Fail to prepare, prepare to fail."
Keep moving, keep learning
They say variety is the spice of life, and that adage is particularly true when it comes to work. Moving between businesses and categories is a great way to drive your career.
Seeing marketing, business and organisational culture through a number of different lenses is invaluable developmentally, as you are able to gain new experiences while creating an increasing, diverse set of skills.
Being in new environments also challenges your ability to adapt to new situations. As you become more senior, this competency becomes more important for your ability to deliver in your role.
Having a strong web of relationships is vital in our industry. Making connections as widely and deeply as possible opens up the opportunity for you to learn and gives you a support network you can leverage when you need help and a fresh pair of eyes on a problem.
Obviously, this is easier said than done and it can feel toe-curlingly awkward to go to "networking" events. Do persevere, though. It will be worth the effort in the end.
As part of this, definitely invest time to build relationships across the recruitment community, as recruiters can be an amazing source of objective career advice and often control access to the best job opportunities as they come on the market.
Read Steve Radcliffe’s book Leadership: Plain And Simple
It is fantastic. To my mind, it offers some of the most succinct and practical advice that you’ll find in print on how to be a better leader. I always have one to hand and re-read it often.
Beyond the book, anytime you get the opportunity to hear Steve speak, grab it. He’s one of life’s truly inspirational people and we all need a little inspiration in our lives.
Dominic Grounsell is global marketing director at Travelex, responsible for 30 markets and its global online P&L. He started his career at Unilever on its graduate training programme and has also worked for RSA, where he led sales and marketing for More Th>n