Speaker 1 00:00:12 Welcome to Genuine Humans, exploring the stories behind the great marketing leaders of our time and hearing how their journeys have influenced the brand they've built, brought to you by the social element. Here are our hosts to Mara Littleton, ceo, e o and founder, and Wendy Christie, chief People Officer.
Speaker 2 00:00:43 Welcome back to Genuine Humans, and I'm delighted as always to have Wendy here as our co-host. Wendy, how are you doing?
Speaker 3 00:00:51 Hello, Tamara. Yeah, really good, thank you. How are you doing?
Speaker 2 00:00:54 It's, it's a bit dark at the moment, isn't it?
Speaker 3 00:00:56 Yeah, a bit dark and cold. <laugh>. Um, I'm battling, battling with myself. Don't put the heating on. It's only you in the house, but no <laugh>. I'm giving in <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:01:05 Well, we are also delighted to be joined today by Emma Engels. And Emma is the head of marketing for Kath Kidson. Welcome, Emma, to the show.
Speaker 4 00:01:14 Hello.
Speaker 2 00:01:15 And Emma, it'll be great to get a little bit of time for you to sort of talk to us about your journey and how you got to be the head of marketing for Kath Kitson and sort of how you came into to be into marketing in the first place. So, would you mind kind of going backwards, start as early as you want, but tell us your, your sort of career story?
Speaker 4 00:01:37 Yeah, I mean, it's quite a long time ago now, which is a bit scary in itself. But yeah, I've always been interested in, um, kind of, I guess a creative industry. So when I left university, I didn't really have a big plan. I'd had, um, quite a lot going on sort of personally. So I ended up sort of doing a bit of a temporary role, uh, um, at bt. And actually I had a great guy there who had really seen your job and quickly said to me, uh, why are you doing this job? You need to be on our graduate scheme. So I think from a really early stage, I had someone really looking out for me. So I, um, I ended up getting onto the BT graduate scheme as sort of, you know, my first job. And I spent seven and a half years in, in BT.
Speaker 4 00:02:21 And, you know, the corporate world was, was amazing. And I think the, the marketing community in BT was incredible. I worked on really high profile projects, you know, it's when we were launching broadband, you know, to the, oh yeah, so incredible experience, great budgets, and, you know, really great above the line experience. And, um, that was I think a really great sort of solid foundation into the marketing world. And, you know, had great experience managing agencies, working with really senior people because actually one of the things about marketing is it's very, very visible. Yes. Small business or whether you're in a big business. So I started there after seven and half years. I felt like it was time to move on and, um, and stretch my legs really. And, um, I went to work for Royal Mail, which was, you know, I think very much a different, a different vibe, but also I think I felt I could add value and I felt I could, you know, go and manage a bigger team.
Speaker 4 00:03:22 And actually I had sort of four great years, definitely probably much dr uh, financial services and, and a huge sort of, I think, complexity that I hadn't probably experienced before. So I successfully did sort of four years there, ended up covering a maternity leave, which actually gave me, I think, real confidence to, um, you know, operate at a much higher level than what I had been doing previously. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. But then I think I just needed to get into something more creative and I wanted to, I've always loved product and actually kind of shops and things have always, I did a retail business marketing degree. So I think after probably sort of 15 years I was beginning to feel like I need to go and kind of itch that scratch, so to speak. So I actually then did a sideways move in into John Lewis, which a few people were like, it is John Lewis, but should you be doing a sideways move?
Speaker 4 00:04:18 But I was really adamant that I needed to change sort of sector. And John Lewis was, I think, you know, a real high moment for me, five years in John Lewis, I got promoted to a head of category, an amazing brand. And you know, I think the real high days of, um, of the momentum that the brand had at that point. So yes, I think if I look back on my career, you know, I, I I was given opportunity that was, I think, a real incredible moment for me. Um, becoming ahead of marketing in John Lewis, you know, back in sort of seven years ago felt like I'd really made it personally for, for myself. And you'd always go to a dinner party and someone would be like, where do you work? And you'd say, John Lewis. And everyone would be like, oh, amazing, <laugh>, lovely feeling. And, you know, I worked on incredible projects and with lots of incredible people and I think an incredible privilege to kind of be part of that brand story to this day.
Speaker 4 00:05:15 But, you know, good things always come to an end. And I think it was then time to move on and do something different. And I was very conscious at that point that I'd never really experienced a smaller brand. Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. Um, and I had a chance to work for a smaller brand, a founder-led brand called White Stuff, which everyone did think it was white company, but that was one of the challenges there. And actually I think, you know, my learning, I had a bigger team, I managed all of the tunnels and you know, when you work in a small business, you are much more front and center in front of the ceo. There's less resource, there's, you know, incredible opportunity, but incredible challenge as well. So I really relished, I think growing and, you know, being able to, to I guess have a bit more ownership and a bit more control across, across the marketing mix.
