Books, opera, and great storytelling. Group Marketing & BD Director and Board member Claire Jones reflects on how a love of marketing, and a knack for building exceptional teams, have led her to where she is today.
Tell us about your career journey to date
My career journey hasn’t been straightforward, mainly because it took me a while to work out that construction + marketing = my happy place.
I studied French and music at university, before completing a Masters in Translation Studies. I initially wanted to be a literary translator, but as that didn’t work out, I ended up trying various things until I landed a communications role at Davis Langdon. That’s where I found my sweet spot. I got my CIM (Chartered Institute of Marketing) qualifications whilst rising up the ranks and discovered both a profession and industry that I’ve grown to love.
AECOM’s acquisition of Davis Langdon was a huge opportunity for me – exposing me to global projects, and people – an experience that has shaped who I am today. In fact, in my first global marketing role I worked for a wonderful Scotsman – which must have made an impression given where I’ve landed! I was incredibly fortunate to learn from some fantastic marketers at AECOM, who really were at the forefront of thought leadership and strategic marketing.
I then joined Arcadis, first as the Marketing Director for EMEA and then, in one of my biggest challenges to date, Chief Marketing Officer for their brand-new digital business, Arcadis Gen.
And now – Soben – where I’m doing what I love, with a team I adore. I thoroughly enjoy building exceptional teams; creating nurturing environments where everyone can thrive. All I ask is that people bring their best selves to work, have fun and support each other – that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning. That, and creating strong brands. Soben is a great company and it’s an honour to help build the brand behind Scott’s vision.
You’ve worked on many projects over the years – which stands out for you?
Being part of the team behind Arcadis’s innovation engine was career-defining. As CMO of Arcadis Gen, I witnessed the power data and technology have in creating sustainable and resilient infrastructure. Something I’m thrilled to continue at Soben with our new net zero roadmaps solution.
At Gen, as well as building the brand and marketing department (another team of marketing superstars), I worked alongside some inspirational leaders to create a truly inclusive culture – right in the middle of Covid – an experience I’ll never forget.
What has been your favourite project you’ve worked on, and why?
Our content marketing and thought leadership work at AECOM was industry leading. From the See Further thought leadership series, to the inaugural Future of Infrastructure report, it was a privilege to be part of such a talented team, getting under the skin of what was going on in the industry – and creating some ground-breaking content.
What has been the most challenging project you’ve worked on, and why?
My most challenging project isn’t actually marketing related – although it did put my communication and stakeholder engagement skills to the test.
I’m a huge bookworm, so it has been a wrench to see the scale of library closures across the UK in the past few years. I believe libraries play an important role in our communities – not just for book-lovers, but as a safe space for some of the most vulnerable members of our society. So, when our local library was threatened with closure, I worked with a team of volunteers to negotiate with the council and transform the library into a community-run venture. Definitely the most challenging project I’ve ever undertaken, but also by far the most rewarding.
What have been the defining moments of your career?
Firstly, the realisation that I wanted to be a marketer. I spent a lot of time not knowing what I wanted to do, but when I discovered this thing called marketing, and that I’m pretty good at it, that was a fantastic feeling.
Secondly, getting my first C-suite role was a moment I’ll never forget. Working in construction, I’m used to being one if not the only woman in the room. There have been times where people have been surprised at how bold and outspoken I am, but I would never let that be a barrier – I’m not going to shrink myself to make others feel more comfortable.
I do think women bring something different – and important – to the workplace. Over the years I’ve seen change in our industry, and I’m happy with the direction we’re going in, but there is still work to be done. Diversity isn’t just the right thing to do, diverse businesses are just so much better! Diverse teams mean diversity of thought – more viewpoints, different ways of seeing problems – and solving them. And that’s a superpower every company should be embracing.
If you weren’t the Marketing and Business Development Director at Soben, what do you think you would be doing? Or want to be doing?
Oh, a librarian would be the dream. Either that or an opera singer – if it wasn’t for the stage fright. As my career has progressed, so has my confidence, so maybe one day I’ll end up on stage – watch this space!
What career advice would you give your younger self?
Believe in yourself – I’m no stranger to imposter syndrome. Retraining and then fast-tracking my marketing career has meant I’ve second-guessed myself at times. Whilst I had all the qualifications and, of course, the results of my hard work, until quite recently there was still a part of me that thought I was going to get “found out.”
Surround yourself with brilliant people, there’s no way I could do what I do without a talented team around me. And you can never spend too much time building culture – that means creating a safe space where people feel comfortable speaking up, where people can experiment without fear of failure, and being able to say “I don’t understand” or “I’ve got an idea” with confidence. Feeling you belong at work is a powerful thing.
The last piece of advice I’d give any young professional is to find a company that creates an environment where you can thrive. I’d just landed my first proper marketing job when I became pregnant with the first of my two boys. Of course, I worried that I’d blown it and that was the end of my marketing career. But my manager reassured me that it’s perfectly possible to be a professional woman, a parent and whatever else you want to be. Since then, I’ve been careful to choose companies, like Soben, that share my values. So, by day I’m a passionate marketing leader, by night, I’m Mum. And occasionally I find time to pop to the library.
To find out more about the value Soben can bring to you, you can contact Claire on the details below: