English and Philosophy graduate Sarah talks about her experience as Communications Director at healthcare IT firm TPP. She talks about how activities and skills she gained at university helped her land this position, and provides some useful tips for anyone who’s aspiring to a career in marketing.
I’m Communications Director at a healthcare IT firm called TPP, based in Leeds. I lead a small marketing and communications team of five people and we support the sales team in keeping our current customers happy and well informed, trying to get new sales and promoting the work we’re doing. Our largest customer in the UK is the NHS and we have over 6,000 NHS customers. This means me and my team need to keep up to date with government policy and know who’s who in the world of healthcare.
My role covers everything from events to direct marketing and PR. I also work with our other directors to set the strategy of the company and regularly represent TPP at meetings and events around the world.
Three years ago, TPP began expanding internationally and I now lead the marketing for our Middle Eastern projects which means I regularly travel to the UAE, Qatar and Saudi Arabia.
Any previous experience:
I graduated from Leeds in 2010 with a 2.1 in English and Philosophy; it was a three year degree with a year abroad which I spent in Canada. I had little experience in marketing before I began this job. I originally applied for the graduate scheme position, but because I’d had some work experience with a regional newspaper, and had worked in publishing, TPP asked me to take a marketing position, which later led to me forming a marketing and communications team. Since being in this job I’ve completed several marketing courses, including a chartered diploma in digital communications. The majority of my experience has come from learning on the job, attending conferences and getting help and advice from those around me.
Most good companies do look at your degree classification and what A-level grades you got though, so I’d recommend you list them on your CV and make sure you highlight your academic ability – it’s still important to a lot of employers out there. The other thing I’d say is to make sure your personality comes across in an interview, a lot of firms are looking at how you’d fit in with their company culture and existing staff, so be friendly and chatty – it’s not all about grades and work experience.
What’s good about it?
I love working for TPP because, although it sounds a bit clichéd, every day in my job is different and I never get bored. One week I could be exhibiting at a conference in the Middle East, the next I could be meeting with the health secretary in Westminster. I also work with really bright people who are enthusiastic about coming to work, which really makes a difference. My team also have a great rapport and we have a lot of fun at work, which I think is really important.
Most people who work here also really value that they know we’re all working toward something really positive – we know our technology makes a difference to the way healthcare is provided around the world and that’s a nice feeling at the end of the day.
I think marketing and communications is a great career choice for anyone who’s creative or taken an essay or research based subject at university. The job involves a lot of reading and writing but also has a customer-facing aspect, perfect for people who want a varied role where you get the chance to get out and about. Going into a team that’s has a generic marketing and comms scope also means, as a graduate, you get to find out which bits of the job you like which will help you specialise, into events or PR for example, if you move onto another firm.
Whilst you’re at university, I’d recommend to any student to try and get exposure to different work environments, whether that’s offices, creative agencies or things like events. Not only will it give you good work experience, but it will help you find out what type of job you want to go for. Things like working for the student magazine or newspaper or on a student radio can also help with basic work skills like meeting deadlines, creating content and learning to work in a team.
Don’t forget that if you’re interested in a particular career path, but are unsure how to approach it, you can you can book an appointment or come to the Careers Centre drop-in 1-4pm Monday-Friday for additional guidance.