Speaker 4 00:06:02 But it definitely was a big challenge. Um, less budgets, less I think sort of just in a big business, things, you know, are much more structured and actually you have to create the structure or you have to find ways to, to kind of create consistency and, and I think strong ideas with, with, with a lot less. And I, I did personally find that quite challenging. So I, I spent four years at white staff, built a team, I think I rebuilt an incredible team there. And then actually quite late in life for some people, I got pregnant and I went off to have a baby, which was an incredible journey and still is. And I was definitely in my forties at that point. And then obviously the pandemic hit, so it was due to go back to work. And actually probably for me it was a bit of a blessing because I had a very young child and most people have to go back to work and that obviously was the plan, but I ended up having another year at home with my little one.
Speaker 4 00:07:00 Nobody went anywhere. So actually it was, I think my baby bubble was, was two years, which I think, you know, when you've worked for over 20 years, that time at home, I relished it. I felt incredibly lucky to have it, but then obviously I needed to go back out to work as things started to ease off. And I think at this point I was really quite fussy about what I wanted to do. I always, you know, I think the things that I was reflecting on at that point was I was very passionate about retail and product and I really didn't wanna move away from that, but I really wanted to work for a brand that I think has real meaning. And actually not purposely, but I've only really ever worked for British brands that have a lot of heritage. And then very bizarrely a job came up on, um, on LinkedIn, but a recruiter that I knew said, you'd be perfect for this.
Speaker 4 00:07:51 And I had already missed the deadline for it, but she made a phone call and within a day I was being interviewed for Kath Kitson. And actually that felt quite daunting. I hadn't been in work for two years, so feeling, you know, I guess quite vulnerable and definitely a bit shaky. And had I had, I lost my mojo a bit because you're just not in the, in the same way equally. I think everyone felt a bit, um, discombobulated at that point, <laugh> as people were working from home. So I just put my best foot forward and actually I got offered the job, you know, a couple of stages later and, um, it was a real moment I think, of feeling like you've kind of landed back in, in the real world, uh, equally scared and, and feeling a bit, um, vulnerable. But it's been 18 months now since I've been back at work and mm-hmm. <affirmative>, no, I feel like there's definitely a lot of challenge in the retail industry at the moment, but, you know, slowly, slowly, I feel like we are beginning to get Cath kitson, you know, in a, in a much stronger place from, from a brand having been, you know, through difficult times and, and lots of brands that are obviously experiencing that. So yeah, feeling like there's obviously huge opportunity and I'm really excited about next year and I think I'm excited to bring the brand to life. Kath Kitten's actually gonna turn 30 next year. Wow.
Speaker 2 00:09:11 Wow. That is incredible.
Speaker 4 00:09:12 So I think a great opportunity to really shine a light on the brand. And I think, you know, it is a brand that everybody loves and has a story quite similar. Obviously it's not the same scale as John Lewis, but everyone says, oh, I bought bags for my kids, or I've had, you know, things I've bought my mom. And actually it is one of those brands that I think really does, you know, have lots of emotional connection and I think that's really important to me.
Speaker 2 00:09:38 And, and thank you for talking about, you know, you sort of going back into the workplace after, after the two years. Cuz I, I think it's, it's really important that people share that experience, but also that vulnerability I personally think is such a powerful thing for leaders because I think it builds trust with your team to sort of actually have the confidence to sort of, to be vulnerable. I think the pandemic has also impacted on that, that actually more people are just a bit more open about what's what's going on in their, their lives. So, so perhaps everything happening at the same time was, was actually a really positive thing for you.
Speaker 4 00:10:15 Yeah, definitely. And I think having children and sort of going back to work, you know, you have to, I think have a bit of a different mindset and some days things go brilliantly and I do all the things that I wanted to do, not that often. And some days things just go completely awry and, you know, sometimes someone's ill or something. And I think, you know, I'm quite good at sharing that with my team to say, do you know what, I've got this to sort out, I'm not gonna be around for the next hour without feeling, you know, like it's a bad thing. And I do think world has moved on now. So actually I think, you know, I feel that the flexibility that we all have in sort of a new hybrid world is, is a really positive thing for all of us. But I think, I think for parents as well.
Speaker 4 00:10:59 And I think, you know, being able to, to do some days at home, to do some pickups and to also be in the office is a great balance. And I think, you know, it allows me to have a full-time leadership role in a, in a brand that I love. And I think that would probably be really challenging kind of pre pandemic just cause you have to be around for your children. It's as important as being around for your team and, you know, it's, it's that balance, but it's definitely tough at times. But I think I work with lots of people who have got children, you never quite appreciate the people who've had to leave early and all the things they had to do un until you are a parent. And it is just one of those cliches in life that you maybe don't appreciate it.
