Ambition is important, but it’s meaningless if there’s no true passion underlying it. For anyone aspiring to be a high-flying marketing professional, the top priority is to find a love for the work. Employers, colleagues, clients and peers will all respond favourably to your positive energy, and this in turn inspires your creativity and motivation. For me, cultivating that passion has created a virtuous circle: the happier I am, the better the work I produce, leading to a greater career fulfillment.
While passion is key to success, there’s still no 100-percent fool-proof guidebook to follow. However, here are some boxes that all successful marketers have checked off their ‘career bucket list’.
Choose your environment wisely
Research potential employers like you would research holiday destinations or your first date. Find out all you can about their corporate culture, and only settle for the very best. Companies known for their inclusive and diverse corporate cultures tend to attract and retain talent and outperform competition. A McKinsey report found that gender- and ethnically-diverse companies were, respectively, 15 percent and 35 percent more likely to outperform their competitors. Seek out environments that are committed to diversity, inclusion, and focused on talent development.
I can’t stress this enough: corporate culture is a real thing and it matters a lot. The right environment will allow you to flourish.
Build your brand
Working hard, although essential, is not enough. Anyone can put in long hours. Your work — your brand — needs to punctuate the noise. To do this, you must keep learning and perfect your niche.
Commit to constant development, which means broadening your skills through continuing education. Seek out training opportunities and workshops. Take courses after work. In marketing, technology is constantly changing how we connect and engage with customers, so you need to be on top of the latest trends and digital platforms.
Your work attitude is just as important as your aptitude. Enthusiasm is key. Be authentic and get involved. Constantly offer solutions, never problems. Bring a ‘get-stuff-done’ stubbornness.
Don’t take yourself too seriously
As you climb the ranks, don’t forget to stop and smell the roses. Enjoy the journey, and never forget where you started from. There were great marketers before you, and there will be great marketers after you. So learn to take criticism, thank your mentors, pass on your knowledge and have fun along the way.
Sunshine Farzan is vice-president and head of marketing at MetLife in Hong Kong, and a member of the 40 Under 40 in 2015.