Marketing

Interview with Fiona Harvey formerly Director of Corporate Communications with Thales UK

 
Lauren Beattie, Managing Consultant at Michael Page Marketing spoke to Fiona Harvey about her career so far.  

Tell me about your career to date...

 

Fiona Harvey

I graduated from Edinburgh Napier University in 2000 with an honours degree in Marketing Management, shortly after I moved south and started in my first role as a Marketing Manager for a small software house that had a massive international reach.  After spending four years there ‘cutting my teeth’, I joined Thales – a multinational which works across several sectors including, defence, security, transportation and space.  
 
My career took me through a series of progressive promotions – from Campaign Manager to Head of Marketing, Divisional Communications Director and latterly I was responsible for communications for the company in the UK.  I had a great 11 years with Thales, working across a variety of sectors for a global organisation gave me such a huge amount of personal and professional experience. 
 

You followed in your father’s footsteps by going into marketing and more recently PR and communications. What advice would you give for someone looking to start a career in marketing in 2016?

 
Yes, my father started off his career in journalism, training as a reporter with the Scotsman in the 1960’s.  The world of PR was quite different back then, having said that, the same principles apply – know your audience, understand how to engage with them and ensure you do this through the right channels.  It may sound incredibly obvious, but I think these basics are often overlooked.
 
The other piece of advice I would give is to choose an industry that excites you – working in communications and marketing is for me, more than a job – it is really quite immersive as you are always looking at what competitors are doing and thinking about new ways to do things, so choose something that you are interested and passionate about then it makes it easy – you are paid to be doing something that you love!  
 

What do you look for when hiring in your team?

 
A ‘can-do attitude’ – every time!  There is nothing better than interviewing someone that doesn’t quite have the level of experience that you were looking for, but you just know that they would be an amazing fit with the organisation and you can see that they have the determination and attitude to get to where they want to be.  
 

At this time of year we’re all reflecting. What’s been your key achievement in your career?

 
I think it would have to be the impact that I have had on others and how I have supported, mentored and championed others throughout my career.  This has ultimately brought success for myself professionally as an engaged team always reflects well on you, however, it has brought about commercial results and personal results for those that I had helped and for me this has been incredibly rewarding to watch people grow in confidence and progress their careers.  
 

There’s some accepted wisdom out there that part of the reason we see fewer females in senior roles is that women wait until they’re certain they can do a new role before applying. What would be your advice to women looking to reach Board level?

 
Whilst I can’t speak for everyone, I think this does apply to a lot of women and I can totally relate to it myself.  There is something about feeling ‘ready’ to do a Board level role.  But what does that actually mean?  That you have all of the required skills, have had a certain number of years in employment?  But if you think about it, none of us are ever ‘ready’ – we grow into these roles in time and actually that’s what makes us perform and continually strive to improve because we are growing.  My advice would be, if you are considering it, then you are ready for it, and if that’s the case - you can do it!  Get to the interview and tell them why…! 
 

Having finished up a very successful career with Thales, what is next for you?

 
I am currently enjoying some quiet time at home preparing for Christmas and spending time with my children which has been great.  I am very excited about 2016 as I will be looking for a new role that will allow me to make a difference.  When I say that I mean it in the simplest of terms.  I want to utilise my skills and experience to ensure that whoever I am working with, achieves their ambitions, whether that be in new markets, with new or existing customers or with their employees.  
 
For me, marketing and communications should sit at the heart of any organisation.  When you get it right, it absolutely drives profitability, performance and employee engagement and I am really looking forward to being a part of that in my next role. 
 
Get in touch with Lauren Beattie for a confidential discussion about your marketing career in FMCG, travel, leisure, retail and pharmaceuticals across Central Scotland. 
 
T:   +44 (0)141 331 7961