Ten years on…


This month marks ten years since I first started full-time work, having left Nottingham University in June 1998.

My first “proper” job was as a marketing trainee on the Boots plc graduate scheme. To be honest I can’t remember why I opted to apply for a scheme that focussed on marketing – when talking to potential employers on the milkround I think marketing looked like the most interesting and exciting discipline on offer from many graduate employers.

Since that first day in September 2008 spent learning about the dynamics of the dental products market, the first ten years of my marketing and, subsequently, public relations career have been exciting and, best of all, unpredictable.

One thing I did spot early on in my career was how the internet was changing the world that we worked in. I’d built my first very basic website while at university, but had been amazed to find that when I joined Boots access to the internet was seen as a luxury, only to be used for business purposes (and even that was hard as there was so little relevant information on the web anyway). Emails were still a novelty, with most suppliers still communicating by letter and fax.

I was lucky enough to land a placement in the Boots team that looked after e-commerce – an exciting place to be as Boots started to wake up to the potential of the internet.

I was hooked by the digital revolution and pretty quickly moved to London to join the world’s first transactional interactive television service, Open, which was subsequently acquired by Sky and became the start of the Sky Active service.

In many ways Open had a lot in common with many start-ups around that time, despite its ownership by four large companies. The pace of change and entrepreneurial nature of marketing in that environment made it an exciting and challenging place to be.

In mid-2001 I was headhunted to join Egg to manage their interactive television service on the Open platform. Almost three years of exciting work and great people later, I left Egg and, via a six month contract stint as Account Director at a branding agency, I ended up doing something very different.

Working in local government marketing wasn’t something I set out to do at the start of my career, but four years on I look back on the decision to join Medway Council without regret. I had to learn much about applying my marketing skills in a range of campaigns much broader than I’d worked on previously, and any myths about the pace of life in local government being slow have been well and truly blown away.

Perhaps most significantly, the role has given me the opportunity to broaden my skills and responsibilities to include public relations – an area I’d not previously worked in. I have since taken the CIPR Diploma to give me a greater understanding of public relations theory.

Looking back on the ten years, it’s really interesting to see both how I have changed and developed professionally over the time, as well as to think about how much the environment marketing and public relations have to operate in has changed. The contrast between today’s web 2.0 world and the way the internet was on my first day at Boots is stark.

I certainly couldn’t have predicted where my career has taken me in ten years, nor where the internet would develop in that time, so I’m not going to make any predictions about either over the next ten years.

My focus will be to ensure I continue to learn more and adapt to the changing communications environment in which I work. Where that journey will take my career, who knows, but as long as it continues to be this enjoyable, I don’t mind.

Given almost all my readers weren’t people I knew ten years ago, I’d be fascinated to hear what you were doing ten years ago. What job did you have and what’s been your most enduring memory of the past ten years of your professional life?