Magazine article Marketing

Change the Subject

Magazine article Marketing

Change the Subject

Article excerpt

FMCG marketers are finding there is a huge demand for their skills and experience, especially in newly deregulated areas.

In this business it is always wise to have an eye on your next move. Marketers are notorious for their promiscuity in the jobs market and few stay with a company for more than five years.

For most marketers, the easiest job switch is to a rival in the same sector. But for the more adventurous, there are now far more opportunities to take marketing skills into entirely new areas. In many cases, employers are actively seeking marketers with experience of a different sector, as they are eager to tap into some new and potentially challenging ideas.

If you are in FMCG, the possibilities are particularly attractive, as some recent high-profile job changes testify. Paul Murray's move from Kellogg to Shell, Tim Yates's from Guinness to One 2 One, and John Hardie's from Procter & Gamble to ITV are just three examples of marketers specifically targeted for their FMCG skills.

The biggest demand for FMCG experience is coming from areas where deregulation or intensified competition have put marketing at the top of the agenda, notably utilities, telecoms and media.

"It's a very exciting phase for marketers," says Steve Cuthbert, director-general of the Chartered Institute of Marketing. "FMCG marketers are in a prime position to bring marketing into the armoury of companies now open to competition. It's a very aggressive market."

And, because these sectors are exploring new territory, the marketing is a lot less shackled by process and heritage than it is in FMCG, and is a lot more dynamic and outward-looking. For anybody who trained in the marketing academies of Unilever and Procter & Gamble, where the job is all about process and doing it by the book, the blank canvas presented by sectors still cutting their marketing teeth is highly attractive.

"I wouldn't have got this scope and influence elsewhere," says Jon Kinsey, director of marketing and strategy for British Gas Trading. Kinsey joined six months ago from Camelot and previously worked at Hasbro Bradley, Colgate-Palmolive and Heinz (see box).

"The radical change British Gas is going through has an impact on the here and now. It would normally take me two years to do in FMCG what I've done here in the past six months. It's a great place to be. It's scary but I'd recommend it to anybody," he says.

When recruiting to fill the post, British Gas Trading specifically looked for a marketer with an FMCG background, knowing that such a candidate could adapt their skills.

In the know

"Many of these companies have got to create brands and the strongest brand experience is found in the FMCG sector, so these people are being wooed," explains Russell White, director with marketing and search selection company Lloyd Group. "They are also commercially astute and understand that TV advertising isn't the only way."

From his side of the fence, White has experienced some resistance from potential candidates, but mainly from younger marketers still wedded to climbing up the FMCG career ladder and driving a global brand. "It's partly an image issue," he says. "When working for a utility company, you're not necessarily going to be noticed, or that's what they think."

He has far greater success with more mature candidates, who have been through the mill of training at blue-chip companies and are ready to make a break.

One such marketer is Josh Herlihy, executive commercial director of Eurostar, who is using his international commercial experience, gained at Unilever and The Body Shop, in conducting relationships with third parties and partners such as Eurotunnel, SNCF and Belgian Railways.

Herlihy joined Eurostar direct from Body Shop International, where he was general manager global sales, but has spent most of his career at Unilever.

"My move from international commercial businesses with strong brands might appear unusual but it's logical," he says. …

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