Category Archives: marketing

Turning interests and hobbies into a business

We have been talking to Gavin Lapidus who started eShores, an online travel agent and tour operator specialising in luxury and tailor made multi-centre holidays to exotic destinations. This blog tells his story and shares some advice for those of you wondering how to turn your interest or hobby into a viable business!

gavin-lapidus

What is your background in and what was your last job before you launched eShores?

My background is mainly in sales and marketing, but I used to work in construction, and also spent some time working in steel manufacturing.

The last job I had before launching eShores was as a regional sales manager for a steel manufacturing company, where my focus was on bringing products to market and advertising them, but it wasn’t long before I decided I wanted to start my own business.

What made you want to start your own business?

I have always wanted my own business. My mum and sister both have their own businesses, as do some of my friends, so it’s always been a personal goal of mine. I have always been a very driven person who wants to keep moving forward in their career, so I have always seen starting my own business as my main goal.

I worked my way up from the bottom in the construction company I worked at, and although I found steel manufacturing interesting, I knew it wasn’t my future. I excelled in sales and marketing and decided I wanted to try and use my skills in a company I could call my own.

What made you want to get into your industry? And how did you do it?

I was sat down thinking about all my different options – I knew I wanted my own business, but I didn’t know exactly what to do. I didn’t want to stay in the construction industry, as I felt like my knowledge and passions lay elsewhere. While I love eating, drinking, and socialising, I didn’t feel that starting up a bar or restaurant was the best option.

I then thought about how much I love to travel and go to a range of different places, and got talking to people in the industry. Nadine, my business partner, who is a director here too, came on board with 15 years travel industry experience, and so I thought my experience in sales and marketing, combined with her background in travel, would be the perfect combination.

What advice would you give to a student or graduate hoping for a career in your industry?

I think it’s important to have a passion for travel. The great thing about travel is that you can start as a one-man-band working from home and then build your business up. I had a tiny office to begin with, but then moved to a larger place as my team began to grow.

You need to know what you are good at and what works, then focus on that area. With a passion and drive to succeed, you can make your career what you want it to be, own your own business, and have a job you love each and every day.

Can you describe a typical day in your role?

Every day is different for me. There are always a few projects I’m working on, and right now I’m focussing on the internal systems. My goal each day is to ensure everything is running smoothly and the teams are all OK. If there are any problems the team will come to me and I can find the best way to solve them.

Sometimes I spend a few hours responding to customers and replying to emails, but my day to day tasks are fairly ad hoc. When the company was smaller I spent more time working in sales, but now I have a team of experts, I leave it to them and just do the additional jobs here and there.

What part of your job do you enjoy the most?

I love hearing from happy customers – we have a review system in place now to see their feedback and it’s wonderful hearing about all their different trips and the things they did on their holidays. I love seeing my team develop too – it’s great to see them doing well and enjoying their job.

What is the most challenging part of your job?

The most challenging thing is probably the change in markets and the volatile nature of the travel industry. Sometimes things happen that are completely out of your control, like natural disasters, so it can be tough trying to work around these and keep the business moving forward as normal.

It can be hard knowing how to respond to changes in the market without letting it affect the business. From a marketing point of view, your sales figures could be soaring, and then, through no fault of your own, there is a natural disaster, and the sales team suffer. It can be frustrating as you then need to look for solutions.

How do you maintain a good work/life balance?

I actually struggled with this for many years, especially when first setting up the business. I worked every hour of the day, but I soon realised I was driving myself into the ground. There’s no point having a business if you can’t enjoy it. Now the business has a good structure, with team leaders who manage each department.

There are so many different roles in the company which mean I can take a step back sometimes and let my management team do their job. I will always ensure I have one day off a week, but two days would be ideal for that perfect work/life balance.

What does the future hold for eShores?

eShores is all about looking after the customer and giving them a personal service. I don’t want the business to become so big that it loses its personal touch, but I would still like to grow and develop the team. Working closely with our customers as a small team helps us to deliver such a personal service, and it’s something I always want to keep a focus on.

