Career Conversations with Nikole Duong

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Welcome to another instalment of our ongoing series, featuring Marketing Women talking about their careers.

Nikole Duong is the Public Relations Manager at Uniqlo and is currently participating in MWI’s Mentoring Program as a Mentor.

Tell us a bit about yourself and your career. How did you get to where you are today?

It’s certainly an unconventional one, but my previous background and passion for learning and development, and working on the handy skill of distilling content into clear and concise messaging is what led me to my current role in Public Relations.  I definitely wouldn’t be where I am today without working for great leaders and companies who believed in me, and were strong in fostering internal talent!

What does a day in your current role look like? What do you enjoy the most about it?

Everyday is different, which I really love.  One day could be mapping out our PR strategy, conceptualising an influencer campaign, going through the run sheet for a PR event, editing a communications document, or going through a development plan with a team member.  I’m back in a role managing a team again – it’s honestly such a privilege to be a sounding board, being part of someone’s professional growth and seeing them achieve some great results!

Is there anything that you wish people knew about either your role or industry?

I think all the PRs out there will agree with this one – no-one will ever prepare you for the amount of boxes that you’ll have to pack or unpack. It ain’t all glam in the world of PR!

What is a career challenge you have faced and what did you learn from it?

I’m not sure if this is a ‘career challenge’ per se, but I know that self-doubt can come up for me and even my peers.  It can show up in the form of questioning myself, not necessarily enjoying something as much as I thought I would, or even having those fleeting moments of ‘imposter syndrome’.  What I’ve learnt from it is to take a step back, remind myself what I’m hoping to learn and achieve, and reach out to one of my leaders or mentors to understand how they would approach certain situations to challenge my thinking or to reaffirm my thoughts.  This way, I’m continuing to learn, alleviating some self-doubt and steering me toward success to help the team and feel a sense of purpose! 

Which practical skills have been most valuable to you throughout your career?

Stakeholder management. Especially in an industry like PR or Communications, it’s like an artform. 

Are there any platforms or tools that you use to help manage your workload?

Monday is fabulous!  If anyone else has any recommendations, please hit me up! Otherwise, I like to set the team up with a yearly strategy, break it down by month and then by week so we’re feeling like we have a good grasp of our workload and what needs to be moved around to accommodate for those last-minute things that can pop up.

How do you maintain a work-life balance? What do you enjoy outside of work?

This is definitely something that I’m working on, and if anyone has any tips, please share!  The best piece of advice that I’ve ever received about work-life balance is that your well-being is like an ATM, so it’s really important to ensure that you have ‘deposits’ – small things or moments that bring you joy.  After a long day at work, you can potentially experience some ‘withdrawals’ so it’s essential to have deposits to ensure that you’re not in the negative!  

I love Reformer Pilates (you’re so busy concentrating that you actually switch off), going for quick 5km runs, scrolling TikTok, catching up with my family and friends, playing golf (very poorly), having a drink at The Royston (my local pub, I basically live there) and going for walks with my partner and my dog, who I’m obsessed with (my dog, not the partner!) 

Have you had a mentor during your career? If so, what is the best advice they gave you?  

YES!  I have had several and still do, and I am so incredibly lucky to have met these amazingly talented people who are so generous with their time and knowledge.  One of them is my current Finance Director, which is amazing, because the main numbers person is challenging my concepts and my way of thinking to ensure that it commercially makes sense, is in line with achieving business objectives, whilst retaining as much creativity and ‘news-worthiness’ as much as possible.  They’ve all given me such great advice in many different aspects, but there’s one thing that they have all agreed on separately – that you need to be learning and that you need to be happy.

What is your career aspiration and how are you working towards achieving it?

I want to focus on becoming a highly trusted and the best PR I can be within a brand.  As one of my previous COOs mentioned, PR looks very different now, and it requires you to be so many things simultaneously.  I am working towards achieving this is to ensure that I am always learning – whether through reading articles, talking to different professionals within the industry, speaking to my peers in other markets and, most importantly, asking for feedback from my team and my mentors.  I try to model myself on the amazing traits I’ve seen in my leaders in the past, because they’ve created such a great style of leadership and coaching that truly allow their team to be the best version of themselves.

What advice would you give to someone beginning their career in marketing?

Ask lots of questions, stay connected with news and campaigns within the industry for inspiration and sharing, and always try to look at everything through the customers’ eyes.  I think sometimes, as marketers, we can potentially forget who will be on the receiving end of our work, so everything that we do needs to make sense for them!

Why is connecting with a network of other women in marketing important to you?

I actually wanted to do something to push myself out of my comfort zone and meet new people.  It was probably one of the most terrifying experiences I’ve had this year, but I’ve already connected with such talented women who have shared such interesting industry news, similar professional challenges and solutions, and most importantly, had some laughs with!  It can get pretty comfy in your usual routine, but networking (especially in this case with MWI!) has shown me that there’s truly a great reward in a very small risk (accompanied by pizza and wine)

Where do you find creativity, inspiration, and motivation in challenging times?

This might sound really strange, but I actually enjoy sounding things out with my partner.  He’s in a completely different industry, but his way of thinking is so removed from how my girlfriends and I think (all being marketers) that it’s actually so refreshing (and brutally honest at times) and gives me something to think about! 

What are you listening, reading, and watching for education or entertainment?

To Listen: Fear and Greed Business Podcast and ABC News Daily.  It’s not very fun, is it?

To Read: I’m currently working my way through ‘The Quarter Life Breakthrough’ by Adam Smiley Poswolsky, and I love flicking through InStyle Magazine for my regular dose of fashion, beauty and pop culture.

To Watch: My attention span is terrible when it comes to watching anything.  I’m not going to even pretend that I have anything valuable to share here! 

To Follow: I am a total TikTok addict and follow far too many varied accounts.  Business news, World news, recipes, fashion inspo, celeb gossip, travel destinations, cleaning hacks, dog content – – my algorithm is really serving at the moment!

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