Episode 5: SLLY Speaks Careers Podcast
In episode five of the podcast, I talk to Pilar, Jaz and Ayo about having a portfolio career; a career where you do lots of different things aka A Slash Career. This includes balancing freelance work, consulting, personal projects and other activities across different industries.
You come to work with a different vim when you know you’re getting paid properly!
Episode 5 Speakers:
Jaz Broughton, Customer Success Manager in Tech & Life and Work Coach
Pilar Nalwimba, Social Media Strategy Lead & BBC Sounds Podcaster
Ayo Oyebade, Quantity Surveyor & Script Writer
Hey, guys welcome to the Success Looks Like You podcast SLLY Speaks Careers, bringing you the best British Black talent, spilling the tea on all things careers. I'm your host, Mwila, Founder of Success Looks Like You and our motivation for starting the podcast is that we have lots of opportunities for young people to connect to mentors through the programme on a one-one level. There are amazing black professionals who have got so much wisdom and knowledge to share about the industry and careers advice and guidance and the podcast is just a platform to be able to promote some of that good stuff to more people.
Who do we have today?
Hi guys my name is Pilar I work as a social media strategy lead for a start-up marketing company called hybrid I'm also a co-host and co-producer for the Reality Tea
which is a podcast on BBC Sounds. I found out about Success Looks Like You a couple of years back I was at an event and the lady holding the event is friends with
Mwila and she asked me where I was from. I said Zambia, she said oh my gosh I know another Zambian. Her name is Mwila and you should meet her. That's how we met.
You might be lucky enough to know one or two of us back. It's very rare to meet Zambians in the diaspora so I was really excited. And I've been following the journey on Instagram ever since.
I'm Jaz Broughton I work as a Customer Success Manager for an analytics company so I work in tech the company's called Mixpanel and then outside of that I'm a
coach for life and work doing a podcast and all things personal development I came across Success Looks Like You probably from like a LinkedIn or Twitter
post, at the time where they were looking for mentors and kind of, got involved and absolutely loved the whole experience I also took part in a tech focus sort of
a scheme that was going on and I got to meet some amazing mentees and kind of just followed the journey as well.
Hi I'm Ayo and I'm a director as Success Looks Like You I'm also a Media Philanthropist and a Quantity Surveyor in construction.
Younger self advice
Mwila: Thinking about careers and what you know now, what would you have told your younger self as you were starting out.
My advice would be to not be afraid to try new things and understand like your career isn't linear like I used to be so embarrassed because I've done so many different things I studied business management and accounting and all my friends went to work in Canary Wharf for these big banks with big salaries and then I went into the music industry doing artist relations and I've ended up working in social media across different industries, music advertising and TV and small businesses and stuff and I used to get so embarrassed because
everyone else would stick to the same thing and then I had kind of just that hopped along it hasn't been a straight career path I've just hopped along to different industries and I used to be embarrassed about it but someone once that it was I met this older woman at a show an awards show and she said to me embrace having a portfolio career. A portfolio career is when you do lots of different things and she said don't be afraid to be a slash person own it and that was so impactful to me because not everyone has the same story so if you're hopping around it's fine it doesn't matter as long as you're continuing to grow as a person and also if I wasn't open back in the day there was no Twitter,
there was definitely no Instagram, so, this career I'm in did not exist when I was at school so there was no way of being prepared for it but if I wasn't open to
trying new things then I wouldn't be doing the thing that I actually do really enjoy.
I would say to just have a plan and have a focus, it's all well and good having a portfolio career and trying to do different things but I think ultimately and there has to be some kind of plan there has to be some kind of focus on who you want to be and what you want to do so think I was saying before that there were two ways either you create your own path and just go hard at it and create an avenue for yourself and just believe in yourself and just keep plugging away because you will definitely get there or you know to actually have someone that you aspire to be like or somebody whose path you want to follow and then look at how they entered in and the
kind of ways that you know and the kind of techniques that they used to get in so then you can give yourself some tools and some avenues to get yourself in a similar path.
