Women In Marketing 2020 Edition ft. Colette Sullivan from Radisson RED
Colette is a Scottish-born marketer who is currently the Marketing & Communications Manager for Radisson RED in Dubai. A seasoned marketer, Colette is passionate about dance and should things not work out, she plans on being Beyoncé’s back up dancer! Yessss Queen!! Welcome to this segment of Women In Marketing 🇦🇪
Continue to review what works and what doesn’t and be flexible, but always keep the bigger goal in mind when making decisions
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I was born in Coatbridge, a town just a few miles outside Glasgow. There was a group of around 6 girls, all around the same age who lived in my street. I loved dancing and being a bit bossy so when it was my turn to choose the game I would direct shows in the garden for our parents. I loved playing with friends and went to various playgroups. I met my best friend of 25 years at one of these when we were just 3 years old.
I also loved reading and spending time with Adults, my sisters were a bit older than me and off to school so I spent a lot of time with my mum and visiting relatives. I loved asking a lot of questions, which I am sure drove them crazy.
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS YOU CAN SHARE WITH US? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I’ve always loved the arts and being creative. I am a qualified dance teacher with the British Association of Teachers of Dance in Freestyle and Jazz. I also play the fiddle (depending on your definition of play).
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
This isn’t miss world, so I’m not going to answer with world peace right away. I love to travel and would probably want to tick a few items off the bucket list. It’s my goal to have been on every continent before I am 30. But I do have socialist values and don’t believe any one person should have all that money. I’d love to start up some grassroots projects for causes I am passionate about. Definitely the arts, sustainable tourism and then looking at what I can do closer to home. I grew up in Glasgow, a city that has suffered under austerity.
I’ve seen some great initiatives and social enterprises start-up in recent years and I’d love to get more involved, not only with financial support but being able to free up time to put my skills towards causes I am passionate about.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
Tough question, I was recently able to finally travel home to Scotland after a very long lockdown and I had a full checklist of foods I wanted to have. There’s a Neapolitan style pizzeria in Glasgow called Paesano and I love it. It’s one of the first places I went to when I got home. I’m not sure I could share that pizza with anyone.
WHAT MADE YOU FALL IN LOVE WITH THE WORLD OF MARKETING? WHAT PARTICULAR MOMENT IN TIME PUSHED YOU TO PURSUE THIS CAREER? AFTER ALL, WE ALL WANTED TO BE DOCTORS GROWING UP, RIGHT?
It wasn’t a lifelong dream. Like most people my age I probably still don’t know what I want “To do” and I still have days when I wake up and think, maybe I’ll go and be a dancer for Beyonce. I don’t think we live in a world any more where people choose one profession and stay there.
There’s too much information available. There’s a good phrase which fits, “jack of all trades, master of none”. I think that applies to a lot of people and I don’t see it as negative. Everything is interconnected. I have adaptable skills and a lot of interests and passions. For me, that’s more valuable in a world that’s changing every day.
I studied psychology at school and was fascinated by human behaviour, what makes people react and connect and what influences their decision. When you become switched on to this, you quickly realise just how big a role this plays in our lives. I’m also part of a generation who still spent their childhood outside playing on the streets but spent our teenage years discovering social media, and now try to navigate adulthood with both the positives and negatives that have come to fruition from that.
I would say that those factors have led me to this point. I’ve found a career where I have to understand people, I can be creative and problem solve. I can tell stories, hopefully, the right ones and I can also incorporate my passion for travel and all that that means.
IF YOU COULD BE ANY ANIMAL IN THE WORLD, WHAT ANIMAL WOULD YOU BE AND WHY?
I love sloths. I spent a summer in Costa Rica and one of my highlights was seeing a sloth in the rainforest. I’d love to be that relaxed all the time! But I think my answer is probably a bird. I want to go everywhere and see everything.
WHAT’S THE MOST INTERESTING THING ABOUT YOU THAT WE WOULDN’T LEARN FROM YOUR LINKEDIN PROFILE ALONE?
