Our Infectious Media ‘Pathways’ series of interviews aims to highlight the career options available within the business. In our first interview, Rosie Shimell, Head of People, speaks to Rachael Morris, about how she became Infectious Media’s Optimisation & Insight Director.
What did you do before you began working for Infectious Media?
Infectious Media was my first proper job after leaving University. I’d studied at Cambridge - I was torn between focusing on English and Maths as a degree but chose Maths as I thought I would stand out more as a woman in a quite a male heavy area of study! Once at University I had no idea what I would go on to do afterwards. My Dad had worked in the creative side of advertising so it was a direction I was considering. When a three month Account Analyst internship advert at Infectious Media caught my eye I applied and was offered the job.
Tell us about your Infectious Media career journey, where did it begin, and how did you make your way to Optimisation & Insight Director?
When I began working as an Account Analyst in 2010 there were only eight people in the business. It was very small which was great, as it meant that everyone did a bit of everything. On a day-to-day basis I was managing campaigns, talking to clients and doing some internal business reporting. I worked directly under the Client Services Director for about a year and was exposed to a very senior level of work for such a junior role.
My pathway then took me to an Account Manager role, then Senior Account Manager, and eventually on to an Account Director position where I worked with John Lewis and Waitrose. This was really exciting as we were progressively working with more and more advertisers (as opposed to their ad agencies).
After several years of working directly with clients I became interested in the internal areas of the business. I shared my ambitions with my manager, who supported me in my move to the Head of Optimisation role which had become vacant late 2014. Over time I took on the management of the Insight team, and as we expanded further, I was promoted to Optimisation & Insight Director mid-2016.
I also think anyone entering into digital needs to be comfortable with change.
You’ve worked for the business for over six years, how has the business changed?
The most obvious change is a growth in headcount! And with that come other changes too. We’ve got more processes and guidelines in place now to help support the size of business that we have become.
The growth of the business has helped my career too - I’ve often had to learn ‘on the job’ as new areas of work have opened up. I’ve been exposed to projects and situations that I simply wouldn’t have been exposed to had I worked for a big advertising agency.
As an employer, Infectious Media have managed to stay flexible in terms of allowing people to move across teams; acknowledging that their strengths may be useful in other areas of the business. I’m a perfect example of this, having started out in client services, and now heading up a more technical team.
They’ve also become more flexible in terms of work/life balance - our recent move to flexitime has really benefited my team and allows them to manage their work around their home lives much better. It’s a sign of the trusting and autonomous culture that we work in.
Describe a typical working day.
Working across two teams means that I’ll spend a lot of my day in meetings. I’ll catch up with people to see if Optimisation & Insight can help them with what they are doing, or indeed if there is anything they can help us with. I’ll then speak to my team and delegate some of the actions that have resulted from the meetings; this in turn means that they are getting immediate development opportunities as they’ll actually be learning whilst doing hands-on work.
Aside from meetings I might go and do some dashboard analysis - it’s great that I can still dip in and out of this as it’s something that I find really interesting. I’ll also meet with clients to represent the more technical side of the business, and help out with sales pitches too when I’m needed.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about entering into a career in digital?
I’d suggest starting in a more technical job, as this will give you invaluable skills which are currently in short supply within digital. The industry currently has a lack of candidates from a mathematical or analytical background - so considering these options when choosing a degree will hold you in good stead.
I also think anyone entering into digital needs to be comfortable with change. It’s such a fast moving industry and no one day is the same as the next, which is something that I’ve found really exciting.