In this second edition we have spoken to Amelia Watt a Digital Marketing Executive at Whittard of Chelsea. A graduate of Oxford Brookes University, having originally studied as a primary teacher, she decided on a career change and went into marketing. We spoke to her about life at Whittard, how she got where she is today and much more.
Tell us about your current role and responsibilities
I’m a Digital Marketing Executive at Whittard of Chelsea. This role involves managing agencies and digital channels for paid media search and affiliates.
Can you describe a typical day in your role?
My day always starts with a cup of tea, usually sencha, but we are encouraged to try the different products here (definitely a perk of the job)! Then I’ll check Google Analytics to see how paid search and affiliates are performing to the week’s targets before starting work on various projects. There’s always something going on or coming up, especially for affiliates, which is a channel we’re really working on growing this year. There are some really exciting projects in the pipeline, including ones that blur the lines between digital and offline retail. My week is also usually peppered with meetings, setting up codes for affiliate offers, monitoring channel performance and working closely with our agencies to get the most from paid media and affiliates. One of the big tasks we have coming up is optimising our shopping feed which will be amazing when we’ve done it but could be a long project!
Tell us about your career journey to get where you are today
I originally trained as a primary teacher and completed the Primary Teacher Education BA Hons degree at Oxford Brookes University, but after a few years realised this was not the career I wanted to pursue. I returned to Oxford Brookes to complete a master’s degree in Business Management with Marketing and have worked in several roles since then. I’ve worked in both the charity and commercial sectors, spending two and a half years at the charity Guide Dogs, where I worked on marketing for fundraising as well as the ecommerce trading site. The digital skills and experience I gained whilst working on the ecommerce site helped me get my current job at Whittard.
What challenges have you had to overcome?
Training for a specific career I didn’t eventually go into was difficult, and it was a hard decision to go back and retrain, but I’m so glad I did! Teaching taught me a lot of skills including patience, organisation, presentation and people skills that are useful and transferable, but I found a lot of companies rejected me straight away because of my background. I’ve also had to go through redundancy, which was a difficult and emotional process, but ultimately lead me to a job I am happier in and a chance to learn new skills and gain more experience in digital.
How was your university experience and how do you think it’s helped your career?
I loved university! Undergrad life was very different to my time doing a masters – my masters was very full on and exhausting but a great experience. I had a lot more contact time on my undergraduate degree. Teaching still had several days of lectures, even at the end of third year with placements. I had to be pretty organised to manage assignments, placements and everything else involved in uni life! University taught me more about how to juggle my time, I had a part time job during both degrees and other commitments, so it was difficult to make time for everything. I became more of a morning person during my masters to make sure I could fit everything in! This has definitely helped me going forwards and with time management, confidence and a positive attitude at work.
Did you find the environment at university to be friendly and supportive?
Oxford Brookes is a friendly university, I found a good group of people on both my courses to surround myself with, which is important. I used a student support service called Upgrade towards the end of my undergrad degree but didn’t find them so useful when studying my masters. However, on the master’s degree it was easier to speak directly with tutors.
Do you have any exam revision tips?
Coloured pens and highlighters! I was always much more motivated if I had some nice stationary and could make my notes colourful and more interesting to look at. Also, take regular breaks and be kind to yourself. It will be worth it in the end, just keep going and focus on your end goal.
What are your career highlights to date?
Getting a distinction in my master’s degree whilst working a part time job and preparing for two national pageants as Miss Oxfordshire – that took a lot of hard work and sacrifice but it was worth it (I won the first ever Miss Brainy Beauty in Miss England which was a lovely title to win)! Working at a charity meant I could see guide dogs and puppies in training and hear the inspiring stories of how the work we did helped change lives. But getting this role at Whittard was a real achievement for me, I’d had a crisis in confidence before applying but it’s turned out to be one of the best decisions I’ve made career wise. I’ve been lucky to work with some really amazing people – they make a huge difference to not just your job but your life overall.
Where have you taken your advice and inspiration from?
There’s something good in every day, even if some days you need to look a little harder to find it. But I do believe that what you put out you get back, if you work hard you get the rewards (although not always straight away), if you’re nice to people they’re generally nice to you too etc… Take the opportunities you can, you never know where it might lead to. The smallest of changes could make the biggest differences – I said yes to covering a vacant role as well as my actual role, and whilst this was a lot of additional work for no instant benefit, it allowed me to learn new skills and build the confidence I needed to get the job I’m in now.
Do you have any advice for others?
Be kind to yourself, and don’t compare yourself to others. I made that mistake many times, comparing my own career path with those around me. It’s your journey, take what you can from every experience and make sure you enjoy what you do. Nothing is worth doing if it ultimately takes away from your happiness.