An interview with Laurina Kennedy

Laurina Kennedy

We grabbed a few moments with Laurina Kennedy, Digital Marketing Manager at Skinnydip London.

As we’re seeing time and time again, many of the women we have interviewed simply did not know what they wanted to do when they were younger. Instead, they have found themselves selecting a range of subjects in education in order to offer a broad spectrum of options for the future and to make sure they do not limit themselves when it comes to career opportunities. 

What is nice about hearing this, from successful women like Laurina, is that it’s okay to not know and to not have been working to build your career in digital from a young age. You can enter the industry, at any point in your life and build the experience in different and innovative ways.

 “No, I didn’t know what I wanted to do at all! I remember picking my top 6 types of university courses I’d like to possibly do, with my Dad, and they ranged from Hotel Management through to Advertising and Media Studies!

I quite simply fell into my career as a digital marketer.  After university, I was working as a fashion assistant for a Fashion agency in Belfast, Northern Ireland. It was quite seasonal so to keep busy during the quieter times, I started to write a fashion blog.  

This was 8 years ago when blogging was only really starting.  The blog grew and grew and I started to get more and more interested in types of audiences, how people find different blogs on the internet, appealing to different audiences and building websites. I realised that it was something that I loved and also, was good at.  

From there, I worked as a Web Content Editor, running fashion boutique websites back home, then I moved to London. In the last 3 years, my career has leapfrogged from Ecommerce Executive, Ecommerce Manager and now to my current role Digital Marketing Manager at Skinnydip London.”

As we’ve discussed before, digital marketing is fast-paced and ever-changing. You simply cannot afford to be out of the loop. You’ll also find that most certifications and qualifications need updating yearly, in order for you to keep the knowledge fresh. 

“My advice to women looking to break into this industry is to keep up to date as much as possible, I am a member of forums, I subscribe to industry magazines and websites that send email updates every day. 

The digital world moves so fast so keep your ear to the ground.  I take 10-15 minutes every morning to just catch up on anything new and read the whitepapers.”

To be in digital marketing, you need to be able to confidently execute your work in a way that pleases both your employer and your clients. A lot of people don’t realise how multi-faceted you have to be to survive in the industry. We asked Laurina what she thinks her biggest strength is when it comes to her job.

“My biggest strength I think lies in listening and understanding. It has made me the manager I am today. I think as well as bringing the fun to work. We spend 74% of our week at work, you should love it, you should wake up every morning and not dread it.  So work hard but make sure you are working with a smile on your face and are happy.”

When it comes to digital marketing awareness in education, Laurina explains that because it’s still a relatively new career option, it’s simply not seen as a viable career option at that stage in life.

“I still think that because digital is such a new career, that as a whole, it still isn’t seen as a career choice, especially in Northern Ireland.”

Laurina has a different opinion from others about what the future holds for her role. In the next 10 years, she doesn’t think there will be much impact on the nature of her job, whereas others feel digital marketing will move very quickly towards automation and AI.

“I don’t see it changing that much if I’m honest. I love what I do, I am managing a digital team in a fun fashion eCommerce business. It is what I have wanted to do since I started the blog.  

In the next 10 years, I just see digital becoming more & more prevalent in everyday life and thus the industry will just grow and grow.  I’m excited that I was here at the start of it and was able to make a name for myself early on.”

Unlike most digital companies, Laurina is proud that her office is not a traditionally male-dominated environment. She is aware of the challenges women have in the industry and is not here for being judged for her gender.

“We are an office of 80 females and 10 males! In my jobs before, I have felt the pressure of being the only under 30 female at the meeting room table but if you know your self worth and know your stuff then you have every right to be there. There is no need to even question it.

At the level that I am at and working at Skinnydip, I don’t feel that there is a lack of women role models, it is more how do you find them or get introduced to them. I work with a great all-female team who inspire me every day, we support and brainstorm together and it really is a collaborative team effort on all fronts. It is just about remembering that we are in a lucky position and shouting about it and engaging not only with our audience but also anyone who might be interested in a career in digital.

I have been very lucky as I don’t feel like I have been discriminated against for my gender. I have certainly been judged because of my gender. I think discrimination is a long term standard and a lot more harmful than judging.  Assumptions and judging because of gender can be overcome and with the values and environment I have been brought up in, worked in and gained experience in, this has allowed me to be confident in myself.  To take the judging and show them that it isn’t welcome. I don’t need to prove to anyone that I need to be in the room, I will be in the room.  It shouldn’t be a question.

I just want to prove myself as a person. I just want to strive to be the best in my field, no matter if I am female or male.  I want to be the person on my team that people can turn to and ask questions and learn from.  I want to prove myself as Laurina Kennedy, a 31-year-old from a tiny town on the North Coast of Northern Ireland who has a slight addiction to shopping and hates when her boyfriend cooks because he makes a mess!”

When it comes to digital burnout, Laurina is very familiar with the toll of not having a good work/life balance can have.

“My mum will make a joke that I am only contactable from the hours of 8am to 6pm.  Because I am on 3 screens at work, I try to not look at my phone too much once I leave. 

If I want to chat with my family or friends, I always try to call. I also have a wireless phone charger by my bed so that I can’t sit on my phone in bed.

My advice to avoid digital burnout? Take a holiday, put down your phone, turn off your emails and just enjoy the outside world as well.”

When it comes to mental health, Laurina feels as though the company she works for handles the issue well and provides exceptional support to its staff members.

“Again, Skinnydip is a great company to work for in terms of support and opening conversations on everything from mental health to LGBT subjects through to homelessness. We have socials and lunchtime lectures on different taboo topics to ensure that we are always open to conversations & opening up about how we are feeling at work and outside it. 

I strive to be as open as possible as a manager to let my team and the wider company feel they can come to me with any problems and issues.  I think that’s all we can be – understanding and there for people. I don’t personally suffer with my mental health but I always ensure that I have me time and I’m not afraid to say no to things if I need a break or time to myself.”

Social media has had bad press in the past as being a negative thing for mental health. The views among professionals in digital are split, due to the positive nature of social media and its connectedness. 

“It’s a hard question when you work in digital. I think that social media can have a positive and negative effects, it just depends on how it is used.  I am a 31-year-old female, I use social media and just like everyone else, I have gone on to social media and compared myself to other people. This is it being used in a negative way but many bloggers now are very open with their audience on their mental health. It makes individuals feel included and that they aren’t alone in their problems.  Social media can be very honest and this helps with starting conversations.”

When it comes to this year’s trends, Laurina predicts that video will dominate in digital marketing.

“I think it will help open up the conversations more, make new introductions to women in digital and help to educate.”

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