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Learning from the Professionals

By Ella Halstead
April 17 2019

Posted in Blog

Written by Harriet Riley

Listening, learning and observing are key skills for anyone starting out in a career in marketing, according to industry experts at our Marketing Professionals Panel and Q&A Event.

Vince Warnock, Chief Marketing Officer at Cigna New Zealand, Nine Ive, Manager Strategic Engagement at the Tertiary Education Commission, Regan Savage, Acting Chief Customer Officer and Marketing Director at TradeMe, and Mel Borich, Senior Digital Manager at WREDA came together in the awesome new PWC space overlooking the Wellington waterfront to share their tips and tricks for our Summer of Biz students. They spoke about their varied career paths—proving you don’t always have to take the traditional route to be successful—and shared what advice they would give their past selves.

One key piece of advice they had for aspiring marketing professionals was to try and get some sales experience early in your career, as there’s a really strong link between sales and marketing. This helps with being able to read people and understand their motivations, which ultimately helps determine your value proposition.

“Later in your career you might become the head of sales and marketing, so it’s good to have some experience in this area,” Nina Ive said.

However, sales experience isn’t necessarily the be all and end all, our experts said: your attitude and willingness to learn will take you a long way. Mel Borich made it work by saying yes to everything (and then spending the next 6 hours on Google teaching herself how to do it!). One of her career highlights was working on the Bear Grylls Air New Zealand in-flight safety video, the first in-flight safety video to not be filmed on a plane.

Everyone said that the day-to-day variety in their work is one of their favourite parts of working in marketing, as well as seeing the tangible outcomes of their work. Although learning how to juggle priorities (and their diaries) is something they are still working on!

In terms of technology, they acknowledged there can be pressure to feel like you need to stay up to date with the latest trends. Instead of worrying too much about this, the panellists suggest to look for diversity in where you source your inspiration and to surround yourself with people who challenge your thinking and ideas.

“Fundamentally it’s people and human behaviour that marketers need to be aware of—and you can get as much of that from Dickens as you can from Mashable,” said Regan Savage.

“Once you can identify the needs of your customers, then technology should follow the needs,” said Vince Warnock.

In terms of advice for newcomers to the marketing industry, Mel says to make sure you understand what the organisation does, what their goals are, and what they’re trying to achieve. Nina also recommends to be humble and don’t assume you know everything, but harness your fresh perspective to listen and learn from everything that’s going on around you.

If you’re looking for practical ways to listen and learn the panel suggest you grab a mentor, find some podcasts and head along to meetups and events like Summer of Biz bootcamps to engage in the industry.

Thank you very much to Vince, Mel, Regan and Nina for taking the time to share their thoughts with us all. Also a special thank you to PWC for hosting us and Alyson Garrido for chairing the panel.

If you’re interested in signing up for events like this, just login to your Summer of Biz profile and register yourself for the event. If you’re new to Summer of Biz you can sign up here (it’s free!). You’ll be asked to make a profile and then you’ll be able to register for any of our events throughout the year and see all our internship listings too.

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