John Austin-Brooks

London, Bath, Cardiff and Delft

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John leads the business development (BD) and marketing functions in a patent and trade mark firm. He tells us how he found his way into this role and what he loves about it.

How did you get here?

I call this my second career, having switched away from being an aircraft engineer in my early 30s. During initial years on this new path, I was a field sales person for a range of not-for-profit and private sector organisations, and this really helped build my tenacity and rapport-building skills; the internet was still in its infancy so much of the work was phone-based and face-to-face.

Within a few years I gained my first team management role, which included greater involvement in marketing activities to support the “sales” team. I later requested an opportunity to lead a project to transform the business development activities of the parent organisation and this resulted in an improved transparency, professionalism and rigour on how we created and developed our client relationships across a range of business-to-business (B2B) and business-to-consumer (B2C) audiences.  Having worked with multiple departments in the organisation I was well placed to head up business development and our partnership relationships for this £400m business.

Following this I started my own consultancy and latterly found myself in marketing roles in legal firms.

What does your day-to-day work entail?

In my recent roles I have either been the sole marketing resource or worked as part of a small team. I see myself as a generalist and I’ve had to learn about various areas of law, and most importantly what clients are looking for, as well as continuing my personal development of marketing practices. Days are varied and I often spend the day juggling priorities to ensure projects are being progressed and our attorneys feel supported with achieving their marketing activities.

For example, yesterday I travelled to our Bath office and caught up face-to-face with my business development (BD) colleague on what priorities they had this week and where they needed support. I then jumped on a video call for a monthly BD catch-up with our attorneys in Delft to discuss performance and plans. Afterwards the day was a mix of speaking with individual and small groups of our attorneys about recent and future events and marketing activities they are collaborating on such as article writing to support our BD strategy. Towards the end of the day, I was liaising with potential new clients to set up an initial discovery meeting with the appropriate subject matter attorneys and then reviewing our autumn newsletter that my colleague had created before it is distributed.

What do you enjoy about it?

I get great enjoyment from doing a task well and creating a successful outcome, whether that’s getting a marketing idea live by a certain date or seeing an attorney gain confidence in their BD activities through my support and encouragement. At times it can be challenging: your priorities are not necessarily matched by others, and you need to be able to move your diary around to suit. Likewise you need to be able to jump in and out of topics and activities to accomplish the task outcomes. Importantly you need to find triggers and time to be creative, whether that’s for developing an acorn of an idea or refreshing and reutilising something that’s already been successful.

What’s your advice for potential new recruits?

Ultimately be confident in what you have experienced and the expertise you have developed, though remember that each day is a new day to learn.

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