Dominic Ayres - Leaders with Ambition

Leaders with Ambition - Dominic Ayres

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There’s a reason that Dominic Ayres wrote the book on marketing, literally. In this episode of Leaders with Ambition, Nicky’s guest demonstrates the power of passion, self-awareness and continuous growth. Senior Client Development Manager at Eversheds Sutherland, Dominic shares both big-picture advice and foundational tactics for building and sustaining a career fuelled by genuine passion.

Among other things, you’ll learn tips and insights from his new book, "How to Advance Your Career in Professional Services Marketing: Be More Purposeful and Strategic with Your Career Direction." It’s the book he wished he could have referenced when he was just starting out as an aspiring marketer fresh out of university.

Dominic also offers up thoughts on work-life balance, the importance of intentional self-development and following your passion. His digital marketing expertise has been a differentiator, but it’s also a discipline that's constantly changing. You’ve got to constantly be seeking knowledge, advises Dominic, whether through podcasts like Leaders With Ambition, books, white papers or mentors.

Enjoy this lively conversation and if marketing is your passion – as it certainly is Dominic’s – then check out his playbook, which contains everything you’ll need to know on your way to becoming a CMO! It’s available to purchase here.

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Key Takeaways:

Starting Out

From a young age, Dominic was fascinated with the way the business world worked, which ultimately helped him find his focus of study in marketing.

From early on and at every juncture he has followed his passion. Before finishing university, Dominic did a rotation that allowed him to immerse himself in branding and digital teams, pitch and practice groups that helped him decide where he wanted to go with marketing.

Digital Marketing

Dominic graduated just as social media and other online platforms were ramping up in a big way. He was perfectly positioned to add value in his corporate settings because he had native knowledge and familiarity with digital skills that more senior team members did not.

Because he was more fluent with all things digital, Dominic was able to create a niche and establish his profile in-house – all of which built trust and credibility early on.

Everyone has a different journey and different barriers to negotiate

Market conditions and a lack of experience are just two of the obstacles he had to surmount - when Dominic was looking for his first job it was challenging as firms expected candidates to have legal experience to enter the profession. Dominic and Nicky agree that this is no longer the case for candidates entering the professional services marketing realm due to the candidate short market.

Moving to a smaller firm

Once he became a father, Dominic wanted to be closer to home. Making the transition from a larger firm in London to a smaller environment turned out to be one of the best career decisions he could have made. Why?

  • Larger firms have broader scaffolding. Working within a smaller marketing function allowed him to develop skill sets he otherwise would never have encountered.

  • Dominic touched all departments and became integral to cross-team strategy.

  • Once out of a silo, he found the playing field opened up exposure to clients, creative challenges and a more holistic sense of his firm’s inner workings.

  • Plus, he was able to be home with his daughter at a reasonable hour, each evening.

Looking towards a new challenge

When the time was right, Dominic sought a more managerial role in which he could leverage his organisational skills and maintain his work-life balance.

Impostor Syndrome

Stepping back into a big international firm and a new sector marketing role was a challenge and somewhat intimidating. Dominic remedied that with copious research and study to establish a knowledge base.

Three things always to be kept in mind

  • What’s my value-add?

  • What’s my differentiator?

  • What can I do for the Partners to make their lives easier?

Why the Book

In the making for a decade, it’s the compilation Dominic sought when he first entered marketing, starting with the need to market one’s brand. Dominic’s book started as a series of articles and volunteering in schools, where he met lots of young people with all kinds of questions that Dominic addresses in his book.

Next Steps

Dominic doesn’t foresee a string of future books, but he has enjoyed sharing "How to Advance Your Career in Professional Services Marketing: Be More Purposeful and Strategic with Your Career Direction" with others.

Among topics Dominic’s book covers (including soft skills often neglected in school):

  • How to craft effective emails.

  • How to communicate clearly in a digital landscape.

  • What is a career and where are the opportunities?

  • The importance of finding a mentor. Dominic has always made a point of cultivating and keeping in touch with mentors; a trusted advisor “who stays with you for life” and cares about your personal and professional development.

Career Highlights

Publishing a book about the industry he loves has been a thrill. It feels like a great achievement, helpful to others and a boost to his brand. Overall, wherever he’s been, Dominic has never felt he was simply doing a job. Rather it’s been an adventure with all kinds of rides:

  • Account management.

  • Branding exercises.

  • Client listing.

  • Setting up new offices.

  • Growing the brand across the industrial sector globally.

  • Boosting the brand to No. 1 for favourability and awareness.

How About Challenges?

Joining an international law firm fresh out of university was intimidating and created self-doubt. Is this the right move? Dominic responded to imposter syndrome by doubling down on working harder, continuously improving and minimising negative self-talk.

Parting Advice

Fuel your career development by:

  • Staying self-aware and clear about your goals.

  • Letting mistakes go.

  • Reading books on topics you don’t know.

  • Speaking to people in areas you want to explore.

  • Allowing for down days, but aiming always for at least one podcast or book or mentoring contact a week because the marketing industry is constantly changing. 

Key Quotes:

  • “(When it comes to career), check-in with yourself. Think about what you enjoy, what you’re good at, what kind of influences, what companies and things in your worldview interest you.”

  • “I got a lot of exposure to a lot of things and when I went back to university I kind of knew what industry I wanted to go into and what I wanted to do.”

  • “We need to check-in on ourselves sometimes in our career and just really be self-aware of what we enjoy and not get stuck in things we don’t.”

  • “Find things you’re better at than other people are and then kind of bring that to who you are, your brand, and make it work for you within your organisation. That’s how you build trust quickly.”

  • “Find problems that no one else is fixing and then kind of make it your day job. And then get good at showing the results and how you can scale across the business. That’s where you add value.”

  • “The only way (to expertise) is to seek it out. Seek experience and where you don’t have experience try new things … That’s what’s always driven me: Always to try to learn.”

  • “Having a broad skill set but then being the expert on something really helps you in your career.”

  • “Whatever your hobby or passion, you’ve got to find the time.”

  • “If you’ve not got a mentor or manager or support network, build that now!”

  • “When you have doubts in your ability and … imposter syndrome, I find you can turn it into positive energy: I just have to perform 10 per cent better and take nothing for granted and work harder than anyone else!”

  • “How we talk to ourselves isn’t always very healthy … Self-awareness of your ability and where you need to develop is a really hard thing, and that’s where mentors can really help spot things and be helpful.”

  • “It’s hard work to perform and build a career and there will be days that are hard. That’s a big fundamental: You’ve got to keep working. And the other bit is self-reflection: Be clear where you are.”

  • “The best investment you could ever make in your career is through your knowledge, experience or how you build your brand. Because all that will pay dividends.” 

About Dominic:

Dominic Ayres is a recent graduate of the MBA Essentials at the London School of Economics (LSE). In addition to this recent accolade, he has more than ten years of experience in driving long-term organisational growth through creative and innovative marketing strategies within the legal industry, working at leading firms in the industry such as DLA Piper, Slaughter and May and Eversheds Sutherland.

He’s the author of “How to Advance Your Career in Professional Services Marketing,” which details everything you need to know and implement in your career, whether you are just starting your marketing career in the professional services industry, working towards senior roles or a seasoned CMO. 

About Nicky:

Nicky has led high performing recruitment teams for over 20 years. As the Managing Director of Ambition UK, Europe and US, she leads a team of highly-skilled recruitment consultants who are experts in their niche specialist areas. 

With an extensive network of senior and board-level contacts, she is also heavily involved in Executive Search, focusing on Director level appointments across Business Services for a range of Professional Services firms.

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