Sector: PR and Marketing
After being made redundant from her first job post-university, Erika Marshall used this experience to build her resilience. She has climbed the career ladder over the years to become group marketing director for the Education Training Collective.
Where do you call home?
Middlesbrough is and always will be home. I grew up in Tollesby, but I’ve since moved to Eaglescliffe, where I’ve lived for the last 15 years – so I am very much all about the Tees Valley. Other than a nine-month stint in Durham, my whole career has been in the Tees Valley. I am so proud to live and work here. The place is full of great people, great places and great opportunities – what’s not to love?
Tell us about your role?
I am group marketing director for the Education Training Collective, a group of Tees Valley colleges including Stockton Riverside College, Redcar & Cleveland College, Bede Sixth Form College, NETA Training Centre and the Skills Academy.
How did you get to where you are today?
I started a marketing degree at the University of Lincoln, realised I was a home bird and transferred to Teesside University after the first year. “They” said living away from home would be character building – they were wrong, I had never felt more out of place. It didn’t affect my determination, though, and after achieving my qualifications in my home university, and after a disappointing spell with the graduate scheme at Arrive Vehicle Rental, I took on the first marketing role I could find – in a company called Rocket Science, which focused on direct marketing. I moved to become a marketing assistant at quantity surveying firm Faithful + Gould, where I learnt my practical craft for two years, and after that it was time to climb the career ladder. I took on roles at stairlift and elevator giant ThyssenKrupp as a marketing manager, then I became marketing and communications manager at automotive manufacturer Nifco UK.
Every new role I took on was a step up from the last, in a different sector and with a different set of skills to learn. I took something positive away from each role, although moving to my current role from Nifco was hard – the family of friends I made there was difficult to leave behind.
What struggles or obstacles did you face along the way?
Undoubtedly the biggest struggle was being made redundant from Arriva Vehicle Rental. As my first job out of university, and as part of a pathway to develop skills on the job, it was that initial career launchpad, so to be told the branch was closing and I was no longer needed was a hard lesson in early employment. However, everything happens for a reason and without that redundancy I don’t think I would be as resilient as I am now.
Describe the moment you first got a feel for success?
Success isn’t about how good you think you think you are, it’s about how good others think you are and the value they place on your input/projects. I have been lucky to work for organisations that have had massive local impact and have been recognised for this – for example Nifco won company of the year at the biggest awards ceremony in the sector four years running, and the Prince’s Trust team at Etc. won the gold prize as further education team of the year in the 2020 National Pearson Awards. These award wins had massive impact on the colleagues of those organisations, acting as a catalyst for them to do more for their staff and communities and have bigger achievements.
Do you have any advice for aspiring young females?
The world is hard, but so are you! “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” they say and they are right. Use every obstacle as an opportunity to learn, every setback as a chance to get stronger and utilise every offer of support to help you on your journey. Never look back, only forward, and always believe in your own value!
What advice would you give to your younger self?
It will all be fine. As a natural over-thinker, it’s something I have had to work hard on over a long time. Given my time again, I would give myself the reassurance that with plenty of effort, ability and tenacity, all will be well.
What three words inspire you and encourage a positive path?
You’ve got this!
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