Natalie Neil has a degree in Marketing and Communications from Glasgow Caledonian University. She currently handles campaigns, communications and social media at the Cultural Enterprise Office in Glasgow. She also volunteered in Marketing roles at the Glasgow Film Festival and Oxjam.
You graduated from Glasgow Caledonian University with a BA in Marketing and Communications in 2004. You went to degree relevant employment relatively quickly - can you describe your transition from being a student to a professional?
Natalie: It actually took me a few years to get into a marketing related role. My first job was more sales focussed but it definitely gave me plenty of confidence and I learned a lot about cars! I had worked in customer service roles since I was 16, so I was no stranger to dealing with the public.
There is a strong link between marketing and sales, and I think as a marketer it’s important to have an understanding of the client interaction.
Tell us about your typical day at the Cultural Enterprise Office.
Natalie: It's the cliché of no two days are the same. Most mornings start at our office in South Block, a block of artist studios in the Merchant City in Glasgow. Once a cup of tea is poured, I’ll check emails, social media and write my to do list for the day. It's the only way I remember all the jobs we have on the go.
CEO provide business support to creative businesses across Scotland. My role is varied and I get to work and meet some really interesting people, which I love.
My days can be filled with sending email campaigns, planning social media and website content, writing copy, promoting our programmes (Starter for 6 or Flourish), event planning, or out and about interviewing and filming our clients. Another day could involve attending an event or exhibition to represent the organisation and spreading the word about our services.
You also took a career break at one point - why was this important to you, and did it help you to gain a perspective on the direction you wanted to take?
Natalie: I’d had the travel bug since I worked for a summer in San Francisco as a student - it was always on my bucket list.
Although I loved my job at the time, I knew that if I didn’t do it then, I never would. I can easily say it was the best decision I've made professionally and personally, and would recommend it to anyone.
I came back right in the middle of the recession and had to waitress and temp initially - companies weren’t hiring in marketing. Luck struck when a temporary receptionist role at Business Gateway turned into a marketing role. Very much right place at the right time.
You still find time to volunteer in Marketing and Communications roles - e.g. at the Glasgow Film Festival in 2015 and Oxjam in 2014. How would you contrast paid and unpaid work in a similar position? Do you intend to carry on volunteering?
Natalie: I would say it’s more that I make time rather than I find time! I get a lot out of volunteering, always have. I’m a sucker for a good cause.
I'm lucky as CEO have been flexible to allow me to work in these roles. Working with the film and music festival complimented my CEO role, and both helped me develop new skills and gain experience.
Volunteering is a challenge - for Oxjam it was selling tickets and raising money for charity, and with the film festival it was making sure that the red carpet events ran smoothly. Both challenging and incredibly rewarding, and I got to meet and work with some great people.
What qualities would you say graduates should particularly work on if they wish to succeed at building a Marketing career?
Natalie: Be curious - things change constantly and it’s impossible to keep up to date with everything. Don’t be afraid to ask someone who knows - having a network of contacts helps with this greatly. Similarly, if you start a job in an industry you’re unfamiliar with – immerse yourself in it and become an expert.
Be versatile, work in different industries, roles, projects and take every opportunity you're offered to make your CV attractive to future employers.
Be enthusiastic and prepared to roll your sleeves up, get stuck in and think on your feet. In marketing roles I’ve delivered boxes of donuts to customers, dressed up as a beautician and spray tanned customers at an exhibition, and spent a day filming down a back-street lane. Not glamourous, but interesting.
@NatalieNeil | @CEOScotland