If you need some advice on identifying a career path, help recognising what you are good at, and what self-employment options might be available to you, come and talk to UOC Careers team. Contact us at careers@cumbria.ac.uk.

We work closely with the Enterprise team who can help you learn about self-employment and setting up a business.

 

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Career interview with the Head of Online and Digital at The Entertainer

This week we have been talking to Rob Wood, Head of Online and Digital at The Entertainer to find out about his career journey and what tips he would give to students who are keen to develop careers in ecommerce.Rob Wood

What did you study at university and what impact did it have on your career path?

English. I started my ecommerce career focussing on online content so it gave me a good grounding in how audiences respond to language.

What work experience did you undertake per landing a permanent position?

I did lots of odd jobs – silver service waiting, accounts payable, reporting on non-league football matches. I didn’t have a master plan for what I wanted to do but it gave me a good flavour of different workplaces and cured me of any interest in working in accountancy.

Did you take part in any societies while at university, and if so, did you learn any valuable skills from your time?

I played a lot of sport which develops great skills for most career paths – teamwork, communication, competitiveness.

What advice do you have for those who are just starting university right now?

You’ll never have so much spare time again so make the most of it. And enjoy yourself.

How important is a brand’s culture when choosing positions to apply for?

Really important and it’s definitely worth asking lots of questions about it when you interview. There are advantages and disadvantages of working everywhere – understanding what they are and adapting to them is the key to succeeding. So ask the person interviewing to talk you through the culture as it will help you decide whether it’s a place you will do well.

What is the most challenging part of your current role?

Deciding where the priorities are. There are 1000s of possible ways to grow our online sales and my job is to decide which ones are the most time and cost-effective. Because technology is changing so quickly it’s impossible to predict how customers will shop in a couple of years’ time, so our strategy is to find low risk projects that keep us up to date with the latest trends in online shopping and communication but allow us to react quickly if things change.

Has your role changed, or have your responsibilities evolved, as you’ve worked for The Entertainer?

My role has changed a lot. When I joined The Entertainer I was running a small online content team. Over the last five years I’ve gradually taken on responsibility for user experience, commercial performance and online marketing and I now lead a team of 15.

Over the next few weeks, we’ll be posting career interviews with some of Rob’s colleagues: a  Copywriters, an Online Merchandiser, and a Content and Social Media Assistant. The interviews are all about what they learned at university, the impact it had on their careers and their advice for current students. Watch this space!

 

Friday Featured Vacancies – IT Manager / Communications & Marketing Intern

cumbria community foundationCommunications & Marketing Intern

Cumbria Community Foundation is looking for a dynamic and motivated person to help with their communications and marketing needs. The full-time role will be for 12 months based at their office in Dovenby.

The position provides an opportunity to further develop experience in marketing, communications, research and events management as well as gaining experience of social policy, grant making and community philanthropy.

The aim of the role is to provide support to staff members across a range of activities and functions. The position will be packaged as support to a range of projects to ensure effective management of the intern’s time.

The Community Foundation exists to improve the quality of the community life in Cumbria by making grants to voluntary organisations and individuals and managing grant making funds on behalf of individuals, companies and government organisations.

Established in September 1999 the Foundation has given out almost £30 million in grants to more than 4,000 groups and 4,000 individuals.

The Foundation has a strong donor base and is held in high regard by key stakeholders.  As an organisation committed to the local community and a track record of delivery they are looking for a key member of the team to contribute to the exciting development of the organisation.

Salary £14,000 – £16,000 per annum

For further information including the job description and application form, visit their website http://www.cumbriafoundation.org/

Closing date 9.00am Monday 16th May 2016

Interview date 24th May

 

 

logoIT Manager

Carlisle Brass is looking for an IT Manager. This role offers the opportunity to travel, locations include Carlisle, Blackburn, Kirkham and Dubai.

