6 min read

Meet Marmalade's Managing Director, Jo

Meet Marmalade's Managing Director, Jo

Whilst we may all be working from home, the sense of ‘team spirit’ has never been stronger. Whether it be screenshots of Zoom calls, Google hangouts or at-home quizzes, there is certainly a more collaborative atmosphere as we face the impacts of Coronavirus. The sense of team spirit is one which we hold dear here at Marmalade Marketing. As such, we felt that this would be the ideal time for you to meet the team who continue to deliver the very best recruitment marketing outcomes for our clients, partners and industry peers alike.  For our final instalment of our Meet the Team series, we catch up with our Managing Director, Jo Perrotta

Hi Jo! Thanks for chatting to us today - we’re sure everyone has been looking forward to this blog.

Hey - I’ve been looking forward to it myself! This series has been really great.

We’ve had some great feedback - so, whilst most people know that you’re the Marmalade matriarch, having started the business, could you tell us a little more about your day-to-day role?

I’m involved in everything day-to-day really. I work both in and ‘on’ the business - sometimes, you find that managing directors tend to just signpost, but I’m deeply involved with a lot of our clients. I work on developing their marketing strategies and the delivery, whilst maintaining great relationships at a senior level. For want of a better phrase, I keep the wheels turning on the bus! There’s lots of complexity in growing and stabilising a business, and I make sure that the team members are all on board and drive Marmalade forward.

You certainly do a great job. It may be hard for any of us to think of days pre-Marmalade, but what did your career look like before?

Well, I’ve always been very creative and business minded - I had my first business at the age of 8 called ‘Babycare’ - then at school, I was in the very lucrative market of selling keychains, with a brilliant markup! I wasn’t particularly gifted, but this just made me hungrier for education, so I pursued a BSc at Salford University in Marketing and Business Studies, which involved studying accounting too. My twin and I actually did the same course, but rest assured we never sat exams for one another! Throughout my course, I learnt a lot about the full mix involved with running a business, and I had a real affinity for numbers, project management, and what marketing means to the bottom line.

The day after I finished university, I relocated to London and my first real taste of a marketing role came at the Lighthouse Consultancy, where I was heavily involved with the launch of the Student Agency, which was all about the fresher experience and its promotional materials. I really thrived in this role, and managed to get the business in front of some huge players, like Arcadia, whilst using mass mail shots when post was still a major part of marketing.

I then relocated back to Manchester, and worked for the Big Issue for a phenomenal 5 years, working across the whole of the UK. I was part of some really creative campaigns in the charity sector, working with other charities to support homeless people, and organising events with the likes of Graham Norton, dinners at the House of Commons, and being involved with an art foundation at Glastonbury. 

Working for a charity was sometimes tough, as it was a commercial solution to a social problem, and ultimately I developed an appetite for a more corporate environment, where I could really utilise my skills in being economical and creative with a marketing budget.

I joined Meridian Business Support as their Marketing Executive, having the opportunity to build a full marketing function. I was interviewed by Mark Mitchell who I think I took by surprise by wearing a bomber jacket, flares and trainers when we met. Still, I was gutsy as ever, and on my second interview I asked where my desk and phone were.

I was at Meridian for a great 10 years, growing an income generating marketing function and monetizing aspects of the business like the website and conferences, as well as experiencing some of my career highlights, such as growing a team of 5, managing high-value tenders for 4 years, and really getting involved with the commercial aspects of a recruitment business.

I was then placed in the Senior Leadership Team, representing the marketing and bid functions at board meetings, before having my lovely daughter, Faith. After Faith was born, I needed more flexibility, and whilst I adored the business, I was hungry for a new challenge - work really is my therapy and whilst having a newborn baby was a challenge in itself, I still was really motivated by my career.

I was approached by Smith & Smith PR as an equity partner, and I worked there for a few years, making great connections such as Meridian’s then PR specialist, Alison Dwyer who was the MD for Smith & Smith PR. I then was on maternity leave with my wonderful son Jacob (apart from when he sabotages my video calls!), when the business went insolvent. It was a really unfortunate time for all involved, but we were grateful that we’d created something wonderful, and I definitely learnt a lot. 

Which then brings us to the start of Marmalade - looking back after 19 years, I’m really thankful for the opportunities I’ve had, lessons I’ve learnt, and the wonderful network I’ve built. 

An absolute great career all around, and it’s great to share your experiences with our network at Marmalade - your stories are always making us laugh, but there’s some really invaluable knowledge there which shows. Whilst you were navigating your career, had you always had the plan for your own business?

Definitely! After leaving university, I couldn’t really get my head around the mechanics of owning a business, but I wasn’t scared by the thought - I was always excited at the prospect. As I mentioned, I started Marmalade with a great network supporting me - I’m not one to burn bridges or shy away from asking for help or advice, so when it came to starting Marmalade, I’d had the high-level exposure I needed to marketing and the operational aspects of a business.

Like you said before - you’ve had a real eye for business from the get-go! Whilst there are so many different aspects of your job, what are some of your favourites?

Working with people! Whether it’s the rest of the team, our clients, or industry network, I really enjoy the conversations and connections I grow on a daily basis. It’s also really rewarding to see such an incredible mutual respect for what we do - not just for our services,  but for the fact that I was gutsy enough to start and grow a business from nothing. Of course, this couldn’t have happened without my incredibly solid network of friends and family, especially the ones who have been by my side for so long - one of my oldest friends is from my university days!

Lovely! We know that you’re always learning and everyday is a real experience, but if you could pick out some highlights from your career, what would they be?

It goes without saying - starting Marmalade! Also, it’s been great to have been involved in marketing as its strategic and digital elements have grown in importance as a result of performance - the numbers don’t lie, and having the ability to prove and show the power of marketing thanks to the technology we now have is the industry’s biggest advantage.

I think we’d all agree! When you’re not busy at work, what do you like to get up to?

As I’ve mentioned, I’m a mum of two fantastic children, who have taught me to be incredibly patient, as that was a trait I didn’t really have before!

I really enjoy a bottle of red wine - Amarone if anyone’s asking! As the Marmalade team knows, I love eating, going to restaurants, and I’m always eating breakfast food in the office, with clients, or with friends. The greatest gift in life is to have good food - I was born weighing 3 pounds and I’ve been hungry ever since!

You and me both - it’s safe to say that loving food is in all Marmalade job descriptions. Before we let you go, could you leave us with some of your favourite Marmalade memories?

There’s so many, but one time that I’ll never forget is when I had double-booked a meeting and had to be at opposite ends of the country at one time - let’s just say that we had to use some creative technology to get around that!

In Marmalade’s really early days, I was due to deliver a strategy session in London and was lost on the tube where the Northern Line breaks! I couldn’t figure out how to get to where I was going and for some reason just kept on running up and down the platform in the hope I’d miraculously end up where I needed to be, but a lovely girl ran through the underground with me and made sure I got on the right train!

Speaking of the tube, one of our colleagues once left a laptop in the carriage as the doors were closing, and somebody miraculously managed to throw it out before we lost it!

Back in the office, one of my greatest memories was moving into a larger office with our now Senior Recruitment Marketing Manager Leah - I made the deal with the landlord in the stairwell!

Be sure to connect with Jo on LinkedIn to find out more about how Marmalade Marketing can help your recruitment business, and thanks for keeping up with our Meet the Team series!

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