How did you get there? Monique Drummond

“Buckle up, change gear but keep your foot on the pedal.” Oh yes, this was always going to be an inspiring conversation! Such a pleasure to interview the founder of Relish, Monique Drummond, who shared her career journey so far, her thoughts on the state of diversity in our industry, and how junior researchers can stand out now under lockdown, and in the future as they look to find their way to the top!

Morning Monique, we’re both running fast growing agencies so lets get straight into it shall we? So tell me, how did you get into the industry?

I left university with a BA in English Literature – then had a circuitous career, starting off in market research, before being ‘poached’ by a client to become a product/brand manager on a new range they were launching.  From here, I went into advertising planning before finally setting up my own insight business.   My brand management experience was a really useful step in my career for instilling a hands-on understanding of clients’ needs.  

And you’ve achieved so much, Relish is truly an industry leader. What are the secrets to your success so far?

Hard work, a can-do positive attitude, being curious (reading and retaining information about our clients’ industries as a whole), and mostly, having an entrepreneurial mindset – always asking what is going to make this product/brand/service better and more profitable.

A huge mission for me personally at the moment, what are the top three things that businesses should do to improve diversity in 2021?

It’s very tough when we don’t get many CV’s through to enable this – it’s a challenge for the industry as a whole and the MRS is championing this now.

One of the main challenges right now is the overall state of the economy and our sector within it.  We’ve just started hiring again, but the all-pervasive lack of certainty means many agencies are still being cautious about hiring generally.

Engage a diversity focused recruitment firm – is there such a thing?  If not, perhaps we should start one!

Significant Insights is supporting the in-person research community through this extremely challenging period due to Cov-19. This advert is in support of i-view viewing facility.

And what two bits of advice do you have for a junior researcher, working from home in lockdown, on how they can best stand out and impress their teams?

Be present – ask if anyone needs help – show your curiosity outside of the immediate projects you are working on.

Be creative – Come up with ideas to share on how to get to know the team – tell them a bit about yourself (20 things you don’t know about me….) and ask them to share the same, if they have time. (Ask if they have Slack if you can set up Donut or Random Coffees)

And what two things junior researchers should focus on as they progress in their careers?

Be available – To stand out you need to do more than just what is asked of you… think outside just what the project needs from you to what else you can do to add value
Be grateful – thank people who are helping you up the ladder, and look out for how to help others as well  and if I could have a third, it would be…
Be positive – if there’s an issue, deal with this in a constructive way.  Don’t whinge, work out what sort of outcome you expect, a rationale for this and how it could be achieved.

Final question, do you have anyone you’d like to shout out to, who perhaps inspired or helped you along in your career so far?

My father, a journalist and an academic who despaired about my school exam results, and felt I’d ‘end up as a shop assistant working in Woolworths’.  He did let me leave school at 16 and go to university, so I was pleased to prove him both wrong and right… When I first went freelance, a very long time ago, they were one of my first clients, and we both saw the amusing side of me working for them in a different capacity.

Also, my first ever boss in advertising in New Zealand, a brilliant guy called Peter Cullinane.  Brilliant man (Worldwide COO of Saatchi and Saatchi),  returned to NZ to set up a consultancy business, before then launching Lewis Road Creamery.  This is a hero brand of mine – Peter saw the opportunity of making commodity categories premium.  Milk and butter were their original lines, but they’re now in many categories.  Peter taught me that everyone has a creative mind, and not to be afraid to be an ideas person with an entrepreneurial mind. 

And truly – if I am honest it’s the people I work with every day help shape me as a leader. They’re bright, enthusiastic and incredibly hard-working and I learn from them every day.  I think we’ve all had to make a hell of a lot of changes over the past year, and they are the real source of inspiration.