Vodafone's head of brand: insist that your brand has values, and demonstrates them
A view from Bilge Ciftci

Vodafone's head of brand: insist that your brand has values, and demonstrates them

If I could give some advice to my younger self at the start of her career it would be many pages long, but here are my top five for starters.

An assignment is what you make out of it

There will always be very prestigious jobs, assignments and projects wherever you go; and some others which look like they are small, unimportant, dead-end, with no one wanting to touch them.

I have done both and everything in between. Some of the smaller, least wanted assignments actually opened really big doors for me because the lack of attention and support on these projects forced me to be more creative, more resourceful and more street-smart to find solutions.

Your willingness makes all the difference. Bring your best self and best wits to every assignment, no matter how big or small.

When you become a people manager, treat your team the way you always wanted to be treated

You will work hard, do some great stuff, get promoted and one day you will wake up as a people manager.

Alas no one will have uploaded Manager 1.0 to your brain while you were asleep! You will surely take some leadership and people management courses down the road, but this should be your guiding principle as of day one.

Did you want your ideas and opinions to be respected and heard, did you want to know why you are doing what you are doing, did you want your manager to help you but also let you experiment, did you want to be yourself and not to be put in a box, did you want to be recognized and put in the front when you have succeeded, and protected and helped when you couldn’t despite all your best efforts? Do them unto your team.

Did you hate being micromanaged, did you resent being pushed down with problems with no help, did you feel tired of someone not taking decisions and asking for scenario 575 to be worked; did you lose respect when you heard "I am the boss" as an explanation? Don’t do them. Ever.

Marketing starts with understanding your customer, no matter what it is that you are marketing

There is no such thing as an FMCG marketer, or a pharma marketer or a car tyre marketer. If you are a good marketer, you should be able to market any product line (or service).

There is one simple principle to follow: you start with understanding your customers as human beings (as opposed to socio-economic classes, or demographic boxes, or fancy behavioural segment names): their lives, needs, dreams, worries… and how your brand might help with these.

If you stick to this one principle this will also carry you through changing times (and jobs). This is because life is dynamic and so are human beings. They change and evolve over time through different life stages and through changing economic and political conditions. If you stay close to your customers, you will not miss these changes and you will be able to adapt your strategies, plans and tools accordingly.

Know your personal values and demonstrate them; insist that your brand, too, has values and demonstrates them

Sincerity, integrity, fairness, respect to others and the world are not fads and you need to stick with these values even if at times it is costly to do so. In the long run it is always, always costlier not to do so. The same is true for brands.

Take care of yourself

Spend time with people you love and care the most, travel, do something interesting, learn something new, reorganize your closets, take your vacations and eat well.

Life is a marathon and it cannot be run at a 100-meter pace all the time. Learn to preserve and rebuild your own energy. Learn to say no to things that aren’t right for you. The alternative isn’t good. Trust me on this one.  

Bilge Ciftci is head of brand at Vodafone and a member of Campaign's Power 100