Guest post – The life of a woman in a senior role and dealing with adversity

Today I’m delighted to have a guest post from Sharon Sandercock, the Marketing & Communications Manager at the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group. She talks about being a woman in a senior role, how she has taken a non-digital company into the digital space (and trebled their online bookings!) and gives some amazing advice to other women looking to carve a path in the business world. Over to you Sharon:

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If there’s one thing I have learnt over the years as a woman working in the marketing industry, it’s the importance of not being afraid to speak up, to talk and to get involved.

Women shouldn’t be afraid. You have to work very hard as a woman to be taken seriously at times, but the opportunities are out there and you have to seize them.

For women starting out on their career, it’s all about belief. Believing strongly in yourself and what you are saying, and sticking to your beliefs in the face of opposition.

I don’t think people realise just how much work is involved in marketing. Man or woman, it is a hard and demanding job and you do have to put in the hours.

I joined the Isles of Scilly Steamship Group as their first ever ecommerce coordinator in 2013, where I quickly became interested in the business’s online presence.

I developed the company’s digital marketplace, marketing strategy and national communications focus, transforming the website. Now our online bookings have more than trebled, with 48 to 50 per cent of passengers booking via our website.

When I took on my current role of Marketing and Communications Manager, I was the only woman on the Group’s Senior Management Team; now there are three.

So, I had to prove myself. But it was less about me being a woman, and more about me being a Marketing Manager. On my arrival it was evident, that for so long, the company hadn’t focused on marketing, marketing was seen as an afterthought and digital marketing – well, what was that?

This has changed over the years. We have become much more focused on prioritising digital marketing, national PR and communications and a much broader marketing strategy approach. The Isles of Scilly Steamship Group is now very much in the digital world.

My employers have always been so supportive of me, encouraging me and empowering me to grow and develop.

I’ve never ever experienced discrimination for being a woman within the company. But it is something I have experienced in previous roles; when working in the Middle East, delegates would seek out male colleagues instead of me. The business I worked for at the time just told me that’s how it was.

My advice to anyone experiencing discrimination? Keep pushing forward. Keep believing in yourself. You have the right to be there and to do your job well.

In my experience, there do seem to be fewer women in senior management roles. Whether this is down to lifestyle influences or outside pressures I’m not sure. But what I do know that outside perceptions or influences should never dissuade women from reaching for personal and professional growth and promotion.

I love what I do and, yes, the long hours may put some women off – but not me. It’s how I am, and if it is in you to be driven and work hard, then you will succeed.

A day in the life of Sharon Sandercock…

Morning: “When the alarm goes off at around 5.30am, I check social channels for around 30 minutes before quickly scanning my emails.

“I am usually at my desk for around 7.30/8am, where I check emails and plan ahead for the day, preparing for meetings or for the projects that I need to get off my to-do list as well as checking in with my colleagues.

Afternoon: “My day normally consists of meetings, emails and catching up with suppliers to discuss their workflows. I check in and work with the web development and design teams every day, as we are trying to catch up in the digital space. It varies quite a bit on what I do with them, it could be discussing my wireframes or testing development ideas. I also do copywriting and content planning and, if time allows, research and development on future projects. My office day normally ends at around 5.30pm.

Evening: “After doing personal errands and spending time on my hobbies (running, spinning, a personal training session or even a mid-week dinner out), I tend to switch the computer back on at around 9pm and do a couple more hours work. I work best at night on report writing, strategy, audits or web structure works as there are a lot less interruptions.

Weekend: “At the weekend, I leave Friday and Saturday nights clear and enjoy a break. On Sunday evenings, I like to log back in to prepare for the week ahead.”

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