As any social media platform, LinkedIn is the highlight reel, the accomplishments and experience. It doesn’t always show the struggles for people to get to where they are or the people behind them. I think that’s the case for most people. I’m not sure people would find it interesting, but my love of family, friends, travel and being creative is something that might not necessarily shine through online.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
GIVE US A SNEAK PEEK OF HOW YOU TYPICALLY START YOUR DAY. ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
Neither, I know, sorry. I have never been a big fan of a hot drink in the morning. Tea on a cold day definitely but that’s as far as my love goes. I’m not a morning person. My best productivity is always in the afternoon. I like to ease myself into a day, a good stretch, reading the news or writing down some ideas before I start with my to-do list.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I’m big into organisation, my planner is my bible. I try to task manage and decide what I am going to achieve that week. Things come up and you have to juggle but for the most part, I like to manage my to-do list as best I can so it doesn’t get on top of me. I always try to do the life admin mid-week also. No one wants to spend their weekend doing laundry or cleaning. Then I have free time without thinking of what’s next on the list.
During the lockdown, I’ve learned to let go of the list a little more. Work is busy so I still need an element of organisation and planning, it’s a good quality and work ethic but when it crosses over to your own life you suddenly start to treat everything as a task and not for enjoyment, “I need to get to the gym so it’s done” instead of thinking ”I am going to go work out because it will make me feel good”.
I love doing yoga, going to the beach, catching up with friends etc but it’s also been liberating these last few months to just wake up and decide to read a book, instead of feeling guilty that you don’t have time to read and trying to cram it in before bed.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR HONOURS IN INTERNATIONAL RETAIL MARKETING FROM THE GLASGOW CALEDONIAN UNIVERSITY (GIRL YOU FANCY!). ACCORDING TO GLASSDOOR, IT HAS BECOME SEEMINGLY EASIER TO APPLY TO WORK FOR COMPANIES LIKE GOOGLE, APPLE AND STARBUCKS AS THEY DO NOT REQUIRE APPLICANTS TO HAVE A DEGREE. HOW CAN YOUNG WOMEN UTILISE THE INTERNET TO UPSKILL THEMSELVES PARTICULARLY IF THEY CANNOT AFFORD TO OBTAIN A FORMAL EDUCATION?
I was very lucky to be born in Scotland, where education is free to all. I’m fully aware of that privilege that not all have. I honestly believe the biggest resource to young women right now is other women. There’s been a real awakening and shift in mindset recently. People are talking about diversity, inclusion and realising they can help each other instead of putting each other down.
I’ve been fortunate in both Glasgow and Dubai to come across a female network. Glasgow Girls Club and That Dubai Girl are both great communities which focus on advice, supporting businesses and just offering a helping hand. That’s a great resource for any woman looking to learn new skills. Start the conversation, you never know where it might lead.
JOB HOPPING IS A COMMON PHENOMENA ESPECIALLY IN THE DYNAMIC WORLD OF ADVERTISING AND MARKETING. WHAT’S YOUR OPINION ON JOB HOPPING? DOES IT HURT OR AID ONE’S CAREER?
I read something on LinkedIn recently about being loyal not to a role, or a company, but a cause. That cause might be paying your way through tuition, saving lives, or just doing right by yourself. I think that’s so true. I don’t see the value in a candidate who has stayed with the same company for 10 years if their sole reason for doing so was just to show loyalty. I think as long as you can talk through all of your experience, what it brought you, what you contributed and why it was time then it’s a valuable quality. It’s not quitting, it’s knowing when to move on.
FOR OUR INTERVIEW WITH YAEL TAMAR FROM SOLIDBLOCK, SHE REMARKED THAT WOMEN ARE MOST LIKELY TO OCCUPY THE CMO ROLE AS COMPARED TO THEIR MALE COUNTERPARTS. WITH WOMEN CONTROLLING OVER $20 TRILLION IN GLOBAL SPENDING, WHY HAS IT BECOME INCREASINGLY IMPORTANT TO HAVE FEMALE CMOS IN YOUR OPINION?
The world has changed, and I do believe, especially in tourism marketing that only the companies who are not only willing to adapt but are advocates for change will flourish. Marketing is about the connection right, storytelling and communication. You can’t do that unless you understand your customer and the shift in their thinking. If the room of decision-makers is male, then how can they fully connect with a diverse audience.
