If you're willing to put in the effort to experience new things, then you'll develop skills which will help you professionally

Photo oThomas Woollard
Thomas Woollard
Marketing Executive - Taylor & Francis Group
BA History
Thomas Woollard tells us about his role as a Marketing Executive at Taylor & Francis Group, managing 65 journals across a medicine and health portfolio. Tom also explains why he chose Sheffield for his History degree, and how the skills developed as a student have helped him in the world of Marketing.

A transcript of the video: 

Hi, my name is Tom. I studied a BA Honours in History at the University of Sheffield and I'm now a Marketing Executive at Taylor and Francis Group. I chose Sheffield to study History for two key reasons. Firstly, the quality of the teaching staff I found from other mini-lectures from other universities given on open days weren't engaging and focused on history that I covered a lot previously. When I turned up at the Sheffield open day, the mini-lecture given inspired me that this was a university that wanted to deliver engaging teaching. Secondly, the breadth of history that the Department offered from ancient Rome to post-revolution Ireland, to thematic history such as money, power and society. This showed me the sheer variety that the department covered and this with my economic and political interests was another key reason as to why I chose Sheffield. 

My first experience with marketing was in a summer internship for major engineering and financial services company. And I really enjoyed the fast-paced environment within the team that I worked in. As a result of this, when I graduated the following year, I was able to secure a position in marketing at Oxford University Press, the largest university press in the world. Whilst there I honed my marketing skills and geared them towards marketing to Academic Professionals, which after 18 months, I was able to secure my current position, Marketing Executive at Taylor and Francis Group. 

So in my current role, I manage marketing activity for a total of 65 journals in the medicine and health portfolio. This marketing activity is aimed at driving submissions to these journals and therefore engaging with researchers, explaining more about the journal to them and encouraging them to publish their research with us, especially with the rise of open access. The main responsibilities for me are planning, implementing, and analysing marketing activity, which drives submission towards the journals. And this is done through a variety of ways, including organic and paid social, emails and other researcher specific channels. Within this fast moving sector, it is crucial that when new platforms come to light and other opportunities arise, that we experiment with these to find the best marketing mix to engage with my target audiences. Part of my time is also engaging with internal and external stakeholders to gather information on the current health of the journal in terms of submissions, time to accept, peer review. And to weave this into marketing material to ensure that each journal is an attractive proposition to researchers. 

I enjoy the technological aspects of my role with exploring new technologies and new ways to reach our target audience. I even enjoy the conversations on GDPR and data privacy. I think this is one of the fundamental reasons I like marketing as there is process, ethics and creativity which shape my role. And I enjoy the challenge of adapting in a rapidly changing industry. I think one of the biggest challenges is persuading external stakeholders why it is necessary to experiment with new platforms and new messaging. The industry never stands still. It's easy to get left behind. So constant innovation is a key to continued success. When something works, look at why it works, what you can do next, rather than relishing the success of one campaign. 

The analytical skills that I developed throughout my history degree have been crucial in my roles to date. Having the ability to assimilate large amounts of data, understand it, and put together a plan before meeting with internal and external stakeholders is important within my industry. Explaining ideas succinctly and clearly is another skill that I've developed throughout my history degree. And this has helped me when bringing forward new campaign ideas and demonstrating how this will benefit our target audience when searching for a journal to publish their academic research. 

One of my favourite pieces of marketing is also probably one of the most frustrating projects I've worked on. For context, the journal had suffered paper mill submissions and reputation had been damaged prior to me taking on the portfolio. Since starting my role, I had planned and implemented campaigns which hadn't quite resonated with the target audience as much as I would like. And every marketer has these kind of campaigns from time to time. But I planned an email campaign which beforehand I thought had even less of a chance of success than some of the previous campaigns that I'd implemented. However, the metrics were off the charts and it was kind of a phoenix rising out of the ashes moment for success with this particular journal and showing that perseverance is a key in achieving that success. 

I think my main advice would be to take all the opportunities which are in front of you. Although that may not seem relevant at the time. If you're willing to put in the effort to experience new things, then you'll develop skills which will help you professionally. For current students, I would say never stop questioning what's in front of you. Wherever it be primary or secondary sources of history, seek alternative perspectives. For prospective history students, if you're looking for a place that encourages inquisitive mindsets and cultivates critical thinking, then a History degree at Sheffield is right for you. 

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