Women Lead: My passion for young people to consider a career in digital
Twenty years ago, I stumbled across my career in digital marketing almost by accident. It was during my honours degree in marketing at Glasgow Caledonian University. I was on work experience with the careers service at the university. Back then, they were working on groundbreaking stuff, and wanted my help with a big project they had begun working on – using digital to connect with students. They were in the process of transferring their key resources from offline to online. I was hooked, I loved the immediacy of digital – and I was subsequently offered a job as a marketing assistant at the university in 2004.
Since that time and having had that initial working experience at Glasgow Caledonian University, throughout my career one of my key passions has been to help young people view digital as a career of choice. It’s an industry that can be misunderstood, particularly digital marketing. I get frustrated with family and friends who see it just as a means of selling. The truth is there is so much more to it than that, with it actually being of real value and benefit to the consumer, when it is done properly. One of the key reasons for the misconceptions around what we do is the terminology we often use, which can make it seem inaccessible. However, once you get to grips with the key acronyms, it’s pretty straightforward.
It has been my mission, particularly in my current role as marketing director at digital transformation agency, Equator, to get young people to see that they can have a credible, enjoyable, and fascinating career in digital and tech. I absolutely love my job; I love working in digital marketing. Digital is an industry which is fast-paced, ever-evolving and continually growing, and an exciting career choice for those who are just entering the workforce no matter where their skills and passions lie.
As a company, we engage a lot with universities and schools, taking this passion for digital with us. For instance, every year I connect with a local school to mark BIMA Digital Day, a UK-wide initiative to give 11–16-year-olds an insight into the world of digital careers, helping to bring digital to life for them.
Last year, we visited Bellshill Academy in Glasgow, where I led a session for S3 pupils giving insight and advice on working in the world of digital, in which pupils were set a real-life challenge by the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) on Climate Change. In addition, we are highly involved with universities. In the case of Strathclyde University, where several Equator employees have graduated from, we are actively involved in the Masters in digital marketing management and deliver many of the lectures as part of the course. I also often go back to Glasgow Caledonian University to lead guest lectures and co-host workshops on employability skills.
Recently, I was nominated and selected for the 2022 BIMA 100 list, which recognises the UK’s most influential people in digital and tech. It’s a great honour to be acknowledged by the industry in this way. Part of the reason for this nomination is the innovative ways we deliver for our clients, as well as the work I do in my marketing role giving back to the community, in schools and universities, helping young people to consider digital as a career of choice.
I am also conscious that those who have just graduated and entered the world of work do need a certain degree of support and help in the first instance. I’m passionate about enabling our new recruits to ‘hit the ground running’ by providing the training they require to do the job well, so they are able to look back at their early career experiences in a positive light. One of the greatest rewards of my job is to see graduates who join the company, and my team, flourish. I’m delighted that one of my team members, Alex Smith, who joined Equator four years ago after graduating, was recently shortlisted in the ‘rising agency star’ category of The Marketing Society Scotland Star Awards.
To anyone reading this who might be considering a career in digital or tech, my advice is to just do it! Digital is not only the future for all of us, but also already ingrained in everything we do. Every single sector embraces digital in one form or another. Learn as much as you can, take advantage of work experience placements that many digital agencies and workplaces offer, get involved in networking and industry events. Put yourself out there and who knows who or what you might stumble across.
Fiona Gray is marketing director at digital transformation agency, Equator.