Can you tell us a bit about you and your career:
I originally started my career in Experian in customer services in a call centre in 2012. Reading off a script and repeating myself day in day out. I knew this wasn’t what I wanted to do but with no degree and no experience in anything else it was a struggle. I applied for a job off the phones, in the admin department, scanning hundreds of documents for 8 hours straight. This was worse than being on the phone! I developed a friendship with someone in HR and they contacted me about a job in marketing, so I jumped at the opportunity. I got the interview and thrived in it. The brief for the presentation was to show how you’d market their services; it was exactly what I wanted to do so I was over the moon when I got the job. My first day was a huge disappointment. I was gutted! The first thing they showed me to do was data-driven; I had to handle data all day organising inputs and outputs. This was not what I envisioned from the interview.
Nine months down the line and I’m struggling, I saw on the internal internet that there was a secondment available for 9 months as a Campaign Executive, so I thought ‘you know what, I’m going to apply’. I don’t think I’ve ever blagged something so hard in all my life! I managed to get the job and I finally found my calling. Unfortunately, it wasn’t forever because it was only a secondment, so after 9 months, I had to go back to the data-role which I hated so I then started looking for Marketing Assistant roles outside of Experian.
From there I went on to Source BioScience as a Marketing Assistant where I realised digital marketing was what I really was passionate about, and it was here in April 2016 that I created Parvenue Marketing. I always wanted to work for myself, but I knew with my huge lack of knowledge that that was a long way off. I needed to learn a lot and as quickly as possible. I went from Source BioScience to Nottingham Trent University as a Junior Campaign Analyst; to a Digital Marketing Executive at Derwent Students to finally becoming a Digital Marketing Manager at The Charlesworth Group, an academic publishing company. So, as you can see my background is very varied in industries. All the while I was managing Parvenue Marketing in my spare time so I could teach myself as much as possible about digital marketing so I could prove my experience over the qualifications which I didn’t have.
I finally became self-employed in October 2018 and I haven’t looked back since. If you’re passionate enough about something and you want it bad enough, you’ll find any way you can to get it. It takes blood, sweat and tears but when you get to the start of your goal, it’s definitely happy tears and you’ll carry on sweating because you want to improve every day, and the blood turns into blood pressure due to stress; but it’s good stress! So long as you believe in yourself, ask as many questions as possible and have support behind you, you’ve got nothing to stop you.
A typical day in your career:
I wake up at 6:30 am every day; I’ll check my emails alongside a bucket of coffee and start my day off with admin and answer my client’s queries. I’m a visual person so I have to make a checklist so I know I’ve covered everything that needs doing that day. I’ll do about 3-4 hours of work and then I’ll go to the gym for 90 minutes. It’s so important to find what makes you sane. For me, it’s exercise; when I’m in the gym working out, I’m not thinking about anything; when I’m not at the gym, I don’t switch off. Have I sent that invoice? Did I send that email? Who do I need to call next? It’s a constant cycle of making sure you’re on track because when you work for yourself, it’s only you that can mess up. You can’t blame anyone other than yourself, so there will always be that added pressure. When I’m done at the gym, I’ll go home and work for another 6-7 hours, usually shutting down around 7 pm. Depending on the day, I’ll sometimes be in my client’s office, but I usually work from home.
“It’s a constant cycle of making sure you’re on track because when you work for yourself, it’s only you that can mess up.”
How did you get to where you are now, and did you face any challenges along the way?
When I was working at Source BioScience, I wanted to learn as much as possible so that’s when I decided to create Parvenue Marketing. I didn’t tell anyone and was teaching website management and PPC in my spare time until one day I got called into my manager's office and got asked what Parvenue Marketing was. One of my teammates had seen the page on Facebook and grassed me up. The CEO stated that I couldn’t do what I was doing because it was a ‘conflict of interest’ so I quit the following week. Luckily I had landed the job at NTU the same day I quit which then gave me the opportunity to learn how to work Google Analytics with my eyes shut. My journey hasn’t been easy, but if it’s easy, is it worth doing? I feel you appreciate the journey more if you’ve had a few bumps in the road.
“I feel you appreciate the journey more if you’ve had a few bumps in the road.”
What’s great about being a female in your role?
