People often ask me how I ended up in Employer Marketing and what I’d be doing if I weren’t running my own agency.
Well, like many of my peers, I entered the industry completely by chance. I’d graduated, travelled the world and still didn’t know what I wanted to do when I grew up. A chance phone call to a friend led me to be interviewed by Jupiter for an Account Manager role. That’s 25 years ago now. I remember coming back from the interview and my mum asking me what the role was about. My answer: “I have no idea.” But I got the job and have been addicted to the industry ever since. Having worked in other agencies, large and small, I returned to Jupiter to head things up some eight years ago now. And, my goodness, has the industry changed in the years since I was first here. As I say, though, it’s addictive and the constant change makes every month feel like a new learning experience – something I cherish in both my professional and personal life.
Did I think I’d see my Employer Marketing career through for a quarter of a century when I first started out? Of course not – how many of us really know exactly where we’ll end up until we arrive there? But would I change it for any other job? Well, no, or I probably would have already gone off and done so. I like to think that I’m good at my job, if that’s not too lofty a claim. It long ago took me to the top of the Client Services tree and now here I am as the Managing Director of what I genuinely believe is one of the great UK agencies. I got where I am not just because I work hard, but because I care about what I do.
There are, of course, days where I daydream of a less hyper-focused me. A me who isn’t so driven by the thrill of the perfect Employer Marketing solution. Who doesn’t get that rush of satisfaction when the line between ‘client’ and ‘friend’ blurs and I find Sue Stephens from Pizza Hut hugging me because she’s so happy with the transformational work we’ve been doing for her. Because, as in any job, there are always down days. Days without the thrills and rushes, let alone hugs. Days where you think about the things that most matter to you outside of work and what life would be like if you were doing those professionally, instead.
If push came to shove, then, and I really had to do something different, I guess I’d open a dog sanctuary – probably because it’s the job that’s the least like what I do now. (What would be the point in changing career otherwise?) Working in a people industry, after all, means dealing with all the complexities of what makes us human – our needs, desires, frustrations and whims. Dogs, by comparison, are much simpler creatures. They’re nearly always happy and uncomplicated and don’t need a lot to keep their tails wagging. My days would be spent playing, cuddling, talking in the ‘coochie coo’ voice and wiping muddy paws. And getting paid for it. What a life! Yes, you’ve read me right, I am very much a dog lover and have two fur babies at home waiting for me to get back from work.
That is, however, a daydream and, much as I love dogs, I can’t help being one of those complicated humans I describe. Which means I’m a person of two halves. A person who needs the thrill of a challenging day just as much as I need the simple, unquestioning love of my poochie pals. So, whilst I’m sure I would be absolutely delighted to spend my days grooming and walking and feeding and playing fetch for a living, I can’t see that it’s something on the cards in the near future. Living the best life you can is all about finding the perfect balance and meeting as many of your complex needs as you can to reasonable degrees. Which is why you tend to find so many dog lovers working in Employer Marketing. Many of my team, my peers, clients and past employers are self-proclaimed Cynophilists (that’s the technical term for dog lovers, don’t you know). They spend their days immersed in what could almost be described as a ‘human hyperreality’ with anywhere from 40 to 80 hours a week dedicated to thinking about people’s needs and how to meet them. Is it any wonder then that, when they finally get home and melt in the sofa, there’s nothing they want more than a cuddle from their favourite canine pal? I think not.
So here’s to woman and man’s best friend. The domestic doggie. My own personal pooches are called Halo and Bruce. Halo’s a beautiful rescue dog who came into the household just 10 months ago, following the passing of my beloved rescue dog Molly aged 17. She’s settled in brilliantly and she’s so far doing an amazing job of keeping Bruce, my 8-year old miniature Schnauzer, company and me at the top of my game by reminding me of just how easy-going life can be outside of work. What’s your dog called and how have they slotted into your busy life and helped to make it that much happier? I’d love to hear your stories.