SYSTEMS AROUND REMOTE WORK AND VIDEO CONFERENCING ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING STAPLE IN MOST ORGANISATIONS. ACCORDING TO VISUAL CAPITALIST, ZOOM IS NOW WORTH MORE THAN THE 7 BIGGEST AIRLINES IN THE WORLD AT A WHOPPING MARKET CAPITALIZATION OF JUST OVER $40BN. SUFFICE TO SAY, REMOTE WORKING IS AN ASPECT OF MODERN-DAY WORK THAT HAS BEEN LONG OVERDUE. IN YOUR OPINION, WHY HAVE MOST ORGANISATIONS STRUGGLED TO CONVERT TO THIS WAY OF WORK?
I remember discussing the working week, 4 day weeks or 6 hour days with a group of older colleagues and being labelled a millennial as if that was a negative. I think it’s about mindset, not necessarily age or generation but that unwillingness to change or try something new until it’s been forced. I think the future will see a hybrid way of working. Human interaction is still important but allowing people that flexibility will create a much happier team.
REMOTE WORK HAS COME WITH ITS OWN SET OF CHALLENGES, PARAMOUNT TO THIS IS THE FACT THAT EMPLOYEES ARE NOW ‘ALWAYS ON’ WITH WORK CARRYING OVER EVEN BEYOND WORKING HOURS. IN YOUR OPINION, HOW CAN ORGANISATIONS MANAGE THIS BETTER TO PROTECT THE WELLBEING OF THEIR EMPLOYEES?
Yes, managing social media is something I have experienced for a few years now. I’ve found a good way to help is to manage expectations and set boundaries. I have automated responses set up to communicate when someone is available live, or when response times may take up to 48 hours. I think this could also be applied to organisations working from home. Agree when you will be online when you will be taking your lunch breaks, and set an out office if needed. It’s about setting those boundaries for yourself as well and sticking to them.
STORYTELLING SEEMS TO BE THE NEXT RISING BUZZWORD. WHAT’S THE Radisson RED STORY? HOW ARE YOU TELLING IT IN AN INTERESTING WAY?
Radisson RED is a flexible brand. It’s built on the storytelling powers of art, music & fashion, but it recognises that these mean different things to different cities, cultures and people. In each RED location, the story is told differently, and relevant to the locale.
For Radisson RED Dubai, we took the heritage of Dubai from the desert Bedouin tribes to the symbolism of the falcon and merged it with the modern Dubai of skyscrapers and innovative technology. We’ve used a lot of fashion style videography to tell this story in a meaningful way which our audience can connect with.
BCG PUBLISHED ITS INNOVATION REPORT FOR 2020 AND AT THE CORE OF ITS SELECTION CRITERIA ARE COMPANIES THAT HAVE SUCCESSFULLY MARRIED ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE IN THEIR PRODUCTS AND SERVICES. ACCORDING TO YOU, WHAT MAKES SOMETHING INNOVATIVE? HOW DO YOU DEFINE INNOVATION AT Radisson RED?
RED is all about being InspiRED, we love creativity and fresh thinking. For us that doesn’t always mean reinventing the wheel, just being relevant. Even if it’s something really simple. Have you ever stayed in a hotel and found the charger socket for your phone is on the other side of the room. How are you supposed to hit snooze 5 times when that’s the case? So we placed USB ports next to the beds. If you’re all about no phone time at bed or jumping up the second your alarm goes off then great, but let’s be real, it’s not what most people want.
AT THE TIME OF PUBLISHING, THE DIGITAL MARKETING INSTITUTE ESTIMATED THAT THE INFLUENCER MARKETING INDUSTRY WILL HIT THE $10BN MARK BY 2020. WHETHER B2B OR B2C, IT’S EVIDENT THAT BRANDS AND ORGANISATIONS HAVE HAD THEIR SUCCESS WITH THIS MODEL OF MARKETING. HOW WILL THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC AFFECT THIS INDUSTRY GOING FORWARD AND DO YOU BELIEVE THERE IS STILL A PLACE FOR INFLUENCER MARKETING?
It will certainly be interesting to see how this develops. There has been a massive shift in mindset for certain generations. Maybe this is something that has only occurred in my echo chamber but I see a lot of people consciously making sure they are no longer comparing their life to others on Instagram.
