‘‘Do not change who you are” - Interview to Jonathan Brown
By Saba Mahmood
Jonathan Brown is one of the speakers of next We Hate Pink event in London on 20 November 2019 at WeWork in Shoreditch.
Jonathan is a passionate driven digital marketer with over a decade of varied experience of managing multi-channel programmes of work.
He is a Personalisation Consultant at Vodafone Group and as keynote speaker to colleagues and uni’s around London delivering his talk ‘The Power of Perseverance’, he inspires the next generation to think outside the box to do and achieve more.
In this interview we have been talking about his career, his relationship with Feminism and what gender diversity means for him.
I’m thrilled to be talking with you, can you brag a little bit about what you’ve been doing through your career, maybe a little bit about how you got into your current job?
I’m not one to brag but I will say that I’ve worked hard, and I’ve walked through the doors of some great companies. I think a career highlights will be Microsoft whilst I was a Creative Solutions Manager for EMEA. This role was basically project management for 10-11 markets producing bespoke advertising campaigns for the likes of Kelloggs to Paramount (I will not go into the small print!). Having Bill Gates in my address book was an inspiration and I still haven’t bought a MacBook. Brand loyalty et al!
Where else? Samsung European HQ as a Digital Campaign Insight Manager. I remember presenting a 1.5hr presentation to the Head of Digital Insights and the European VP for Digital Insights to win the position. I wanted this role so much as Samsung is a place for innovation and excellence.
One thing that I took away from working at Samsung amongst other things, was that everything that I produced was for the greater good of the business. The work we produced was for ‘us’ and not ‘I’. This is to do with the Korean culture. I’ve since moved on and I’ve noticed in other business cultures it is very much about ‘I’. The outcome results in silos and low output (in my opinion). I make it my number one objective to know as many people as possible in the office, this way I can drive collaboration, spot opportunities, and foster team spirit.
My current job is at Vodafone global but how I got this job is a complex story and not one to be shared via an interview. It’s personal and I’d I love to share it. Maybe I will at the event! The job itself is great, I’m learning all the time and with a great team. I consult across 11 Vodafone Group markets, varying from strategy to hands on work leveraging marketing technology software. I’m passionate about disruption and innovation in digital advertising. This is one thing that I’ve tried to keep close in my career.
As Dad and previously a Manager, what does gender diversity in the workplace mean to you?
Gender diversity is important. Different industries have historically been male or female. Nurses have historically been a female role and let’s say motor mechanics have been male. The change in industries have been visible in my opinion and it will continue to change.
We have a lot of establishments that will not open their doors to change, diversity and equality is not essential for many companies in 2019. However, if water can move mountains…the future is bright!
As a Dad, my thoughts remain the same. I’ll be honest, I don’t sit at home and think: ‘I hope there’s an equal balance of men and women in their office or place of work!’. For my children I want the world to be a better place for them to work when the time comes. I just want to see them happy. I’ve had better working experiences when male and female perspectives are shared. I hope that they’ll get the same opportunity.
Can you define yourself as a Feminist man?
I’d say yes. In these modern times who I am to say: ‘Sorry Sarah… this is a male only brainstorming session!’. That notion is ridiculous. I know women still have problems. Dinosaurs running agencies, with their ‘boys clubs’ and scrutinizing women… for… being… a… women! I’ve heard horror stories of women far and wide not being promoted because they’re likely to have a baby soon but are not actually pregnant.
I can only laugh but it’s no joke! The gender pay debacle was a hot topic whilst at the Telegraph I found it interesting. I wasn’t aware that women were being subject to glass ceilings regarding pay. I think this fact was secret to the majority. Two people doing exactly the same job with different pay, the male often earning more. It’s sad.
Some men will read this and think, ‘This guy is a joke!’. ***Insert shoulder shrug emoji!*** I’ve been raised by strong intelligent women and mentored by incredible women professionally. I’ve seen and heard their problems first-hand and rejoiced their wins and in turn it’s made me a better man. What’s wrong with that? I can’t fathom the ‘I’m better than you’ mentality. I’ll conclude that I understand a few of the problems that women face (as women live it) but I think women from a wealth of backgrounds, cultures and beliefs all have more chapters to add to the feminist story.
You’re also a keynote speaker, with your talk ‘The Power of Perseverance’ you’re travelling to colleges and universities across London inspire the next generation to overcome current challenges, what do you learn from them?
