Umair Sadiq Account Manager Shaping Business.
Umair built a solid platform for his career with a degree in Textile Management and Marketing followed on by an MSc in Marketing.
Several months of volunteering and interning saw him progress into Marketing positions with TEDx and more recently into account management.
What attracted you to a career in Marketing?
Marketing has always fascinated me. It’s the fact that a consumer chooses a certain product/service over another of a similar type and price is a result of the marketing and branding effort that goes into it. Also the realisation that consumers are willing to pay premium for a brand with features and benefits similar to another brand is a great work of marketing. To be able to take an idea/product/service and build it into a desirable brand delivering great value is what attracted me to a career in marketing. By delving into the world of marketing I was surprised to see how much is involved in marketing; its creativity, it’s art and graphics, it’s communication, it’s psychology, it’s analytics and it’s increasingly becoming techy – and I loved it!
On top of that, I guess our generation cannot avoid admitting how Apple the brand led by Steve Jobs inspired so many of us into pursuing marketing as a career and build the next big brands.
Tell us about your route in Marketing?
Marketing is a lot more than the common misconception of field sales and outbound telephone calls. When I first started my degree I really had to clarify it to everyone what marketing meant and the variety of careers a marketer could have. My route into marketing started with a Bachelors degree i.e. BBA (Hons.) in Textile Management and Marketing. I was lucky enough to have one of the best professors for marketing who explained every concept with his own practical experience as a senior marketing professional, which made things so much clearer and exciting. I followed that degree which had an inclination towards textiles, with a more specialist MSc. Marketing degree to increase my career options outside of textiles.
In the build up to my career and route into marketing, internships and voluntary work played a big role in where I am now. These experiences gave me clarity about the life of a marketing professional, and enabled me to apply my theoretical knowledge in the practical world. For me the key was to do internships in a variety of industry sectors and get a flavour for what was involved. This helped me in deciding the industry sector I really wanted to get into since I had experienced a few by the end of my degree.
Similarly, voluntary work was the other way of gaining practical experience. These are valuable experiences; be it marketing related experience as the Marketing Director for TEDx Salford, or non-marketing related work with Rotary International. Things I learned while being involved in voluntary work helped in polishing not only my marketing skills but also the ‘soft skills’ like team-work, communication skills, project management, etc. My degrees combined with the internships and volunteering was my route into the marketing career.
Briefly talk us through a typical day as in your current job
My day at Shaping Business, starts with an early morning workload planning for the day and progress updates on the weekly plans with my Director and then we crack on with the prioritised work schedule. There are multiple client projects; all at different stages of progress and all different to each other. So it is vital to be able to prioritise work, be able to multi task, keep each client informed and deliver work on time. Before lunch, I spend some time monitoring social media for business and clients. Marketing intelligence is valuable to our clients so we constantly gather intelligence through social media for our clients, while implementing the digital marketing plans. Lunch is the time to get some fresh air with a few stretches to relax.
Post lunch there’s a quick update on work progress with the Director and then we carry on with the work till the end of the day. During all this time clients are kept updated at every stage so email exchanges and teleconferencing keeps taking place throughout the day to keep the client updated and get approvals at different stages. Before the close of day there is a brief wrap up exercise in order to tick off the completed tasks and end the day on a high seeing the progress on client work. A bit of end of the day discussions with the team, and it’s time to drive back to Manchester.
What are the biggest challenges you have faced throughout your marketing career and how have you overcome them?
With the increasing focus on social media, use of marketing automation, changing buyer behaviours, and the technology disruption in marketing, the biggest challenge has been to stay updated with the latest trends and technologies impacting the consumers/buyers and influencing the marketing agenda. It is a dynamic market with something new at least every quarter that can influence marketing and you need to be aware of them if not on top of the matters. Over the last few years this has been the biggest challenge i.e. to catch up with the latest in marketing. The clients want and expect you to be aware and guide them about the latest fads/trends in marketing, so it is vital to address this challenge and bring value to the table for the client.
To overcome these challenges, I used a multi-channel approach. I joined the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) as an Associate member (ACIM), that gave an opportunity to attend relevant industry events while networking with fellow and senior marketers. The perks of living in the age of Internet and social media mean that you can always stay updated if you make enough effort; through webinars, online magazines, industry blogs, LinkedIn groups, and following the industry influencers. That’s how I overcome the challenge of keeping abreast with the latest in marketing.
What would you describe as your biggest personal strengths and assets that have ensured success in your career?
For me, as I got more into marketing, I started enjoying it more. It has been the passion and determination of doing what I enjoy in the best way I can that has led to the success in my career. When you enjoy doing something, it shows in your thinking, in your talking and you look forward to doing those exciting things. Colleagues and clients see my passion for it when they hear me talk about marketing related stuff and elaborating how I work on making a company and its product/service into a valuable brand. Marketing then becomes a part of everyday life and you find marketing ideas and inspiration around you everywhere. That’s become the strength for me now; the thinking process and the approach to problem solving has become.
If you could give a single piece of advice to someone looking to get into their own marketing career what would it be?
I would like to give a few bits of advice to the youngsters looking to get into a marketing career. Professional networking is really important especially at the beginning of the career. There are a few professional bodies for marketers like the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), the Institute of Direct and Digital Marketing (IDM), Direct Marketing Association (DMA) etc. where you can meet fellow marketing professionals and senior marketers. It is a good opportunity to learn from the industry professionals, get a heads up on what’s the latest in the marketing world and what kind skills are in demand. Having a mentor in as valuable in your professional life and if you can find your self a good mentor through professional networking, that will help you a long way.
The other very important is to gain work experience through internships/volunteering before you finish your degrees/ certificates. These can help you decide if this really is what you want as a career and do you feel passionate about it to pursue marketing as a career. It can help polish your core marketing skills as well as improve soft skills the employers are looking for, like project management, computer/software literacy, business communication skills, etc. There is always a chance that you would get a job offer from the employer, if you demonstrate yourself as a valuable person during the internship/ work experience.