Speaker 4 00:11:41 But I equally feel like, you know, people are now, I think much more open about mental health, how they feel and actually, you know, just being a working parent is, is is one part of that. And I think that does mean that there's a much more level playing field now about people being able to, you know, take an hour out here. We all obviously work incredibly hard when you're in any role, but in a, in a leadership job you obviously do lots of hours, lots of extra stuff, and, and that's, you know, you manage that. So I feel quite proud that I've managed to, I think come back to work, work full-time, sustain it as well. And hopefully, you know, my team feel like actually they don't have a different experience to, to the Emma that was probably, you know, working five years ago. So I think that's hugely positive for, for all of us. We were for, you know, whatever our family set up is.
Speaker 3 00:12:34 Definitely. And is there any a, a piece of advice, a little nugget you could share for anyone who's in that position? You know, they're returning to work after maternity and feeling a bit insecure?
Speaker 4 00:12:45 I think the key thing is that it takes time to get back into work and it's not something that in a week you feel like, oh, I've got this cracked. And I think it is an ongoing process and you know, you are not the same person you were when you went on maternity leave. It's just, that's just not possible. I think key is to be open and talk to people about how you feel and about the support that you might need. I think it's good to set yourself some personal goals in terms of some boundaries and sometimes you can keep to them, sometimes you can't. But I think being able to say, I'm gonna try and start at this time. I'm gonna check emails at this time and you know, there's some weeks which it doesn't work, but I think just in your own mind, being able to kind of set out how you think you can operate, otherwise I feel like, you know, you end up feeling like you're doing a bad job at work and a bad job at home.
Speaker 4 00:13:38 Mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So I think that is important to sort of think about what things are working, what is not. You know, I'm really honest and I think that's important. There was quite early on in my role at Cath, you know, and I've, cath is a very sort of small, small business now. I had quite a big meeting with my CEO and my little one was poorly and I had to just say, I'm really sorry, I just haven't got anybody to to, to look after her and I need, and she just didn't bat an eyelid and it felt like a great time where I could say, I just can't do this now, but I can do it tomorrow. And that didn't feel like that was any problem at all. And I think, you know, that level of honesty, when the wheels come off sometimes you've gotta be honest about that. Um, and I think, you know, it's not gonna happen a month. It, it takes a few months, I think to get back in into work and finding people who have been on the similar experience. I think if you work in sort of bigger communities, maybe you've got a bit more support around that. But particularly when you're in small businesses, I think finding people who, even if they've got older kids, you know, people have similar experiences, that's super important too.
Speaker 3 00:14:45 And coming back to you and your journey, if you don't mind, I'd like to just broaden the context a little bit and consider how, you know, l looking back to your childhood experiences and how you were as a child, how that's shaped where you are now. So can we start with talking about what you were like when you were little
Speaker 4 00:15:04 <laugh>? I'm, I'm quite petite, so I think actually kind of overshadowed by sort of people's heights. I think, you know, even, even as a young little person in school, I was always at the front with my legs crossed because, you know, you couldn't be at the back in the school photo. So I think I was sort of naturally quite shy, quite steely. And actually that's probably something that gets described of me at the moment. Like never, never und dress made. But yeah, I think quite shy, quite creative. I used to love drawing, painting, not, not singing, not advert performances. Mm-hmm <affirmative>, but I guess more, I do lots of drawing, lots of sort of creative arts and crafts and things. I loved, I loved playing shops. I, I remember having this, um, like a post office and it was in like a suitcase back in the eighties and you could like get it out and you know, create your own.
Speaker 4 00:15:50 So I sort of love doing that. Which, you know, probably is, uh, a bit of a part of where I am now. I had a big scary older brother who was, you know, pretty brutal. So I think actually <laugh> steeliness probably came through quite early on without maybe realizing it. And then, um, I had a younger brother sort of a few years behind me, so I sort of ended up being sandwiched in between sort of two brutal boys, really <laugh>. Um, but yeah, I think, um, had a very sort of happy childhood, uh, a bit dysfunctional. Um, you know, my parents split up when I was quite small, but, um, saw lots of my dad, which is great. And you know, I've got a great relationship with all my sort of brothers and sisters to this day. I mean, I did lose my mom when I was a young adult.
Speaker 4 00:16:35 I was in my last year of university and my mom had had a heroic battle with cancer mm-hmm. <affirmative> in most of my teenage years. And sadly it got the better of her in my final year of university. And it came very suddenly. And sort of, I think when you sort of deal with that kind of trauma, you know, at that age, in some ways I think you don't realize maybe what's happened and you know, you kind of have this, you know, I'd got a new life sort of outside of the family home that's definitely shaped, I think here I am today. My mom was a housewife. She didn't have a career, but she always said to me, I want you to have a career. You, you know, you can make something of your life. And I think I always have her sort of sitting on my, on my shoulder in, in some of the tough times.
