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60 Seconds with Freda Cronk: Senior Marketing Specialist


What was your last role and responsibilities?

My last role was Interim Head of Marketing Communications (Customer Marketing Director designate) at Co-op Food. I lead a broad marketing mix of offline and online national and local marcomms, from planning and customer analysis to creative communications and brand experience.

How did you get into the field of marketing and what was your first role in this area?

I studied Marketing with French so have always been in marketing and have never wanted to change. I love it today as much as I did when I started out in 1977.

My first job was as a European sales executive for the commercial arm of the BBC Enterprises, now BBC Worldwide.

How did you progress to where you are now?

I started out by gaining a solid 8 years’ experience in business and management at BBC Enterprises, rising from Sales Assistant to Senior Business Executive Europe.

Following a period of maternity leave I then a returned as a new working mum (uncommon in those days).

I then moved into a product manager role and then onto a brand & marketing manager position for a British toy company (Bluebird Toys) where I learned to work with national accounts and new product development teams. This is where my marketing knowledge grew rapidly, gaining experience in media, advertising, PR, media effectiveness, consumer research, own-label, retail sales, business P&L, brand licensing and team management.

In 1999, I joined a UK housewares company, Cole & Mason, as their Head of Marketing & Product Development where I spent two year’s managing their brand development, B2B marketing and range planning.

In 2001, I took a leap of faith and became a consultant and interim executive. Over the last 15 years I have been able to apply my years of experience and transferable marketing skills to meet the requirements of client projects and discovered I could do this across different industry sectors too, from businesses as diverse as McDonald’s to Stannah stair lifts!

What have you learnt along the way?

How to adapt – discovering that you need to constantly evolve to be able to stay ahead of the game.

How to build good teams – putting myself in their shoes, bringing a sense of togetherness into our work, supporting the team during success and failure, allowing team-members to have a voice, to be comfortable when they get things wrong and learn from these situations.

Helping others to grow - sharing my expertise in a way that allows others to grow and be inspired to succeed.

How have you ensured you keep developing and stay current with the ever-changing marketing landscape?

In 2001, as a mature student, I took up a post-grad CIM Marketing Diploma and gained my DipM. I am a member of The Marketing Society and CIM and constantly read marketing journals, marketing books and relevant industry news.

I have also developed marketing models over the years that stem from my broad range of reading and these are part of the expertise package I bring to new clients as an experienced interim marketer.

What important advice would you offer to a junior marketing professional?

To do your job well, look beyond the tasks and job itself. Look to what other brands are doing, keep close to what’s trending, as it’s important you think about what will come next.

Develop good team-working skills and invite colleagues from outside the marketing team to co-build plans with you.

Think about your businesses senior team and the sort of issues they will be required to tackle. It will help put their expectations of your marketing team into perspective.

Above all, get into the shoes of your customers!

What do you think are the key skills which make a great marketing professional? (both soft and technical)

I think the most important skills for any marketer are;

• Thinking ahead
• The ability to co-work
• An understanding of good strategic marketing models
• A good knowledge of customer insights & analytics
• A Solid understanding of key marketplace factors
• An appreciation of operational factors
• And an appreciation of the financials… It’s all a numbers game!

Who has been your biggest inspiration throughout your career?

Throughout my career I’ve had a number of big inspirations. Initially the Sales & Marketing Director at Bluebird Toys who demonstrated that it was ok to admit when you’re wrong.

More recently Sir Terry Leahy on his career and what he learned along the way as he built up Tesco and Tesco clubcard.

And throughout my working life, my husband - he has been my rock, has always believed in me and got me to believe in me too and has given me the strength to go onto bigger things.

What do you most enjoy from the job?

It would have to be the variety. Marketing is such an evolving field to work in. Even working across sectors, I get to apply my core skills from techniques both old and new. I enjoy constantly learning new things, getting to know and work with new teams and being able to work with fabulous brands.

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