Women In Marketing Interview | Alice Bedward from ROOSH
Alice is ROOSH’s Head of Marketing Analytics. A true digital native, she shares gems on how young marketers can upskill themselves by utilising industry tools and platforms. Let’s explore her journey in this segment of Women In Marketing
“It’s important not to discredit the effectiveness of women leaders in your own workplace based on underlying gender stereotypes, and thereby worsen the disapproval that your colleagues may face for being independent and assertive, instead of warm and communal”
LET’S GET PERSONAL
WHERE WERE YOU BORN? WHAT ARE SOME OF YOUR FONDEST MEMORIES?
I was born in Truro, in the United Kingdom, but I have no real memory of the area at all. I moved to the United Arab Emirates as a child, so most of my fondest memories are linked to living in Abu Dhabi.
Many are of the sights, sounds, and smells of the city, of the sun warming my apartment windows as I watched the people in the streets below, and the crowds that would form along the Corniche in the evenings.
It’s hard to describe what the country was like before Dubai started to gain more notoriety, and placed the UAE firmly on the tourist map. Nowadays the UAE is known for its glitz and glam. But back in the 1990s, Abu Dhabi was only just starting to take shape as a modern, more cosmopolitan city. The first department stores opened, alongside the first English-speaking cinemas, dial-up internet and cable television arrived, and more and more American fast-food chains started popping up.
Photographs of the old Abu Dhabi transport me back to a very specific time and place. Back then you could still walk through the Indian Souk to take in the strong mix of spices, and pick up an amazing array of cheap electronics and plastic kitsch. Or head home to catch up with the top 10 on Channel V, after taking a swim at one of the ex-pat beach clubs. It was in many ways like living in a very large village, one that was just starting to open up, and yet was still very closed off — and where little other than Archie comics seemed to slip past the censors!
SHOW OFF TO OUR READERS. ANY HIDDEN TALENTS THAT MOST PEOPLE WOULDN’T KNOW OF? A CLARINET STAR IN THE MAKING PERHAPS?
I can speed read. It’s not something that I have intentionally cultivated, but I can easily read 3–4 books in a day if I have no other plans. Perhaps not the most interesting of talents, but a useful one.
WE WOULD ALL LOVE TO WIN THE LOTTERY RIGHT? IF YOU WON $10 MILLION TOMORROW, WHAT WOULD YOU DO WITH YOUR FORTUNE?
Under normal circumstances, I’d say travel the world with my partner, but much of the world is under lockdown at the moment. Barring that, I’d look at entering the property market, repaying my parents for the investment they made in my education, and then supplying my brother with the funds he’d need to turn his side-business into a fully-fledged brick and mortar store (if he wanted to). It would be nice to be in the position to help those that provided me with a safety net while I jetted off to places like Sweden, Germany, China, and Holland for study/work.
WHAT IS YOUR FAVOURITE MEAL? THAT ONE MEAL YOU ABSOLUTELY WOULDN’T SHARE WITH ANYONE!
I miss the pulled barbacoa beef burritos from Taqado Mexican Kitchen, Dubai so bad. I haven’t found anything that compares in the slightest since leaving the UAE.
YOU OBTAINED YOUR HONOURS IN GOVERNMENT AND INTERNATIONAL RELATIONS FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF SYDNEY (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?
Almost everything that I know about digital marketing has come from a mix of on the job experience and online courses. My degrees have undoubtedly opened doors, but the core of what I do on a day to day basis can be picked up via free online courses. If you’re just starting to dabble in digital, there are plenty of resources available through the Google Garage, alongside the Google Skillshop and the Hubspot Academy.
Build a firm foundation with the Google Analytics and Google Ads certificates, and then move on to the Hubspot Inbound program. Create your own website, even if it’s just using a simple drag and drop CMS like Wix, and practice your copywriting and web design skills. If you want to tinker with the look and feel, you can learn HTML and CSS at FreeCodeCamp.
Open your own GA and Tag Manager accounts, and start learning more about digital analytics. Play around with Search Console, and take the free Moz SEO course on Udemy to start exploring the basics of search engine optimisations. And if you have a little money to spend, try running your own Facebook and Google/Bing ads, and then head to the CXL Institute to improve on your skills. Get comfortable finding your own answers to more complex marketing problems, by heading to Google and/or reading help files.