Speaker 4 00:17:24 And actually, you know, I had to kind of get myself back ready to go to university, sit my finals, you know, four, five months later. It was pretty horrendous really. But I did it. And actually I think now, you know, I wouldn't be where I am today if I hadn't have done that. And um, you know, I think some of that resilience that you have to kind of, I think have as a leader, I guess I kind of, you know, learn really early on. Um, and I think that has really shaped and I think, you know, I'm always try and push myself a bit harder because I do sort of, you know, think now it's, you know, quite a long time since she's obviously not been here. But I do feel like she'd be super proud and she mm-hmm would be blown away by the little girl who was, you know, playing post offices in the summer holidays to, you know, I guess being, um, at the forefront of retail industry and, and a great British brand as well.
Speaker 3 00:18:21 And was there a, a, when, when you were little, did you have a sense of of what you wanted to be when you were older or any particular childhood dream?
Speaker 4 00:18:28 I mean, I, I did want to sort of be in, I really wanted to have a shop and actually to this day I still wanna have a shop in a lovely seaside town with a, with a nice little cafe, but like lots of lovely homeware. So I, I think I had that, I never really felt like I wanted to be a doctor or a nurse. So I think I did, you know, at one point I, I guess a bit older I wanted to sort of work in, um, in sort of, uh, the sort of interior design business when I was sort of, I guess in my teenage years. So I've sort of always been drawn to that sort of creativity. But yeah, I didn't have fire women or, or vets on my list as a, as a
Speaker 3 00:19:03 <laugh> that creativity, uh, uh, the desire to have the, you know, the cafe and, uh, the little shop. It, it, it seems like you're working in a really great brand f for you. It, yeah. That seems to have worked out really well. And were there any particular people that you looked up to?
Speaker 4 00:19:22 I actually, in terms of kind of on the tv, cause I was thinking about the, um, like the programs that, you know, there was no social media, so the programs in a like Blue Peter, so Karen Keating, I can remember just thinking she is everything and she used to just do all this cool stuff and I felt like she was a good role model. And um, obviously, you know, blue Peter was just the, the sort of the the key, um, kind of platform of, of what we used to watch and the, and the influence obviously still running today, but in, in a slightly different guy. So I, I did love her. I think my, my grandma was a really important person because I think I lost my mom, you know, at the time I did. But my grandma was lived on her own, like I've really strong woman and actually I used to spend a lot of my sort of, um, childhood with my grandma.
Speaker 4 00:20:09 I was the only granddaughter, so I'd get to go and do shopping and things. And I think, again, when you look back at the people who have really shaped your life, I really see her up there. And she was alive until I was very much an adult. So, you know, she's had a big part of my life, but she was just so strong, um mm-hmm <affirmative> unwavered, but really warm and always there. And actually, you know, she used to um, count, used to have like two peas to go to the arcade, but she'd keep them all in like the little shop bags and things and just like lovely memories. But she was quite feisty actually. And I think if she'd like worked, she would've been quite a leader. But obviously, you know, life was very different back then. But, um, my grandma did love shopping, so I felt I spent a lot of <laugh> and I wasn't really fussy about like what I wore, particularly as I got older. So I think my grandma had the patience to kind of go into all the shops and my mom just was like, not interested.
Speaker 3 00:21:05 <laugh> <laugh>, it's maybe that steeliness and, and that love of shopping comes from it's skipped a generation. Yes, definitely. <laugh>. And thinking of, of people that you've looked up to or who've, who've influenced you, you know, thinking about your career, you mentioned earlier the, the guy who had asked you that question and, and said, you know, you need to be on this graduate scheme. Yeah. Have there been any other people like that? Maybe not necessarily moments quite as pivotal as that, but have there been other people who've influenced you or helped you along the way?
Speaker 4 00:21:39 Yeah, there's been, there's been a few actually. And I was trying to think about sort of the most sort of pivotal people I think. And I worked in bt, um, actually a friend of you guys, Dominic Grounds was, was young marketeer of the of the year. And I think Dom was an incredible force of nature at a young age. And I think, you know, he's taught me that actually it doesn't matter what your age is, you know, you are as good as you can, as good as you wanna be. And I think actually he's kind of get go attitude. And actually he was very, very performance driven in a way that I'd not really ever worked for somebody that performance driven. And I think the things that we achieved as that team at that point just made me step back thinking, wow, this incredible things you can achieve if you put your mind to it.