There aren’t many females who I have come across who are in Digital Marketing who are self-employed. When you walk into an office, the marketing department is always primarily female, but I’d love to see more of them knowing their abilities and owning themselves. Having the confidence to know they can also do it. Being a female in my role is great when you get random people asking you, ‘What do you do?’ and I answer, ‘I own a Digital Marketing company’ and their eyes go really wide and they’re like ‘What does that mean?’. I love explaining what I do and then seeing their reaction. It’s a great sense of pride and I wish I shared it with more like-minded women.
What is your biggest achievement in life?
Managing my Diabetes. I was 15 when I was diagnosed, and I’ve recently created a blog to help support other people (mainly women) who are struggling with the condition. Losing weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle is incredibly hard when you get life throwing all kind of random things at you. So, I’m currently building a support network for other diabetics who need help emotionally and physically. It’s been great to see people come forward and ask me questions and talk to other diabetics who experience the same highs and lows as you do. I’ve been with my Diabetes longer than I’ve been without it now and it’s not going anywhere so I intend of taking good care of it so I can get the most out of life.
What is the biggest lesson that you’ve learnt along the way?
Always trust your gut instinct and don’t listen to negativity. There’s a difference between someone telling you you’re doing something wrong or giving you their advice and someone just being plain negative towards what you’re doing as a whole and what their opinion is.
“Always trust your gut instinct and don’t listen to negativity.”
What three tips would you give to young females starting their careers?
- Don’t let people put you down, if you know what you want and how to roughly get there, stick to your path, you’ll get there in the end.
- Learn as much as you can about your passion, knowledge is power, the more you know the more you can pass on and it’ll only make you better at growing your business.
- Ask questions and listen. There is always going to be someone out there who’s bigger and better, who knows more than you. It’s these people you need to learn from, don’t be afraid to ask. If you don’t ask, you don’t get.
What is the best bit of advice that you have ever been given?
Kill people with kindness. My Mum has drilled this into me since I was a child. When I was growing up and she’d say it, it used to grind on me because I’d be frustrated at something someone may have said or a situation I may have been in, but the older I’ve got, the more it’s made sense. And ‘killing people with kindness’ only makes you the better person. You’ll be surprised at how good it makes you feel.
“killing people with kindness only makes you the better person. You’ll be surprised at how good it makes you feel.”
Can you talk about one woman who has impacted your life?
There’s a woman who has impacted my life and there’s a woman who has impacted my career. The woman who has impacted my life is my mother. She’s always encouraged me to go with what makes me happy. She’ll always support me, and she’ll always be the first one to say she’s proud of me, regardless of what it is that I’ve achieved. The woman who impacted my career is a woman called Sarah Williams. Sarah was who gave me the opportunity in the secondment at Experian and she pushed me to the extremes. I used to look at her and think ‘I want to be as good at my job as you are.’ She supported me in looking for another job when my secondment was due to end, sitting with me for hours going over interview questions, and basically pushing me into the right direction in general when it came to marketing. She created what I am today.
Do you think enough is being done by businesses to address gender imbalance?
I genuinely think a lot of it gets brushed under the carpet. There are still aspects that are incredibly old fashioned when it comes to gender and business and I think in this day and age it’s disgusting. Women earning more than men is almost frowned upon, men staying at home to bring up children whilst the woman goes to work, is frowned upon – women should be the ones to stay at home; women not getting paid as much as men in the workplace, it’s all just ridiculous. A lot more could be being done but I think people’s priorities are in different orders.
What are some strategies that can help women achieve a more prominent role in their organizations?
Be strong, stick to your guns and if your gut tells you it’s the right thing to do, then do it. Always listen, show empathy and always be honest. You get out of something what you put into it, if you work hard enough and commit yourself to achieving it, then you will. Don’t give up and just keep chipping away, you’ll appreciate it a whole lot more once you get there. And nine times out of ten, it’s not what you know, it’s who you know. Always make the effort to network and utilise the opportunities you get to meet new people.
“You get out of something that you put into it, if you work hard enough and commit yourself to achieve it, then you will.”
What's the best piece of advice you’ve been given?
Roll with the punches; being a contractor, you only have yourself to depend on. You may only get 4 hours sleep some nights and be nearly killing yourself but the following week, your contracts might terminate, and you might be back to looking for work. You must take the rough with the smooth and working for yourself, you’ll learn a hell of a lot more about you, and what you’re capable of.
What would you say to your 16-year-old self?
Forget about the boys, go to university and get the marketing degree to make your life easier and get a marketing assistant job in London afterwards, you’ll love it there!
We hope you enjoyed reading Emilys Q&A! If you want to read more, why not check out Jasmeen Armani, Creative Director.