'Life outside work helps keep your edge,' says P&G's Dan Jalalpour #NxtGen

Marketing reveals its list of 10 Nxt Gen marketers. Here, Procter & Gamble's Dan Jalalpour and his mentor discuss his successes and staying passionate.

Jalalpour: Passionate, agile, competitive
Jalalpour: Passionate, agile, competitive

Dan Jalalpour, 26, Procter & Gamble

Business leader, P&G Prestige UK & Ireland

Describe yourself in three words.

Passionate, agile, competitive.

What attracted you to marketing?

The way it stretches both your left and right brain: it is a real combination of art and science. My day-to-day work involves plenty of intellectual and strategic challenge, but the substance of marketing in the consumer’s eyes is ultimately quite creative and emotion-driven: brilliant campaigns can really hit you in the gut. It’s great working in an industry with this creative energy at the core, but with tangible results available in real-time to measure your success.

A full and active life outside work brings energy and creativity into what you do in your work.

What are your biggest marketing challenges?

The concept of building a brand was simpler when a few large-scale media touchpoints could deliver fully sufficient reach and a competitive share of voice. Today that process is happening in real-time, with the rules of the game evolving fast and a multitude of consumer experiences, depending on how each individual chooses to engage with your output. Simply put, reaching consumers where and when they are most receptive is critical. Consumers are more used to shaping experiences for themselves and have lost patience to listen to messages that are perceived as "top-down".

What skills do you think are most important for getting ahead in marketing today?

Consumer understanding, commercial acumen, agility, open-mindedness and critical judgment.

What are the biggest trends affecting your business?

More-demanding and better-informed consumers, who know what they want and how much they are willing to pay to get it. They also have a bigger appetite for something new, different or better value for money. This has a particularly big impact in a discretionary category like fine fragrances, where the choices people make are very personal and involve a relatively high spend.

What are the traits that make your boss Roisin Donnelly such an inspiration?

Roisin is a great role model in terms of staying in touch externally, which is important in a company like Procter & Gamble with our scale and breadth of brands. She is also a role model in agility and leads from the front in embracing new media and new methods of staying in touch with our consumers.

How has she most helped you in relation to your job?

Roisin puts a massive focus on building capability, ensuring that the UK plays a role as a marketing thought-leader for the total organisation. She is also proactive in ensuring the careers of P&G marketers are individually tailored to best develop a broad range of strengths.

What is the best piece of advice she has given you that you would pass on?

The importance of balancing professional ambitions with personal priorities. The two are mutually reinforcing: a full and active life outside work brings energy and creativity into what you do in your work. It helps you keep your edge as a marketer.

Roisin Donnelly, mentor

Corporate marketing director and head of marketing, Procter & Gamble UK & Ireland

What was the first thing you noticed about Dan?

He had an excellent track record of leadership at university and has continued this since his first day at P&G. He is an outstanding thinker and can think strategically based on his analytical skills, but also creatively use his intuition.

What made Dan stand out among the young marketers you work with?

He is passionate about learning, welcomes new challenges and has a strong "win-win" attitude that he uses in collaborating both internally and with external stakeholders.

What could others, wanting to get on in marketing today, learn from him?

Innovation is critical and Dan has successfully led innovation in all his assignments in P&G. To get on in a quickly changing marketing world you should never be happy with the status quo, but constantly innovate to succeed.

What is your major piece of advice to any young marketers wanting to get to the top?

To deeply understand your consumers, spend time every week with them and put them at the heart of everything you do. Only by "walking in their shoes" can you truly understand what they are looking for from their products. This allows you to develop meaningful multi-touchpoint marketing programmes, reaching them when and where it is most relevant for them.

What training do you think is most important for young marketers today?

Work for a company that has a strong learning and development programme, not only at entry level, but which continues long into your career. Look for opportunities to work across a variety of brands that allow different experiences: we encourage all our marketers to understand the benefits of TV, through to print, from digital to mobile and from PR to social engagement.