By Yassin El-Moudden
With a track record of leading brands through transformational change, Nicci Clarke has climbed the ladder of the marketing industry, currently working as a Marketing Director within the hospitality industry. Working between marketing and philanthropy, Nicci has embarked on a new venture as the Global Woman Regional Director of Birmingham.
You will need to win hearts and minds across the business to drive such change – it’s a marketing team’s job to tell the story and persuade the business this is the right direction to take…
Before you moved into hospitality, you started out in marketing. What drew you to this sector, and how were your initial experiences?
Looking back, I was always creative, inventive and inquisitive at school and considered a teaching career as I loved learning. When I finished university I did a two-week placement at a local school and quickly realised during that time it wasn’t the right choice for me. It was tough leaving university during the 2006 credit crunch, and a friend shared she was leaving a marketing assistant role and suggested I go for it. The role was fun and varied, with no two days the same – the rest, as they say, is history. I worked my way up from executive, manager, head and now Marketing Director.
The last couple of years have seen an acceleration in the move towards virtual interactions, beyond even what we’re already used to. Has there been a shift in attitudes towards digital marketing, before and after the pandemic? How does your earlier work with the Co-op compare with your current projects?
During the pandemic, the hospitality industry saw 10 years of digital growth in 10 months – colleagues, the public and guests had to adapt to receiving all content digitally. Even socialising and trying to recreate the pub feel become virtual via Zoom, Teams and Houseparty! The team and I became webinar and podcast experts overnight and we even set up our own internal TV studio to share a weekly virtual company huddle, this still happens today. All of the digital strategy projects I implemented at the Coop enabled me to share my experience in delivering rapid digital transformation during the pandemic.
You mention that you are passionate about mentoring young people. What difference can a mentor make, especially for women entering the media, creativity and marketing industries?
I would advise everyone to have a mentor. A mentor is a great sounding board who can offer advice when it comes to career progression, how to be a better leader and team member, and also navigate the board room as a woman in a male-dominated industry. The most influential woman in my life has been Shaherazad Umbreen, Marketing & Brand Director at the National Trust, we worked together for seven years. She inspired me to believe that I could achieve anything, and I’m proud to call her my mentor and friend.
As a brand specialist, what is the importance of ensuring that leading brands undergo transformational change?
To me, transformational change is how you support a business to be fit for the future so that it can offer the best service to its customers. This involves doing a full internal and external audit and understanding how your business makes money and growth opportunities. You will need to win hearts and minds across the business to drive such change – it’s a marketing team’s job to tell the story and persuade the business this is the right direction to take! You’ll also need a strong project delivery team and operate a system A and B approach: one delivers and keeps the lights on, and the other works on future growth.
Apart from your work, you’ve also made a concerted effort to engage with charities and help promote their aims, providing free marketing and event staff. Why do you consider it important for someone in your capacity to raise awareness of charitable causes and take on this role?
My life coach and friend Tre Lowe has inspired me to lead a life of contribution and service to something greater than myself. It has been a great privilege to use my skill set to support and raise brand awareness for charities. I also met some great people, learnt a lot and had fun along the way. You cannot just take from this world – it’s important to give something back.
What do you do to wind down from work and recharge?
I love travelling, and I’m glad the world has reopened again. I enjoy walking my dog, sharing delicious food and drink with friends and reading. If you don’t look after yourself, you won’t be able to achieve your goals and support others.
This year, you were made Regional Director of Global Woman’s Birmingham Club. What do you hope to bring with this role, especially in terms of contributing to the local economy in the West Midlands?
I hope to create an amazing group for Birmingham women to get together, share ideas, learn and support each other. Birmingham is a great city with lots to offer – it’s time to put it on the map!
Nicci Clarke and Angela Soong will be hosting the first Global Woman Club Birmingham Networking Event, book your ticket here today!