Caroline Gill, Head of Content
Caroline Gill is the Head of Content at Search Laboratory. She worked her way up to her current position after she decided to take an entry level position in financial services rather than go to university.
I’m from Skipton in North Yorkshire and now work in Leeds.
What job do you do?
Head of Content at Search Laboratory.
What qualifications do you have?
I actually made a last-minute decision not to take my place at university (to study Marketing), so post A-Level my learning has all happened on the job.
How did you become Head of Content?
I got an entry-level marketing job in financial services and gradually worked my way up. I started on mostly offline marketing through direct mail, branch campaigns and then moved into digital in 2008 when it was still very new in the building society world. I designed an online savings system that allowed us to rely less on branch-only customers during the credit crunch, as well as heading up the website and introducing analytics and Search Engine Optimization (SEO) to the business.
Then, after having my first child (which proved to be even more hard work than introducing the concept of social media to a building society back then), I moved into proposition development. This involved immersing myself in the world of retirement planning at the age of 30, which taught me an incredible amount about how to get under the skin of customers and how they feel about brands and services. It also taught me to save as much as possible towards my own retirement!
I got an entry-level marketing job in financial services and gradually worked my way up.
Another child under my belt, I then moved into a content strategy and planning role. This involved co-ordinating all the content from across the business to ensure we squeezed every piece for online, offline, public relations (PR) and social benefits – nothing went to waste. It’s also where I developed my first content strategy – something I’ve become really passionate about.
Content strategy is based on thinking about all the stories we tell as a business – through blogs, campaigns, PR, customer interactions – and how they link together through the right channels to affect the way people feel about you. I also completed a really in-depth leadership training programme around this time, which was so valuable in terms of understanding my own working style and getting an appreciation for the different styles of those around me. Thinking more about personalities allows me to see other perspectives better – of those I work with but also for target audiences.
I also completed a really in-depth leadership training programme around this time, which was so valuable in terms of understanding my own working style.
After that I made my first move to the agency side. It’s true what they say about ‘work hard, play hard’ and this suited me really well. I led a team of writers and account managers in a small agency specialising in the higher education sector, as well as working directly with teams within universities to develop content strategies to help students get the most out of their time at uni.
Fast forward to the present and I’m now Head of Content at Search Laboratory, a bigger agency with a really diverse range of clients.
What do you do for your job?
I lead a really talented team of creatives, developing written and visual content to help our clients achieve their digital objectives. It’s my job to help them achieve that magic mix of creativity and efficiency – making cool things that do the job for the client within their budget.
What is the best thing about your job?
Getting under the skin of the brands we work with and working alongside such intelligent and creative people to see ideas come to life every day. I feel very lucky when I tell people what I get paid to do.
And the worst thing?
Part of my job is planning every working hour of the month for eight people to co-ordinate all the work that comes through the team. Meeting deadlines is non-negotiable but this requires a lot of attention as things move fast and staying agile is essential.
How do I get into Marketing?
This is really hard to answer! I think it’s always good to see your skills as transferable and learn from all your experiences. The things you learn could be useful to you in the most unpredictable ways.
I think it’s always good to see your skills as transferable and learn from all your experiences.
Research techniques I learnt whilst immersing myself in the world of retirement have recently been useful in working with a sex toy and lingerie retailer. If you don’t compartmentalise your career you can more easily see the links between the skills you build up.
I’d also say be open minded. I couldn’t have dreamt of having a job like this when I first started in marketing 16 years ago, because jobs like this didn’t exist then. Establish principles about what you want to do in your career and look out for them in jobs you can do. Don’t get hung up on the job title. Satisfaction comes from what you do – not what you’re called.