Stepping up in Digital Marketing – From Manager to Head of

Over the years I’ve spoken with many Digital Marketing professionals who were keen to climb the career ladder and take a step up when seeking their next opportunity.

After a recent conversation with yet another candidate on the same subject, I felt it would be a good idea to take some time out to write a blog on this topic.

I wanted to provide some guidance to current Search & Digital Marketing Managers who are keen to step up into a ‘Head of’ position.

Having spent many years specialising in this area, I’ve been fortunate enough to speak and work with some of London’s best Digital Marketing professionals. I’ve asked some to share their own tips and advice on how they did it and what to expect!

Here goes;

“Being proactive: Experience of spotting things that could be improved at your current company, pitching them to your superiors and taking ownership for getting them over the line. In short, instead of being a good implementator, come up with ideas that show you are able to look at your company’s objectives and come up with ways to achieve them without simply being told what to do. When looking to step up, companies really seem to appreciate if you’ve shown initiative and taken the lead on a project, as this will be a large part of any Head of role”

“Stepping up obviously means more people management; which either comes naturally or you work at it. Understanding finance so you can manage a P&L is also important”

“Live and breathe your current company’s numbers. A key part of being a Head of is knowing instantly where you are vs objectives and knowing your numbers and why they’re important is crucial. Get into the habit of checking them and obsessing over anything that is not where it should be.”

“Keep track of your results and make sure you shout about them. If you’ve done something impressive, make sure people know about it (and make sure you put it on your CV). Know how to tell the story of what you’ve achieved, including any aspects that haven’t gone as well as you like”

“Push for more responsibility. If there’s something in the company that isn’t receiving much love but which you think you could make a difference on, ask to work on it. Future (and current!) employers really love to see that you’ve increased your responsibilities since taking on your role.”

“Get experience in speaking to upper management and gain confidence in presenting your achievements and ideas.”

“Forward-thinking and make more time for strategy: moving into your head of role typically you will have to make time for forward planning, not just the tactics a lot you used to or managers do. Learn to be at least six to ten weeks ahead of the next business quarter and think about how you will create and hit targets alongside the type of activities you would like your team to undertake.”

“Ensure you bring your team together and get their valued opinions on board as early as possible.”

“Learn how to manage and talk to senior management: the move up is not just a title change, it is a change in the people you will typically engage with more regularly. Spend as much time digesting how management talks together and engage. Make time to work out the language change, understand how the management team / C Suite interact with each other and be more precise in what you say with the MT and adapt how you explain things. Help communicate the change or shifts to your team.”

“Nurturing talent: As head of your role evolves from being a day to day to someone who is responsible for developing your business area and as importantly your staff. Work out how you can develop your staff alongside enhancing the business targets and see how you can help the team develop as well as helping them decide what courses and training will help individuals evolve.”

“Learn to delegate effectively: New Head of’s can struggle to delegate the day to day to their team and trusted people around them. The temptation is to try and give out all work or hand out the work you dislike, the best trick is to break down tasks and assign to the right member of staff and free you up for the tasks you are right for.”

I hope this has given you food for thought and perhaps you will go away with a clearer direction on the steps you need to take to reach your goals of becoming a Head of.


Originally written in September 2016.