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How to Become a Great Marketing Leader through Self-Discovery?

Marketing and Communications Leader Series Episode 5: Jen Barham

Welcome back to EMR's Marketing & Communications Leader Series. In this podcast, we dive deep into the journeys of exceptional senior marketing and communications practitioners. Join us as we take a closer look at how these leaders got started in marketing and the strategies that led them to success in their industries. 

In this episode, EMR's MD Tom Brockton interviews Jen Barham, Group Chief Marketing & Corporate Responsibility Officer at DC Advisory. Tune in to hear more about Jen's journey and insights. Learn about the power of self-discovery, resilience, and authenticity for effective leadership in marketing and communications.

Jen's journey to becoming a marketing and communications leader

Jen Barham's journey to becoming a marketing and communications leader exemplifies the fusion of traditional career progression with a journey of self-discovery

Despite not initially envisioning a career in marketing, Jen's background in English Literature and passion for storytelling aligned well with her first marketing position.

So the idea of crafting the written words, of developing a narrative, of being impactful and impacting people's buying decisions, all kind of came together really when I had that first marketing position.

Beginning her career as a full-service marketing executive at Barclays Capital, Jen's trajectory has seen her navigate diverse sectors including law, tax, tech, and private equity and latterly investment banking. All her previous roles were centered around the development of global brand propositions tailored to local markets. 

The blend of creativity and intellectual challenge propelled her through the high-pressure environments of investment banking, reinforcing her commitment to the dynamic field of marketing and communications. Jen shares advice on how to craft a path to career success with confidence and purpose.


What are the key factors for success as a leader within marketing and comms?

  • Vision: Articulating a clear vision for the brand, team, and personal trajectory is the foundation for success. It’s important to proactively seek opportunities aligned with this vision to drive meaningful impact.
  • Listening and Learning: Effective leadership in communications hinges on active listening, both externally to target demographics and internally to stakeholders and team members. Identifying areas of expertise and continuously seeking knowledge are paramount.
  • Execution: Consistently delivering on commitments, communicating achievements, and fostering trust are essential components of effective leadership.


What are the key challenges that marketing and communications leaders need to overcome?  

Demonstrating return on investment (ROI) and learning to ask for help when necessary are vital strategies for overcoming any obstacles in a leadership role.

I think there's an assumption that when you get to a sort of senior position, you're all seeing and you're all capable and you're at the top of the chain, so you must have the answers for everything. But what I've learned is through building a team who have their own sectors of expertise, liaising with peers in different functions, and seeking out mentorship, that's all critical to continued development.

Prioritisation is also key, as successful leaders need to focus on the bigger picture and overarching goals while entrusting their teams with smaller tasks.

Aspiring professionals can benefit from adopting this approach, honing their ability to quantify impact, leverage resources effectively, and maintain clarity amidst competing priorities.


How to balance the demands of a senior role with your personal life commmitments? 

As you progress into a senior role, you can easily fall into a habit of prioritising work over personal life, but it’s crucial to adopt a more balanced approach.

Setting boundaries, practising self-compassion, and cultivating personal interests can contribute to sustained professional success and fulfilment.

Recognising that I can only really give to others what I have internally, whether that's compassion or energy or direction or experience, burnout is not a sustainable place to be or a happy place to be.  


How does self-discovery and self-awareness help you become a better leader? 

Self-discovery is equally important as career development for any aspiring leaders. Prioritise authenticity, self-belief, and confidence in your professional journey, actively challenge negative self-perceptions and embrace vulnerability as catalysts for personal growth.

Being honest about your capabilities, seeking support when you need it, and embracing your unique qualities can be the foundation for your professional excellence.

Jen Barham's career journey serves as a testament to the transformative power of self-discovery, resilience, and authenticity in navigating the dynamic landscape of marketing and communications leadership. 

Listen to the full interview with Jen Barham above and follow EMR on LinkedIn to hear about the next episode in this series. 

Missed previous episodes?


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