It’s been another great year for the B-Hive competition, and as the 2014 award winners were announced this week we thought it was time to share the creative journey of our very own Ben Smith, who was announced the overall winner in the marketing category in 2013. Following a successful presentation to a prestigious panel of judges, Ben was offered a summer placement with a high-performing SME and is now confident about realising his career aspirations post-Warwick. Read his story…
The road to success
The competition asked us to write a marketing plan for the hypothetical release of a new virtual learning environment designed specifically for those wishing to enter the creative industries. I gave myself a weekend to complete my 30 page marketing plan, however I got so involved that I spent an extra day. I soon realised how my modules at Warwick Business School had helped me produce a professional, concise and pragmatic marketing plan built upon sound rationale and evidence, which the judges really valued.
After finding out I was one of five shortlisted to present our marketing plans to a panel of judges I decided to ditch PowerPoint and began designing a Prezi presentation (which later would work in my favour). After much practice, I arrived at the beautiful Fazeley Studios in Birmingham. I was invited to begin my twenty minute presentation to the judging panel – a selection of representatives from prestigious midlands companies.
Throughout the process, I used knowledge gained from WBS modules and also books I’ve read in my spare time. For example, I incorporated ideas highlighted in Mark Earls’ Herd and Martin Lindstrom’s Buy-ology, (both I would wholeheartedly recommend to anyone interested in marketing or advertising).
Although I was unable to attend the awards ceremony, I received a call from the organisers and discovered I’d been awarded overall winner of the marketing category! I was ecstatic, my interest and hard work had paid off. However the real cherry on the cake was that the judge from First-Utility was so impressed that she has offered a paid placement over the summer.
Standing out from the crowd
The B-Hive Creative competition has allowed me to differentiate myself from others in many ways: one of the main benefits was putting into practice what I’d learnt in marketing modules, gaining a real insight into what a career in marketing would be like. Similarly, the constructive feedback I received helped me develop my presentation style and deliver more “human” pitches. The experience of producing a marketing plan in a safe environment was invaluable, and I can use this experience in the future when – hopefully – I will be creating real marketing plans in a commercial environment. Overall the best outcome of the B-Hive Creative competition is the certainty I’ve gained about my career choice: I know marketing is what I want to do.
Reflections on my placement
After a summer placement at First-Utility, I have gained a tremendous amount of knowledge and experience I can apply in the academic environment and beyond.
What struck me on entering the First-Utility office, was how vibrant the place was: not what I was expecting! I soon let go of my preconceptions as I realised that First-Utility is no ordinary energy company. Although the company was only created five years ago, it has featured in the Sunday Times league of the 100 fastest growing private companies for the last three years.
My role was split between assisting with internal communications and conducting a project for management on information sharing within the company. Both roles gave me a fantastic opportunity to meet heads of department, giving me a holistic view of the firm and the energy industry. I could see, first hand, the challenges different departments faced and how this relates to customer experience. On a visit to the call centre, I learnt about SalesForce which reinforced my belief in the clear business case for managing customer satisfaction.
Throughout the internship I developed skills acquired through my degree, particularly relating to operations and marketing communications. I planned a campaign to spread knowledge of a virtual “Jargon Library” so that departments and new starters could learn technical language more easily, it was great to bring theory to life! Moreover, I learnt the value of time optimisation in meetings: life inside a fast moving company is busy and managers have very packed schedules.
Working for an SME was great
One of the advantages of interning in a SME is the flexibility and autonomy; for example, I conceived the idea of a buddy scheme for new starters to ease them into the office. After a quick consultation with my manager I was encouraged to pursue it further and I have since been told that my buddy scheme idea has been implemented. Great evidence of impact.
I also enjoyed the speed and pace of change that you see in a smaller firm; one week the PR team created a campaign lobbying the government to reduce utility switching time. This was really exciting and it was great to see the firm was in all major newspapers: Sky News even turned up to the office!
Marketing: here I come!
At the end of the internship after I presented to management my findings, work in progress and future recommendations. I reflected on how the B-Hive competition, work experience and knowledge gathered at Warwick have impacted my future career aspirations. Although I am yet to decide which area of marketing to head into post-Warwick, I do know that I’ll be looking for roles in which creativity and data analysis are combined to create new and interesting outcomes.