OPINION: Success in media is about transferable skills

Paul Walker
By Paul Walker | 23 November 2012

I work in media.

I started my career in insurance.

This may seem like an odd leap, but when I look back at my career to date, moving from insurance to media makes perfect sense. Over the last 15 odd years, my career path focused on my desire for new challenges, a hunger for personal development, and areas of interest. The key to these career steps has been the ability to identify transferable skills and demonstrate how those skills would benefit my new employer. Let me put it in context.

I started my career as a corporate planner (finance guy) at an insurance company and shared an office with the marketing manager. Her job interested me more than mine, so I started thinking about how I could get into marketing with the skill set I currently had … numbers. My next role was as a market analyst for Lion Nathan. My job was still numbers, but it was the right type of numbers. I sat in the middle of the marketing team, soaking up as much as I could.

My next role was as a brand manager at Roadshow Home Entertainment. I focused on my strengths, budget management and market trend analysis, and what I could offer them. They recognized my strengths, but also had a plan to develop my weaknesses.

I then moved to a BTL agency The Marketing Store as an account director. I had spent six years in home entertainment and wanted to try something new and agency life beckoned. Again I looked at what skills I could transfer to this new role: team management, licensing, brand management, retail experience.

I have stayed on the agency side ever since, spending five years at an experiential agency, Maverick, before I moved to MediaCom as group director on IAG, one of the agencies largest clients.  For each new role I focused on what key skills I could offer the company and how those skills would be of benefit. However, I wouldn’t have got where I have been today without the support and belief of the organisations I have worked for, as well as being clear with them about my motivations.

Take MediaCom. When I went for the interview I asked “Why do you want a person with limited media experience?”. The response. “We have a lot of specialist ‘media’ people and we aim to diversify our skill set and stay open minded when it comes to talent”. I was sold.

So as you can see moving from insurance to media makes perfect sense. By having a hunger for personal development, focusing on how skills learnt in other industries are transferable, and an employer looking to diversify their skill base, anything is possible.

Paul Walker
Group Director, Client Communications Planning

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