Whittaker's brand manager Hannah Gray knows the value of working her way up in the workplace. She started at the company in 2014 as the receptionist and four years on was one of this year's TVNZ-NZ Marketing 'Rookie Marketer of the Year' finalists. We chat with her about finding her feet in the industry.
What sparked your interest in getting involved in the marketing industry?
My interest in marketing was sparked while completing my communications degree at Massey University Wellington. The thing that really interested me was learning about the history and future of media and digital platforms that brands use to communicate to their consumers. I believe the essence of marketing won’t change – that is, marketing strong brands to consumers – however, I think the tactics and platforms will continue to constantly evolve and I enjoyed the idea of being challenged to keep at the forefront of these.
You started at Whittaker’s as the receptionist – how did you work your way into your current role?
I had always thought very highly of Whittaker’s marketing. I really resonated with their values and philosophy and I thought everything they did was world class. So, when I was applying for jobs after my degree and saw the receptionist position come up I thought it would be a great start. I remember in my second interview with Andrew and Brian we got talking about my interest in marketing, and they were so supportive about it right from then! It was really more than just a receptionist position as I got to help every department with different jobs. This was a great introduction into understanding the business as a whole. The part I loved the most was helping marketing and gaining an insight into their world. Jasmine [Currie] our marketing manager, saw my interest and potential and tasked me with social replying and sponsorship, the rest is history!
Where do you seek inspiration for your work?
I seek inspiration from digital media, organic conversations with management, creatives, our media team and the wider Whittaker’s team. Everyone has different views and ideas, some similar and some different, but it’s these views and ideas that will always make you think a little differently and harder about things. While the world is becoming so digitally focused, it’s the people behind the screens that are the cause and the true inspiration.
Whittaker’s is known for its inspiring campaigns, what are you most proud of in your role?
A year into my job I was responsible for leading the product development, partnership and marketing campaign for The Full Eighty chocolate for the All Blacks campaign. This was a massive first project to lead and I am proud of the way I brought it to market and the success of it. I helped foster the relationship, worked with the NPD team on the products and packaging, and developed the marketing campaign alongside our agencies. I fronted the Facebook Live recordings each game night and led the real-time campaign on our social channels. I think this was a great achievement for my first campaign, and it allowed me to gain skills in every area of being a marketer which I have applied to the other campaigns I have run since, including Toffee Milk Chunks return, Kiwi 2018, May Music Month, Most Trusted 2018, Caramel, Garage Project.
What’s been the most challenging thing to deal with in your role?
I think the most challenging thing in my role is the dynamic environment of the FMCG world. To make chocolate and market it, you need to make fast appropriate decisions and always ensure the company strategy is at the forefront of your thinking. You then need to drive this through the whole company, influencing all departments and senior management, which is not always easy when they have years and years of experience on you!
What advice would you give other young marketers out there trying to make their way in the industry?
Be ambitious, be brave and don’t be afraid to voice your opinion, even if it’s not correct. Just make sure you have your points and reasons to back up it up. I also think it’s very important to work for a company that you can align your values with, don’t worry about starting in a position that might not be your dream one. If you work for a company you align with, being curious, passionate, and showing your interest will come naturally, and you can work towards that dream job!