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How I Became: Liz Bhandari, Founder, Brandari

Liz Bhandari

Liz Bhandari is a content marketer and founder of Altricham-based content marketing agency Brandari.

Prior to launching Brandari in 2020, she has over 17 years of experience working for brands and in marketing roles across the North.

Here, she shares her career journey, insights and advice.

How did you first get into your industry?

What if I told you I completely fell into marketing? After finishing my GCSEs at high school, I found myself lost and unsure of what I wanted to do with my life. College wasn’t working out for me, and I needed to find a job to support myself. That’s when I stumbled upon an admin role at a silver circle law firm.

Little did I know, this job would change the course of my life forever. During the interview, I couldn’t help but share my love for writing and designing. To my surprise, it was this passion that landed me the role of a marketing administrator.

What do you love about your job?

Imagine waking up every day, excited to dive into a career that not only pays the bills, but also fuels your passions. That’s exactly what happened to me! I fell head over heels into the world of marketing, and it has been an incredible journey ever since. As the founder of my own boutique content marketing agency, I love that my job allows me to work with a variety of clients from different industries and help them achieve their marketing goals.

As a content marketing expert, I get to work with clients to develop their brand voice and create compelling content that resonates with their target audience. It’s incredibly rewarding to see our clients’ brands grow and succeed. I’d say marketing has allowed me to combine my creativity and love for writing in a way that not only benefits my career, but also makes me feel fulfilled every single day.

Who – or what – has inspired you in your career?

Throughout my career, I’ve had the pleasure of working with many talented managers, but two individuals stand out as true champions of my success: Sally Robinson and Catherine Riches. These powerhouse managers were invested in my growth and development and challenged me to push beyond my limits.

Sally Robinson was my first manager, and she left a lasting impression on me. She was passionate about mentoring young professionals and helped me establish a strong foundation in my career. Sally was not afraid to set high expectations and pushed me to achieve incredible results. She taught me that if I hadn’t accomplished something extraordinary or gained a promotion within two years of a role, it was likely time to seek new opportunities and challenges.

Catherine Riches, my last manager, was equally influential. She taught me to trust my instincts and follow my gut. Catherine believed that it was better to seek forgiveness than permission, and that mentality has stuck with me ever since. She encouraged me to take calculated risks and make bold decisions.

Thanks to Sally and Catherine’s leadership and mentorship, I was able to build a successful career and achieve my goals. Their guidance and support inspired me to become a better leader and mentor myself, and I strive to pay it forward to the next generation of professionals.

What are the biggest challenges about your job?

One of the biggest challenges in marketing is staying up to date with the latest industry trends and technologies. The marketing landscape is constantly changing, and it’s essential to stay ahead of the curve to provide our clients with the best possible service.

As a content marketing expert, it’s crucial to stay up to date with the latest industry trends and best practices. However, with so much information available, it can be challenging to sift through it all and determine what is relevant and valuable. It’s essential to stay focused on the trends that are most relevant to your clients and to filter out the noise.

What skills have been the most crucial to you succeeding in your career so far?

Strong communication skills, creativity, and strategic thinking have been critical to my success in marketing and branding. As a content marketing expert, I need to be able to communicate effectively with clients and create content that resonates with their target audience in a way that makes them stand out.

Creativity is also essential in developing a strong brand identity and creating engaging content. Finally, strategic thinking is crucial in developing marketing strategies that align with our clients’ business goals.

What was your first salary and what could someone getting into the industry expect to earn nowadays?

When I first embarked on my career in marketing, I was thrilled to land my first role, which came with a starting salary of £19,000. Nowadays, those entering the industry can expect to earn between £20,000 to £24,000, depending on factors like location and company size.

As I gained more experience and expertise in marketing, I was able to command a higher salary. During my time at a global business based in London, my salary rose close to £50,000. However, if I were to apply for a similar role today here in Manchester, I would expect a slightly lower salary of around £35,000 to £40,000 as the market just isn’t there yet.

It’s worth noting that the marketing industry is dynamic and ever-changing, with new technologies and strategies emerging all the time. As a result, marketing professionals need to stay up to date with the latest trends and be adaptable to change to remain competitive in the job market. However, the rewards for those who are passionate about marketing and committed to their career can be significant, both in terms of job satisfaction and earning potential.

What education or training would be most useful for someone looking to follow your career path?

My journey into the marketing industry and the education and training gained, helped me thrive in this dynamic field. I didn’t go to university, which meant that I didn’t have a degree in marketing. However, that turned out to be an advantage for me, as I was able to gain real-world experience and expertise that set me apart from my peers.

As I progressed in my career, I realised that I needed to upskill and invest in my education to stay competitive in the ever-changing marketing landscape. I found traditional marketing courses to be outdated and not aligned with the digital-first mindset that was becoming more prevalent. That’s when I discovered the HNC/HND in Business Management, which provided me with a strong foundation in business strategy and management. I achieved a Distinction grade and found that it gave me an edge in my career.

Additionally, I pursued two mini MBA courses with Mark Ritson and Marketing Week, one on brand management and the other on marketing. These courses were game changers for me and helped me develop strategic thinking skills that have been pivotal in advancing into a managerial role.

While I didn’t take the traditional university route into marketing, I found that investing in targeted education and training programs helped me develop the skills and knowledge I needed to thrive in this dynamic industry. Whether you’re just starting or looking to progress in your marketing career, there are plenty of opportunities to upskill and stay ahead of the curve.

What advice would you have for someone looking to follow your path?

Never underestimate the power of following your passions. You never know where they may lead you. Who knows, you could end up falling into the career of your dreams just like I did.

To truly thrive, you need to develop strong communication and collaboration skills and stay up to date with the latest industry trends and technologies. This requires a commitment to continuous learning and growth, but the payoff can be significant.

If you’re not getting the experience you need in your current role, don’t despair. Seek out other opportunities to gain practical experience and build a strong portfolio of work. Consider working with a small business or charity that needs your skills and expertise. This can provide valuable hands-on experience and help you develop a diverse range of skills that will set you apart in the job market.

And finally, don’t be afraid to take risks and try new things. Creativity and innovation are essential in marketing and branding, and the most successful professionals are those who are willing to take bold steps and try new approaches. Embrace your creativity and let it guide you towards new and exciting opportunities.

Pursuing your passions can lead to a fulfilling career in marketing, but it takes hard work, continuous learning, and a willingness to take risks. With dedication and a commitment to growth, you can achieve your dreams and succeed in this exciting and dynamic field.

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