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One marketer on why leaving Unilever was the best thing she ever did – Marketing Week

“Life is about choices, accept it, change it or move on because it’s never going to be any more complicated than that”, says Centrica’s chief advertising officer Margaret Jobling.

Jobling landed her first advertising position by way of a relatively unconventional path, having earned a PhD in Laser Chemistry at Nottingham University, earlier than being provided a scientific research position at shopper items big Unilever where she initially spent greater than a decade on the technical aspect of the enterprise.

She isn’t one to take a seat and wait both. When Jobling decided she needed to move into the advertising group she simply asked, and Silvia Dias Lagnado, present international CMO at McDonald’s who was serving as Unilever’s advertising director at the time, was “mad” enough to offer Jobling a chance. She was provided a model management position with Dove, which marked the begin of a adorned profession in advertising.

“I’ve always reflected on whether if I were Silvia I would have brought in me? If it weren’t for her I would not be doing what I do today. She absolutely defined where I’ve ended up,” Jobling says.

She spent another three years in Unilever’s advertising department, shifting between numerous elements of the business together with male grooming. Nevertheless it wasn’t till Jobling left for a chance in the household goods and body care division at shopper items big Sara Lee that she really understood simply how a lot she had discovered in her early days as a marketer.

“When I left Unilever it made me realise just how much I actually knew. When you’re in a big corporate there are lots of other super bright people trying to get on and there’s a bit of a Heathrow holding pattern, you’re all vying for the next job up the pyramid,” she says.

“It’s only when you step out and push yourself into another environment you realise you know a lot.”

I discovered a hell of rather a lot in personal equity as a result of it’s so excessive on accountability and outcomes. For those who shoot for the moon and land on the stars everybody thinks they’ve carried out a nasty job.

Margaret Jobling, Centrica

Despite the reality it took just a little over 15 years, Jobling was fast to confess one among the best issues she ever did was depart Unilever.

“When I left I remember people saying to me, ‘If I cut you open to do you bleed blue? Are you just so Unilever in your process or can you adapt to another organisation and culture? Can you take the bits you’ve learned and apply it to another environment? Are you so inflexible that you’ve been programmed to operate in a particular way?’” she explains.

“Moving out made me realise you can operate and add value elsewhere, but you need to take a lot of that learning with you.”

From Sara Lee, Jobling progressed by means of numerous main roles at Cadbury, Birds Eye and ultimately British Fuel, before turning into CMO at the fuel and electrical energy big’s proprietor Centrica.

As her CV suggests, Jobling had no plans to stay in her comfort zone and as an alternative thrived off working in quite a few sectors and roles in organisations of various sizes and scales.

“It’s very easy to sit in the comfort zone and do what you’ve always done, but there’s a point where you have to ask yourself whether you’ve stopped learning. It’s important to retain perspective because it’s amazing how quickly you can become part of the culture rather than the solution,” she provides.

“If it needs fixing, fix it but don’t just accept it. And if you do accept it, don’t moan about it because life is too short.”

Convincing the creatives

Unilever, numerous roles together with international brand director, male grooming (2005-2008)

“It was actually arduous to move [from research to marketing] as a result of there was a particular misconception that technical individuals were not artistic and advertising individuals have been very artistic. Additionally they needed to keep ladies in research, as a result of at the time there were only a few senior ladies in order that they have been reluctant to let me depart.

“I keep in mind telling the advertising director at the time [Silvia Dias Lagnado] that the difference between artistic and non-creative individuals is artistic individuals assume they’re artistic and truly there isn’t actually a distinction.

“She gave me a chance. At some degree she should have been mad. I had no clue and once I look again I feel ‘oh my god, it’s in all probability the hardest job change I’ve ever accomplished – shifting from technical into advertising’. You all converse English, but the language of the perform [marketing] is just fascinating.

“Understanding the language of the category is a problem. I might have gone and labored in the Chinese language market in research and it will have been a more easy transfer. They each have very totally different DNAs, so discovering widespread language and shared aims was considered one of the huge objectives.

“If I look back and question why I am where I am it’s because Silvia took a chance on me. I had no marketing skills whatsoever. I was just some little PhD chemist.”

Making lessons actionable and practical

Sara Lee Family & Physique Care, advertising director for residence and body care (2007-2009)

“Sara Lee hadn’t had an external advertising director for one thing like 20 years which was ridiculous. The whole lot had been organically grown. That they had a very pretty portfolio and I beloved that it was a smaller business, so you have been end-to-end accountable.

“You would be in a gathering for Radox, which was the primary private care model for males in the UK, and then you definitely’d be speaking about how you might shift capacity on the manufacturing unit line.

“Once I joined they’d missed their targets for 14 months so I was targeted on taking lessons from Unilever, however making them sensible and actionable for a leaner, meaner, preventing machine.

