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Up Skill - Senior Hires with Wendy Gray


Wendy Gray is one of EMR’s most experienced recruiters with over 20 years in the industry. In this interview she highlights what clients are looking for when it comes to senior hires and how to be the candidate that turns heads. 

What influences a senior marketing professional to look for a new role?

It’s a mixture of reasons. Most of the candidates I speak to are Marketing Director/ CMO level candidates. The most common reason for a move at this level is career enhancement.

Senior candidates are looking for a seat at the table and the increased responsibility. They want to have a global remit and have decision making responsibility while owning the budget and overall strategy.

Some senior candidates I am in contact with have left their current roles in order to invest time in searching for a new opportunity. They have often done such a good job, they’ve had to make their role redundant and have been tasked with rehiring at more junior level.

Senior marketers often don’t have time to find a new opportunity, so they leave to invest time in finding the right role.  During this time off they may decide to up skill (digital courses/ MBA) or spend time doing consultancy work.

For some candidates, it is purely a monetary move and they are often attracted by equity in an organisation.  

What are clients looking for in a new senior employee?

Having an MBA or a secondary qualification to back-up your experience can really help.  Candidates with global expertise and experience across Marketing, Communications and Digital are attractive to clients.

What soft skills are employees looking for in a senior hire?

At this level they have to be exceptional candidates who stand out while being adaptable and flexible. Clients are expecting to be impressed.

They also have to sell themselves, if they can’t effectively showcase their achievements or prove their results; they are probably not going to be part of my shortlist.

What advice would you give the people who are in a mid-level position and want to make the move to a senior position?

First, look within your own organisation and work out how you can up-skill and if possible, find a mentor who is operating at a senior level. You will need experience managing people, managing budgets and if possible, global exposure will help with your next move.

If you have little to no digital experience you will most likely be at a disadvantage.  You need to gain experience and improve your digital knowledge. Courses like Google Squared are a great place to start.

Talk me through the process of recruiting for a senior position?

In most cases it is about providing the right solution to the client based on their requirements. This usually involves using my extensive network and search. Advertising has also worked for me when there is some flexibility on the background required.

Finally, why would someone choose EMR when looking for a new senior staff member?

I have worked in recruitment for 20 years and the last 8 of those having been working with senior hires. This means my network is incredibly strong and paired with our database, advertising and the help of our research team, we can work across any market. I work internationally and build a tailored solution depending on the opportunity and client requirements.  

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