Speaker 4 00:22:24 And I think Dom is just never, he's just so confident in, in what he can deliver and what he can get his team to deliver. I think on reflection that that played a big part in me moving to other things, moving to other sectors. So I think he was one, I think when I went to John Lewis, actually Paula Nichols was actually an incredible leader and I ended up working really closely with Paula before she got her promotion cuz she was the buying director for home. And, um, you know, quite scary moments because you know, when you are that senior you're pretty, pretty punchy. But actually I learned a lot from Paula and she's incredibly warm. She's a great inspiration to many women now, but particularly in that time in, in John Lewis. And when she got promoted, you know, that had been a bit of a moment where she was the first woman to, to take the helm of, of John Lewis.
Speaker 4 00:23:18 And um, I actually had, you know, a really strong sort of working relationship with her for quite a while before that happened. And I just think she, um, she was always happy to have a chat with people and, you know, very accessible. And I think actually that's so important with, with any leader. But I think she really sort of championed and she wasn't very, um, advert about sort of, you know, champion women's sort of, you know, I guess leadership, but she just did it, it because that was part of what she did. And I think, you know, she sort of stands out. And equally I um, think, you know, people like Rachel Swift, who I worked with really closely, I always felt like Rachel's style was quite different to mine and I learned a lot from Rachel a as a head of, because I went in, you know, quite junior and had to learn a lot and Rachel was already quite a established head of and, um, yeah, I think Rachel was a great mentor to me in, in, um, the days at John Lewis. And very influential I think in terms of how I think today,
Speaker 2 00:24:17 And you've worked for such great brands and really sort of, you know, with with good sort of strong mission as well. How important is it for you personally to be sort of connected to that brand mission?
Speaker 4 00:24:31 Super important and actually I think when I was on maternity leave and then sort of, um, offer an extra year, I wrote a list of like what things were really important to me in terms of what brands would I talk to and what jobs did I want to do. And, you know, that I think the brand mission and, and what the brand stands for is w was up there, you know, really, really high. And to the point where I sort of, when I let that slip a couple times and I went for an interview that that brand didn't meet that criteria, it just, it just didn't work. You know, I was in the right space about it, the interview didn't go anywhere and I was like, right, this is really important. And I just think particularly in marketing, you know, you have to really engage customers, you've got to be really creative and really inspiring. You know, you can only do that I think with real passion and you know, you have to be quite tenacious at times and I think, you know, you have to really believe in the brand and, and what it stands for to be able, I think, to communicate and I guess kind of bring that brand to life.
Speaker 2 00:25:37 Do you think your leadership style has sort of changed over the last few years? We talked about vulnerability, we talked about the pandemic, but um, you know, your life has changed a lot as you said, uh, yourself. So te tell me about your, your leadership style.
Speaker 4 00:25:54 My style I think is, is quite similar to sort of pre pandemic, which I'll come onto in a minute, but I'm, I'm very accessible and I think very collaborative. Um, and I'm very open, uh, as a leader. I, I really believe that if you get a strong team rocking and rolling, you know, you should be able to give them, you know, kind of freedom to go off and I think make decisions and, and you know, kind of do good work. When you do have that great ingredients of great team people, then that works incredibly well. So I think I always try and have quite an Oakland style mm-hmm. <affirmative>, I mean, I'm happy to show my vulnerability, which sometimes you have to, but I'm, I'm sort of quite often I'll talk about my own experience when something's gone wrong or if somebody is, you know, struggling with something, I'll try, try and relate it back.
Speaker 4 00:26:44 I mean I do have a team now who are in sort of quite early stages of their careers and actually I think probably one of the things that I do a bit more of now is checking in on people sort of talking about a bit more than, oh, how was your weekend? Which, you know, you sort of naturally do, but I will sort of say to people now, particularly when I'm conscious that there's not been that much face time with people, how are you, how are you really, I got the sense that you weren't, you know, as confident as normal, like trying to tease things out of people. Mm-hmm <affirmative> more than just accepting things on face value. And I think, um, you know, that's probably more forefront of my mind than, than what it was before. And I think, you know, really conscious actually that I've got quite a young team who are really talented, lots of opportunity, but actually the last couple of years I think have had a huge impact on, you know, just the thing, the moments where people used to come into the office on a Monday and someone gets married that, you know, you kind of have all of that buzz and excitement and I think a lot of that has been lost, but you know, that's when some of the true friendships get made.
Speaker 4 00:27:51 Yeah. That's when some difficult conversations I think can happen in that environment. So I think I'm probably now more spend more time with my team and I'm probably sort of trying to do more of that coaching and sort of mentoring as, as I go forward because we have had such a long time without I think the sort of team meetings and the, you know, the kind of hustle and bustle that that happens in the office that we all miss to some degree. And now we've obviously got a much better balance and I think that's important, but I've still got people who are not based in London. So, you know, just being in the office a couple days a week doesn't always solve the problem. And how do you keep those people motivated? I think that's also another thing, how do you keep people, you know, sort of integrated in into your team, the culture and, and I think re resetting that is quite a key part of, I think my remit in the next few months.
