1. Tell us about yourself.
Hi, my name is Natalie and I studied at ARU in Cambridge on the Marketing BA course. I graduated in 2015 with First Class Honours.
Since then, I’ve built a career that I love by combining my passions for marketing, health and education.
Right now, I’m a marketing consultant specialising in the health and fitness industry and most of my time is dedicated to my role as Chief Marketing Officer at Pactster, a health tech startup offering online workouts for people with specific health conditions.
I’m also an associate lecturer at Anglia Ruskin University, where I helped to develop, and now tutor on, the Distance Learning Digital Marketing course. I also regularly return to campus as a mentor for students who are part of the ARU LAIBS intern programme.
Before this, I worked for global marketing agency, M&C Saatchi Sport & Entertainment where my clients included Samsung, NatWest and Reebok.
I also write a health blog at nataliejohanna.com and am a qualified personal trainer. In my spare time, if I’m not at the gym or a dance class, I’ll likely be found at an event (the Eventbrite app plays a large role in my life!), listening to a podcast or working my way through my very full bookshelf, reading books on topics from the human genome to minimalism.
2. What is your fondest memory at Anglia Ruskin University?
There isn’t one memory that stands out for me in isolation, but more of a feeling: every day felt like progress. Either I learnt something new during hours in the library and speaking with my tutors, or I felt like I contributed to the improvement of my course, through my role as a student rep and due to the great relationships I had with my tutors. I was really lucky to have a lot of face time with my course leader and the Deputy Dean to offer feedback.
Studying with one of my closest uni friends in the canteen or the library (and attempting headstands to try to keep myself awake) was definitely a highlight, too!
3. What advice would you give to current students as they're preparing to graduate?
Prepare yourself as much as possible for the world of work. I’m a huge advocate of ensuring that you have a strong online portfolio.
When I came to interview for my first job as a graduate, I was afforded a lot of ‘shortcuts’ because my interviewers had already seen validation of my passion and capabilities online.
All the things that anyone would usually spend time convincing people of in interview – ‘I’m really passionate about that’, ‘I’m really good at that’, ‘I have experience in that area’ – I had proof of that companies could access before even meeting me.
For example, one interviewer said he would usually ask applicants to talk about their interest in the field, but my blog and social media channels were already bursting with content that proved my genuine passion. When asking about my writing skills, I was told ‘actually, I’ve read a lot of articles that you’ve written already’.
Whether companies are looking for partners, suppliers or new staff, the first place that they search is the internet, so ensure that your digital footprint is your personal portfolio. Mine included social media channels with a strong following (proof that I understood multiple channels and could create engagement), lots of article sharing (proof of my wider reading and genuine interest in a subject area), blog posts (proof of my writing ability, website knowledge, project management, brand relationship management), and more.
4. What do you know now that you wish you had known whilst you were studying?
I feel like I was very fortunate to study when I did; after 3 years of gaining work experience after finishing my A levels. I had a lot more work and life experience than my peers, which really helped me to make sense of everything I had learned, because I could see how it was important in practise, as well as in theory.
Despite this, I still wish that I’d have had more industry insight. It would have been useful to have an even broader understanding of what jobs really entailed and how industries are structured.
5. How did your time at Anglia Ruskin help you?
I don’t think I would have been considered for the roles that I have had without a degree. And particularly a degree in marketing, as it is proof of my passion and knowledge in this particular area.
Studying Marketing at ARU ensured that basic marketing principles have become so ingrained in me that they feel like common knowledge. I’m often able to think more strategically, analytically and more intuitively than my peers without a marketing degree. Key concepts have become embedded in my thought processes and help me every day.
6. What did you love about your chosen course?
I loved that my Marketing course also had modules on other areas of business, like economics, accounting, data analysis and organisations and management.
It gave me a really strong foundational knowledge of how businesses are run and the things that can influence them. To some other students on my course, some of these modules didn’t seem relevant at the time (I’m sure they thought they’d left maths behind at GCSE level and didn’t understand why they were now learning about statistical analysis again!) but I’m so glad I grasped their importance and can now use the skills that I’ve learned.
7. What would you tell someone thinking of studying at ARU?
Do it! And take all of the opportunities that come your way while you’re there. It’s a once in a lifetime experience and you can make it an amazing one.
8. In one word how would you describe Anglia Ruskin?
9. Who was the biggest influence on your career?
There’s not a single person or thing that has influenced me more than others. I constantly find inspiration in the world around me. Every single day I am inspired.
I’m inspired by the determination and hard work of athletes, I’m inspired when learning from the experiences of senior marketers, I’m inspired by articles I read online, by TED Talks, by people I watch on the street, by the values and personalities of the people I surround myself with. If you’re a passionately curious person and you have the courage to go out and speak to people, you’ll find inspiration everywhere.
10. What accomplishment are you most proud of?
Seeing Samsung’s Sponsorship of the 2016 Olympic Games win multiple industry awards and, this year, seeing NatWest’s No Boundaries campaign that I worked on in 2017 picking up numerous awards including Sponsorship of the Year at the UK Sponsorship Awards.
Another of my biggest accomplishments is my blog. I’ve had so many opportunities open up to me because of it. Highlights include being shortlisted (twice!) for the Cosmopolitan Blog Awards and Influencer Awards and being invited to the 2016 Rio Olympics with a P&G brand, Swisse.
11. What advice would you give your younger self?
This is a tough one. I have no regrets and nothing that I would have done significantly differently, but I sometimes wish that I had have documented my life better. Looking back (especially when answering questions like this!), it’s hard to remember exactly how I felt and what was important to me at different times in my life.
I’d keep a daily log of something I achieved, something I felt challenged by and other notes like what my daily routine was like. I’m sure at the time it would have been less than interesting, but I’d love to look back on that now!
12. What drives you?
Passion. I’m motivated most by the things that I’m truly passionate about. I’m driven to learn relentlessly, educate others, and feel like I’m making a positive change in the world.
13. What’s next?
I’m just going to keep doing what I’m doing. Continually pushing forward and making a little progress every day. Taking on projects that inspire me and building a lifestyle that makes me happy.
Natalie is also a mentor for our Business School, giving back and inspiring our next generation of graduates. You can find out more about our intern programme here.