An interest in consumer behaviour guided Danielle Dunbar into a career in marketing. Here’s how she became a Marketing Manager at Phoenix Natural Gas.
The post: Marketing Manager, Phoenix Natural Gas
The post holder: Danielle Dunbar
Give a brief outline of your career to date.
I have been working in marketing roles for the last nine years, across a range of different industries, including education, tourism and utilities. I’ve been Marketing Manager at Phoenix Natural Gas for 18 months where I manage all the marketing activities and give consumers lots of great reasons to have Phoenix Natural Gas.
What was your favourite subject at school?
I really enjoyed Technology and Design and Business Studies, though it was the marketing side of Business Studies that always interested me most. There was something that really appealed to me about the mix of creativity, tracking and consumer psychology that came with marketing which beat the finance and accounting aspects of the subject.
Did you go on to further/ higher education, if so what did you study and where?
When it came to exam time at school I always wanted to be finished studying but I went on to complete not only a degree in Media Studies and Computing at Ulster University but also a Masters in Communications, Advertising and Public Relations. I initially wanted to be a journalist but found myself more interested in marketing and consumer behaviour as I learned more about it.
How did you get into your area of work?
Coming out of university I started in an event management role which I realised wasn’t quite right for me, but it helped guide me to a marketing executive role with a signature project which I really enjoyed. The project was a new visitor experience, Titanic Belfast, and it wasn’t even opened when I started. It was a really fast-paced role where I learned a lot and I loved it.
Is this what you always wanted to do?
I knew I wanted to be in a creative role and spent time on work experience with an interior designer, so maybe in some ways there is a link back now that I market a fuel that makes homes more cosy!
Were there any particular essential qualifications or experience needed?
There is a lot of strategy, theory and reporting in my role so I think having a marketing-based qualification definitely helps but you learn a lot on the job so having a good attitude and creative flair is just as important.
Are there alternative routes into the job?
There are lots of ways into marketing, even my own route was unconventional. Lots of people I know in marketing roles don’t have related qualifications but were able to get their foot in the door with experience and have developed marketing careers from there.
What are the main personal skills your job requires?
For my job the key personal skills are having great time management skills, being creative, having the ability to communicate with a range of different people and being able to juggle a range of different tasks and projects at any one time.
What does a typical day entail?
Being a marketing manager is such a fast-paced role that no two days are the same. You can never know what the day ahead will hold which is part of what makes it really exciting. On a daily basis I might be working on a new campaign, filming a commercial, creating social media content or presenting to the Board. The only knowns of a day are lots of coffee, calls and emails.
What are the best and most challenging aspects of the job?
The best part of my job is seeing my work out in the world, on TV, billboards or hearing it on the radio. It makes all the hard work that goes into creating each piece worthwhile and is still a proud moment for me every time. The most challenging aspect is deadlines as there are always key timelines to complete every aspect of a campaign and you are often relying on support from other partners or agencies to complete the work on time.
Why is what you do important?
Over the last 20 years more than 220,000 customers have made the move to Phoenix Natural Gas and are enjoying the convenience of instant heat and hot water at home. My role is to help consumers become aware of all the great lifestyle and environmental benefits that natural gas offers and to encourage even more consumers to see natural gas as their ultimate home improvement.
What advice would you give anyone looking to follow a similar career path?
If it’s what you want to do don’t let anybody tell you that you can’t. There is always a way. To help me get practical marketing experience I volunteered with different organisations which gave me lots of experience to talk about when applying for jobs and showed that I was serious about a career in the industry.
If you weren’t doing this what would you like to do?
When I was very young I wanted to be a vet but a fear of blood swiftly put me off that career path so maybe something that involved working with animals might have been my alternative career.
What is the one piece of advice you would give to yourself on your first day?
Be early, be organised and smile!
Describe your ideal day off.
After a late wake up and brunch I’d be heading up Cave Hill for a walk with coffee at the top. After coming back down, catching up with friends for some drinks and dinner in Belfast would really finish the day off.
And finally, what’s the key to any successful job search?
It’s important to be realistic about what you want and to think about how your personal skills and interests are right for any role. You spend more time in work than at home for the most part so it’s really important to find something that interests you, that you can enjoy and where your skills are used and developed.