This month Sarah Gregory, Global Marketing Campaigns Manager with Blackboard shares her journey in EdTech and how her family has influenced her in embracing a career in marketing that she is truly passionate about.
Q: How did you find yourself working in the EdTech sector, was it always an area of interest?
Technology has always played a big part in my life, from my parents owning at one point a computer reseller business to my own exposure to new technology within the schools I attended. I've always been someone that loves learning, to work in an industry and for a company like Blackboard where their ethos is lifelong learning supported by technology really resonates and is the reason why I’m in the role I am today.
Q: Have you reached any milestones in your career that you are particularly proud of?
The first milestone was figuring out what I wanted to do in commerce. After majoring in psychology and human resources I found myself in recruitment. I liked working with people and being at a boutique agency I had exposure to many different areas within small business, including marketing. Discovering something I was passionate about and having that real-life exposure to marketing completely changed my career trajectory.
More recently, I’ve changed roles at Blackboard and now I have a team to manage. This has been an amazing experience and managing people was not necessarily something I saw myself doing. I’m enjoying the teaching aspect, it’s challenging but rewarding to see my team improve and succeed.
Q: What motivates you?
Continuous learning, I find motivation in advancing my own knowledge and skills particularly within the marketing space. Exploring new areas within digital marketing or looking at new ways of using technology to me is exciting. The EdTech sector is fast paced and keeps us on our toes, witnessing firsthand my Mum as a teacher librarian having to adapt to the changes within education due to technology has further influenced my drive for learning.
Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be successful in your role at Blackboard?
- Organisation – working across so many different regions, time zones and campaigns, being organised is critical.
- Attention to detail - we’re creating campaigns for our clients and that sharp eye is always needed to pick up the little details.
- Problem-solving - we're working with marketing automation technology which doesn't always run smoothly and during those times you need to think outside the box in order to remedy the situation.
Q: What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career to date?
As a digital marketer I would have to say marketing automation. You don’t have to go back too far in time to see we’ve gone from a concept that was non-existent to something that we are so reliant on to be able to run our marketing. There’s always new solutions or tools that we can incorporate into our process. This year with COVID-19 everything has moved online. Traditional marketing channels such as events and face-to-face interactions have not been possible, so the demand for digital marketing and online campaigns has never been greater.
Q: Do you have any advice for young girls looking to pursue a career in STEM?
I think it’s important foremost for females to know their value. The numbers might show there are not as many women in STEM but I believe it's key for young women to know that they have the opportunity to go into that space. Schools have an important role here to highlight and showcase those industries to women so that they feel like this could be a path for them. I would also say have the courage to follow your dreams and find something that you're passionate about. There’s so much innovation in STEM and it’s exciting to be a part of something that is contributing to what our future could look like.
Q: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
Find something that you enjoy doing. I firmly believe if you enjoy what you do, you're more effective and happier. We often see people ‘stuck’ in roles or companies where they are just working and not particularly inspired or motivated. It can take time to find that one thing that does make us happy but when you do it’s worth the journey.
Q: Are there any family, colleagues, friends or people in the industry you particularly look up to or are inspired by?
I greatly admire my younger sister; she’s always been driven and after studying and working in accountancy decided it wasn’t for her. She wasn’t enjoying her job and it wasn’t in an area she felt passionate about. Very bravely she went back to study and having always been an empathetic person it wasn’t a surprise to anyone that she turned her attention to social work and to be honest she’s not looked back since. She has found her enjoyment in a vocation she is passionate about. I think we were very fortunate to have parents who instilled the values of working hard and earning what you deserve, this has influenced the paths both myself and my sister have taken.
Q: Is there a podcast that you’ve found inspiring and would recommend for others to tune-in?
Without skipping a beat, Seize the Yay – Spoonful of Sarah. Just as my sister struggled to find satisfaction in her first career choice, so too did Sarah Holloway the author of this podcast. A lawyer turned entrepreneur Sarah started the podcast to explore where different people find their ‘yay’ or enjoyment in life and work. Women she’s inspired by who are leaders in their field feature heavily in her interviews, they talk about their lives, what they’re passionate about, their successes and the content is always thought provoking.