Darragh is a Cork man marooned in Waterford and has been working remotely for IMS as a Client Marketing Manager since May 2022.
Hey Darragh, so when did you first get bitten by the marketing bug?
Well, I studied at UCC – I did my Degree in Commerce, majoring in Marketing and Economics. I then went on to do a Master’s in International Business and Economics in Kemmy Business School which is part of the University of Limerick.
After that I took a couple of years to go travelling, following the well-trodden path from Ireland to Australia, New Zealand, and so on. I came home in 2014 suitably cultured from my travels and ready to dive headfirst into the world of work!
What was the first job you had in the industry?
I started out in a Marketing and PR agency in Cork. It was a full-service agency, but at the time social and digital were taking off everywhere, so I was mainly involved in that side of things. I started out as a Marketing Assistant but soon worked up to a Senior Account Manager.
My clients included Cork Airport, UCC, large Munster car dealerships, and a few others. One big project that I’m especially proud to have been a part of was for Laya Healthcare and the creation of their sub-brand Laya Life. To see their success and growth since then has been incredible.
After a couple of years there I felt I needed a change and I decided to depart for Ireland’s second city – Dublin.
What did you do up there?
I joined Communicorp, owner of Today FM, Newstalk, and other national and local radio stations, as a digital account manager. I was responsible for liaising with media agencies to pitch and execute work across the portfolio of Communicorp digital platforms. So, working on digital campaigns to live across the radio station’s various platforms including websites, apps and social channels, that kind of thing.
It was great to see how the media supplier side of things works – to learn how radio works and how the shows are created. I was involved in lots of events and on-air promotions, so it was a really exciting thing to be involved in.
The big focus at the time was social media – building brands and campaigns on social media and coming up with innovative ways to leverage the audiences that we were building.
I also learned a lot about programmatic advertising – building digital campaigns, plugging the requirements in, and monitoring and optimising performance. That’s a huge sub-sector of the digital media sphere that you may not even be aware of.
I was there for two years and an opportunity came up with TheJournal.ie. I would be on the solutions team, responsible for looking after agency and client relationships, and again coming up with new campaign ideas, pitching them to agencies, and executing the work.
TheJournal had a great portfolio of platforms too, like The42, FORA, and DailyEdge and I was working across all of those which was fantastic. While there, I got to see how podcasts were produced and built some really great relationships within agencies and the wider industry.
Before I left I was heading up the Solutions Team, with responsibility for ensuring clients were happy, and that work was planned and delivered to their satisfaction.
I loved the buzz and excitement of the media – it’s fast-paced and there are lots of nights out and great networking opportunities. It’s full of young people, so the culture of the industry is fun and vibrant. But after nearly four years in media sales, I felt I needed a new challenge– I wanted to see a different side of the industry completely.
So I applied for a job in Google!
Wow! You usually hear about people going the other way – starting out in the big Tech firms and then moving into agency land. But you went the other direction…why?
I just felt I needed to challenge myself and broaden my experience within that world. The big tech firms are such huge players in Ireland and in Dublin especially, and I wanted to get a bit of that experience.
I started in January 2020 with COVID just around the corner, and that threw a bit of a spanner in the works. My role was in agency management, so I was responsible for maintaining positive client relationships and delivering good work to them. My clients were mostly UK based and the role should have involved regular travel to the UK, but with COVID that became impossible.
Budgets were tightened due to Covid, campaigns were pulled, and relationships that I had only begun to build were basically put on ice. I also found it a massive cultural shift from the media landscape to the corporate world. It was very intense, lots of boxes to tick, and a lot of feeding work into the “machine”. This was a complete gear change from being able to see the direct impact of your work for a client.
I’m glad I worked there as it was a phenomenal experience, but one year was enough for me.
What did you do then?
Maybe in response to the highly technical and corporate nature of Google, I decided to flex some creative muscles and do a Diploma in UX design. I have a bit of a creative streak in me and I’m really interested in the psychology of UX – designing something that can influence how a person interacts is just…really cool!
After the Diploma, an opportunity arose in a B2B agency in Dublin. This was my first foray into B2B marketing, and it hooked me straight away. We had a very international focus, with clients in the UK, Germany, France, the Nordics, and more.
B2B is not something that is really on the radar at all in the B2C media landscape, but I think that’s changing. B2B is becoming more creative focussed, and although I don’t like the term H2H – human to human, that’s essentially all that marketing is. Communicating effectively with another person, so it doesn’t really matter whether that’s a consumer or a B2B client, you still need your message to resonate with a person on the other side.
About eight months after I joined, COVID began to die down and they wanted to get everybody back into the office. That didn’t suit my living situation at the time so I needed to seek other opportunities that allowed me to work remotely.
I found IMS through a jobs site and the role ticked a lot of boxes for me – B2B, very strategic, creative, international focus. That IMS spoke so much about helping Irish businesses to grow really appealed to me. I think there’s something really important and valuable in that.
I met the management team and then had the chance to speak to some employees to get a sense of the culture. It all sounded great, and the flexibility and fully remote aspect are perfect for me too. So, I joined in May, and…well, here we are
Have you almost come full circle in a way?
I guess so, but not by design. I started out in an agency and was always aware of the benefits of moving around to gain experience. I think, especially at a young age, it is really important to move around and get a feel for what you like and don’t like. You also develop an ability to think more critically about things when you have seen how they work from multiple angles – agencies, suppliers, even ad operations, and the technical side. It all adds to your skillset.
I’m still learning too – the way IMS work is different to what I’ve been exposed to in the past, and the opportunity to work with new clients means you always have a new industry to learn about.
What advice would you give to someone thinking about their next career move?
Obviously, you need to weigh up the pros and cons of any move. But when you’re young you usually have fewer responsibilities like mortgages and kids, so that is the time to take risks, and challenge yourself.
You can’t get too comfortable, especially at the beginning of your career, you need to deliberately take yourself out of your comfort zone. It’s so important and it will pay you back in spades as you progress in your career and potentially move into more senior roles.
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