To apply send a CV and covering letter to cgraham@carlislebrass.com.

Find out more about Carlisle Brass on their website – http://www.carlislebrass.com

Closing date for applications is 10 May 2016.

 

JOB DESCRIPTION

Title:                     IT Manager                        

Reports to:         Head of Finance

Dotted line to:  CBG MD / Divisional FD

Location:            Carlisle

Sites:                     Carlisle, Blackburn, Kirkham, Dubai

Salary:                  £40-45k (37.5 hour week with out of hours and weekend work required occasionally to meet business continuity needs)

Benefits:             3% pension contribution, DIS 2 x’s salary, 23 days holiday                               

 

Background

The role arises as a result of the need to strengthen the IT function within the business, in the light of increased growth and technology dependence as well as the increased complexity arising from a proposed ERP replacement in 2017.

The hardware infrastructure for the current systems is largely based at Carlisle, with remote servers at Blackburn and Kirkham.

The parent Group’s IT infrastructure will also continue to evolve towards consolidation and standardisation of solutions for its other UK businesses based in Daventry, and this role holder should therefore expect to collaborate with other parts of the Arran Isle group in achieving  realistic synergies. It is likely that this would comprise further virtualisation of storage and servers, as well as a roll out of virtual desktop technology

 

Job Purpose      

Deliver an infrastructure which continues to support the growth of the organisation and become knowledgeable about all its aspects to ensure continuous support for the operational hours of the business.

Provide day to day management and leadership of support staff making sure that appropriate skills are in place and effectively deployed in order to meet the function’s responsibilities to its users at all sites.

There will also be scope to provide forward looking guidance and strategy on where the Group can deliver more through IT, as well as responding to and developing ideas arising in the business units.

 

ERP replacement

Carlisle Brass currently operates a range of software applications to control the business, largely based around a bespoke database (Corserine), and developed in .NET from an original Phoenix database. Much of this development has been undertaken in house by the current IT manager. Corserine has in turn has been integrated with Sage 200 to provide the financial reporting and analysis. It is intended that the IT Manager will remain within the business focussed mainly on support of the legacy systems and immediate development requirements of these.

Carlisle Brass is currently planning to replace its existing legacy  systems with a fully integrated ERP solution in 2017. It is highly likely this will be based around a MS Dynamics Navision solution already developed for other businesses in the Arran Isle group, and being implemented during  2016.

The successful candidate will play a key role in supporting this project from the early stages through to post completion support.

The business does not currently have Navision experience available, but this will be supported by other sites and experienced third party implementers.

 

Key responsibilities and Standards of Performance

  1. Helpdesk resources and performance including reporting and improvement programmes
  2. Allocation of support resources and software resilience as agreed with business units including up time
  3. Coordination with external support providers which includes managing their performance and negotiation of contracts to support the operational requirements of the business
  4. Developing business specific Service Level Agreements (SLA) for each business unit and subsequently ensuring that IT service meets or exceed agreed targets
  5. Contribute to the development of the IT strategy encompassing hardware, software, security, resources and other aspects that support the achievement of the business plans of each business location
  6. Project planning and management of infrastructure maintenance and development projects including engagement and management of 3rd party contractors and service providers as and when required
  7. Creation of Disaster Recovery plans covering all aspects of IT resources and service for each business including periodic testing and subsequent updating. This includes from minor incidents such as theft of mobile phones to larger scale issues such as downtime on main systems
  8. Managing the hardware estate for the business units including:
    1. Physical servers, switches, firewalls and other associated hardware at Carlisle and other UK locations
    2. Local PC’s, photocopiers
    3. Telecoms: fixed line, broadband, mobile phones & devices, wifi, scanners
    4. Video conferencing assets
  1. Development and roll out of IT policies across all locations, periodic maintenance and enforcement
  2. Overall management of website hosting for all business units including the development and monitoring of service level performance from 3rd party resource providers
  3. Management of all aspects of IT security for all locations including PCI compliance, hardware and software integrity and resilience
  4. Contribute to wider company projects that require IT input such as new process planning, new functional specific software such as demand planning or business reporting
  5. Form part of the wider Group’s IT resource by working collaboratively with other IT professionals in the business and contributing to the IT Board
  6. Keep up to date with new software and technologies that can make our business better and build competencies within the IT team

 

Other Relationships

Coordinate with Divisional Finance based in Daventry, UK.