Speaker 2 00:28:49 We need more leaders like you <laugh>
Speaker 4 00:28:51 <laugh>, I'm not perfect, but I think being conscious of it and I think asking for feedback, I do quite a lot of that now, which I probably didn't do as much of before. I think actually sort of working in a smaller brand, my leadership style has changed a a a bit and I think the nature of being ahead of in a smaller brand feels quite different to being ahead of, in a, in a big brand. I think there's a lot more focus on the detail in the smaller brands that I've worked in your front and center in front of your CEO on a daily basis. So there's um, there's nowhere to hide. Um, so I think, you know, how your team perform like anywhere, but I think feels even more important and your team get exposed to much more sort of senior conversations in that. So making sure they're prepared for that, preempting things, sort of coaching them to, they could get called upon at any moment. And of course, you know, when you go on holiday then you know, quite junior people are, you know, in, in front of the ceo and I think, yeah, that's great experience, but making sure your team are set up for that so that they don't fall and, you know, feel bruised by it when things don't always go to plan.
Speaker 2 00:29:59 Yeah.
Speaker 4 00:30:00 I think is important too.
Speaker 2 00:30:02 So there's quite, quite a lot of mental load, uh, I I suppose and, and watching that every decision is connected to a budget as well and, and yeah, I guess, yeah. Yeah, very different.
Speaker 4 00:30:13 I, I think sort of the accountability that I feel in a smaller brand is, is much more sort of, you know, top of the list really and yeah. Yeah. Being, being able to sort of, you know, justify your, the spend and things, it, it feels much more important to, to make sure your team can, can kind of, I think step up when needed.
Speaker 2 00:30:35 Yeah. And I suppose the flip side of that being that, uh, you can affect change, uh, it quite quickly if, if you, you know, wanna sort of be more experimental or take things in different directions, there's perhaps a bit more autonomy there.
Speaker 4 00:30:48 Yes, definitely. I feel like, I think being able to execute things a bit more freely definitely feels, um, more opportunities and yeah, we can sort of, you know, there's less people involved in the decisions as well, which can be quite refreshing at time. <laugh> having worked in big corporates where there's a huge amount of work to manage stakeholders, actually I can have a conversation with my creative director or with, you know, my c e o and we can agree something in a meeting and get on and do it and, you know, that's, that is definitely one of the benefits being in a, in a, in a smaller brand.
Speaker 2 00:31:21 Yeah. And so what's exciting you in retail marketing at the moment?
Speaker 4 00:31:26 I think actually post pandemic, I think sort of the shop's experiences becoming, I think something that's as important as the digital kind of platforms because it felt like before it was like pre pandemic obviously lots of disruption in retail, lots of, lots of changes, you know, as people were moving to digital and then obviously then it all went very digital in the pandemic. But I love the fact that I think brands recognize, particularly brands that, you know, you've got product, it's, you know, it's really important I think to touch and feel it, see the value of, I think investing in shops, whether it's Primark investing in a brilliant shop in in Belfast or Beauty Pie who obviously have a great proposition who I love, you know, doing a great pop up in Common Garden. I think that combination of people being able to get stuff when they want to, you know, that being really convenient to having I think great brand experiences or shopping experiences again, I mean I personally feel like in retail you need both.
Speaker 4 00:32:33 It's really important and I think, um, you know, you just don't get the same experience in a pure online, you know, even with lots of great content, I think it's still an important part of, of any brand. So I'm excited about that and I think brands are getting more confident trying new stuff and I think there's a bit more of a test and learn attitude and it doesn't have to be, you know, huge investment in lots of big shops and things. I think it can be, you know, much, much more fluid than that. And I think that's, um, that's good to see. And I think, yeah, know, hopefully Kath will start to do more of that in the, in the next sort of year to 18 months, which I'm quite excited about.
Speaker 2 00:33:15 I look forward to that. So here's, here's a bit of a killer one. Some people don't always know how to answer this, but what are you most proud of either inside or outside of work?
Speaker 4 00:33:27 I think actually again, and maybe a little bit of a cliche, but I think becoming a parent and I did it a lot later than lots of my friends and you know, I think, I think becoming a parent is a huge undertaking and actually I feel super proud that I think I've managed to have a little one come back to work and I feel like now I'm in a great place where actually I can be a great mom every day. I'm much more fluid in some of the decisions that I have to make and I feel like I'm in a good place at work where I can give work, you know, real focus as well. Now some weeks it doesn't always feel like that, but I feel like that's one of my proudest moments and you know, life changes forever when you, when you have children and I think you then start to think about the legacy and the things that you want to leave them and the values that you install in them. And you know, I think, um, watching them sort of grow and learn hugely, hugely satisfying and, and an incredible moment for me I think that I never thought I would have.
