Throughout my career in marketing and communications I’ve had the privilege of working alongside some really interesting people in some truly inspirational businesses, from large corporate PR agencies such as Weber Shandwick UK, one of the world’s largest global public relations firms with offices all over the world, to entrepreneurial technology business like on-demand staffing platform Coople who launched in the UK in March 2016.
Big Corporates versus SME’s & Entrepreneurs
Working with large corporates has lots of benefits, especially when starting out in your career. I know I was extremely lucky to be presented with fantastic opportunities for growth and promotion, training to further my career; I was constantly meeting new people and building my own personal network of contacts. However, early on in my career I discovered working for big corporates wasn’t a natural fit for me.
Through making a move from global PR agency Weber Shanwick UK to a small marketing agency called Riddle International, I discovered my love of working for, and with, smaller businesses that have the ability to be more nimble and innovative in their approach. Having started out as PA to the CEO, Nelson Skip Riddle, I swiftly moved into a new business role, supporting the team on new business pitches, research projects, mystery shops and a whole lot more.
And yes, for those music lovers out there, Nelson Skip Riddle is the son Nelson Riddle, one of the greatest arrangers in the history of American popular music, having arranged for and played with many famous vocalists including Nat King Cole, Frank Sinatra, Dean Marti, Ella Fitzgerald and Linda Ronstadt. So as you can imagine, karaoke evenings often presented a battle for the microphone.
So, whilst working at Riddle International, not only had I unknowingly discovered a secret love of singing, I had found my love of all things marketing AND a love of working with small, nimble, exciting businesses with big ideas.
Mobile technology – a booming industry beckons…
There is never a dull moment when working with entrepreneurs and for some reason one sports brand slogan springs to mind – IMPOSSIBLE IS NOTHING – this is a core belief I think all entrepreneurs hold close to their hearts.
In fact, at the next company I worked with where I held the position of head of brand and communications, we chose the slogan ‘ENDLESS POSSIBILITIES…’ – it was very apt for a business that extended it’s product offering from a mobile technology and services provider (incorporating mobile billing and mobile messaging) to being an award winning, fast growing technology business that comprised a unique blend of services including mobile advertising, mobile marketing, mobile technology and services provision, multi-channel digital solutions, mobile internet publishing, experiential design and application development.
Mobile Interactive Group (or MIG as it was fondly known in the industry), held innovation at it’s core, was creative in its thinking, thrived on a challenge and delivered some incredible, ground breaking multi-channel concepts to market that delivered real results for its customers. Check out some client news stories with ITV, FIVE, O2, Vodafone, Comic Relief, M&S and Skype.
I joined MIG when the business was 20 people strong and 12 months old – fast forward seven years to it’s acquisition by Velti for $59m in November 2011. During this time the company had grown considerably to over 250 staff, operated in multiple territories, had acquired a couple of technology businesses en route to bolser growth, namely mobile payments provider Zaypay and mobile marketing and CRM software provider Piri, and scooped up many awards, for example…
- Sunday Times Tech Track winner – Ranked ‘No.1 as the fastest growing technology company in the UK’
- Media Momentum Awards winner – ‘Fastest Growing Digital Media Company’ and ranked ‘No.1 in the Media Momentum Top 50 list’
- Growing Business Awards winner
- Ernst and Young Young Entrepreneur of the Year winner – Barry Houlihan (my boss and the CEO)
- MIG ranked No.1 Mobile Agency in the NMA Marketing Services Guide for three consecutive years (2008, 2009, 2010)
Opportunities to be thankful for
It was during these seven years a MIG that I learnt the most – about how to do lots of things really, really well, and some valuable lessons about how not to do some things. It’s also where I had the fortune to meet some incredibly inspiring people that have made their dreams a reality.
As my knowledge and network grew, I wanted to give myself the opportunity to work in a plethora of businesses and it’s from the foundation of my previous positions that the idea to contract for a bit came to mind. In my latter years at MIG I was regularly asked ‘When are you going freelance?’ – ‘Do let me know when you’re available for contract work, I have some great projects I’d like to collaborate on’.
I am extremely grateful and thankful to all of the people I’ve met so far on my career journey, and for the lessons and opportunities that have presented themselves along the way. It is only upon reflection that one is able to join the dots and I still love working with, and for, entrepreneurs who have founded technology businesses – their energy, spirit and ‘can do’ attitude is contagious.