How did you end up as a Brand Operations Manager?

We spoke to Sammie Bowman, Brand Operations Manager at Standard Life and ask her to tell us all about herself and her career experiences.

I am responsible for project managing the Standard Life re-brand and embedding the brand across the business group wide. My first job was selling shoes in Freeman Hardy and Willis as a Saturday girl but my first real full time position was working as a receptionist for Boots Opticians, so a little bit different from what I’m doing now!

From fairly early on in my career I knew that I had an interest in marketing and every move I made was to take me closer to my goal of eventually working in a marketing team. My first opportunity in marketing came when I was working at Abbey National, where I started out as a mortgage collections manager. I volunteered to take on the collections projects so that I could gather enough experience to move into the Project Programme, as I knew that I would be able to eventually work on Marketing projects. Once in Marketing as a Project Manager I used my project management experience to become a Campaign Manager in the Direct Marketing team; then moved across to an above the line Campaign Manager.

I worked for Abbey National for 16 years, so I gained a lot of experience and I also proved to myself that I was capable of a lot more than I realised. From there I had the confidence to move to Edinburgh, initially contracting for Tesco Bank and Lloyds. I then secured my current role within Standard Life which was amazing as I felt that the role had been written for me and was something I really wanted to do given my Project Management and Marketing experience.

I left school with a handful of results that could have been better and believing that I wanted to become either a window dresser or beautician I thought that I’d be ok. I didn’t feel as if my school helped me to think about what I wanted to do with my career and identify what qualifications and experience I would need to enable my career. My parents didn’t push me or my sisters at school, qualifications didn’t really matter to them they believed that life experiences accounted for more. I also believe that they felt their daughters would eventually settle down and become devoted stay at home mothers but I had other ideas!

I’ve always wanted a successful career but now I have two young children I feel it’s important to have a strong work/life balance. Standard Life have helped me to gain this balance as I secured a reduced hours contract which enables me to spend more time with my family. I would like to continue to work my way up the ladder and I really enjoy working in Marketing, so may remain in this area. I enjoy managing people so would like to secure a head of position eventually.

I have no real regrets but the only thing I would have done differently if I had my time over again would be to have attended university and taken my professional qualifications earlier. I would also have moved around different companies and not stayed at Abbey National for so long, as I think it’s important to experience different ways of working; cultures, environment and structures.