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Meet the mentor | Stephen Graham, Associate Strategy Director, Isobar

We spoke to Stephen Graham, Associate Strategy Director at Isobar, about his career in digital marketing, advice on how to enter the industry and more.

The landscape for marketers is changing faster than your office colleagues darting to a 'free food in the kitchen' call (*this may or may not be factually accurate). AI is one of the most significant shifts impacting the marketing landscape and has the potential to change businesses forever. The 2018 Digital Trends report by Adobe indicated that 72% of business leaders believed AI was going to be a 'business advantage.'  It’s never been more important to upskill and stay ahead of the game.

We recently spoke to Stephen Graham, Associate Strategy Director at Isobar, about his career in digital marketing, advice on how to enter the industry and why he decided to get on board with mentoring our newly launched Digital Marketing Strategy short course. See what he had to say:

What first sparked your interest in digital marketing?
I’d like to say that I had a plan, but I kind of fell into digital marketing. Whilst my degree in linguistics and literature was fascinating, it wasn’t as obviously applicable as some of my peers, so as the study came to its end I started to try different areas of business out for work experience. I ended up having an internship at a boutique social media agency which turned into a job offer after a week and then I was away. I have always been interested in people, their motivations and behaviours though and at the time of looking for internships social media was a very new context to think about those things with regards to communications and marketing – it was exciting. 

What does a typical day at work look like for you?
A typical day probably starts with a stand-up meeting for the project I’m working on – a quick 15 minute meeting where everyone in the project discusses what they’re working on and any challenges they might be facing. Then, depending on the project, I’ll be spending the majority of my working day on anything from research to communications planning. We work very collaboratively here so I won’t be locked away on my own and a good chunk of my time will naturally be helping other team members with their work too. A lot of the work we do for clients is of course digital campaign work, but it’s also likely we could be consulting on marketing technology platforms our client partners should be investing in, or devising longer term strategies for the year ahead – this means working closely with pour partners too and most days I’ll have time locked in the diary to catch up and discuss work with clients. 

What do you believe are the essential qualities of a successful digital marketing professional?
For me, it’s actually about being a good marketing professional first. The prefix of digital is more about how you apply marketing smarts to the new digital tools and technology that are available to better reach and engage customers and users. I do think though that any good digital marketer should be T-shaped – that means having a great breadth of understanding of digital channels and marketing principles, with specialist expertise in a specific area like search, social, analytics, martech etc. On top of this, an appetite for understanding people, a willingness to experiment and an openness to the new are all pretty critical qualities.  

If you could give your younger self career advice, what would it be?
Have a vision, but keep your plan a little shorter term because things change and that’s a good thing. 

Why did you decide to become a mentor with RMIT Online?
I think it’s important to invest time into the future of the industry that has served me so well thus far…and my partner was tired of hearing me talk about my job!

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This article was originally published on 24 August 2018