And when you’ve done all of the above, try freelancing on Upwork, PeoplePerHour, or Fiverr. All of this will help you develop the experience you need to move into a full-time role if you lack a formal marketing education. A good hiring manager will see past your lack of degree credentials, and focus on the effort you’ve put into breaking into the field.
Don’t bother with the overpriced programs that promise that they can teach you digital marketing in a couple of months (they can’t!), and all of the blog posts and listicles that promise to reveal the top tips/hints/hacks etc. etc. Most of these are a waste of time — written by content writers and SEOs purely to drive traffic.
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?
Am I the only one who never dreamed of becoming a doctor?!
I think I realised quite early on that while I wanted a career path that was intellectually interesting and provided quite a lot of independence, and at the same time would enable me to live and work overseas. Digital marketing has been a much better fit in many regards, than being a doctor.
I took a very indirect route to marketing, initially completing a Russian Studies Masters before realising that no one would employ me outside of a university setting. I then spent some time in Sweden to work on a Journalism Masters, to learn how to write in a less academic, more readable way. At that point, I was still very green and started looking for jobs in Berlin which called for native English speakers to write and optimise web content.
But it really wasn’t until I started working at Select Property Group and was handed control of their PPC and paid social accounts, combined with a lot of responsibility and trust for someone quite junior, that I really fell in love with marketing.
Being able to really drive results for the business and continually experiment with new ideas, under a straightforward, hands-off manager, was really instrumental for me to start moving towards becoming a full-stack marketer. This was the point where I really buckled down to teach myself more about SEA, SEO, how to set up tracking, build landing pages, write decent content, and the basics of UX, and invested a lot of time outside of work to complete online courses.
YOU HAVE ACCUMULATED AN ENVIOUS AMOUNT OF EXPERIENCE HAVING WORKED FOR TOP-TIER COMPANIES SUCH AS RANDSTAD, SELECT PROPERTY GROUP, AS WELL AS UDACITY. WHAT DID YOU LEARN FROM THESE ROLES AND HOW DO YOU APPLY YOUR EXPERIENCES IN YOUR CURRENT ROLE AT ROOSH?
Although each of these roles were actually markedly different from one another, in terms of industry, responsibilities, and reporting structure, there were a couple of shared takeaways: attention to detail is key, seek input from others to uncover your blind spots, and strive for balance. I may not get all of these things right all the time at ROOSH, but I try to keep them in mind as much as possible.
AS A WOMAN IN THE MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS ENVIRONMENT, WHAT CHALLENGES DO YOU FACE WITHIN AND OUTSIDE THE ORGANISATION AND/OR INDUSTRY AT LARGE? WHAT MESSAGE DO YOU HAVE FOR OTHER FEMALE PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING AND COMMUNICATIONS FRATERNITY?
It’s harder for women to earn their seat at the table — and men generally don’t seem to understand this. Women have to work twice as hard just to prove that they can lead. There are still gender stereotypes at play in many workplace environments, pushing men towards taking the lead and women towards taking care of the team. This creates a double-bind for women — they can either be too hard or too soft, competent or well-liked, but never both.
At the same time, women can also carry this unconscious bias, judging their female colleagues harshly when they don’t share the same values or outlook. It’s important not to discredit the effectiveness of women leaders in your own workplace based on underlying gender stereotypes, and thereby worsen the disapproval that your colleagues may face for being independent and assertive, instead of warm and communal.
ENTERING THE WORKPLACE
WHAT DOES THE TYPICAL DAY OF WORK LOOK LIKE? ARE YOU #TEAMCOFFEE OR #TEAMTEA? OR BOTH? YOU BEAUTIFUL REBEL!
#teamcoffee all the way!
I’ve been working from home for the past four months, which has become my new normal. There’s no typical day at ROOSH — at the moment I’m helping to develop new training initiatives to help upskill junior marketers, and working with the dev team to set up Enhanced Ecommerce on ROOSH’s new websites. One day I might have a lot of video calls and questions from colleagues over Slack, the next I’m helping with ROOSH Online, which was set up in response to the coronavirus, and on others, I’m free to tackle the company’s Google Ads accounts or work on driving the growth of the Australian site, Flyparks.com.au.
