This year, we celebrated International Women’s Day through the week and got the opportunity to speak with inspiring and powerful women that are paving way for many others. The last, but certainly not least, woman we had a conversation with is Natalie Edwards, Marketing Director at Six Degrees, one of the leading cyber security companies in the UK. With over eighteen years of experience in a predominantly male environment, Natalie has become a mentor at the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), which allows her to share her knowledge and encourage many other young women.
Hi Natalie, thank you for taking the time out to chat with us. Please tell us a little bit about yourself and what inspired you to work in marketing in the digital and tech industry.
I’m Natalie, currently Marketing Director for Six Degrees Limited. I ended up working in Marketing as opposed to being inspired into it – the many inspirations flowed through along the journey so far and still do.
Marketing and the technology sector must constantly innovate, and this means the opportunity for continued learning is endless. The psychology behind understanding audiences as they evolve and connecting the dots is what keeps me here.
After completing my studies in Sociology and following a postgraduate in Public Relations I had what they are calling the ‘squiggly career’. I worked as a retail supervisor, accounts administrator, office manager, personal assistant, bid support manager, and then landed in marketing, and there I found my nest and my tribe.
We looked at some data and it shows that women represent just 26% of the workforce in the tech industry, and only 5% of leadership positions are held by women. As a Marketing Director in a predominantly male environment, what do you think digital and tech employers can do to offer women more of the right-fit opportunities they seek in the world of work?
Walk their talk. If companies want to build truly diverse workforces, they must believe in the opportunity it allows for both sides, straight from the top down. The mission must be more than a statement – investment and initiatives need to be rolled out to help organisations understand biases and how to navigate them in the recruitment process and across the employee management lifecycle. Often businesses lack the experience, but they need to be brave enough to bring in the many experts out there to help them evolve and be more successful.
If there is 1 piece of advice you would give to young women in the digital/tech and marketing industry, what would it be?
I’m going to borrow a quote from Michelle Obama and from an article I read recently which I thought was a solid piece of advice:
“Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”
I believe you make a difference by being true to yourself and sticking to your own values and integrity no matter what. The best leaders share this trait and it’s one I have seen in the many female and male leaders and entrepreneurs who have inspired me, so this is the advice I would give.
What approaches have you taken to overcome challenges you’ve faced throughout your career?
My approach has always been to be persistent and honest about what I wanted, setting out my stall and expectations clearly. It has not always been easy – as a black woman I have faced open prejudice and racism in interview processes, but my persistence has landed me opportunities with organisations who have appreciated the value that I bring. With self-belief I have been able to overcome the challenges I have faced.
What motivates you?
Working in sales and marketing, I absolutely love to see people win and get great results. I currently serve as a mentor for the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM) and I love to hear about the milestones and amazing journeys that my mentees are on. Being a part of what motivates them to achieve their objectives in turn motivates me.
Thank you, Natalie, for sharing your time and precious insights with us. I’m sure many women will be inspired by your journey to work in marketing and technology.