Brittany Williams is halfway through her 15-mile bike commute home after work when she picks up the phone for our interview. Only slightly out of breath, she explains that this form of transportation is perfect for her because it gets her workout and commute out of the way at the same time.
Obviously Brittany knows a thing or two about optimization. It doesn’t shock me that she is thriving as a marketing manager for Broadview Mortgage only two years after graduating from the University of Redlands. Still, I’m curious to learn a bit more about her career journey and how she ended up in her current role.
With only a couple hiccups in our interview due to tunnels that are not very phone-friendly, she explains how she went from Business Administration major to marketing manager and what students should know about getting into this field (as well as what it takes to be a leader as a twentysomething).
Why did Brittany choose marketing?
Brittany’s first job out of college was actually in sales. But soon after starting, she realized it was not for her. She loved the networking aspect of it, but wasn’t comfortable always turning a contact into a deal. She was looking for a position in which she could work on making longer term, genuine connections.
Still, she’s thankful for that first sales job because it helped with her career discovery. She thinks it’s important for twentysomethings to figure out what they don’t want to do.* Even though she’s not 100% sure what her life goals are, she certainly knows what they aren’t, and that helps.
[*Editor’s note: we recently explored the topic of finding out what you don’t want in order to discover what you do want. If you want to know more about our thoughts—and Amy Poehler’s—on the topic, you can check out this post.]
After leaving her sales job, Brittany got a temp position doing human resources work at Guess. She was temping at their global headquarters and got to witness their marketing department firsthand. She was inspired. Guess marketing and advertising has been around for such a long time; Brittany remembers having Guess ads posted in her room growing up. After seeing the work they were doing in person, she really wanted to be a part of it.
Unfortunately, there weren’t any available jobs in that department and her time as a temp was coming to an end. But at least the experience opened her eyes to her interest in marketing. After she finished her time at Guess, she started looking for other jobs and ended up getting back in touch with the owner of Broadview Mortgage. He was an alumni of the University of Redlands and Brittany had met him senior year through a business professor, Jack Osborne. After reconnecting, Brittany got an interview and was hired on.
What is a typical day like as the marketing manager?
It’s a relatively small company so Brittany deals with a lot of the compliance issues. After the financial crisis, the mortgage industry became very highly regulated. This means that Brittany is constantly working to ensure that all of the marketing materials and campaigns depict the proper licensing numbers and include accurate information about the products Broadview is providing. Those products are constantly changing and being updated, so Brittany has to make sure she’s up-to-date on everything her company has to offer.
When she first started, Brittany worked pretty closely with senior management to create a more sustainable model for marketing. This meant revamping the internet system used by all of the employees and also making sure all orders for materials like flyers or business cards were printed. She also became the liaison between the sales representatives and marketing department, communicating all of the marketing offers that were available.
What was it like to come in and almost immediately take charge?
It was both good and stressful. When Brittany was first hired on, she was an assistant at one of the branches of Broadview Mortgage. At that branch, she was only doing the marketing for about five or six people. Within nine months of being there, she was given a promotion and was transferred to corporate. Now she handles the marketing for around 60 people, so basically 10 times the volume she was in charge of before.
After the promotion, the biggest change that Brittany had to get used to was working with a wide range of personalities. Even though she is working in marketing, a lot of her job is comparable to customer service and sales in the aspect of interacting with and helping a lot of different people.
What advice does she have for twentysomethings who find themselves in a leadership role?
Diplomacy is huge! Brittany’s biggest piece of advice for twentysomethings who find themselves in a leadership role is to learn how to communicate in a polite and effective way. As a leader, you’re working with a lot of different people. What you have to remember is that everyone thinks differently and it’s going to be difficult to get everyone to decide on one thing. You have to make sure that you’re facilitating conversations and communicating your ideas in the right way.
“What I’ve learned is that you can say anything that’s on your mind. What’s really important is the way you say it. One person can say something and it can come out completely rude and another person can say the exact same thing and it can be fine. So you have to be aware of that.”
If you already have those communication skills, use them. If not, try to start developing them. Try to find leadership roles in school. Volunteer to host an event for a club. Practice your listening skills. Create and lead a side project.
What are her favorite parts about being a marketing manager?
Brittany loves the people that she works with. She can’t emphasize enough how important it is to get along with your coworkers. These are the people you’re going to be spending 40+ hours a week with. It’s really important to have good people surrounding you.
The other part she’s really appreciative of is the fact that she’s learning every day. Before she started working at Broadview, she didn’t really understand how a mortgage worked or what it even was. She knew that it was associated with a house in some way, but didn’t really get it. After working with Broadview, she’s starting to understand mortgages and home owning and feels prepared to be a future home owner.
What are some essential skills for marketing managers?
Creativity is really important. Brittany explains that as a marketing manager, you’re constantly designing different campaigns, flyers, etc. You need to be able to come up with new and engaging ideas all the time. Along those same lines, it’s important to know how to use photo editing tools like Photoshop, Adobe Creative Suite, InDesign, and Illustrator. Brittany warns that these programs are not easy, so it’s a good idea to start learning them as early as possible.
There are some great resources online that can help you with these programs, but if you’re still in school, you might want to consider adding some graphic design classes into your schedule.
What advice does Brittany have for students who are interested in a marketing career?
Brittany recommends finding marketing companies that are doing things that you think are cool. Then, keep track of them. Follow them on LinkedIn and keep an eye on different techniques, styles, and ideas they come up with. She’s not saying that you should be copying these companies when it comes to your own marketing strategies, but it’s really good to bounce ideas around and use other companies as inspiration.
One of the things she can’t stress enough is the fact that the world of marketing is constantly updating, changing, and shifting around. It’s really important to stay up-to-date on what’s happening in the field. In order to do this, she recommends finding some marketing blogs to subscribe to. She, personally, follows Lifehack.org. Even though they don’t have a strong focus on marketing, the articles they do have on the subject are incredibly helpful and their other articles are useful for daily life in general.
Homework time! Interested in a career in marketing? Think about what Brittany has said and start working on developing your communication and photo editing skills. Start researching different marketing companies and find ones that appeal to you. Then follow those companies on LinkedIn (or other social media networks) so you can keep an eye on campaigns they create. Also, make sure that you’re constantly staying up-to-date with the marketing industry in general. Find blogs that talk about the latest happenings in the field and subscribe!