But I do take time every morning to check our key metrics, the performance of specific campaigns, and answer emails from our Australian partners and customers. Although I start my day at 8.30am, I’m still 8 hours behind when it comes to the day to day running of Flyparks.
HOW BEST DO YOU STRIKE A WORK-LIFE BALANCE?
I can struggle with this — if I’m not working I’m doing an online course, reading, or completing the blog articles I owe the CXL Institute in return for recently receiving a Growth Marketing scholarship. Still, I recognize that it’s important to switch off and spend time with the people closest to me, and I make the most of my time off by seeing new places and generally travelling as much as I can.
HOW BEST WOULD YOU DEFINE GREAT LEADERSHIP?
Straightforward, open-minded, and no-nonsense. A good leader backs their decisions with clear logic, delivers thoughtful criticism when necessary, and steps back to give their employees room to work.
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?
Depending on how you define it, I could easily be accused of job-hopping — having had 6 jobs in 5 years! To my defence, 1 company closed down, 2 others downsized, and 1 couldn’t secure a work visa for me, but I am keenly aware of how my resume might appear to a hiring manager who lacks the backstory on those short stints.
In many ways, changing jobs 6 times is a double-edged sword. I’ve developed new skills, alongside broad experience across a lot of different industries, and learnt not to take anything for granted. On the other hand, there are still plenty of recruiters and hiring managers who expect candidates to sit in each role for 2 to 3 years and judge those that don’t quite negatively.
But I can understand why some people in marketing and advertising would consider seeking out greener pastures. Many companies seem to struggle when it comes to investing in their (digital) marketing staff in terms of training or continuing education budgets or offer them clear paths for upwards promotion. For some, the only way to grow and take the next step up on the career ladder will be to seek out another role elsewhere.
FORBES HAS AN ANNUAL ‘THE WORLD’S MOST INFLUENTIAL CMOS’ REPORT. FOR THE YEAR 2019, ONE OF THE KEY HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE REPORT WERE THAT 31 OF THE 50 CMOS LISTED WERE WOMEN. IN YOUR OPINION, IS THIS A POSITIVE REPRESENTATION OF GENDER EQUALITY?
Yes and no — while it proves that women are more than capable of succeeding in the role, it also highlights we still need to use a yardstick (gender/race/sexuality) to measure inclusivity in the workplace, and the article makes a little comment as to pay inequality.
COVID19 HAS BROUGHT WITH IT AN UNPRECEDENTED DISRUPTION TO THE WORLD. SEVERAL COMPANIES ARE NEARING BANKRUPTCY WHILST OTHERS HAVE BEEN FORCED TO EITHER CLOSE-DOWN OR LAY OFF THEIR STAFF. WHAT SHOULD THE BEST COURSE OF ACTION BE ESPECIALLY IN THE MARKETING CONTEXT AS WE ADAPT IN THIS ENVIRONMENT? HOW HAVE YOU AND YOUR DEPARTMENT COUNTERED THE EFFECTS OF THE PANDEMIC?
There’s no easy answer, as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic are very industry-dependent. For some, it has started to get better, but for travel, it’s still very bad and will be for a while yet. Booking numbers at ROOSH had already started shrinking by early March but dropped off completely when Europe went into lockdown.
We immediately cut back to the essentials, in terms of the channels that drive traffic and overheads, pivoted our messaging towards communicating to users about what they can do, in a positive way, and then removed as many reasons not to book as we could. Essentially this meant making Ts&Cs more clear, and adding in optional insurance products to allow customers to protect the value of their booking, and working more on international SEO to gain additional traffic from countries which were less affected by the pandemic.
We’re now investigating how we can produce more inspirational travel content. Although travel has slowed, the number of searches for holidays/vacations has not dropped off — as users are looking for positive, aspirational, and escapist content while cooped up at home.