My younger self advice would be you know all the things that you are doing which are going to the netball tournaments joining the Swimming Club being part of Drama Society doing debate all of those things will be vital to where you end up in your career so none of it will be lost and it all add value to you so whatever your interests are as a young person don't be afraid to pursue sort of additional extracurricular activities that allow you to really develop the things that you're passionate about because even if you don't know what you want to do later down the line ultimately it will all add up and add value to you regardless of what you end up doing
Mwila: Let’s talk about what someone in your role might earn, entry-point and mid-level and senior management.
My job working in social media, i started as a digital marketing assistant and was kind of like updating MySpace and Beebo way back in the day and then when I became a social media manager slash also depending on where you are they have different roles in TV they called it a social creative so our job was you get given a brief by your client or a marketing manager and the brief would be like okay we have this new show coming out or if you work for a business I'll be like okay we have this product and that we really want to push or this is our best seller or it could be they'll give you an objective basically in the brief so it could be like we have this new show we need to we want to create awareness or for example if it's a small business they might be like we want to be positioned as the thought leader in this particular space or it could be if you're working in a retail you know online fashion kind of fast fashion it could be actually we want to we want to take the margin of like eyes on us on Instagram so maybe like we want to be the most spoken about thing, so sometimes it's not even about the individual sometimes about the competitors and it's really interesting and really weird but people have different objectives and some objectives a very much business based it could be like okay we need to increase the sales or we're trying to position ourselves as the best people in this particular arena so you get given a brief and from that brief you have to go away and think of okay how can we actually make this happen using social media which platforms are we going to use is it like Instagram is it LinkedIn and obviously now the day and age we're living in people also want to hear TikTok or Triller, depending on the client it might be Snapchat. So you've got to decide like you can't be on everything, you might just say okay let's focus our energy on one platform, let's focus our energy on three platforms, or maybe you have a strategy where it's like okay let's have some primary platforms and secondary platforms and then you have to decide on the creative for that, so are we going to use images? Is it gonna be written content? Are we gonna make videos are we gonna do a cool video edit with GFX? Are you repurposing video content or images or are you starting from scratch? Are you using memes from the internet? You know, you just decide what it is and obviously, you've got to write the copy and if you're working for TV shows as well you have to do a lot of live-tweeting and that's the best because you don't have to talk to anyone, everything else you have to take through five people minimum to approve and everyone's got an opinion but not when it's live-tweeting unless you get that call from your boss to delete that last tweet, which I've had twice before but twice in two years is not bad you know I mean. So, that's what the role entails basically and just depending on where you are like now I do less of the actual posting myself and more kind of approve stuff that other people post but I loved it when I was underground posting it's great.
My first digital marketing job was in 2009, 11 years ago. And the average rate for a Social Media Manager on a day rate, because I work as a contractor and freelancer, is £200 to £300 a day that is like the average you can ask for obviously there are some people that are quite cheeky and they'll be like £150 a day, it's up to you if you take it at your own discretion and obviously the further you go it's higher but what I've noticed especially about amongst friends that I have who're freelancers you know is that some people get more work than others and some people are more ballsy than others so it's not always about your skill level sometimes as people will say give me £350 a day and they'll get it you know I mean so I think a lot of it is confidence and knowing your worth I'll be honest though I haven't always been that ballsy. I put some respects on those people's names because I have seen girls ask for more money and I respect it when it's a woman because it's less expected so yeah that is just average standard rate across the industry if you're going through any agency like a major player or and if you're using an online platform like you know Juno to get work that is pretty standard rates that you can go on a dare it but please you might be thinking cuz I saw something and go like viral and the timeline this week on Twitter and this girl was like 'oh my friend went from £35K a year to £275 a day god I see what you're doing fo others' but the thing is like I saw it and I liked it as well I liked it but we've got to be real honest with this freelance thing, it sounds good when you're thinking all you're getting5 a day rate but there are so many things I've seen happen one I've seen contracts cut short I've seen also contracts extend. I remember there was a year I wasn't told me that put 20% aside for your tax bill, I was living my best life and then when I got that tax bill, oh my chest!
