Animals have always been a huge part of my life.
This is the first part of a three part blog article titled ‘My Previous Life as a Marketer’. Of course, I sat down to write this piece and the story kept growing and growing. I guess there’s a lot to tell. So I’ve broken this one up into three sections. Here’s the first instalment…
I haven’t always been an author, well not in reality, perhaps in my dream life, I was.
Like many people, I hoped and dreamed and wished to become an author long before I was one. It wasn’t until I actually started doing something about it that the dream came true, but that’s another story for another day.
Before I was an author I worked for over ten years in corporate marketing.
I’d studied a Bachelor of Commerce, Majoring in Marketing, at the University of New South Wales. Moving from country NSW to Sydney when I was seventeen I had a few jobs such as a research assistant for one of the university departments then I discovered Franklins Supermarkets.
I got a job as a checkout chick in one small store in Randwick, near where I lived and went to Uni. Franklins built a big, new store right across the road but kept both stores open. Being reliable and eager for work, I was then employed in both outlets. By the time I was nineteen, I was in managerial roles. Front End Controller – working out the front of the store and managing all the people on the checkouts and customers. And Head Cashier – working in the office drawing up rosters, preparing money for the tills, reconciling the day’s takings, counting it – sometimes we made $80,000 a day and I got to play with it all! – then locking it away in the safe.
It was an interesting job. And, of course, for someone who had never had much money before it was liberating to finally be able to support myself and pay my own way through Uni.
I was working forty hours a week, attending Uni sixteen hours a week, studying hours and hours every day and hanging out with friends the rest of the time. I stayed in contact with my friends from Franklins long after I eventually left. One of my best friends today was a girl I originally started working with in the small Franklins store around twenty-five years ago. Time flies.
Looking young and fresh on my University Graduation Day.
I'm with my dad on one of the few occasions he came to Sydney in the twenty-five years I lived there.
The first six months of Uni were a huge shock to me and I almost failed all of my subjects. As I said, I’d moved from the country to the city. I knew nothing about getting by in Sydney and I had very little idea about life and how things worked because I’d led such a protected existence. I didn’t even know you had to press the STOP button on the bus so the driver knew you wanted to get off!
It was a huge shock for me to receive such terrible marks. It spurred me on to do much better, refocus and work harder. From that time on, I only ever received top marks and in the end – despite all the distractions of youth and the bright lights of the big city – I received my degree with Merit.
Once I had to go out into the big world to find a corporate job I realised that my Marketing Degree had prepared me for little of how things really worked.
My degree had taught me the theory of marketing well-established products and brands like Coca-Cola and Kelloggs.
Have you heard of the 4Ps of marketing? Product. Place. Price. Promotion.
Sounds simple right? Well… perhaps a little too simple.
There weren’t any of those jobs actually available in Sydney at the time that I started looking.
Most of the jobs were in finance. Most were marketing services.
What did I know about finance? Nothing.
What did I know about real corporate jobs? Nothing.
What did I really know about marketing after three years of study? Probably nothing much. At least, that’s what I could remember…
I guess that’s the problem of studying theory all the time and studying to pass exams. Tying it all together never really happened. Tying it all together in a realistic environment also never happened.
Or maybe I just failed to retain anything!
Sydney was my home town for twenty-five years.
When I first moved there, I didn't even know how to catch a bus!
Besides which, I didn’t even know how to dress properly to fit into the corporate world.
I went for numerous interviews, but nothing eventuated. I was always told NO or never heard back. I had no experience working in high-end corporate, even though I’d held down a full time job in Franklins for over two years.
My university degree got me the interviews, but I kept failing in the face-to-face. I was nervous, unpolished and inexperienced. It showed.
Luckily, I ended up going for a job interview at a funds management company called Thornton Management. They had about eight people on staff in Sydney, but were owned by Dresdner Bank, the second largest and lesser-known German bank. They also had offices in Hong Kong and England.
The Sales Director liked me but the Managing Director was not fussed on me at all!
Ultimately, it was the Sales Director’s call and he hired me. I think he felt sorry for me. When he asked me in my job interview who my role models were (typical interview question) I said I didn’t have any, that I’d just focused on working hard and that was pretty all I had. There were no marketers that I knew, my immediate family members wouldn’t have known what ‘marketing’ meant, none of them had been to Uni. Could I list some authors? No, I didn’t think that was appropriate. Sensing my own impending failure at yet another interview I got upset and had to hold the tears in.
If I didn’t have any role models, how would I ever be successful in ANY job?
Sitting in the massive boardroom with the biggest table I’d ever seen with stunning silk flower displays and expensive marble statues, I felt lost, alone, overwhelmed and totally out of my depth.
I’m afraid we’ll have to leave it at this for now as the story is getting rather long for one sitting… I’ll continue in next week’s newsletter. Until then, happy writing.