The Marketing Institute: What does a Brand Manager do?
Cathy O’Rourke: My role as a brand manager for Grant Thornton Ireland is extremely varied. It mainly involves developing, implementing and executing marketing initiatives and activities for the firm such as coordinating the development and design of communication materials, advertising, photography and sponsorships. I mainly work with all areas of the marketing team in digital, events and business development (BD) to ensure consistency and strategy alignment.
MII: What were your key career moves to get to your current role?
Cathy: I studied Commerce at NUIG and growing up in a family run business played a huge part in my interest in marketing and passion to work with people. After studying I worked with the Institute of Directors in Ireland. This gave me a good exposure to the different aspects of marketing, especially digital and a knowledge of the vast amount of industries in Ireland. The biggest career move for me was joining Grant Thornton as marketing administrator, finding my flair in design and brand and working my way to manager. I’ve gained a lot of experience in the different areas of marketing and always try to go further than asked of my role, which I feel is vital to succeed in marketing.
MII: What is the biggest challenge you face in your role?
Cathy: Every challenge is a learning curve in the professional services industry, especially in marketing. My challenges range from guidelines, measuring campaign results offline and also trying to be different or ‘stand out from the norm’ in this very competitive, small industry of global accounting firms in Ireland.
MII: What key skills do you need to be effective in your role?
Cathy: An outgoing, open and creative personality is essential. You need to be able to adapt quickly to changes and deadlines while being a good multitasker. In my role you cannot say ‘no’ and must always have ideas to compensate for that – it’s challenging but exciting! I think something that is hugely taken for granted in any role is common sense – if you have that you can do anything you put your mind to and it’s not a skill you can learn.
MII: Describe a typical working day.
Cathy: If I had a typical working day I probably wouldn’t be in marketing as I’m not the type of person who likes to do the same thing every day! You could find me in meetings all day with different business units/industry groups, on global calls, editing design, content, articles, videos or imagery, creating advertising, doing a photoshoot, checking budgets, travelling to member firm offices (in Ireland or abroad), advising on office signage, dealing with suppliers, editing templates, working at an event, giving brand training, working with digital, BD or events and you’ll always find our team brainstorming ideas.
MII: What do you love most about your role?
Cathy: I love that each day is different and there is always an opportunity to ‘think outside the box’ but honestly, it’s the marketing team I work with.
I’m very lucky to work with such an amazing group of talented people who, no matter what, will drive your creativity and always push you to do something different. Marketing is so fast paced, challenging and forever changing but when you work with fantastic people driving the ideas it just adds to the excitement of it all. To me it’s important to work with a firm that invests in its people and I’m fortunate enough to have found that.
MII: Looking ahead, where might your career path lead to next?
Cathy: For the next two years my mind is focused on some really exciting projects and getting through them successfully. If I’m ever not learning or trying something new then I’ll take a step back to look forward. I think with marketing being so fast paced it’s impossible to know in what area you might end up.
MII: To whom do you look for professional inspiration in your role?
Cathy: I’m lucky to say all my mentors have been leading women in the professional services industry and for the past few years they have been a wonderful inspiration and guidance to me. I also look to my parents for inspiration, no matter how hard I think I’m working, they are always working harder and continue to drive me forward.
You can read all the A Day in the Life features here.