Case study

Sales and marketing executive — Olivia Coxon

Following her psychology degree at Nottingham Trent University, Olivia was headhunted for a job with a bean bag manufacturer...

How did you get into sales and marketing?

I was headhunted on LinkedIn.

Before this, I was offered my previous role after completing a placement in my third year of university. This placement was a requirement of a work-based module that I took in my final year. I believe this was integral to me landing the job at Great Bean Bags, as I could demonstrate some applied experience.

How relevant is your degree to your job?

Although being educated to degree level was important in securing my job, the subject of study was not relevant.

I'm able to use the knowledge I gained from my psychology degree and apply it to my role, however the subject I studied did not affect my chances of securing the role initially.

What are your day-to-day activities?

I currently manage the educational furniture accounts, which includes dealing with any enquiries from our key clients.

I'm also responsible for the development of our educational ranges. This has involved completing market research and reviewing our products, as well as designing our new school catalogues.

If a new product is introduced to our range I may need to update the copy that gets added to the website. I can also be asked by colleagues to produce marketing materials for them.

New business development is also an element of my role. This typically involves identifying an area to target, carrying out market research, collating contacts to cold-call and creating sales pitches.

If we receive any inbound leads, I'm expected to produce quotes and make a record of them. It will then be my responsibility to monitor them and try to close the sale.

How has your role developed and what are your career ambitions?

When I joined the company the role was predominantly sales, but more recently it has developed to include a marketing element.

My career ambitions are to eventually become a manager or a trainer.

What do you enjoy about working in this sector?

I like the variation in my job; I'm not doing the same task every day, which I think most office jobs lend themselves to.

What are the most challenging parts?

A lot of the decisions that you have to make are made independently. Sometimes it's difficult to take a step back and analyse a situation to decide if you're completing a task to the best of your ability or in a way that is both time and cost effective.

For instance, collating contacts for new business development can sometimes be done in a simpler way but it initially takes time to discover this and the steps taken to get to the end result are often challenging.

Any advice for someone who wants to get into this job?

Work as hard as you can and don't be afraid to ask your tutors and teachers for help. Once you've graduated that's it, so get as much professional advice as you can while at university.

If there are modules that involve placements or work experience, always take them. Employers are increasingly looking for candidates with experience so this will help you out massively.

I would also recommend choosing your third year modules carefully as this can really affect your career path after graduation.

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