Julia has a real passion for Marketing and TrustFord, inspiring everyone with her vision and dedication.
She showed her leadership skills by adapting swiftly, to the pandemic by turning innovative ideas into actions which involved developing videos, surveys and other materials to keep customers engaged and informed, and supported further development of click and collect services as customers adapted to the ‘new normal’.
Julia encourages her team, and always looks to be doing things smarter and better. She has a unique ability of identifying individual strengths, developing them to the max.
She’s a great mentor for women within TrustFord who have really grown as individuals through her coaching and actively supports the Automotive 30% Club outreach activities, speaking to female students with the aim of inspiring them to consider careers within the automotive sector.
Julia’s nominator added: “Julia is a very successful, much valued and hugely respected member of our Board & Leadership Team.”
What is your job role?
As Marketing Director my role is to lead the Marketing and E-commerce strategy for Ford of Britain’s wholly owned dealership group, TrustFord. This includes the planning, managing and execution of all elements of marketing including advertising, PR, direct marketing campaigns, events, social media and content management.
Please detail a typical working day.
The alarm is set for 5.45am – I get up straightaway to avoid any second thoughts and go for a run or indoor workout depending on the weather. I then check my emails & do a few household tasks before getting ready for work. My husband & I always take the dog for a walk before breakfast; we are fortunate to live in a small village so can be in the countryside in minutes. I love seeing how the seasons change and spotting wildlife along the way.
Then it’s upstairs to my office (otherwise known as the spare room!) with a cup of coffee. I check my notes from yesterday and do some work before our Daily Team Huddle at 9.30am. This meeting is for all the team to share issues, challenges, ideas and forthcoming work needs. We set up a daily forum when we went into lockdown in 2020 to keep us all connected. Some members of the team have young families, others live on their own and with everyone scattered across the country this get together has proved invaluable. Sometimes we use all 40 minutes but other times it’s quicker – and we always also try to have some fun and positive things to talk about. It has been so helpful in keeping us together that we are going to continue to meet in this way, even after life returns to normal.
My husband is semi-retired and plays guitar and mandolin so I often hear him practice in another room, happily he is very good so it isn’t a distraction and he always drops off a cup of coffee just after 10am. Every work day is different but typically I will have a lot of meetings in the diary. The past 12 months have been challenging but also exhilarating as we had to accelerate our digital strategy. Leading these projects has been rewarding – particularly as we secured so much support from across the business to find collective solutions quickly. As no one had experience in anything like it there were no pre-conceived ideas or opinions, we had to just get on with it – it’s been so heartening to see what can be achieved.
I have a 1:1 with my direct reports every month which allows us to catch up on successes, challenges and the support each of us needs. Video technology has been hugely helpful, I really value these structured times to catch up properly – not just on business topics but on how they are doing. We capture what we’ve discussed and the goals we are working to and pick up from where we left off at each meeting. Alongside Group L&D initiatives, I like to support team members with broadening their marketing knowledge – we do this by sharing insight across our disciplines, sometimes with extra specialist help from suppliers. At our monthly meetings all managers share their goals and progress so that we can learn from each other and offer help as needed.
I have weekly meetings with senior operational colleagues to check in on their business results, challenges and any marketing help they may need. Other meetings are with external agencies to discuss new campaign ideas or media planning but also to learn about new innovation that’s emerging. I am always keen to seek and test new thinking from outside as well as inside our industry – it’s really important to be open minded to new ideas as long as you can measure the results and then use the data to decide what you want to keep doing.
At lunchtime I will nip to the kitchen for a quick bite – usually some homemade soup or a sandwich. With so much time being spent on laptops I encourage my team to make sure they take breaks away from their screens during the day. Getting outside is really important too, even for a short while, just to catch some daylight and exercise. When I was travelling a lot more I found the drive-time useful for reflecting on discussions and decisions, I now find that my daily exercise helps me to do the same. When I come back from my quick mid-afternoon walk I focus better on the rest of my meetings and calls.
I am supporting team members with specific challenges during lockdown, including those who have been home-schooling. My team is split about 50:50 male/female so this applies to Dads as well as Mums and quite often both parents are working from home while sharing their childcare responsibilities. Support has meant being flexible about working hours to enable them to do their share of parenting and understanding if small voices are occasionally heard in the background. This means some members of the team are starting very early in the morning or working much later in the evening but we always manage to make sure everything is well planned and lands on time.
As a mum who went back to working full time when my son was a year old (he’s now 21) I always gauge my decisions along the lines of ‘what would I have welcomed from my boss to keep my career on track?’ Where possible, I support flexible working hours and will always encourage as gentle a re-entry to the workplace as possible after mat’ leave – respecting & considering all requests properly is core to team engagement and loyalty. We have two mums on the team who successfully share a role, it takes a bit more organisation and clear handover steps but it’s key to holding on to talent.
In the last ½ hour of the day I check emails again and the meetings for the next day ahead and note actions for tomorrow’s team huddle. I then close down my laptop sometime after 6pm. Then it’s back downstairs for a relaxing evening. I like to unwind with supper round the table catching up with the family before watching some TV or playing some music with my husband. I always have a book by my bed- usually a thriller of some sort – and will read something before nodding off.
Who or what inspired you to pursue your current role?
My previous career was with a number of high street retail brands so I was surprised when I was approached by an agency for the role with Ford Retail Group 8 years ago. Back then I had a fairly negative perception of the industry and I was initially reticent about even going for the first interview – it was my predecessor who persuaded me to pursue a career in automotive, explaining that it was my retail experience they were keen to tap into as part of the business’ new strategy. She was keen to have an external perspective and explained all of the different challenges and opportunities that lay ahead. The idea of trying something completely different was daunting but I felt ready to try something new. At first it was extremely tough adjusting but over time, with the help of some great colleagues, family and friends outside of the industry, I was able to start enjoying the role. Key to that enjoyment has been the culture where I work and the trust and autonomy I have been given along the way. I love that we are encouraged in our support for the 30% Club and given time to hopefully inspire others – through initiatives like speaking with school children and also with some mentoring of others in the industry.