Tell me a little bit about yourself.
My first job – many years ago – was in telephone sales at the Evening Standard. I got my first taste of leadership after I worked my way up the ladder to become a senior sales manager, which in those days was no mean feat!
Part of that job was a responsibility for many of the marketing materials, which was something I found I really enjoyed, so decided to pursue a career in marketing. I was lucky enough to receive great training and support from Associated Newspapers (AN) which owned the Evening Standard and worked my way further up the ladder to become the paper’s Marketing Manager.
As the world moved digital, so too did the newspaper industry. I was there at the start and my enthusiasm for digital grew as I became involved in all the AN websites and digital offerings. My last role at AN was Head of Marketing at Loot, where I had to solve many online and offline marketing challenges… but loved it!
Becoming a business owner
But by that time I had two young children and, like many mums, I grew tired of the long hours and daily commute to London. So I decided it was a good time to follow my dream of owning my own business.
But I didn’t jump in feet first and, in order to learn how to run a small business, took a General Manager job at a local software development company.
I stayed there for a couple of years until I’d got the experience I needed, and that’s when Cariad was born.
Tell me about your agency.
Cariad Marketing is a digital marketing agency based in Hertford. We have a team of specialists working across the digital marketing disciplines – SEO, PPC, Social Media, Content Marketing, Web Design and Web Development. This means that whatever our client’s brief, and whenever they need it, we’ll have an expert who can cover it – and it’s all part and parcel of their monthly retainer.
We have an excellent reputation as an SEO company with a very collaborative approach to our work. Enthusiasm and teamwork are standard, which means we work with our clients as their outsourced marketing department. We love it when they consider us as a part of the team and can share in their success stories.
What do you think the are most important issues for developing your company culture?
The word Cariad is Welsh for love/beloved, and that’s a major part of our ethos. We recruit people who love what they do and do what they love. A happy, well trained and motivated team will keep our clients happy. And that’s good for everyone’s business.
For me, culture and ethos is not something that can be foisted on a company, it’s something which develops organically (a bit like SEO!), evolving from the team. As such, we follow the ethos of “recruit for attitude and train for skills”. It’s about making sure you recruit the right people with the right attitude.
Obviously for specialist roles, applicants need to have certain ‘marketing superpowers’, but when we’re interviewing, the right attitude is what defines successful candidates from the unsuccessful ones.
What have been the biggest challenges you’ve faced as a women in business?
My biggest challenge was the death of my husband and co-founder of the business. I really did question whether running a business on my own was a good decision, particularly considering I had two young children. But it was the right thing to do and I have no doubts or regrets about my choice to not only carry on but also re-position and expand the business.
What I have learned over the past 8 years is that I thrive on challenges and can overcome pretty much anything!
And I do count myself as super-lucky to have had the encouragement, advice and backing of an amazing team of individuals who help me all the way.
The Wow Company’s recent survey of 471 agency owners across the UK has the figures as Female 27% – Male 73%. Can you share you thoughts on this?
It doesn’t surprise me at all. Agency life can be stressful and demanding – we are in the ‘results business’ after all. And I know from experience that this kind of pressure doesn’t always work well alongside family commitments, particularly given the long hours required in the early years.
Do you have a mentor, or are you a member of an agency owner community?
I do not have a mentor as such. My business planning is done in conjunction with my Accountant who’s a business growth specialist. This allows me to ensure all of the ‘numbers stack up’ before making any major financial commitments. The thing I love about his company is that they are not afraid to question my judgement (on non-marketing matters of course!) and this helps me to re-evaluate when I need to.
We’re very proud of the fact that Cariad has recently been awarded recommended status on the Recommended Agency Register (RAR), run by The Drum.
What other female founders inspire you?
Ariana Huffington – I’ve read her book Thrive and, whilst it’s a little clichéd to say this, I found it truly inspirational.
Karren Brady – Again, I’ve read her book 10 Rules for Success and not only do I really respect her achievements, she motivated me to work smarter!
What do you think makes a great agency?
A great agency is all about great people who love what they do, working collaboratively in their clients’ best interests.
I am so proud of our achievements as a team and the awards we have won which span recognition for Digital Marketing, Entrepreneurship, Employer (such as the Working Mum Award), Training and Teamwork.
What would be your one piece of advice to future female leaders?
Be brave. Be bold. Be yourself. Have faith in yourself.