While it might be tricky to get your head around, defining your personal values could not only make you a better a marketer – it could change the way your view your entire career.
That is the perspective of Alice ter Haar, EU marketing lead at Deliveroo. She is about to drop down to a four-day week at the food delivery giant, and take a 20% pay cut, in order to pursue her passion for personal development.
Speaking at the Marketing Academy Foundation’s Leadership in a Day event yesterday (11 April), ter Haar explained how understanding her core values enabled her personal brand to come to life during her “worst career challenge”.
Six months ago, ter Haar, who had worked at Deliveroo for three years, was told a European marketing director was going to be appointed directly above her.
“That hurt like anything. I went home, I cried, it was really brutal. But by having a really strong personal brand, by understanding my values, by understanding how I added value, I was able to go, ‘This isn’t about me, it’s about the company needing something else. I’m still good, I still add value. I know how I add value.’ I was able to rise above it,” she explained.
While many others might have quit in a similar situation, ter Haar believes she was able to ride out the storm because she understands the contribution she makes to the company. Now she believes people have a lot more time for her because of the positive way she handled the situation, which she is clear ended up being the best thing that could have happened to her.
“My new boss came in and she’s the best boss I’ve ever had. She’s teaching me loads, she’s embracing the side hustle, she’s allowing me to go down to four days a week, she’s finding the opportunities to bring my personal passion and professional life more to the fore. Honestly it was the best thing that could ever have happened to me,” she added.
Fellow panellist Crystal Eisinger, strategy and operations lead at Google and founding member of Marketing Week’s School of Marketing, believes having a strong personal brand built on the values that really matter to her means she gets less “distracted by shiny things”.
“Rewind a few years. Had I been approached for a role internally, would I have been so flattered that somebody had thought of me for a role, I probably would have been ‘yes’,” she stated.
“This happened recently and I was like ‘No I know what my sweet spot is and what I like doing and I know where I can have the most impact.’ So, while it was really flattering to be asked, I knew that it was not the right thing. It didn’t really align with my values and I’ll wait until something else comes up.”
Eisinger is clear, however, that the flipside of having a very strong brand is that people can make assumptions about your strengths and weaknesses, and pigeonhole you as a result.
For this reason, she believes it is important show you are open to new opportunities, which is why a change of context can help. A rotation in a different team and a new market at the end of last year gave Eisinger the chance to find out how her values matched with a different kind of work environment.
Kindness, not just competence
While she is not a fan of old-school networking sessions, Eisinger can see the value in building a strong network of colleagues across the company. She recalled advice given to her as a Marketing Academy scholar by former Premier Foods UK marketing director, Helen Warren-Piper (now sales director at Mars Pet Care UK).
“[Warren-Piper] sets herself a goal every week of meeting someone with a different function within her organisation. It’s about being really strategic about who you want to meet and why you want to meet them. Being really well internally networked is something that is really valuable,” said Eisinger.
She recalled another turning point that came during a Marketing Academy mentoring session when she was advised to lead with kindness rather than competence. While it took a couple of weeks for this piece of advice to sink in, Eisigner now describes it is one of the most freeing things to learn as it encouraged her to bring the person she is with her friends and family to work every day.
For Deliveroo’s ter Haar, one of the most freeing things she has learnt over the past two years is to not care as much about what people think of her. “It’s one of those things that sounds simple and it’s not easy but I can honestly say it was so freeing to think some people are not going to like me,” she explained.
“I remember [Marketing Week columnist] Mark Ritson saying it’s better to be like Marmite, for some people to like you and to hate you but make an impact than just be vanilla and people to not really have anything to say about you.”