In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to Jason Hemingway, chief marketing officer for Thunderhead.
What was your first ever job?
My first ever job was a paperboy, from about the age of 13 I got up at a stupidly early time every weekday to deliver newspapers around the local area, I did that for a few years, despite not really being a morning person…
My first job after university was at Dow Jones News. I worked on some bruising trading room floors, configuring trading room screens for traders in various banks. It was character-building to say the least. Now I find myself at Thunderhead, attempting to build a marketing revolution.
Why did you get into marketing?
As with most things, by chance! If I trace things back, I studied psychology, philosophy, and politics at university and I’ve always been interested in people and understanding what makes them tick. I didn’t start out in marketing, but fairly early on it captured my interest: it’s fast-paced and varied but has a thoughtful and long-term element which I found appealing. Now I find myself a marketer talking to fellow marketers about the future of customer relationships and business.
What’s the most surprising thing you have learned about the tech industry since working within it?
I don’t think anyone would believe how quickly things move in tech. You always need to be looking ahead. There is an unbelievable pace of development, and we’re currently years in advance with planning for more ways AI and ML can improve relationships with customers. And although that’s exciting, it can feel as though you’re constantly working towards bigger goals. At Thunderhead, we’ve pioneered an emerging category in customer engagement and journey orchestration, which has involved a lot of learning. I guess what I’ve really learned in creating a new tech category is that you have to be relentless, stick to your vision and surround yourself with the best people.
What have you learned from any mistakes you’ve made in your career?
I’ve learned to accept that mistakes are part of the process of learning. You’re going to make them and it’s about learning from them. Many of my early mistakes in marketing were around communication, working for a news company soon drums that out of you…I guess a common mistake many marketers make early in their career is not getting the right training, it’s a must and is the route to greater things.
My son starting university was a weirdly proud moment. He’s studying Media and Production, so perhaps I’ll use him for my ads and creative once he’s graduated! In work terms, three stand out as proud moments. I loved getting my marketing qualifications (while doing the day job), somehow I made it into the Hot Topics 100 most influential B2B tech marketers in Europe, and of course when a campaign I was involved in at Thunderhead was a The Drum Marketing Awards Finalist in 2016…
Who did you have posters of on your wall as a teenager?
Mostly bands. My Bloody Valentine and a variety of other UK shoegaze and indie bands from the late early 90s.
What campaign or work have you most enjoyed being a part of?
We pulled off a pretty big brand awareness activation at Cannes Lions in 2016, using no agencies apart from PR and that was a proud day for Thunderhead and out of the ordinary for B2B brands. It was the culmination of many months of hard preparation work and lots of moving parts over the course of the event, but we made the impact we wanted which made it all worthwhile. It was actually part of the reason we made it as a finalist in the Drum Awards that year too.
If you could ban one buzzword or piece of jargon what would it be?
I’m terrible with scary movies, my eldest son thinks it’s very amusing to watch them with me. I suppose the most memorably scary one is “Ghost Stories”– I watched it recently and had to leave the room 15 mins in.
What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
There are two, I honestly can’t remember who gave them to me but they’ve held true.
The first is dead simple, be yourself. Sometimes people think they have to be someone else at work, it’s not true.
The second, get proper training. Marketing is a discipline and you need to have the proper training to be a good marketer.
More entries into the 10 Questions series can be found here.