Liaise with other IT professionals around the Group

IT of customer/supplier functions around the UK

 

IT / Business systems

Sage 200 accounting software used for financial reporting

Interfaced with internally developed Corserine / Phoenix operating systems

Local IT hardware infrastructure includes virtualised servers and remote servers at business locations in Kirkham and Blackburn.

 

Background, education and experience 

Extensive 1st/2nd and 3rd Line support for a variety of infrastructure & application environments (pre-dominantly MS focused)

Extensive Design and deployment of Windows/PC based hardware

Management of an IT function within a larger multi-site SME or

Management of teams within an outsourced IT services environment

 

Qualifications

Good general education with at least strong A level or equivalent education.  Degree level education likely.  Appropriate technical certifications to demonstrate technical areas of expertise.

 

Technical Experience

  • LAN/WAN Network
  • MS Server platforms
  • Full and Thin client architecture including Citrix
  • Hardware performance monitoring and improvement
  • SQL
  • Business Continuity, backup & recovery
  • VMware
  • Antivirus, Anti-spam & Firewall management
  • PCI compliance
  • Website/Ecommerce/EDI
  • SQL
  • Programming, e.g. Linux, .NET
  • Video conferencing (Lifesize)
  • Support ERP and Business Intelligence tools

The template for the future ERP system is  based around MS Dynamics NAV 16 (Navision) with extensive use of  Phocas (BI) and Jet Reports (BI)for much of the reporting requirements. Experience in any of these would be advantageous

 

Organisation Structure

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Friday’s Featured Vacancy – Marketing, Technology and Entrepreneurship scholarship opportunity

Marketing, Technology and Entrepreneurship students – fancy winning a £800 scholarship prize? Signal, global leader in real-time people-based marketing are calling on British university students who represent the next generation of tech-savvy marketers, to explore how mobile technology trends will impact marketing strategies in the future. They will award a scholarship prize of £800 to the aspiring technology, marketing and/or entrepreneurship student who best answers the following questions:

  • What impact do you expect mobile technologies like ad blocking and speech recognition software to have on marketing in the next five years?
  • How will these technologies influence global business practices?
  • How have mobile technologies already influenced the economy?

To apply for our scholarship, please write an essay of 800 words or less, in response to the aforementioned questions. Be sure to support your answers with specific examples.

Submit your essay to scholarship@signal.co with the subject line, “Signal Scholarship Entry-Great Britain.”  Make sure to include your full contact details, the name of your university, and your CV.

Deadline for submitting your entry is August 31, 2016.

Signal’s team will choose the winners after the deadline and announce them on September 30, 2016. No payment or purchase required to enter.

For complete details, please visit: http://www.signal.co/uk/mobile-technology-trends-gb-scholarship/

Friday’s Featured Vacancy

 Events Marketing Internship

220px-University_of_the_Arts_London_Logo

University of the Arts London is a vibrant world centre for innovation, drawing together six Colleges with international reputations in art, design, fashion, communication and performing arts. Every position within the University plays an important part in shaping future creative professionals, and impacts on the future of so many creative industries. We are also proud to host the UK’s leading and award-winning events programme (The Social Programme).

As the Events Marketing Intern, you will provide efficient support to the Student Experience Manager, Accommodation Team and Student Ambassadors. Working with the Student Experience Manager, you will assist with the planning of marketing and social media, as well as communicating regularly with the Student Ambassadors. You will also work with our in house student recruitment agency to outsource marketing design work, photography and any other student work.

ual campus

Your profile  

You will be educated to Degree level or equivalent, and will have marketing experience. You will possess excellent communication skills, be organised and able to use initiative when resolving day to day problems. At ease when working with different professional groups, you will thrive in a collaborative environment.

