Even before I graduated, I knew I wanted to be in marketing. It was the class I enjoyed the most in university, and as I progressed through my career, I found more and more facets of marketing that were both challenging and fun.
Yet marketing also has a negative reputation for being a demanding and stressful career, i.e., agency life. Before I came to 2X, I’d probably say that it is mostly true. But I think my perspective has changed in the past couple of years. I’ve discovered that the nature of marketing is truly challenging, but that’s only half of the story.
Which Job is Money in the Bank?
After graduation, I joined one of the largest financial institutions in Malaysia. It was a 9-6 job with stable income, predictable increments, and annual bonuses. But it wasn’t the place to learn marketing. I learned as much as possible, enjoyed the benefits and stability of the job, and even became certified as an AICB Professional Banker. But I always knew that if I were serious about marketing, I would eventually need to make a move.
No Pain, No Gain?
When my internal timeline passed, I left financial services for a marketing agency, servicing prominent industry players, like Nestlé. My worst fears about being in marketing, i.e., “agency life,” became all too real. My job was a roller coaster. I would go home at 9 pm, continue work until 2 am, and wake up the next day to do it again. I even took my laptop with me during what little time I had to go out.
Soon enough, it began to take a toll.
If It Costs Your Peace of Mind…it’s Too Expensive
The notion that steep learning curves and personal sacrifices were part of the job became a fact of life. I was hyper-focused on keeping up with everything I needed to learn to do the job well, no matter the personal cost. Even though working in a marketing agency seemed a natural progression toward my goal, I soon realized that the future was digital marketing, and once again, I was searching for a new avenue to follow my dreams.
Then Covid-19 happened.
When It’s Right, It’s Right
Looking for a job during the pandemic was a tall order. Finding the right place to learn digital marketing is even more so. After interviewing with a few companies, I found 2X. Whatever doubt I had about my detours at the bank and the marketing agency dissipated as Sean Wong, Vice President, Operations & Infrastructure, affirmed that the skills I acquired were transferable and that I could learn everything I needed to become a Marketing Specialist. While I was relieved that I wasn’t starting from scratch, I wondered if this would be a rehash of the same long hours, going home only to continue working into the early morning, and taking that work into the weekends?
2X turned my notion of ”what marketing is” on its head. Some of my earlier assumptions were correct, but not all of them. Yes, marketing is demanding, challenging, and stretches you. But it doesn’t have to cost you your personal life.
Growth – The Right Way
Even though I was lucky to have had supportive superiors and colleagues at my previous jobs, my colleagues in 2X reminded me how vital it was when you’re learning the ropes. In a world-class organization serving multinational corporations abroad, it takes a unique kind of mentorship, teamwork, and work culture to meet client demands consistently. Without all these attributes, nurturing a career in digital marketing would be overwhelming.
But in the right organization, I found the support I needed to thrive when I discovered:
Guided mentorship – getting up to speed was challenging. I became certified in Marketo within one month and quickly had to figure out all the basics – ads, emails, and even design and level up quickly. There is a large spectrum in digital marketing to learn, and rather than being thrown initiated into choppy waters, I benefited from guided challenges from my mentor, Vilon Ho, Vice President of Delivery.
My seniors encouraged me to take active ownership, think strategically from end to end, and always take accountability for my work. Whenever I received a tough assignment, I would tell my mentor I would do my best. When something goes wrong, there’s no blame, only a concerted effort to find solutions together.
You can’t know everything (and that’s okay) – the nature of B2B marketing is that it changes rapidly, and there is always something new to learn. Once I leveled up to Marketing Program Manager, it became more critical to understand the deliverables and help my teams keep up with client demands. But when working together means learning together, amazing outcomes can be achieved.
I especially appreciate the times when I could put my head together with my team and figure out something new we had never attempted before. I was confident we could find a solution each time, and we did.
Culture is everything – there have been times when juggling between teams, I’ve delegated responsibilities to a colleague while I prioritized more urgent matters. There were times before 2X that I took it upon myself to resolve everything on my own, but not anymore. I could delegate and trust that the task would be handled well because that is the work culture in 2X. Everyone is proficient at what they do, and they do everything to the best of their ability.
If I could offer advice to aspiring digital marketers who want to pivot into marketing or grow in digital marketing, it would be to keep an open mind about your work experiences (what you can’t necessarily control) but focus on what you can influence, such as work boundaries, setting professional goals and most importantly, finding a company that invests in those goals to help you get there (minus the drama). Developing your career in the right organization makes all the difference.
If you haven’t found the right organization and you’re ready to jump into marketing with both feet, 2X might be the place for you.