The secrets of digital career success: experts reveal all

In our recently published Digital Marketing and E-Commerce Careers Guide, we have included detailed information about how senior digital professionals can improve their career. In all, 17 well respected industry figures provided over 10,000 words of constructive advice on what digital marketers can do to fast track their careers. However, with so much good material, we simply couldn’t fit it all in. Over the next coming weeks, we want to share with you some of the best advice we received.

This week those leaders answer the question, “What attributes are most highly sought after in senior digital professionals?”

Allison Wightman, Head of eBusiness, Virgin Atlantic
Senior digital professionals need the ability to define, articulate and communicate a strategic digital vision for the rest of the business, which often goes far beyond the remit of the department they work in or the accountability they have. They also need to be able to keep abreast of new technologies and devices and translate what's applicable to the business that they are in.

Andy Harding, Director of E-commerce, House of Fraser

  1. A customer centric outlook
  2. Commerciality
  3. Passion for data

I expect all senior digital people to have a really good understanding of usability – if you can’t see things from a customer’s point of view, you will make bad decisions.

Angus Cormie, Online Director, Dell EMEA
There are two equal attributes; a passion for customer experience, and business acumen. The former will drive flawless execution as well as innovation in the online and digital journeys we want our customers to take. The latter enables the digital professional to determine the viability, maintainability, and overall ROI for these experiences and innovations, and ultimately enables a digital expert to articulate to non-digital executives their impact.

Chris Ketley, Head of Digital and E-commerce, BUPA

  1. Clear vision, able to set and drive the strategic agenda for digital.
  2. Competency in managing the tactical detail and prioritising day to day demands balanced in parallel with developing the longer term strategic priorities.
  3. Strong leadership, capable of motivating at all levels in the organisation, not just the digital team.
  4. Focused on the customer, informed about competitors and commercial in orientation; able to identify and deliver the customer and business benefits.
  5. Good communicator – managers need to influence senior management and stakeholders.
  6. No substitute for relevant expertise and experience (preferably in both on and offline marketing as these need to align).
  7. Resilience, persistence and patience:  helping others in the organisation who won't necessarily share the knowledge or have the passion for digital that you as the senior digital manager must have.

Alison Lancaster, CMO, Kiddicare, and Marketing Director, Morrison’s Non-Food
Professionals need experience. This means solid, proven understanding, with demonstrable success in the online space. They also require a level of expertise and executional excellence.

They require the ability to analyse, interpret and effectively communicate digital data and KPIs into deep customer understanding and actionable insights, and use this to create and enable better digital strategies and campaigns. Customers can then enjoy a more rewarding and entertaining multichannel journey and a successful brand/shopping experience. They also need the ability to lead and engage people, to get the most out of internal and external teams.

Finally, they need to be enterprising, possessing solid commercial trading skills to maximise traffic, sales and increase brand awareness and customer loyalty.

Russell Gould, Former Managing Director,
Leadership, ability to motivate, some sense of vision, ability to communicate and the ability to make quick informed strategic decisions.  Experience is also very important but someone with all the above mentioned attributes will be more sought after than someone with bucket loads of ecommerce experience. In effect digital is no different to any other senior management position - good senior managers have all of the above.

Luca Benini, Managing Director Europe, Buddy Media
One of the most important attributes is the ability to adapt. At cutting-edge tech companies, things change so quickly that someone stuck in their ways won’t be able to survive. Being able to rapidly change courses and quickly create a new plan is huge in this space.

Rosalie Kurton, Head of New Business, LBi
Digital professionals need to be highly strategic, good at problem solving, good with people and a good motivator, and possess a strong focus on quality of service and output.

Tessa Cook, E-commerce Managing Director, Dyson
As with any key position in business, leadership, strategy and people management are the most important attributes. Specific skills and experience come second.

An ability to influence multiple stakeholders is essential, as almost every digital project cuts across many disciplines, teams or business units

You also need the ability to prioritise ruthlessly. There are a million and one things that we want to do, or could do. But only a few of them will really shift the dial. You need to identify what those few things are, and stay focused on them and try to ignore the noise!

Want to learn more?
For more information on how you can improve your digital marketing career, download our free careers guide today (registration required).

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