I've been a Customer Success Manager for just over three years now prior to that I was a Trainee Surveyor prior to that I was an event manager prior to that I was studying my degree
so definitely got that squiggly slashy portfolio career but in terms of what you can expect entering a customer-facing role you're looking at anywhere between say like £20k to £25k and then as you kind of get to maybe my level of experience you're looking at anywhere between £35k to £50k these numbers will differ based on the size of your company one thing that I do quite enjoy about Tech is that they're not shy about money it's very easy for you to find out not necessarily what they've got in the bank but how much they've raised because a lot of it is a big funding culture and also what I'm enjoying more often now is a lot of companies if they are profitable without any outside funding they'll tell you but you can also look at the headcount things like that. Glassdoor LinkedIn you can use as sources in terms of salary information and there are a few tech websites so like CrunchBase is one of them I think they do an annual report on salaries speaking of the report just this week Buffer which is actually a social media platform actually published a spreadsheet of the salaries across their
company and buffer is really interesting because they do quite well for kind of what they do in the field but their director of success is on £100K and that is what you're looking at at the top end of the scale and that's obviously it's a global role in terms of the company and all of these figures would be essentially compounded with commission structure and that could be anything from 10k plus sometimes depending on the size of the company they'd also be a bonus element to it and then in tech as well you're able to kind of get equity and shares and stuff, what I do enjoy about working for a larger company are that the benefits that they can offer. Those are customer-facing roles and in tech, the salaries go even higher than that you know if you enter as a developer you probably go in at about more of a £40K and things like that so it depends on the roles but the money is there in Silicon Valley and the Silicon Roundabout which is in London.
Just to throw in the charity and voluntary sector and the public sector because I think it's so rare to meet people who work in the industry that I work in who are talking about their jobs
and so I work for charity in terms of my full time job and started out my career in the private sector so I was one of the girls that went to Canary Wharf and worked an investment bank from the first two years after finishing my degree and actually it was good money and the lifestyle was pretty cool but it didn't fulfil me in terms of what I wanted to get from work and so quite quickly I realised that I wanted to move into working with people and being able to see the direct impact of my day-to-day work on other people and so I started looking for jobs in the charity sector and prior to looking I didn't even know these like there were organisations just in London who were wanting to make a change whether it was for children and young people who were growing up in houses where there was domestic violence or you know challenges or young black people who were risk of violence or whatever it is so for me I didn't know that this sector existed when I started looking for the work but you sort of fast forward ten years later I'm now at a senior management position within a children's charity and I'm I know that I'm not earning what you can earn a corporate space however you can earn money because I think there's something there's that myth that if you work in a charity that basically you're gonna get paid peanuts and ultimately it's not so when you look at director level and chief executive level in some of the biggest charities they are on 100k upwards which you know rivals a lot of other sort of sectors and when you get to kind of my senior management level you're looking at around between 40 to 60K so again that's more than enough to sort of live off and I think it's really important you know young people know that they ultimately money is not the BI and or but however it is important so you need to know that actually there are loads of sectors that can give you a decent quality of life without being sort of 14-hour days whatever it is some people are doing in the city.
Mwila: What’s one piece of advice or one moment in your career that’s really stood out and what did you glean from that?
I think my advice is kind of two-fold I kind of want to touch on the money bit because that has impacted my career a lot and more about my attitude towards money. When I first graduated I got a job in hospitality and that wasn't great for my mental health and then I found myself on Job Seekers which ultimately at the beginning stages they're just paying you back your tax and I used that time to figure out what I wanted to do what would fulfil me and at different points in my career essentially I've undervalued myself up until very very recently so for those that are listening like if you continue to focus on changing your approach to money not being afraid to ask for more not being afraid to ask for what the market rate is not being afraid to do your research you will put yourself in a better position you you can't work with a different film when you know that you're getting paid properly and I say that as somebody who discovered that I was I was part of essentially a gender pay gap and I only discovered that discovered that because I built a great relationship with somebody who did my exact same role in a different part of the business who was just honest with me and he was male and he joined after me and he himself would admit that he did less than me in the role and that really shifted my whole perspective and let me know that never again will I under value myself in that way because especially where you know what your work ethic is you know what you bring to the table to devalue yourself brings yourself a disservice and you have to just remember even if it seems a bit unrealistic there are companies that are waiting to pay you what you're worth because they know that you will with that vim that I mentioned and they want all of that and I think especially as somebody who'd quite similar to Pilar I'm a portfolio person so in terms of the roles that I've stayed in I've picked up different skills at different levels at each one of them I may not have stayed there for what people would consider very long so sometimes it's less than a year but it means that I walk into that next interview with that next level of experience that they don't have in the building and that's the bottom line of it and and a lot of companies don't necessarily have the the resources to get the expertise that you walk in the door with so I would say always kind of keep a hold of your value and keep a hold of how you're approaching money and if it is something that you feel uncomfortable with dig a little bit deeper into that because there are so many spaces where you can go and learn I went to a negotiation workshop and then that's what gave me the confidence to negotiate in my most recent role and I negotiated and then I got more than what I actually asked for and all it did was served to me that was like I should have been doing this all along because as much as we getting a job and we're like oh we'll accept the salary that's there and then they give you a pay rise six months later or a year later you're still behind so it's more to you but you still not where you should be perhaps for your industry or for your roles so be brave in that and check out the resources and find the mentor as well that can talk to you about money.