Speaker 2 00:34:34 Oh, that's really beautiful. And have you got a little mini post office for her?
Speaker 4 00:34:39 Not yet actually <laugh>, but, um, I think I might, there, there is a little post office that I, I keep eyeing up, but then there's lots of little bits in it and it's just more mess.
Speaker 3 00:34:50 <laugh> <laugh>. Yes.
Speaker 4 00:34:53 But I think I might have to invest in that. But yeah, she's definitely showing some, um, some good retail skills.
Speaker 3 00:34:59 <laugh>. So we're coming onto the last bit of the podcast now where we're just gonna get a bit more personal and lighthearted perhaps. So first of all, Emma, what's your idea of the perfect weekend and does it involve any guilty pleasures?
Speaker 4 00:35:14 When I do love wine, I am known
Speaker 3 00:35:17 Same,
Speaker 4 00:35:19 Any color, any time. So yeah, I think I probably have to put that in there. One of my favorite things I think, and I don't get to do it that often, but I grew up by the coast and actually I think that's one of the things that I miss the most, being in London. So I grew up in Suffolk, great part of, of the world, but equally I love London and you know, I'll probably never tire of London. So I think being by the sea, particularly winter autumn days when you know, you button down the hatches, lovely pubs walking along, the wind blowing in your face. I just love weekends like that. And I just think, um, whether it's with friends or family, just you can't really get much better than just the, I think being by the sea. And I think I sort of, you know, hunker after that and mm-hmm. <affirmative> definitely would love to live by the sea when I'm older. That's definitely part of the game plan, but I think wine probably has to be the guilty pleasure.
Speaker 3 00:36:14 That's sounds a little,
Speaker 2 00:36:15 Have a little in yard by the sea,
Speaker 3 00:36:17 Little vineyard by the sea shop. <laugh> Yes,
Speaker 4 00:36:21 Where I grew up, there's lots of Martello towers, um, on the coastline there and some of them have been created into amazing homes, so, um, ooh, yeah, there's some incredible sort of properties around there. So hopefully that's the dream.
Speaker 3 00:36:34 That's the dream. That sounds wonderful. And in my mind there's also a bag of chips and that's sort of called windy plenty salt and vinegar. Yeah. Yeah. Home for that and then home for the wine. Perfect.
Speaker 4 00:36:46 Yeah.
Speaker 3 00:36:48 <laugh>. So other than some nice bottles of white, if we were to open your fridge and have a, a mooch around in there, what would we find? Well,
Speaker 4 00:36:56 I, well my husband Craig is a massive foodie. So if I talked about my fridge before I got married and had a family, it would've been, uh, fishcakes baby bells and cucu, which was the worst conversation because I just never cooked anything and just say out all the time. Um, so it was a pretty sad, sad state of affairs. But actually my fridge is quite well stopped these days. I've got three stepchildren and, and my little one as well. So actually there's a lot of hummus in our fridge. It gets consumed in an inhaled, I would say
Speaker 3 00:37:28 <laugh>
Speaker 4 00:37:29 Hummus, I'd say olives, smoothies, and actually quite a lot of edge, which again, it's a different fridge to five years ago.
Speaker 3 00:37:39 <laugh>,
Speaker 2 00:37:40 What's the bravest thing you've ever done?
Speaker 4 00:37:43 I mean, I've not jumped out of, um, planes and things, so I
Speaker 2 00:37:46 Very sensible really,
Speaker 4 00:37:47 Um, like that. I, I think sort of going back on a personal level, I think going back to university after my mum yeah, sort of died quite suddenly was felt like a big deal actually. And one of my really good friends who I'm still amazing friends with today, came to Suffolk, picked me up and we went back to university and I think it felt at one point I just thought, I can't do it. I can't go back. I'm gonna stay at home and it'll be fine. And, you know, that obviously wasn't really the right decision and I'm glad I didn't take that decision. I was here today, but I think at 20 and, you know, I had quite a young brother at home still, it felt, it felt quite brave to go and face the world and try and lead a normal life when you don't feel anything is normal or mm-hmm. <affirmative> as you, you knew it. Um, so I think it's probably that
Speaker 2 00:38:38 I can understand why people refer to you as like having that steely determination mm-hmm. <affirmative> and resilience cuz yeah, that's, that's that's tough.
Speaker 3 00:38:47 Very much so. Yeah.
