Marketers across every sector are rebranding their careers by transferring their rich knowledge and unique skills into new roles that often break the mould.
A great example is Sherine Yap, who describes herself as a new breed of marketer. Following a string of roles both on agency side and as a brand marketer, Yap was appointed global head of CRM at oil giant Shell in January 2015.
She explains how the organisation “took a chance” on her, asking her to bring the customer centricity and commerciality of her brand marketing roots into the world of data. It was Yap’s rich experience in other areas of marketing that made the career rebrand possible.
“What I bring into the role is commerciality. I understand the customer and I understand the commercial aspects, and my big tip if you want to get your messages up to the C-Suite is you need to speak the language of finance and business,” she explains.
Helen Tupper, a marketing director at Microsoft and co-founder of career development and training business Amazing If, recognises the choice being faced by marketers about whether to take a vertical or horizontal career path.
“You could progress your career vertically taking one discipline, like brand marketing and going for it. And you could be very good at that, but you’ll probably tap out in your organisation, because to keep learning you’re probably going to need to go elsewhere,” she says.
“Or you might want to be more of a horizontal marketer who has a few more strings to their bow.”
Always having customer and commercial at my heart has taught me to trust my instincts.
Tupper’s own CV spans a diverse range of roles from innovation venture manager at energy company E.ON to global head of customer experience and thought leadership at BP, and head of insight at Virgin, leading a team of data analysts.
In October, Tupper traded in her role as head of marketing at loyalty app Virgin Red for evangelism marketing director in the developer experience (DX) division at Microsoft.
As her career has transitioned from innovation and customer experience to insight and tech, Tupper has come to believe that moving into data or sales makes you more valuable both as a marketer and a future leader.
“I think if you’re a horizontal marketer you can pick a few more disciplines within marketing and can be more valuable to your organisation, because you’ve got a better understanding of the end-to-end picture of marketing. You add more value to the business and you become more valuable yourself,” she explains.
Having confidence in the unique skills you bring to a role is crucial for a career rebrand to work, especially in a fast-paced industry where marketers can find themselves taking on roles that had previously not existed.
“This is something that’s happening more and more,” says Alessandra Di Lorenzo, chief commercial officer, media and partnerships at Lastminute.com Group.
“The skills people have coming into the industry means jobs are changing so quickly. You’ve got new roles like data analyst or audience specialist, so for hiring managers to find a like-for-like match is very difficult. It means there’s an opportunity to really shine [as a marketer] from an attitude perspective and your lateral skills come into play when you’re moving around.”
An understanding of the marketing ecosystem has helped make her a more well-rounded and strategic marketer, says Di Lorenzo, for whom commerciality is a common thread running throughout her diverse career.
Since being appointed business development manager at Yahoo Mobile in 2007, Di Lorenzo has served as head of strategic partnerships EMEA at Nokia, head of mobile marketing at Vodafone and commercial director at eBay Advertising.
Now as Lastminute.com Group commercial director Di Lorenzo manages 55 people across seven locations spanning the group’s travel websites Lastminute.com (in the UK and France), Volagratis (in Italy), Rumbo (Spain) and social travel network Wayn, as well as media business Travel People.
“My role is very much a crossover between marketing and commercial, that’s why I…