My background is retail marketing, and from the perspective of that industry if anything I noticed an increase of influencer activity. The focus products changed from holiday wardrobes to loungewear. Suddenly you were scrolling during the lockdown and realised your food-stained pyjamas meant maybe you weren’t doing covid right. Everyone rushed to get the must-have loungewear sets.
From a travel perspective, it’s all about that experience. I’ve always used Instagram hashtags to research my next travel destination and find those secret spots, the restaurants with the best views etc. I suppose it’s the modern-day travel brochure with the added lifestyle element and to me, that feels a little healthier. I do think influencer marketing will continue, though maybe differently across other industries.
I think the marketers who can re-evaluate the mindset of their customers will shine. Think less influence to buy and more influence on positive change.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF Radisson RED BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
Radisson RED is a relatively young brand for Radisson Hotel Group. Its best feature is that it is built to truly allow itself to embed in each location’s community. I think that’s a fresh and relevant approach. It’s like the grassroots take on brand awareness. Each hotel activates in its local space, with conversations that are relevant to the city.
That’s great for the city but also those visiting because they truly get a feel for that place and not just a standard brand rollout. There is a consistency, of course, you will always get the best Radisson Service and Safety, you’ll find some RED design staples, but you’ll get that city’s twist on things. It almost becomes aspirational. You want your city to be next. We’ve opened 4 hotels I believe in the last 18 months, with many more to come.
WHAT ARE YOUR THOUGHTS ON MARKETING AND SALES ALIGNMENT? HOW DO YOU ALIGN YOUR MARKETING AND SALES TEAM AT Radisson RED?
I think the first thing is to know the difference, in my opinion, they should always be separate departments who then work together. It’s important as a marketer to have a view of the bigger picture at all times. Yes, you can be reactive and cut your prices dramatically to bring in quick revenue, but will that damage your brand long term or confuse the customer?
Marketing is story-telling, so imagine in the middle of a book there’s suddenly a completely different narrative because the author had to fill the page. Planning, reporting and evaluation are so important. Have a strategy and a plan in place which positions your brand correctly and takes into account all risks, opportunities and threats. Understand what the business needs are and ensure your action plan to support this fits with the strategy. Continue to review what works and what doesn’t and be flexible, but always keep the bigger goal in mind when making decisions.
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? (WHAT DO YOU READ, AND HOW DO YOU CONSUME INFORMATION? PAPERBACK VS EREADER?)
I recently visited home and came back with a bit of a book haul. I’m a fan of both fact and fiction, and it has to be a paper book. At the moment I’m reading a book of short stories by Billy Connolly. They make me cry with laughter and they’re great just before bed after a stressful day.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I’m on a bit of a Netflix sabbatical at the moment. I love a good series to get my teeth into but I (like most people) over-binged in the last few months. Time to get back outside as the weather is starting to get nice here in Dubai. I’m sure it won’t be long though before I’m back.
AS WE LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID19 IF YOU COULD REPLACE THE HANDSHAKE AS A FORM OF GREETING, WHAT INTERESTING NEW GREETING WOULD YOU INTRODUCE?
You guys love to throw in a hard question. I’m going to say a wink because I feel like only half the population can do it right, and the rest of us (including me) look like a pirate. That’s always going to be a good ice breaker.
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I recently lost a friend who I had just decided to check back in with the day before. And I am so glad I did. It’s so easy to get busy and lose touch and that’s ok but you never know when someone might not be there anymore.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
We’ve almost made it through 2020! The biggest change in our field since the internet. You’re the storyteller, decide what the future story should be.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Absolutely nothing is going to turn out as you thought. You will never appreciate these years until they are gone. Live in the moment, let go and see where life takes you.
WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE? WHAT ARE SOME OF THE PAIN POINTS YOU ARE TRYING TO OVERCOME IN YOUR LIFE WHETHER PROFESSIONALLY, PERSONALLY OR BOTH?
This is probably the longest period I have worked abroad. Lockdown had its tough moments. I think it’s not having the option to go home, but It’s helped me grow. I think most people have struggled with the uncertainty of this year, it’s not a bad thing, but when you are such a planner it’s hard to go with the flow. I think that’s my goal for this year, to strike that balance.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS (PROFESSIONAL AS WELL AS PERSONAL)?
Be a backing dancer for Beyonce
See every continent before I am 30
Contribute something to make the planet a better place
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?