"When I first started handling the marketing for Spinnaker, social media was something everyone was a bit scared of. I remember a 20-year old researcher nervously saying “Guys, I think we should be using Twitter” – we bit the bullet, and developed what is now our social media strategy.
Five years isn’t long ago, but people were still calling it “social networking” back then, no-one had video on their website, keyword stuffing was how you got on Page 1 of Google (my, those webpages were long, weren't they?), and whispers on the street said that this magical new thing, Google+, was going to be the new Facebook. Marketing changes so fast, and new platforms were popping up constantly. Remember when you had to develop a whole separate site for mobile use? Before these heady days of responsive design? Gosh, so much has changed.
I came along at a really exciting time for Spinnaker. They had never had a dedicated marketing person before, but were fast realising they needed one. I arrived in January 2013 to an epic to-do list ready made for me, and I had to just hit the ground running. Spinnaker was growing so quickly, that 6 months after I started, we moved into a fabulous, spacious, open plan office with a sea view – the office I’m sitting in now to write this. Hello, ships going past! (they can’t hear me).
I’d grown up streets away from Spinnaker, but had never heard of it. It was this global business, quietly working away in my hometown since 1998 (when I was still at school) – but was better known in Singapore and Dubai than it was in its Essex location. When I started here, I didn’t know a single thing about the shipping industry. I barely noticed those sleek, quiet monsters with 'Maersk', 'CMA CGM' and 'MSC' written on the sides, slicing along our ribbon of the Thames Estuary to and from London Gateway, despite sitting on the beaches and swimming in the waters here for years. Suddenly, in a very short space of time, I was immersed in shipping. I heard every acronym going, from DPA and HSEQ to VLCC. I became obsessed with the ships going past. Where were they from? (mostly Rotterdam). What was in those containers? I learned that the rainbow-tinged sprays of water we could see from the beachfront were from dredgers, making the channel deeper for bigger ships to come our way.
I loved seeing a correlation between people viewing jobs on our website (which we relaunched in 2014) and applying, and going on to work in those roles. Real people, who ended up being real placements – we helped these people find, at times, life changing jobs. It’s an exciting environment to be in. Even now, when a placement is made, the successful consultant rings a ship’s bell in the office. It’s super loud – you never quite get used to just how loud!
Soon, Spinnaker’s social media followers were going up and up. I started coding snazzy html emails instead of sending everything through the non-image-friendly Outlook. Finally – tracking could begin! (I'm obsessed with stats too.) We re-branded in my second year here from ‘Spinnaker Consulting’ to the much more suitable Spinnaker Global to reflect the 65+ countries we’ve placed in. I likened the rebrand to a scene in Harry Potter. Harry, Ron and Hermione are locked in a vault, which is filled with treasure. But every time they touch any item of treasure, each item multiplies, until they’re drowning in lockets and chalices. (The Gemino curse, for you Potterheads out there.) It was an immense task – every time I thought I’d updated one document to the new brand, I’d find 10 more. Despite how challenging it was, it remains the project I am most proud of in my professional career.
More leaps and bounds continued for the business. What started in 2005 as an 8-member tanker owners club meeting in a pub, bloomed into what is now the Maritime HR Association, a 100-member strong membership body which has a fantastic reputation in the shipping industry as a shore-based salary benchmarking data source. Last year, we launched the Seafarer Employers’ Association – so now Spinnaker benchmarks both sea and shore salaries, the first people to ever do both. Our annual maritime HR conference in London has grown bigger each year, constantly breaking records of how many delegates have attended from all over the world. There’s so much to my role now, that it would be almost impossible (and a bit boring for you) to list it all here.
They say that the average millennial changes job every year or so. I’ll hold my hands up and say my previous marketing roles were only ever for a maximum of two years. I went in, got as much experience as I could, and moved on and up elsewhere. But I’m at the stage in my life in that this is my longest ever role, and also my most interesting, challenging, and enjoyable. Sticking around really does have its benefits.
I have loved seeing the progress of an ever-expanding business over 5 years, and something I’ve learned is that you never know what’s around the corner. We are constantly developing new projects, and nurturing what we do best, in both the recruitment and HR consulting divisions. I look forward to my future adventures at Spinnaker Global."