Nicola Marsh of MediaCom North “I never cease to be amazed at the results coaching can deliver”
SHE was a late starter to the media agency world but Nicola Marsh is named on Insider magazine’s women of influence list. As managing partner of MediaCom North, she reveals why working hard and being nice are so important and why she admires Madonna.
What did you want to be when you were young?
I remember really wanting to be a barrister. The idea of having to create strong arguments to win outcomes seemed really appealing. I had a complete change of heart when I was at high school and decided social work might be more up my street.
How did you end up in your job?
I started a teaching degree at university and realised (after four months) that I loved the media element of the course and not the teaching. I changed to a full Media and Cultural Studies degree and after leaving university, I decided I wanted to work in an advertising agency as an account director.
At the time getting into ad agencies was very difficult and someone advised me that getting into publishing was slightly easier and better paid. I embarked on a publishing sales career which eventually led me to making some great contacts in agencies and I was taken on as a media manager when I was 30. I was a fairly late starter to the agency world but the skills I picked up in sales have been invaluable.
Have qualifications got you where you are, has it been sheer hard work and talent or a combination?
With me it has certainly been a combination of things. The degree I did was relevant and has definitely helped me in establishing what I wanted to do. Aside from that, a combination of sales training, coaching and being in the right place at the right time has certainly helped.
What advice would you give someone else just starting out in your industry?
Work hard. Say “yes” to everything you are asked to do whilst building your experience. Be confident but respect people with more experience than you: it’s not always obvious what these people can teach you, you don’t know what you don’t know. Be nice.
Do you feel pressure being a role model to others?
I certainly don’t feel pressure but I have started to be conscious of being a role model for females within our industry.
Do you prefer networking on social media or meeting people in person?
It’s great having the capability to network online due to time constraints, location challenges etc, but nothing beats meeting people face-to-face.
What is a very underrated business skill that you thing should be used more?
Coaching. I never cease to be amazed at the results coaching can deliver. People with coaching skills become better communicators, listeners and managers.
How will your industry evolve in the next five years?
The job of a marketer over the next five years will become even more complex than it is today. The proliferation of channels will mean that there are far more options in which to reach your customers.
The sheer volume of customer data gathered from all those digital and offline customer touchpoints will mean the ability to cut though the data and make meaningful decisions in real-time will be even more important than it is today.
The way customers interact with media is changing driven largely by the increasing adoption of the smartphone. Content will play a greater role in all aspects of marketing, whether it’s attracting new customers or keeping the current ones engaged.
Which three people (alive/dead celebrity or not) would you like to work with?
Karren Brady – clever businesswoman, strong, no nonsense approach and has achieved great success in a predominantly male world.
Sir Alex Ferguson – as a leader he has achieved phenomenal success. I would like some insight into how he has achieved that!
Madonna – fantastic marketer that has reinvented herself constantly to keep on top of her game.
What is one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
I spend most of my spare time in a pair of jodhpurs.
MediaCom North headquarters are in Manchester with offices in Leeds, Edinburgh, Birmingham, London and Dublin