We caught up with him to find out how he came to work in financial services, his favourite brands and campaigns, and why it pays for marketers to step outside their comfort zone. Read on for insights from Tom – and a cameo from a fluffy companion…
(If you’d like to be featured in our ‘Day in the Life’ column, get in touch).
Hi Tom. Please describe your job: What do you do?
I’m the Digital Propositions Manager at Just Group. Just is a UK retirement specialist with the purpose of helping people achieve a better later life.
Despite my long job title, I simply see my role as bringing digital initiatives to life – whether it be the creation of a new website, an online tool or thinking about how we can digitalise our existing services to enhance our online offering.
Whereabouts do you sit within the organisation?
I’m part of our Digital Labs team who in turn are a wider function of IT.
What kind of skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Quite simply a good knowledge of digital marketing and a sound understanding of IT principles. Our team, and specifically my role, bridge the gap between marketing and IT so it’s imperative we can communicate clearly with both departments to achieve our objectives.
Tell us about a typical working day…
Alarm sets off at 7am, and after hitting snooze multiple times there’s just time for a quick breakfast, feeding our house rabbit (@sammy_rabbit on Insta) and then heading off for work at 8am.
I begin my picturesque drive through the Surrey Hills (unless Dorking is gridlocked, which happens a lot…). Once arrived, I’ll start checking my inbox and wait to see who blinks first in making the first tea round.
After this, there is no “typical working day”. Each day is so varied, which is one of the reasons I enjoy working at Just and why I have been here for nearly five years.
I try my best to take the whole hour for lunch and do at least three activities a week during this time. I’m fortunate I have a team and manager who support this mindset and actively encourage desk breaks.
My afternoon might consist of generating tags on GTM, catching up with digital agencies and creating webpages/online tools.
Again, I try not to be too late home so I can spend quality time with the wife (or golf course) and catch up on a box set.
I could quite easily check emails out of hours but I purposely choose not to as I’m a firm believer in a solid work/life balance.
Instagram star: Sammy the Mini Lop
What do you love about your job? What sucks?
As mentioned above, I love the variety. Whether I’ve got my head down in Google Analytics, setting up tags in GTM, copy-writing, agency meetings or researching a competitor’s website (all the best ideas are shared), I try and keep things fresh.
What makes the company extra special is, without doubt, the people. Our specific team of five consists of a range of backgrounds, skills and degrees, and it’s this mix that allows us to cover such a wide range of topics.
What sucks? Well, anyone that works in financial services will (or certainly should) understand it can be a slow process to turn around and deliver projects as we are heavily regulated – thus marketing materials need to go through compliance, or at least one stage of sign-off. But, it does mean we can have confidence that all our content is factually correct.
What are your favourite tools to help you to get the job done?
This list is always changing, but right now I couldn’t live without Slack or Trello. Slack is a fantastic way of keeping up to date with team members in other locations. And Trello is by far the slickest collaboration tool I’ve ever used. Ask me again in a year and I’m sure there will be a new flavour of the month.
How did you end up at Just Group, and where might you go from here?
If you’d told me once I graduated that I’d be working in financial services (and still there five years later) I’d have never believed you.
Having previously worked in the sport and media industries, the position at Just stood out as something completely different that would make my marketing knowledge much more rounded.
I’d highly recommend any budding marketers to step out of their comfort zone (even if just for a year or two). It doesn’t necessarily need to be financial services, but working in a range of industries has opened my eyes to so many different things that I never would have otherwise considered.
Which campaigns / experiences have impressed you lately?
It’s not a campaign per se, but I’m staggered that the Kardashian/Jenner brand is still such a force. Even if you don’t like them or know what they do, you’ve probably heard of them! Kris Jenner is a genius for keeping that family in the public eye for so many years.
In terms of companies, I love Innocent Drinks. They were the first company I can remember that made me want to read the ingredients of a product. They just made the boring stuff fun, and I think a lot of organisations – especially in the financial services – can learn from this!
Also a shout out to Bulb who have smashed their UX and made it so easy to switch. Starling Bank also impressed me recently when trying to find best way of spending abroad. These disrupters put their users first and really stand out compared to the competition.
Do you have any advice for those starting a career in marketing?
Don’t worry if you’re currently working in marketing and not sure whether it’s for you. I’ve learnt over the last ten years that there are so many strands to marketing and different directions it can take you. A few years ago I decided to learn HTML, and judging from what interviewers have said, this has stood me apart from similar marketing execs. Especially as the industry becomes more and more digital, I’d recommend a basic level of HTML understanding. W3Schools offer some fantastic tutorials that helped me.
Also, don’t be afraid to promote yourself. I entered into an award not thinking much of it, but I ended up being shortlisted for Rising Star Marketer of the Year and now have it plastered at the top of my CV and LinkedIn profile.
Finally, be nice! It’s nice to be nice, and life’s too short to continuously get frustrated at work.