10 Questions With... Gemma Greaves, chief executive of The Marketing Society

Gemma Greaves, Marketing Society

The media and marketing sector is ultimately about people. In this weekly series, The Drum speaks to professionals across the sector who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what little insights they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are answered by The Marketing Society’s chief executive, Gemma Greaves.

What was your first ever job?

Does this count paper rounds? Technically when I set up an earring business with a friend at school however first time I was actually employed was as a Saturday girl at Oliver’s Shoe Shop, £2 an hour. Perhaps now showing my age.

Why did you get into the ad industry?

Not sure I am in the ad industry, I sort of fell into marketing. At university I did a couple of placements (Foreign Office and IBM) and loved building partnerships and making things happen. At IBM I wanted to drive the cool cars of the senior guys but they told me to get a sales job, so I did. And that started in the heady world of publishing. The rest is history.

What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the industry since working within it?

The generosity of the people. When I started my business Cabal I was overwhelmed with the support, guidance and friendship I received from so many. And still do everyday.

What have you learned from any mistakes you’ve made in your career?

To always follow my gut instinct.

Proudest moment?

Gosh many. Being made Chief Executive. And in my first year standing in front of our members at our Annual Brave Conference and Dinner after a truly whirlwind year where we achieved everything we set out to, including a significantly more diverse speaker line up and global programme.

What is your favourite picture on your phone and why?

Anything of Joshie, my beautiful toddler. Currently, it is a picture of him standing holding a (plastic) sword in the air with his squidgy bum on show. He is the most special human being on the planet (to me). And this one shows his unique sense of humour.

What is the most exciting thing about your job?

I am blessed with an incredible job so pretty much all of it. Through our global network we push boundaries, address the subjects that really matter and have uncomfortable conversations. Through this bravery, together we can create change - and that is exciting.


I have owned a hamster and although cute, they die quickly and spend hours on their little spinning wheel (reminding me of life) so it would have to be a dog.

If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be?

All acronyms.

What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?

You can’t be good at everything so play to your strengths and surround yourself with incredible people who complement you. And be kind, be good and be humble.

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