We had the pleasure of chatting to Tassia Agatowski, A Marketing Executive based in Bath & Marketing Lead/Co-Founder of NSC.
When discussing career paths and experience, Tassia explained that she most certainly hadn’t thought of marketing as a career route until later on in life. And, that there is no shame in finding what you’re good at, at a later stage in your career journey.
“When I left school, I was aimless. I loved education and learning, so going to university was a no-brainer for me. I also felt as though I wasn’t ready for the working world – I was young for 18.
When I started uni, I chose subjects that I was good at, that I enjoyed: Drama Studies and Creative Writing. After the first year, I was annoyed at how the Creative Writing course was being taught. This sounds a bit harsh, but some of the other people on the course were… not good at writing. So I switched my course to focus solely on Drama Studies.
When I graduated, I still had no idea what I wanted to do – I enjoyed acting and writing, but they didn’t seem like career options, so I started working in administrative roles for a few companies.
For the next 5 years, I flitted about between my home town of Portsmouth, Bath (where I went to university), and Bristol, with a brief stint in London, where I was hoping to ‘make it’ as an actor and ended up with one failed audition for Russell Howard’s Good News and a supervisory role in a call centre.
It wasn’t until I started a role as an Events Manager where I came across marketing as a career, and started writing blog articles as part of the content marketing strategy. After that, I started my first marketing role and went back to college to study it further.
A few short years later, and I’m still working as a full-time marketer, writing my marketing blog, with a focus on digital and content marketing, and loving life. It’s never too late to discover what you want to do.”
Tassia’s advice on becoming a business owner is hard and clear. “Plan, plan, plan. Set yourself deadlines, and stick to them. And just do it.” She explains that taking full responsibility for everything that your business outputs is a challenge, especially when you are a sole business owner or you have a very small team.
“I’m running a blog with my partner, and we sometimes struggle to get everything done in time, whilst both juggling our own 9-5 careers as well.”
But as with any strong-willed career woman, Tassia leverages her biggest strength. Empathy. She believes that it is a trait that is often overlooked in business. “If you can’t put yourself in the shoes of your audience, how can you possibly sell them your product?”
When asked about what she is most proud of accomplishing, Tassia says: “I’m proud to have my name against my work. It’s mine, and when people comment, like, or share it, I genuinely feel that warm buzz of pride. It’s what keeps me going.”
As with many of us, Tassia is no stranger to digital burnout. A topic SOCIALight has spoken about many times in the past. “It’s so easy to get digital burnout, I think we’ve all come across it in one form or another. When I think about the amount of time I spend in front of a computer or my phone, it makes me cringe. When it’s part of your 9-5 job and your side hustle, it’s hard to break away from everything digital.
However, I’ve started a new scheduling process where I schedule out all of my time in my calendar, and it’s made me realise exactly how much time I spend online, and how much time I should spend away from it. Since I’ve implemented this new strategy, I’ve made sure to set myself allotted time slots where I simply pick up a book, have a bath, go for a walk, or try to sloppily do yoga and meditate.
Honestly, I can’t recommend this scheduling process enough – it sounds extreme, scheduling every little thing, but it makes you realise the importance of your time, and how you want to spend it.”
Tassia believes that marketing is becoming more of an option for young women than ever before. With opportunities opening up for women looking to move into the industry that was once seen as a closed door. “When I was growing up, I didn’t even really know what marketing was. I did career tests at school, and they told me that I should be either a librarian or a teacher. I’m not a maternal person – I don’t particularly like other people’s children. And while I love books, I’m also ambitious, and ‘librarian’ doesn’t seem like a career to me.
However, now, with influencers, bloggers, vloggers, and promoters everywhere you look, marketing is much more of a career option for young women. That being said, perhaps the emphasis is on the wrong aspects of marketing – you don’t get into marketing to become known, you get into marketing to make whatever you’re marketing become known.”
In our interview with Tassia, we agree that our industry can be overly male-dominated. The majority of well-known personalities within our sector are male. “Gary Vee, Mike Winnet, Seth Godin, Neil Patel… I could go on. And yet there aren’t the equivalent number of female marketers rising to mind.”
Tassia feels as though the fault is with our industry and that change won’t be made until we make it so. Something SOCIALight is trying to raise awareness about in every issue. “I’m realising, right now actually, that I need to actively research female role models in marketing, and help to promote them, so they do come to mind when I think of prominent marketers. We all need to take responsibility because the industry as a whole doesn’t know what to do.”