In return, University of the Arts London offers generous leave, an attractive pension and a commitment to your continuing personal development and training in an environment.

Job type : full time

Job term: fixed Term

Length of fixed term contract: 52 weeks

DBS check required?  Yes

The position is available to external and internal candidates

Closing date: 21/03/2016 23:55

Scheduled interview date: 31 March 2016

Salary   £19,857 – £21,797 per annum

For the job description and person specification along with details about how you can apply, click here.

If you have any queries you may contact Paul Blumson, Strategic Development Recruitment Administrator via email: sd-vacancies@arts.ac.uk

 

 

 

Six reasons graduates should gun for startups – James Pursey

Today we have a guest post from James Pursey with his top six reasons to join a startup!

I graduated from university in 2011 and had my whole life planned out. I was going work for a young startup company for a couple of years to gain experience, then start my own business. Plans are all well and good, but when a job offer for a recruitment company came up with big cash figures floating in the air, I changed my mind.

To this day it was one of the worst mistakes I’ve made. I chose money over what I really wanted to do because it felt like a ‘career path’ I was meant to take. I quit after six months of what I can only politely describe as un-enjoyable work and went to work for the startup I should’ve gone to originally. Eventually I left and ran my own company for a couple of years and now I’m back at another startup.

I think a lot of people get drawn into careers they don’t want, and a lot of them stay there because it’s the ‘sensible’ thing to do. Joining a startup isn’t irresponsible, it’s not reckless and there’s a lot of advantages over more established companies. Here are my top six reasons to join a startup.

1) You’ll build a broad skillset

In most jobs, you do the role you’re hired for and nothing more. If you’re employed to run social media you’ll spend your time tweeting, pinning and updating statuses – that’s great but too much of anything can become a chore. Startups operate on an all-hands-on-deck basis, which is a clunky way of saying that (if you want to) you can get experience across all aspects of the business, even areas you’d never even thought of. More exposure means more skills, which means you’ll be even more employable after a year in a startup than after your first-class honours degree!

2) You’ll be working with like-minded people

By like-minded I mean people like you! Startups require a lot of brainpower to get off the ground, a lot of hard work and a heck of a lot of working under pressure. Without stereotyping people too much, startups are typically powered by young people.

You’ll be working alongside people of a similar age, with similar interests and a similar attitude. Startups are all about culture and they’ll hire people that fit their own sense of humour and work ethic – in other words, if you join a startup the chances are you’ll get on like a house on fire with the other staff members and work won’t just be work, it’ll be a damn good laugh.

3) You’re not a tiny cog in a huge machine

Every single member of an early-stage company has a vital role to play. Regardless of your specific job you can rest assured you were hired for a reason and that reason will help the business succeed. That means you’ll have a lot of responsibility early on, but remember that accountability comes with that. If you want to have ownership and work autonomously, don’t join a corporate.

4) Startups are cool

Some startups require you to work long hours, some can’t match those corporate salaries, and I’m sure you could send me a list of reasons to work for a big company, but one thing startups nail every time is culture.

From pool tables to nap time and daily cooked breakfasts, startups are quirky and like to treat their staff to keep them motivated and make work less of a chore! carwow has a very well-used table tennis table and every Friday the fridge is full of beer.

5) You can develop fast… really fast  

I joined carwow in Februrary as a sales exec. I didn’t want to work in sales though – I wanted to work in marketing. So I audited the site and presented my findings to the founder a couple of weeks after starting. Fast-forward six months and I’m the Head of Inbound Marketing. Put simply, if you have a passion that can serve the business, and you prove your value, you may just get that job you’ve always wanted – without changing companies.

