Cheryl Calverley, masterbrand marketing manager, Birds Eye Iglo

Cheryl Calverley describes herself as one of the first generation of digital natives who ushered in a new era of feeling comfortable with, and investing in, digital marketing. Certainly the former Unilever marketer, picked out as one of Marketing's Next Generation of talent in 2008, has led the innovation agenda at Birds Eye Iglo with a relentless focus not on individual digital channels, but their impact on consumers' lives.

To send your congratulations

Here is a marketer who has always embraced and promoted the role of digital. "Women back off from technology; they see it as slightly male and geeky to put themselves forward for events and conferences," she says. However, she believes a shift is fast approaching. "Women will come to the fore. The key is not to simply bundle all digital channels as ‘technology’ or ‘IT’; it is just another creative channel."

Take your time to enjoy it and reflect as you go along. You do your job for more than just the money, so making the most of it is key

The brands Calverley has worked on have loosely mirrored her own life stages: she worked on Pot Noodle in her 20s and Marmite as a young professional, before shifting to more family-focused brands at Unilever. Then came the leap to Birds Eye. 

She believes that marketers have an important stake in the debate about the lack of female creatives, particularly mothers, in the advertising industry. "What I realised after having children was, don’t talk to mums as just ‘mums’ – brands are suddenly talking down to you and are quite patronising."

According to Calverley, traditional advertising agencies historically haven’t understood how to talk to mothers. "What we did was bring together the PR and social-media agencies, who had a much better understanding of how to talk to mums, and really unlocked that conversation."

Why it is time to ditch the motherhood penalty

Clearly her own experience has helped to sharpen her focus. "Businesses need to embrace motherhood; it is such an important target market and businesses need to embrace that life stage," she argues. "But the fact is that [becoming a mother] does narrow your opportunities in some businesses."

We spend so much of our life at work that Calverley believes a shift in approach is necessary. "Take your time to enjoy it and reflect as you go along. When I look back, I know I put in the long hours, but did I enjoy it as much as I could have? The fact is you do your job for more than just the money, so making the most of it is key."

With this in mind, she advises marketers to prioritise their personal development. "Find the time to go to that conference you think will inspire you. When you come back to your business with enough ideas, they will back you to take that time."

Time may be the most finite and precious of resources, but it is clear that making the most of it is at the top of Calverley’s agenda. Having been on maternity leave, she is set to return to work this summer, passing the remainder of her leave of absence to her husband. Reinvigorated and full of energy, she is a Digital Maverick on a mission.

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