What do I learn from the attendees? That’s an interesting question as students attend my talk to learn from me. What I will say, students have a wealth of questions for me at the end of each session and that is where the learning comes from. Just to add some context. What I’ve learnt from the students (based on several Q&As) is the need for more direction regarding getting into the job market.
I remember being in an office in Chancery lane waiting for a friend. A college grad arrived at reception with a handful of CVs and said, ‘Where can I get a job?’. It was like looking in the mirror seeing myself going from shop to shop hoping for an opportunity. The saddest part was the fact that I was doing the same in 19** (I’m not telling you my age!) and I didn’t have the internet to leverage. What the hell is going on in the education system? Education in life is what’s lacking, this is what I’m sharing with the students… my ‘life experiences’ from an educational and professional standpoint.
I know it’s not easy being a teacher or lecturer. I respect them all wholeheartedly. I’ve been asked to talk about mental health as teachers are seeing more and more students with mental health defects regarding behaviour and concentration. The only problem is I’M NOT QUALIFIED to talk about the subject. I’m living through this. Where is the money to train teachers on these modern concerns?
Aside from the points above, I’ve also learnt that every student has their own dreams and challenges. With each question across different talks, in different institutions in different locations. I begin to stitch together commonality within youth culture today, which is priceless. As professionals we need more forums to listen to their concerns, learn from them and drive positive change regarding support.
What you would say today to your younger self?
How young is young? I would probably say to under 20 me ‘Do not change who you are and continue on your current trajectory, even though you don’t know where you are going. You are one of one. Times get hard and times become monotonous and boring. Times come where everything is in full flow and coherent. Everything is aligned. Eat your favourite food with a smile. Laugh with your friends, dance until the lights come on then go outside, at 6am watch the sunrise BUT do not change!’ At that point the younger me would probably tell me to ‘get lost’ and ask what happened to ‘me’ to warrant such a poetic answer?!
On reflection, over 20’s me was very fearless and entrepreneurial. I worked for Sense magazine as the music editor on a voluntary basis. The experience was priceless (despite my Mother telling me to get a REAL job). The younger me created an event called Rough Diamonds: A celebration of undiscovered talent. It facilitated live music, a fashion show, live painting and live comedy. The younger me basically managed my old band called ‘The Vibeadeliks’ I co-ordinated a video-shoot in Paris (Do not ask to watch the video!).
I ended up talking to peers in Paris daily via Facebook for 7-8 months, in the industry these are now called ‘Stand-ups’ haha. I remember not passing my probation from Nectar, but I had nightclub promotions pending, I walked over waterloo bridge with a smile on my face because I owned my truth and my destiny. I failed fast and learnt faster in my 20s. So, to confirm again I’d say to my older ‘younger’ self ‘Do not change!’.
We Hate Pink event
The second We Hate Pink event in London will explore how men can become better ally to women in the workplace.
We will host a panel to discuss this topic and what solutions we can find to improve gender equality in the workplace all together. The panellists will share their experiences and we will open the conversation to the audience to stimulate a frank and thought provoking exchange.
Jonathan Brown is a jack of all trades when it comes to digital marketing. With a passion for Analytics and Consumer insights, his in-depth knowledge on personalisation and data driven marketing has led to some outstanding retail innovations for brands. With further experience in project management, ppc and seo advertising has given him varied experience to work in big tech companies from Microsoft, Samsung Electronics, The Telegraph and currently Vodafone Global.
With a passion for continuous learning, Jonathan enjoys being keynote speaker delivering his talk “the power of perseverance” to students around colleges and universities around london. Inspiring the next generation to do and achieve more, despite the current challenges that youth face today!
Writer and Head of Digital Delivery for We Hate Pink
Bachelors Degree in Media Art with Film & Tv, University of Surrey, UK
Several different project management qualifications under her belt: Prince 2 qualified, Scrum Master Certified, Agile management, MSP (managing successful programmes), change management qualified, with knowledge of Agile, Waterfall & Scrum methodologies.
Multi-skilled hands-on delivery focused with well rounded skill sets. Having delivered programmes of work based on on creative, print, magazine, 360 campaigns, websites, microsites & e-commerce sites, mobile iPhone & Android apps, iPad apps, touch screen apps, bespoke software builds that include iBeacon technology lead, RFID & NFC lead projects, augmented reality interactions, projection mapping, AR, VR games, global toolkits, live events & experiential projects.