What I've Learnt: David Vernon, Account Director, CandidSky

Charlie Spargo's picture
by Charlie Spargo

CandidSky is a successful digital marketing agency based in Salford, offering services across PPC, SEO, web design and development.

It was founded in 2006 and now works with clients such as Peninsula and Evolution Money. David Vernon joined in 2019 having previously worked at a range of organisations including AmazeRealise, Pentland Brands and Purpose Media.

At CandidSky Vernon works on building its account management arm, supporting the leading clients the agency partners with to promote their digital needs.

We found out what he's learnt.


Which single daily habit or practice could you not do without?

Every day I take the time to go on a walk around Manchester city centre. It helps me reflect on how far I've come and what I've achieved. Too often, I think we knock ourselves down and don't spend enough time just thinking about how lucky we are.

What's been your luckiest break?

When I finished college at 17 years old I had no idea what I wanted to do in life. While out shopping in Derby, I bumped into a friend who worked for an apprenticeship company and he invited me to do an interview to enrol on their digital marketing course. 

I signed up and got a marketing job later on at a local print company - it set me on the career path I'm on today. Pretty lucky, I'd say. 

What's your best failure?

When I didn't get the full time position at Pentland Brands. I don't speak about this often, but I had a six-month interim role there in Nottingham - working directly with Speedo, Kickers, Mitre and some of the world's biggest brands.

When a permanent position popped up, I went for it, but I didn't prepare for the internal interview because I was performing so well in the company. Turns out each interviewee was scored on points - I fell short of someone else and had to leave the company within a month.

This was one of my biggest failures, but also my best. In the back of my mind, I had always wanted to move to Manchester but never had the courage to do so. Missing out on that opportunity made me realise how unpredictable life can be and I had nothing to lose, so I packed my bags, moved out of my home town and rented an Airbnb for weeks until I secured a job in Manchester. 

In the end, it worked out well for me because I've learned so much in the process - and if I hadn't failed, I wouldn't be where I am today.  

What is the best investment you've ever made, either financial or time?

The best investment I've made is in myself. Where possible, I spent time learning from others on paid courses, YouTube and reading the books of successful people. I'm due to read Steven Bartlett's 'Happy Sexy Millionaire' next, as I've learned so much from him already and he originally inspired me to make the move to Manchester. 

Which book would you recommend others to read and why?

'Win Without Pitching' by Blair Enns. This book literally changed my life and transformed my career. Selling marketing services in competition with other agencies is undoubtedly one of the toughest things you can do, and Blair Enns teaches you how to do it in a way in which no-one else is doing. 

It's actually helped me win multi-million deals and his advice continues to be my best kept secret. 

What one piece of advice would you give your 21-year-old self?

Trust yourself and don't let other people's opinions influence your decisionmaking.

Who or what has had the single biggest influence on your working life?

George Lucas has had a massive influence on my working life. When I was 12 years old, I watched a two-hour documentary called 'Empire of Dreams', which details how George started writing Star Wars and the challenges he faced in creating the first few movies. 

Learning that he got rejected by almost every Hollywood studio to make the film baffled me, and his perseverance and passion in that documentary taught me so much at a young age - that you just need to keep on moving forward and eventually you'll get there. 

Tell us something about you that would surprise people.

At the age of 25, I still collect Pokemon cards. There's just something so nostalgic and joyful about opening packs and getting shiny bits of cardboard. 

How will the COVID crisis change work for the better?

It's shown business leaders how important their people are, and proven that workers can be trusted to operate remotely. I've even seen some tough CEOs shift to a four-day work week, which amazes me. 

What does success look like to you?

Success really isn't about money or fame and it's taken me a good few years to realise that. Success for me is about happiness. If I'm happy, then why does anything else matter? 

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