Speaker 4 00:38:48 And I think, um, you know, difficult things do shape you and you know, they do make you as well. Um, so yeah, I think it's, um, something that I always try and see a positive from it as well. Um, cuz I think it has made me more determined. I think I really value life and I think, um, having that balance of work and life is very much in my forefront because actually, you know, my, my mom died at 50 and that is five years from, you know, where I am today. Right. Which seems incredibly scary. So I think, you know, I've got that very much in the front of my mind that you've got to live life. It's so important.
Speaker 2 00:39:30 I've always, always struck, um, by that when, when I first, uh, met you, which was, was a number of years ago, I think it was at, at a marketing society, uh, event actually. And, and I remember just, um, your optimism is really infectious. It's, it's something, it's a, it's a great character trait.
Speaker 4 00:39:49 Thank you. I think if people would to talk about me, I think actually the optimism and sometimes at work I can be maybe too optimistic and and too ambitious and, um, but I think yeah, it's really important to be positive and, you know, every day as a leader things don't go right, things don't go well. You have to dust yourself down. Sometimes a terrible meeting can, you know, kind of knock you off a bit. So I think, you know, I've, I would like to think I've got a really good attitude to that and I think that puts me in good stead work. And actually I think I don't get, I'm very calm actually, some of the feedback I had from a team a few years ago was that my calmness was a real strength of mine because I think I sort of always know this bigger things out there than, you know, the things we do not underplaying the importance of our jobs and the things we do, but I think the always that context of of um, you know, people are important family and I think that's, yeah, I'm good at keeping that front and center most of the time.
Speaker 3 00:40:52 <laugh>, this seems like a strange question to ask, but, uh, I think some of the traits that you've, you've just talked about might be very helpful in this scenario. How do you think you would fare it as zombie apocalypse?
Speaker 4 00:41:04 Well, on, on the surface I think absolutely terrible because I hate zombies. I hate zombie people. <laugh>, I don't really believe in it. And actually I'm like just pretty rubbish. I think it kind of being left on my own, I really like people. So sort of being left as like two people in a, in a, in a society, <laugh>, I'd be really miserable. But I think actually when I sort of thought about it a bit more, I think it'd probably be okay cuz I think the sort of steeliness, um, and I, I sort of think of, think I can be quite resilient and actually one of the things often people say to me is like, never underestimate the coal Thorpe, which was my maiden name, but, um, I quite like that and I quite like that, so I think I'd probably be okay, but I, I wouldn't like not being with many people can quite, I need people. So I think that would be the thing that annoyed me the most.
Speaker 2 00:41:53 Could have a new phrase like, don't mess with the angles <laugh>,
Speaker 4 00:41:56 Which which is said sometimes in this house,
Speaker 5 00:41:59 <laugh> <laugh>.
Speaker 2 00:42:02 I'm gonna ask one of my favorite questions. Karaoke go-to song. Do you have a karaoke go-to song?
Speaker 4 00:42:08 Well, I sort of took me back to actually when I went to Japan years and years ago and I was like, I just don't do karaoke. I'm one, I am one of the people who I dunno any full lyrics of songs. I'm just one of those annoying people. I just, I just can't get it in my head. But, um, I can remember going to Japan a few years ago and just absolutely having the best time ever out all night in a karaoke bar. Um, so I don't really sing karaoke that much now, but I do love a bit of Adele or a bit of Whitney. There you, there you go. I know this sort of powerful women. Um, but I am tone deaf, um, <laugh>, uh, not even my dad can sort of, you know, be um, complimentary about the singing. But anyway,
Speaker 2 00:42:47 <laugh> but you can't be perfect. Everything is my, my advice. I've
Speaker 4 00:42:51 Got different skills. We've all got different
Speaker 5 00:42:52 Skills. Exactly.
Speaker 2 00:42:54 Well we've come to the end of the podcast, Emma, thank you so, so much for being here. It's been a, a pleasure. Before we go, we've covered a lot of ground, but is there anything else that you particularly wanted to talk about or any sort of final thoughts from you?
Speaker 4 00:43:08 Um, I think we've covered everything I wanted to talk about. I think probably maybe a final thought would be to, I think any women out there going through difficult times on maternity leave or going back to work, I think there is huge amount of support and go and find it if you haven't got it in your company or you know, you are in that in between place. And I think there's definitely huge sort of movement in, I think supporting great women going back to work, whatever time of your life, whatever's happened in your life, go and find, you know, the right support if you haven't got it on your doorstep. Because I do think sharing that makes a big difference. And I think, you know, you can be super successful even if you don't feel it in the moment
Speaker 1 00:44:03 You've been listening to Genuine Humans brought to you by the social element. If you loved what you heard, remember to subscribe or you can find out more at www.thesocialelement.agency.