This month Sophie Cavies, International Digital Marketing & Content Specialist with Blackboard, reflects on the new world the marketing profession has entered with social media influencers and what she believes is needed to succeed.
Q: How did you find yourself working in the EdTech sector, was it always an area of interest?
My Mum is a graphic designer and whilst I started a Media and Communications degree at university, I often reflect and think that I was always destined to follow in her footsteps. I had little interest in just learning about how design worked, instead I wanted to be doing it so quickly changed degrees to graphic design. My first job was with a media company in the Northern Territory that involved content creation and social media for Indigenous corporations and local government amongst many other industries, including the Department of Education NT. It was at this point that I recognised the synergy between design and marketing and that I could use my design skills to enhance marketing campaigns. Perhaps it’s circumstance but I’ve always had an affinity towards education. Many of the clients I worked with were in this space and so when the role at Blackboard came about it allowed me to continue working in this area.
Q: What motivates you and how do you define success?
I love producing content that makes people happy. A lot of what I do is about filling a need for someone and I’m highly motivated to helping others.
Q: Have you faced any roadblocks during your career?
I wouldn’t say personally I’ve faced a roadblock, yet more broadly I’ve seen how people have not completely understood the strength of marketing and what it can do for their business. You can see a good logo or a good campaign and think that it works, but often because of the subliminal nature, it’s difficult for people to place a value on the intent of the messaging.
Q: How can schools, professional organisations and companies work together to empower women pursuing a career in STEM?
Initiatives like the [email protected] series show a strong representation of women in this industry, we all hail from different backgrounds and our individual skills are showcased. As an EdTech company, Blackboard is in a unique position to demonstrate the different pathways women can take in technology, through this series and our partnership with the Tech Girls Movement, there are so many ways we can encourage young girls to consider pursuing a STEM career.
Q: What would you say are the top three skills needed to be successful in your role at Blackboard?
An open mind – being brave enough to push the boundaries through design and all marketing concepts
Building good relationships – particularly important when working remotely, you need to have good banter with people even online.
Strong design skills
Q: What do you enjoy most about your role at Blackboard and are there any challenges?
I love working with people and having the opportunity to work on campaigns that aren’t in my own language, and to market to people outside of Australia has been both eye-opening and interesting. That adage of you really don’t know a country unless you’ve lived and worked there is really very true. We need to be aware of the differences, particularly in how we market to other countries, just because something works in Australia does not mean it will translate well in another region and vice versa.
Q: What’s the best piece of professional advice you’ve received?
Never underestimate the importance of self-discipline. In my career to date, I’ve gone from working for a company with hundreds of people, to being in an office of less than 20 yet within a much larger organisation of 2,000 plus people. Since COVID-19, along with many others within Blackboard, I now find myself working from home. In this new working environment knowing what you need to get done in a day and getting it done no matter what is key. I’m a big advocate of keeping lists!
Q: What is the greatest transformation in technology you’ve witnessed in your career to date?
Social media, it drives so much of what we do these days. Not only in how we operate as consumers but in how we communicate with one another as well. If we look at the growth of TikTok, it is such an organic platform where people can show their true selves. Ten years ago, we had status posts on Facebook of people’s days good or bad, we then went to curated and perfect lives captured in an image on Instagram to the now authentic stories on TikTok. From a marketing perspective, social media is the ultimate vehicle for selling products, whether through paid advertising or influencers, I believe we’ll see the market become increasingly competitive in the social media space.
Q: Are there any family, colleagues, friends or people in the industry you particularly look up to or are inspired by?
I’m very fortunate to be surrounded by four childhood friends whom I’ve always found to be inspirational. Whilst we all lead very different lives and have gone different paths in our careers, we have always been there for one another through our successes and failures. My parents have also been influential in who I am today, they are both go-getters and whatever they turn their hand to, it is always something they love doing.
Q: Is there a book, movie or podcast that you’ve found inspiring and would recommend?
A favourite podcast is Shameless, described as being ‘for smart people who love dumb stuff’. It’s presented by two female journalists who started their careers on Mamamia and now tackle the latest pop culture news and affairs in Australia. Each time I tune in it very much feels like I’m having a conversation with two close friends who aren’t afraid to push the envelope and provide interesting food for thought!