6) It’s one heck of a ride

carwow is a comparison site for new car sales. Believe it or not, nobody in the country does what we do. Within 12 months of launching, the company has grown from nothing to selling £10m+ worth of cars per month, and last month around 5% of all Volkswagen Golfs sold in the UK were via carwow. We also raised a seven-figure investment sum to grow even faster. Now, read that again and tell me it doesn’t sound like an awesome place to work.

So there it is, six top reasons to aim for startups. Any questions at all? Tweet me: @JamesPursey

A day in the life of Rachel Murray, Digital Marketing Consultant for Hydrant

Rachel is Digital Marketing Consultant for Hydrant in Carlisle. You can read more about Hydrant in Monday’s post here.

rachel-murray-hydrant-day-in-the-life

How did you become a Digital Marketing Consultant? Did you need any specific training or education?
I graduated with a marketing degree, but I also had a keen interest in digital marketing, and I actually got the job through LinkedIn. I was interested in working with Hydrant as I am quite local, so I connected with some of the staff on LinkedIn, and saw the job advertised there. I sent off my CV, which led to our first meeting and it went from there! They were looking for someone to undertake their digital marketing and so I joined the team as digital marketing consultant; if a client needed advice, I would be the point of contact. Now that I have been there a year, my role has progressed so that I do a lot of face to face work, networking, and marketing Hydrant – letting people know that we are just around the corner!

What does a typical day consist of?
I do a lot of business development, sales, and tender opportunities, so I usually start the day by looking at the tender portals, finding sales opportunities and then ensuring that we have all the documents together in time for deadlines. Every day has different demands and priorities and so I arrange my workload around those. I do a lot of Hydrant’s marketing, mostly online, so I will create press releases, blog posts, tweets and things like that. I could also be arranging events, such as our recent tweet-up, other Hydrant events, and so on. As I am also a point of contact for people who are interested in our services, I often have clients phone up for advice, or new clients wanting to work with us. I find that working in an agency, every day is different!

hydrant-office-day-in-the-life-rachel-murray

What personal qualities do you think are essential to be good at your job?
You really need to be outgoing and creative to work in social media; you don’t want your online presence to blend in, it needs to be engaging and stand out! It is important that you have the skills to create that sort of online presence. I am quite talkative, which is useful when networking, so I’m not sitting in a corner and not really representing Hydrant – you need to be outspoken and have the ability to form relationships and chat with all different kinds of people. You also need to understand the strategy behind the suggestions you make to clients, you need to know the technical theory behind all of that. This is one of those jobs you can really learn as you go, especially within social media as it is always changing, you need to constantly be aware of new trends and be up to date and on the ball!

If you could spend one day in another job, what would it be and why?
I find social media really interesting but I would love to do it for a really different organisation. My dream job is to work for Heat magazine, working in the office and meeting celebrities. Their approach to social media is completely different, it isn’t corporate at all, and it is about building relationships with their readers which I find very interesting. They tweet and post on Facebook about TV programmes, celebrities and celeb culture, it’s a totally different approach.

What is your biggest tip for someone who wants follow in your career path?
My main advice would be to be proactive, just get yourself out there and let companies know you are available and experienced. Form relationships with companies, and people at those companies, rather than just applying for jobs. So, you could send a LinkedIn request to the company founder, and send him a message letting him know what you are about. When I first came out of university one of the first things I did was to get in touch with local organisations to see if I could work with them for a few days – most companies will say yes to someone offering to work for free! Another important thing to remember is that experience is vital, so the more you can do before you leave university, the better. Working for a company for a few days, or on a short project looks better than a blank CV. If you are struggling to get any experience, you could even start blogging about your chosen career. For example, if you are seeking a career in advertising, you could blog about current advertising campaigns, putting your own touch on them, giving advert reviews etc. This is building your experience and shows employers your knowledge and abilities, and you can use it as a reference or portfolio when applying for jobs. Having something to show an employer goes a long way.

Interested in a career in digital marketing? You can read more on the Prospects website at http://www.prospects.ac.uk/features_marketing_whats_on_offer.htm