SYSTEMS AROUND REMOTE WORK AND VIDEO CONFERENCING ARE INCREASINGLY BECOMING STAPLE IN MOST ORGANISATIONS. ACCORDING TO THE INFOGRAPHIC CREATED BY VISUAL CAPITALIST, ZOOM IS NOW WORTH MORE THAN THE 7 BIGGEST AIRLINES IN THE WORLD AT A WHOPPING MARKET CAPITALIZATION OF JUST OVER $40BN. WITH THAT BEING SAID, WORKING FROM HOME/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?
Luckily at ROOSH, there wasn’t a single member of the team whose job wasn’t already completely online. Most just took their laptop and monitor home, and set up an office in a spare room. Working from home is much more of an established norm in Holland than in other countries, so there wasn’t a massive shift in thinking when it came to staying productive during the lockdown.
However, working from home was actively discouraged in many of the organisations that I worked in previously, as it was feared that employees would drift off task and waste time. Managers seemed to fear that they wouldn’t be able to control their staff and that there would be missed opportunities for collaboration.
So in that sense, trust plays a key role in successfully converting to remote work — managers need to feel confident that their staff can work unsupervised or at least utilise time tracking software or similar to feel more at ease with not being able to look over their employees’ shoulders.
STORYTELLING SEEMS TO BE THE NEXT RISING BUZZWORD. WHAT’S THE ROOSH STORY? HOW ARE YOU TELLING IT IN AN INTERESTING WAY?
ROOSH is the parent company of a series of mobility brands, which each seek to make travel services more transparent for the consumer, with the provision of useful information, efficient design, and excellent customer service.
The company takes its name from one of the brand archetypes suggested by Professor Kevin Lane Keller — the ruler, which is linked to hard work, problem-solving, structure, and an eye for detail. These ideas shape both the name and the identity of the company; Rulers Out of Someren-Heide or ROOSH.
As the company operates across fourteen different international markets, we tend to focus more on the mobility brands themselves, such as Flyparks, Parkfellows, Parkhero, Vliegen en Parkeren, and so forth, allowing us to market to and communicate with customers according to their local language, customs, and expectations.
WHAT HAVE BEEN SOME OF ROOSH BIGGEST SUCCESSES IN MARKETING OVER THE PAST 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
Once it became clear that the travel industry would take time to recover, ROOSH branched out into ‘ROOSH Online’, effectively shifting the focus of the company from maintaining parking platforms to providing digital marketing services.
Key personnel within the company started working with external clients, offering their expertise in SEA, SEO, analytics, and CRO. The team came together (remotely!) to keep morale up and bring in additional cash flow during a very challenging time, thanks to the quick thinking of the company’s founders.
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 ROOSH?
Personally, I link innovation to effectiveness and results — you have to be able to apply and scale innovations, in order to increase sales or reduce cost. Otherwise, it’s just a novel idea.
Innovation at ROOSH means solving a complex problem in the simplest way possible, trying to provide a positive travel experience, and adding value to our customers’ lives.
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 OWN 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?
Many Influencers have reportedly enjoyed increased engagement rates during the lockdown, and seen a real boom in business. According to Convince & Convert, there was a 75% uptick in clicks on Instagram posts which used the #ad hashtag over the first two weeks of March alone.
In times of uncertainty, people are relying on what they know, and people they already trust and believe in. So even during a global pandemic, social media influencers are proving themselves to be established opinion-leaders within their niche, and are unlikely to be going away anytime soon.
WHAT APPS/SOFTWARE/TOOLS CAN’T YOU LIVE WITHOUT?
Before the pandemic — Uber, Deliveroo, NS (Dutch public transport), Google Maps, Google Translate, and Canva.
During the pandemic — Whatsapp, Slack, and Asana.
WHAT DO YOU SEE AS SOME OF THE MAJOR TRENDS IN DIGITAL IN THE NEXT 12 TO 18 MONTHS?
I expect many digital teams will play it safe moving into 2021, after having had their budgets reduced in response to the lingering effects of COVID-19. On the one hand, teams without much to spend will be doubling down on SEO and upping their content marketing game. On the other, those that do will be able to take advantage of chatbots and conversational marketing tactics, and diversify their ad spend, by exploring other networks such as Bidvertiser, RevContent, and Advertise.com, as well as native advertising options.
