Since appearing in the Power 100 in 2006, I spent a further seven years at Nokia before going on to launch Pimloc, a deep learning start-up focused on extracting personalised and private context from images and video.
Operating within a large global brand is like being stuck in a game of Battleships. The infrastructure is set up around set pieces and executing them at scale. The governance structures and diverse network of stakeholders can easily obfuscate any innovation. To get on, you need to quickly build credibility with your informal network to make things happen.
In start-up businesses, creating new brands is more like playing Snakes and Ladders. You know your starting position (usually zero) and the target end point but need to continually experiment and replan your route to get there.
You can see the impact of everything directly (there is no residual brand value or sales inertia propping things up).
Neither model is better but each provides a unique and valuable perspective on marketing.
Take control of your own learning and career progression. Don’t expect a plan to land in your lap. Grow your experience by getting involved.
In the early years, select roles based on the people you will be working with and how much you can learn from them.
Working with great people is much more important to your future development than an interim job title or salary increase. If that fails, look outside for courses, meet-ups and other ways to learn.
Sleep on a bed of nails
When you get an opportunity to try something outside your comfort zone, jump in. If you are nervous, it means you will be developing valuable skills.
Know your numbers
Make sure you know what is driving the business and how you are affecting it. Marketing sits on top of the most valuable business data streams, make sure you understand it all inside out and can make it available to everyone in a way that supports decision-making.
Markets will shift but the right data and insights will always be valuable.
Marketing is a means to an end, not an end in itself. All activity should deliver back to the business at some level. Challenge yourself to justify everything you’re doing.
Close the loop
Whenever you do anything, make sure you go about it in a way that means you can do it better next time. Try to extract transferable learning where you can.
Operate within quantum horizons
You need to be as comfortable running a daily content and editorial desk as you are creating long-term data and brand platforms.
Invest, don't spend
As you progress, it’s not enough to be a marketing expert; you need to understand marketing’s impact on the business’ top and bottom line. You need to learn how to speak the language of finance, otherwise you’ll always be a cost centre.
Simon Randall is the co-founder and chief executive at Pimloc. Randall was featured in Marketing's Power 100 Next Generation in 2006.