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How I Became A Marketing Director

29th April 2024

Job Title: Director, Elevator Promotions

The Post Holder: Cliodhna Kernohan

A chance opportunity has led to a successful career in the marketing industry for Cliodhna Kernohan.

Give a brief outline of your career to date.

I started out in textile design in London and on my return to Belfast, landed in the marketing department of the 3fivetwo Healthcare Group working my way up to Marketing Manager of over five brands under the 3fivetwo umbrella. From here, I moved on to Elevator Promotions, where I have been for the past eight years. I love that no day is the same at Elevator and I have the pleasure of working with some of Northern Ireland’s finest brands.

What was your favourite subject at school?

Hands down Art (with Spanish a close second). From first year right through to A-level it was all I wanted to do.

Did you go on to further/higher education, if so what did you study and where?

Yes, I studied Textile Design at Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design in London.

How did you get into your area of work?

I sort of fell into marketing on the back on my desire to get into a creative profession while I planned to start my own textile design company (still on the agenda!). 3fivetwo Healthcare was a leading provider of private healthcare when I came back from London and it was a matter of right time, right place, as they were looking for someone to help work with agencies on their rebrand and new web build, so it seemed like a good temporary solution for me while I figured things out, but here I am – 14 years later – with an IPM Diploma in Promotional in Marketing under my belt and working as a Director for a very successful marketing agency.

Were there any particular essential qualifications or experience needed?

For almost any marketing job, companies require a marketing degree or related discipline and/or minimum number of years in the industry, despite this, I did get an interview and it went very well as they were interested in my work ethic, communication skills, ability to work at pace and design experience – so I must have said something right! This gave me the stepping stone I needed to kick-start my career in marketing.

Are there alternative routes into the job?

A marketing degree or similar is what tends to get a candidate through to the interview stage, BUT that said, sometimes companies are willing to consider those with relevant experience, so my tip would be to get yourself out there – gain experience, make contacts, network and you never know when your next big break could come.

What are the main personal skills your job requires?

Top of the list is definitely people skills – the ability to build relationships with clients and gain their trust is key and teamwork is essential.

What does a typical day entail?

No such thing as a ‘typical’ day at Elevator and that’s why I love it, but that said, every day does start with a cuppa! As our offering is so extensive and our clients are so diverse, it’s never a one size fits all. In any given day, I could be writing T&Cs for a promotion, organising sampling events, liaising with influencers for client collaborations, brainstorming and writing up proposals for new product launches/ services.

What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?

The best aspects of the job are the team; I work with a great bunch of people all with different ideas, approaches and personalities. Our client base is so diverse that it keeps work interesting – no brief, budget, or objective is ever the same. One of the most challenging aspects would be the pace – agency life moves quickly, so prioritising job lists and managing time can be challenging.

Why is what you do important?

We establish that point of connection between a brand and consumer – we help brands engage and excite their customers through innovative marketing which will in turn strengthen relationships and brand loyalty.

What advice would you give anyone looking to follow a similar career path?

Go for it. It’s hard work but it’s a lot of fun too. If you are at the start of your marketing career, look at where your skill set lies and what you could bring to a role – passionate and authentic CVs most definitely stand out from the ‘cut and paste’ CVs. If you’re interested in the agency and their clients, demonstrate this is your covering letter and CV, be confident and assertive.

If you weren’t doing this what would you like to do?

Designing woven fabrics for childrenswear from a picturesque Spanish town a stone’s throw from the capital.

What is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself on your first day?

You’ve got this!

And finally, what’s the key to any successful job search?

Perseverance and an open mind.

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