WHAT’S YOUR SMARTEST WORK-RELATED SHORTCUT OR PRODUCTIVITY HACK?
If you’ve got too much on your plate — outsource your most mundane tasks. There are plenty of freelancers on UpWork and PeoplePerHour that can help with more straightforward content writing tasks, outreach, and graphic design. Just delegate small jobs first to see how well they perform before committing long term.
Fill the talent gaps at your company by direct-sourcing independent professionals online. Online talent platforms like Upwork make the process easier and faster. Here’s what you need to know.⤵️ https://t.co/cyA8OJdwA5
— Upwork (@Upwork) August 7, 2020
2020 AND BEYOND
WHAT ARE YOU CURRENTLY READING? (WHAT DO YOU READ, AND HOW DO YOU CONSUME INFORMATION? PAPERBACK VS EREADER?)
I’m currently reading ‘The Shanghai Free Taxi’ by Frank Langfitt, and tend to buy a mix of history, politics, travel, and other nonfiction books — anything that teaches me something new about the world or is somehow akin to people watching from the comfort of home.
I wish I liked e-readers as much as I did paperbacks, as I have piles of books in Australia, the UAE, and now in Holland, that I’ll have to work out how to ship home someday.
WHAT IS ON YOUR NETFLIX WATCHLIST?
I’m really behind when it comes to what’s new to Netflix, as I tend to have it running in the background. I’ll pick a trashy true-crime series on the level of ‘Unsolved Mysteries’ or ‘The Staircase’, and then forget that it’s on. The last couple of shows that really held my attention were ‘Unbelievable’, ‘Ozark’, and ‘Killing Eve’.
AS WE LEARN TO LIVE WITH COVID19 IF YOU COULD REPLACE THE HANDSHAKE AS A FORM OF GREETING, WHAT INTERESTING NEW GREETING WOULD YOU REPLACE IT WITH?
Would a brief nod do?
WHO HAVEN’T YOU SEEN OR TALKED TO IN A LONG TIME AND HOPE THEY ARE DOING OKAY?
I’ve heard on the grapevine that many companies in Dubai have laid off staff as a result of the pandemic, while others have closed down completely. This would put many ex-pats in a tight spot, as their residency visa and health insurance are tied to their workplace. I’m terrible at keeping in touch with former colleagues, but I hope all those that I worked within the UAE are keeping well considering the circumstances.
A UNIQUE MESSAGE FOR ALL YOUNG PROFESSIONALS IN THE MARKETING INDUSTRY
Most startups, agencies, and SMEs want unicorn talent — above-and-beyond, full-stack digital marketers who can wear multiple hats. Consistent growth, skills development, and learning is key to a successful career in digital, and it will make you a more attractive candidate in a job market that’s saturated at a junior level.
IF YOU COULD GO BACK IN TIME, WHAT WOULD YOU TELL YOUR YOUNGER SELF?
Pay attention during math classes — it’ll come in handy later on!
WHAT HAVEN’T YOU SOLVED? WHAT CHALLENGE IS ON YOUR PLATE?
How to start saving towards retirement & other things that you start to think about after turning 30.
WE ARE ALWAYS LOOKING OUT FOR AWESOME WOMEN IN MARKETING TO PROFILE. WHO WOULD YOU LIKE US TO INTERVIEW IN FUTURE?
I haven’t worked alongside her, but her LinkedIn profile and work experience struck me as interesting.
ANY BUCKET LIST ITEMS (PROFESSIONAL AS WELL AS PERSONAL)?
Professionally — grow as a manager and learn how to lead an effective, engaged team.
Personally — finally book that trip to Minsk, when all the travel restrictions are lifted.
WHO ARE SOME OF YOUR FEMALE HEROES?
Hillary Clinton, Jacinda Ardern, and Valentina Tereshkova.
HOW CAN PEOPLE FOLLOW YOUR COMPANY ON SOCIAL MEDIA? (PROVIDE US WITH YOUR ORGANISATION SOCIAL MEDIA URLs)
You can follow ROOSH on LinkedIn