Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Six Questions: James Watson

Last month the University of Sydney’s Business School held Branding You, a showcase reception at the new Business School CBD Campus. We were lucky to get the chance to hear about personal branding from an esteemed panel, including a graduate of the marketing discipline here at the business school, James Watson.

James, one of our first class Honours graduates in Marketing, has had a meritorious career with Procter and Gamble in Australia and Singapore, Reckitt Benckiser in Australia, the UK and USA and PZ Cussons in Australia. James spoke about many different aspects of branding and shared with us his own experiences in building his personal brand. One of the most important aspect James spoke about was staying on message and consistent. Although it’s a given when it comes to thinking about brands, often we forget to be very honest with ourselves, and that’s when our personal brand strays off message – we do something out of character, take a job we don’t really want, or forget our goals and what we are trying to achieve.

On the topic of consistency, we’ve remained consistent, and asked James our Six Questions.

1. What is your favourite thing that you do in a regular day as a marketer?
Regular? Define regular? I chose marketing as a career path, because no one day is the same as another and the opportunities are endless. That said, just like bringing up kids, you have a responsibility to feed, nurture, protect and develop brands in your custody or they won't grow and survive. Seeing the hard work, energy and passion you put into doing this manifest itself in great business results is my favourite thing.

2. Describe your job in 5 words or less:
No right or wrong answers.

3. What keeps you motivated?
Having a very clear focus on where I and my family want to go, what we want to achieve, by when we would like to achieve it, understanding what it will take to get us there and then actually taking ownership for doing something about making it all happen.

Family matters. Learning inspires. Collaboration creates outcomes. Results are rewarding. Experience is priceless.

4. Where do you think you'll be in 10 years?
I don't think, I know as a family, we will be back in Australia for our kids' secondary school education. We have a long-term horizon as a family with some critical milestones outlined. There is and naturally needs to be some flexibility around what happens or what we choose to do based on emerging opportunities in between these milestones, but at least we know what we are shooting for and have a road map for where we are going.

5. If you were an animal, what animal would you be?
A Tiger. Largest of the 4 big cats and known in the childhood book about Pooh Bear for having lots of 'bounce'. They are a species that adapts to their location. Skills like this are critical to successfully managing and influencing stakeholders in the business world. They have excellent sight and hearing. Awareness plays an important role in your success as a marketer. They are most active early in the morning and in the evenings. I am an early riser and known for getting a second wind in the evenings. Tigers are also strong swimmers. I am a passionate and competitive Masters swimmer. Tigers are found in a variety of habitats. If you want to succeed in fast moving consumer goods marketing, you need to be willing to work across a variety of brands and move internationally. They do like their solitude. As a strategist and innovator, I value my thinking time. Tigers aren't afraid of more formidable predators. Some of the most rewarding career experiences for me have come from working on smaller and non market leader brands within a business and taking on the big guys. Finally, Tigers are strategic about how they hunt. I know from experience that if you plan to succeed, you increase the likelihood you will.

6. What is the one book you would recommend everyone to read?
I'd prefer author and genre... Iain M. Banks. Iain sadly passed away over the June long weekend. He wrote Space Opera and is famous for his books about 'The Culture'. Think differently and look for inspiration in places others don't necessarily think to look.

Hongi Luo
Current student in the Master of Marketing program at the University of Sydney Business School

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