Kevin Helm Tell us about your work -- what do you do?
I'm the marketing manager for an 89,000 member-physician association. I function mostly as a resource for anyone in our company (350 employees) who needs help with their marketing. I am basically a marketing consultant to my own company. What skills are needed?
Very good organizational skills. I work with a lot of different projects and on a large scale of sophistication. I need to be able to get along great with people of all types. I also need good analytical skills, as I have to assess my clients' real problems. What was your major?
Bachelors in marketing ; MBA in marketing and health care administration. How did you get started in your career?
My first job was as an intern in college. I got lucky and started working part-time as an assistant to a health care account executive. I got to know the industry and the market well. What experience do you need in this job?
Beyond the basic college marketing curriculum, I've found that sales experience is very helpful. There is no substitute for working on the "front lines" and getting to personally know and understand your customers. Describe your "typical" workday:
Respond to email, schedule meetings, work on a marketing plan for one of our divisions, help write a brochure (I work with a design person who does my layout), answer marketing questions, and coordinate in-house marketing opportunities. What is the hardest aspect of your job?
Understanding the root issue -- asking the right questions. Then, properly motivating my client to make changes. It can be a very long process just to change one thing -- patience. What is the most rewarding aspect of your job?
Seeing my "clients" reap the rewards of one of my suggestions. Really knowing that I've done something positive for them. What are your suggestions for someone considering this field?
Get your MBA from a good school -- it will set you apart. Don't work for just any company -- take your time and find a company you respect and can be proud working for. It'll make all the difference. Do an internship or part-time work for a trial basis. Most of all -- be your own person. Learn from others, but in this field (sales, marketing, advertising) I see too many people trying to be something they are not (e.g. a used car salesman). There seems to be at least two different levels of marketing people -- the true professionals (those with integrity, sincerity, humility, and empathy) and the fakers (those who make sure they look you in the eye and give you the million-dollar handshake -- but nothing else.) Remember that substance always beats style in the long run.