“One day I was at the coffee machine and I saw considered one of the guys from Unilever who stated they have been buying us. Unilever purchased the private care enterprise and Procter & Gamble purchased the residence care enterprise, in order that they put me on a retention bonus.

“I’ve always said you need to move forward not back. I could never imagine going back to Unilever. The best thing I ever did was getting out because you learn.”

The corporate black widow

Cadbury, director of selling for Cadbury Dairy Milk (2009-2011)

“In the middle of [the acquisition] I obtained a call from Cadbury the place I ended up getting the position of selling director for Cadbury Dairy Milk, however the day I joined was the day it introduced a corporate takeover by Kraft. I am the corporate black widow.

“This was in all probability the most enjoyable job I’ve had, it’s an exquisite brand. It had just come off the back of a salmonella scare and the advertising director at the time stated ‘a little bit of salmonella isn’t a nasty thing’, which didn’t go down nicely. There was a huge product recall, Phil Rumbol [the newly-appointed marketing director] had been referred to as in and principally received it to launch ‘Gorilla’ [its award-winning ad] , which put the business on an up.

Once I left I keep in mind individuals saying to me, ‘If I cut you open to do you bleed blue? Are you just so Unilever in your process or can you adapt to another organisation and culture?’

Margaret Jobling, Centrica

“Cadbury gained its confidence and the workforce began to do some nice work. It was a great time to go in as a result of there was an actual confidence around the organisation, they have been very pioneering at the time in advertising.

“A lot of what I did was worked around a defence plan and mitigating a hostile takeover. The sale ultimately went through and because the way Kraft operates most decision making is driven out of Switzerland. For a long-term future at Cadbury I’d have to move to Switzerland and I’d already said I wouldn’t move the kids.”

Capturing for the moon

Birds Eye UK, advertising director (2011-2014)

“I was chatting to Phil [Rumbol] about what subsequent and he instructed personal equity. I stated ‘no, no I’m a model builder’. He stated what’s fascinating is a lot of people in personal fairness have gotten fed up with corporate life and need to do one thing totally different.

“At the time Birds Eye was recruiting for a advertising director for the UK. If I hadn’t have worked for Sarah Lee and Cadbury I’d have struggled in the personal equity world. There’s a troublesome business, excessive accountability, outcomes and outcome-focused mentality that was not that apparent in some of the different roles I’d had.

“In the event you shoot for the moon and land on the stars everybody thinks they’ve achieved a nasty job, but they haven’t. They’re continually challenging you round supply and driving consequence.

“At the time it was a nice role because it was big. Everyone grows up with fish fingers and peas and chicken nuggets, so how do you grow that business? Frozen is a tough category because it’s at the back of the store and by the time you reach it you’ve lost the will to live and you want to get out.”

Reworking a longtime model

British Fuel, director of brand name advertising (2014-2018)

“I was in a short time seduced into the nationwide institution of the British Fuel brand, the actual challenges round the regulator and wanting to rework the enterprise to be extra customer-centric. I needed to do one thing totally different and had never labored in a regulated business earlier than.

“I was eager about how you’re taking an enormous established brand and rework it to be a modern, related service supplier. The week I started additionally they brought in a brand new CEO and we faced a strategic evaluation and I was asked about what we have been going to do with advertising. I was asked to take a look at how we might organise advertising for the entire of Centrica and what that must be because we operate as a collection of companies.

“If I went back to the original conversations I had with British Gas [the appeal was that] they were a big legacy business. I’d have 100 people in my team and they were spending multi-millions. They really wanted to do something different with the brand. It was the scale of the role and the drive to transform. Businesses only transform when they have a burning ambition and there was a leadership team that saw marketing as a critical component for how you’d change perceptions of the brands.”

Getting it proper for the individuals

Centrica, chief advertising officer (2018 – current)

“Now I’m working on how we will rework Centrica’s advertising capabilities throughout all the markets. What a journey. An important thing for me is that I really feel I’m continually studying and challenged.

“Finally, it comes right down to retaining the buyer comfortable and treating them pretty, with respect, and doing the right thing which retains the regulator joyful. In the event you get it proper in your individuals then everybody’s displaying up and operating in the right approach around what your brand stands for and where that you must go.

“If I were asked about what the biggest shift in our industry is, it’s what’s going on with data and analytics for the greater good of serving customers.”

Margaret Jobling’s CV

Unilever, numerous roles together with international model director for male grooming (2005-2008)

Sara Lee Household & Physique Care, advertising director for house and physique care (2007-2009)

Cadbury, director of selling for Cadbury Dairy Milk (2009-2011)

Birds Eye UK, advertising director (2011-2014)

British Fuel, director of brand name advertising (2014-2018)

Centrica, chief advertising officer (2018 – current)