When it comes to being discriminated against for being a woman, Tassia says: “I feel quite lucky to have not been actively discriminated against due to my gender, although I have experienced harassment in the office in a previous role. A few lewd comments about my body, and – I can’t believe this still happens – a male colleague dropping a pen and asking me to pick it up so he could leer at me. I reported both events to HR at the time, but nothing was done. I soon left those roles, partly due to those experiences, and, for my cathartic release, on my leaving do, said a few choice words to one of the individuals who made lewd comments.
I understand that not everyone may be in a position where they can leave a place if they are discriminated against or if they experience harassment in the office and that things like that happen every day, but that doesn’t make it okay. We need to move away from the culture of the victims of discrimination and harassment having to take action against these experiences, and make the focus more on the perpetrators themselves.”
The fact that Tassia actively left a position, partly due to the treatment she received from a male member of staff, quite frankly says to us that she has experienced discrimination due to her gender. As women, we often view ourselves as lucky for not having to ‘put up with as much’ as other women or that it ‘could have been worse.
Our view is that this type of behaviour often escalates. If someone experiences something lower down the scale, such as the inappropriate comments, should HR not have a responsibility to make sure that this behaviour is not learned as acceptable? If members of staff exhibiting this type of behaviour aren’t pulled up on their actions, are they not being enabled?
Women like Tassia are being let down over and over again by businesses who don’t have a strong sense of duty when it comes to tackling these types of workplace issues. Issues that are too common and often being swept under the rug.
We asked if Tassia has ever felt that she has had to prove herself in her role more so than her male counterparts. “Without a shadow of a doubt. In the past, I’ve worked with people with fewer qualifications, less knowledge, less experienced, but more ‘bravado’. When I have spoken in the same tone, I have been reprimanded for it. As women, we are expected to be meek and mild in the world of business – quietly squirrelling away at morsels of success. The world needs to know that we are outspoken, too – that our confidence is not ‘bossiness’, ‘hysteria’, or ‘shrillness’. It is our strength.”
We spoke with her about mental health as a taboo in the workplace. Reports are that it is slowly improving and becoming less of a stigma in the wider community. She believes that the stigma is still prevalent, even in the most progressive of companies.
“I’ve suffered from depression in the past, and still have ‘blips’ where I find it hard to focus, and get my thoughts out of my ‘dark place’, but I don’t feel as though I can speak up about it, or even mention it to colleagues, for fear of them thinking ‘less’ of me, or taking away my responsibilities. I acknowledge that I have mental health issues, and I probably always will, but I don’t want them to stand in the way of my career.
I honestly don’t know what can be done to minimise the stigma of mental health in the workplace – the place where I work 9-5 currently does a lot for mental health, but I still feel as though I can’t speak up about my issues. I think perhaps the problem lies with how mental health is still seen as something of a ‘weakness’, and by admitting issues, we feel as though we’re not being seen as ‘strong women’.
Social media is a double-edged sword when it comes to mental health. On one hand, it’s done wonders to open up the conversation and encourage people to tell their own stories, but on the other hand, this ever-growing world of filters, airbrushing, and innate fakeness means that we feel we have to maintain the facade of happiness at all times.”
In terms of the marketing world, Tassia has high hopes for 2020. We talked about trends she sees rising and recommendations of books or reading materials for budding women in business.
“I’ve written about the rise of video marketing, and think that will play a huge part in digital marketing, so that’s something I’m quite excited about. That being said, copywriting is still a fundamental skill for marketers everywhere, so that’s here to stay.
Personalisation in digital marketing is also continuing to grow, and it’s easier than ever to create more personalised messaging to individual customers.
While I read a lot of books on the principles of marketing, I feel as though they have helped me as a marketer rather than as a businesswoman.
I thoroughly recommend The Guilty Feminist by Deborah Frances-White to inspire women to appreciate their self-worth and abilities, and Maya Angelou’s autobiographical series of books is making me realise that life is a series of stories – to live a good life, you need to have experiences.
The more experiences you have, and the more people you meet, the more empathetic you will become, and you’ll have more of an impact on the world – as a woman in business and as a citizen of the world.”
You can follow Tassia on Twitter: @tassia_aga