My first one would be to invest in yourself and like I absolutely even if you're not a networker because I know like I have lots of friends that say they hate networking and they hate small talk even if you're not a networker I think I would sort encourage people to go to as many events as you possibly can where that will enrich you and either in terms of your skill because we're in an industry that is or we're all working industries that are changing constantly so like for me I love to read you know a different kind of like social media news outlets or anything that's like progressing and social media but always that I also like to go to events as well and so I love that you said that you went to a negotiating event because I think those are so important and I remember that when me and my colleague we started speaking about how what our day rates were and when we realized the men were getting paid more before we went in to increase our day rate we we went to Stylists Live and they had a whole section about money. The second one I would say is, so, when I went to Michelle Obama's thing when she came to South Bank Centre, her advice to young black women was amazing and I'll read out she said: I've been in the most powerful tables in the world and they're not that smart so don't think you don't belong. So that's just about bringing your whole self to work and not thinking that just because you don't look like the people around you that you don't add value if you're at a table you belong there. The last one is just supporting each other so a lot of that is what you guys do at Success Looks Like You.
I would say is really making the most of the relationships you build in work so what I mean is that often the industry that you are in is small enough that people will know people and so if you do a good job people will know about it but if you don't do a good job people will also know about it and I've definitely been fortunate enough to I have got at least two jobs because this my previous CEO knew another CEO and had told them about me and then they reached out to me and offered me a job and my first job that was over £40,000 came because somebody reached out to me because I'd done a good job in a previous role so for me I think never take for granted that even if you think you're not gonna be in an organisation for long make sure you do good work make sure you're reputable you're honourable and that people remember you in a good way a little bit like Maya Angelou always says that people remember what you did or what you said they'll remember how you made them feel. So make sure that when you turn up, you're a valuable member of the team, make sure that your manager feels like when I send Mwi a piece of work it gets done to a good quality because even if you leave there you'll always have champions and people that can recommend you so make the most of your professional relationships.
A few pieces of advice from me would be, first and foremost, I think we talked about freelance work earlier and I think freelance and contract work is great but you also have to see it as your own business so you definitely have to understand that the reason why they're paying you more than you would get paid as an employee is because of those times where you might not be in employment, it's because of you know the lack of annual leave and the lack of sick pay and all of these things. So just make sure that you know you're budgeting for yourself and you also looking at other streams of income while you're on your off period so while you're doing whatever you're doing just make sure that you're financially secure.
Also, I would advise that any company that you're looking to go into that you also research that company you want to know what the turnover of the company is, you want to know how long the company has been in operation because I think a lot of the time we go in just wanting to be an employee but you also have to see is the company worthy of you? Is the company going to be able to provide you with that security that you don't need to look for work while you're working you know so I think it's important to know how strong the company you want to work for is and one of the techniques, I did you know to find my career that I'm working in now is to go and do the research you know have a figure in your head of how much you want to make you know and then you can go online then you can type in oh you know jobs that pay 50k a year and they'll give you a list of jobs that pay the kind of salary that you're looking for then you can look at what are their entry-level requirements to get into these roles you know so, I think, to do your research is so vital it's not something that can be looked over so definitely research definitely go and get you a Sucess Looks Like You mentor and definitely put that work in and be passionate about whatever you do.