Leigh Hopwood is a Chartered Marketer specialising in B2B [business to business] technology and business services with over 18 years’ experience both client and agency-side. She has led marketing functions for IT companies in niche markets, including contact centre and customer services, telecoms, digital customer experience and apparel and footwear. Leigh set up Redd Marketing in 2011 to provide honest and objective marketing advice, sharing her knowledge and experience through consultancy engagements and coaching of senior marketing professionals and marketing managers.
“…Female marketers looking to progress their career can learn from senior women, or men, how they can climb the ladder. I have been lucky to have two incredible (male) bosses over the years that have mentored me…”
Finding my love of marketing and technology
When I was 12 my mum said ‘you’d be good in marketing’. I had no idea what she was talking about. I did a sandwich degree in Business IT and worked in sales and marketing administration for a manufacturing technology company. I realised then that I loved marketing and technology. So, my final year dissertation was a marketing strategy for SportsWorld, a software solution for leisure centres and clubs.
From there I wrote to all the local IT companies to see if anyone would take me on as a marketing resource. Success – I got a marketing job for an IT company specialising in the apparel and footwear industry. But without a marketing qualification, I didn’t know if I was following marketing best practice, or how far I could go – so I did the spectrum of CIM qualifications to ensure I achieved the balance of formal qualifications and experience.
Technology and digital transformation as a game changer for business
Technology is changing the way everyone works. Social media changed everything – not just how we socialise, but what consumers expect from the apps and devices they use. As a result, digital transformation is paramount for businesses to stay in business – for attracting and retaining both customers and great employees.
Consumers are incredibly tech savvy, and demanding, which means that organisations need to respond by changing how they engage with their customers, and deliver innovation and new product development. How is this impacting the marketer?
For the first time, businesses that have never had anything to do with technology are having to look at how technology can deliver an engaging customer experience, such as providing apps, web chat and experiential encounters. The ‘big data’ trend is giving marketers access to greater customer data and analytics so that they really can deliver the right message to the right people at the right time.
Working as a Trustee for CIM
I was elected in January so it is still early days. Our role is to create the strategy for CIM (The Chartered Institute of Marketing) and support the executive team in its delivery – representing our members, professional marketers and the wider business community.
When the CIM recruited Anne Godfrey as its CEO, I was inspired by her strength and ability to take people with her to make positive change. However, the Board of Trustees itself does not reflect the gender diversity of the marketing profession. So, for me, being elected onto the Board provides an opportunity to work with Anne to make a difference at a strategic level within an industry I am so passionate about, and also show other women that if they really want those senior roles, then you should go out and get them.
How CIM can ensure a gender balanced approach that supports the career progression of women and men equally
I believe CIM is already doing this by two out of the three most senior roles in the organisation being held by women – Anne Godfrey as CEO and Jenny Ashmore as President. I believe its Mentoring programme in particular can also provide that support.
Female marketers looking to progress their career can learn from senior women, or men, how they can climb the ladder. I have been lucky to have two incredible (male) bosses over the years that have mentored me.
At CIM there are also countless opportunities for women to get involved in speaking, debates and networking in order to raise their profile, their credibility and demonstrate their expertise. The more women that can come forward to support CIM, the better.
Diversity in marketing
Marketing is one profession where there is relative gender balance. However, there are still more men in senior roles than women – but this is changing. Organisations can gain so much from employing a diverse marketing function – by having a greater understanding of the customer, they will deliver more effective marketing.
We need to celebrate how women are different and demonstrate where we are the same. Women naturally have a different approach that should be exploited as an advantage.
I have joined the Board of Trustees at an exciting time. The current three year strategy is drawing to a close and we are embarking on the next stage in the growth of the organisation. I’m looking forward to being a part of those discussions and seeing CIM adapt to the changing nature of marketing over the coming years.