Welcome to another instalment of our ongoing series, featuring Marketing Women talking about their careers.
Gillian Victor is the National Manager Marketing and Engagement for Able Australia, a leading disability and community supports provider. After participating as both a mentor and mentee in MWI’s Mentoring Program, in 2022 she joined the committee as one of the leads for our mentoring program.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your career. How did you get to where you are today?
My career in marketing has spanned a variety of sectors in South Africa, the UK and Australia, including tourism, professional, recruitment, allied health, tertiary education, PR and events services. Over the last few years, I have been working in the for-purpose space, and now am a strategic growth marketer, leading a team responsible for brand, fundraising and communications.
I started out wanting to understand what drives people, so I studied psychology and sociology, before changing to organisational psychology where I was exposed to consumer psychology and fell in love with marketing.
I’ve had a strong sense of social justice from a very young age. Consumer psychology comes together with that social justice through my career in the for-purpose sector.
I’m motivated by having an impact and adding value in a way that is both meaningful and drives commercial success. To me this means moving the social dial – improving the lives of others and shifting how people see or experience the world. One day I want to leave this world able to know that I’ve made the world a better place.
What are you most proud of in your career? What are your career highlights?
I’ve had many career highlights (and I aim for a lot more too!)
A key career highlight was working within a federated state structure to deliver the first national St Vincent de Paul Society multi-channel integrated marketing and fundraising campaigns. It hadn’t been done before, and seemed counter to what consumers, clients and donors believed of the brand – they saw Vinnies as one entity, rather than separate organisations in different states.
I learned a lot about vision-setting and keeping large, informal teams of people driving towards the same goal. By taking a customer-centric approach, we achieved incredible successes. I’m proud to have been a large part of this change at Vinnies.
Another one of my highlights is creating a new brand in the language of the Deaf Community. We conceptualised an entirely new way of creating a brand, rather than using more traditional branding processes. We explored the brand substance and key themes in Australian Sign Language (Auslan). Once we’d conceptualised the essence of the brand, Auslan was used to visualise the expression… from there we took the inspiration for the visual identity and brandmarks.
We then took ‘Auslan-first’ thinking through to create an accessible dual language website in both English and Auslan.
I’ve learned how critical engagement is as a strategic marketing tool, and how much can be gained from using this well
Who inspires you and why?
My inspiration comes from different places according to where I am in my life and career.
Two of my regular but favourite go-tos are Simon Sinek for bringing it back to the fundamentals that matter, and Adam Grant for getting stuck into what makes people tick. I love their straight-talking style.
I’m really enjoying following a marketer on LinkedIn, Danny Asling. I don’t know Danny and he’s in an unrelated sector, however he offers great home truths about it’s the of place in the world and our role as marketers. His thinking resonates and he’s my current commercial crush!
Another important inspiration are the people I met in my executive coaching class, led by NLP Master Coach, Mei Ouw. She’s become a voice in my head to reframe when a situation or the way I’m approaching something isn’t serving me, and my classmates are my touchstones. The value of a strong, trusted network can’t be underestimated.
How important is mentorship? Why did you get involved in the MWI Mentoring Program?
My top values are impact and learning drive me in my career and personal life. Mentoring meets both of those. By being a mentor, you equally learn from your mentee throughout the relationship. The beauty of mentoring is in seeing your mentee’s growth as well as being able to reflect on yourself and grow at the same time.
My last MWI mentee didn’t need guidance – she needed a sounding board to confirm the direction she was going and the decisions she was making. In mentoring her, I realised that this had been one of my own greatest challenges and how much easier I would have made my life if I had trusted and backed myself from the start.
How do you stay relevant?
Constant learning including networking with others. I’m always looking for something new thing to learn, whether it be keeping up with technical and digital marketing skills or leadership and developing softer skills.
Are you a goal setter? How important is goal setting?
Within the marketing space, goal setting is critical and sets the benchmark and vision for what we’re doing. As marketers we have a responsibility to create opportunities to showcase the strategic value that marketing can add, and the art and science that insight and data-led marketing brings.
Each year I create an annual ‘theme’ to drive my goals, and trust that life will offer me challenges where I can grow.
If you could have a billboard with anything on it, what would it say?
Taking life from a standpoint of curiosity helps you to be open to insights about the viewpoints and experiences of others.
And there is a beauty and connection in looking to learn from everyone you meet.