Esther started working with White Marble in January as a Marketing Consultant following a long association with the business (not least due to her award as Student of the Year at the White Marble Fund Marketing Academy back in 2018), and brings with her over 12 years of experience in the asset management world.
Beginning as a financial journalist for both consumer and trade titles, Esther then took up the role of content marketing specialist at BNY Mellon IM. As a founding member of their award-winning editorial team, she was subsequently sent to New York in 2018 to build out the team and replicate its success in the US.
Moving back to her Scottish roots in January 2020, Esther began consulting and freelancing for a number of asset management clients. With White Marble she has been involved in a real mix of projects – including brand articulation, content consultancy and marketing strategy work – for clients on both sides of the pond and enjoys getting to the root of and bringing to life clear differentiators for clients, through their content and brand narratives.
Esther graduated from St Andrews University with a degree in international relations and subsequently did a post-graduate in journalism. More recently she completed her certificate in Business Sustainability Management from the University of Cambridge Institute for Sustainability Leadership. This commitment to personal development has seen Esther win two rising star awards for marketing, the aforementioned student of the year from White Marble Marketing and an honourable third place in a ‘Junior Petunia’ plant growing competition when she was 10 ?.
What is a fun fact about you?
I love South America. I have taken extensive trips there twice in my life already and hope to do so again. I always wanted to learn Spanish and used this as an excuse to first visit in 2014. Since I did my first six-week course in Buenos Aires, I’ve been told I speak Spanish with a bit of an Argentinian accent. ¡Che boludo!
What was your first job?
A chambermaid at a hotel in Gullane, the closest village to where I grew up. I started when I was 13, so from an early stage I became a bit fastidious about cleanliness and neatness. Today I still struggle to settle if there is a mess to be tidied in the house. For this reason, my family have given me the nickname of Marge (from the Simpsons).
What is the best piece of career advice you have ever received?
I’m probably yet to hear it! I have had some great mentors over the years and I am grateful for everything they have taught me. But I also know I work very hard and give my all to jobs and projects. My personality is such that there is no other option for me. So more recently I’ve been focusing on wellbeing – I know work-life balance is almost impossible to attain but I think it’s very important to pay attention to your body and mind for cues you need a rest. If you don’t, you are in danger of burning out or not doing a great job. Ultimately, everyone wins if you take care of yourself and are honest about your strengths, capacity and even more importantly, your weaknesses or lack of knowledge.
How did you end up in the industry?
Maybe I’m in the minority but it’s safe to say I didn’t grow up pining for a career in financial services… I graduated from journalism school into the financial crisis and funnily enough there were a lot of jobs writing about the economy at that time! It aligned with my undergraduate in international relations and was less superficial compared with working on women’s glossies, for example.
At one point I did two weeks work experience at Men’s Health. Obvious jokes aside (yes there was some serious muscle in that office) it became clear to me it would be a very repetitive job: there are only so many ways to help people get stacked after all!
Comparatively, with finance there really is no limit to what you can learn, read and write about. And with the ongoing shift towards a more sustainable application of capital, I genuinely feel as though we can get to a place where asset management is seen as a force for good and finally banish those global financial crisis connotations.
What excites you most about your job?
I simply LOVE words – the definition of them, the application of them, the interpretation of them and most of all, the power of them. Brand and content are definitely my jam.
If you weren’t working at White Marble and money wasn’t an object what would you be doing?
I’m lucky in that I work for myself and consult for White Marble, along with some other companies. I am an Associate Director at Cornerstone Communicate, a London-based PR specialising in financial services communications, for example. This gives me a huge amount of variety and as my own boss, I feel as though I am edging closer to that work-life balance I talked about earlier.
In many ways the pandemic is to thank for me finally taking the leap to self-employment (after flirting with the idea years ago). I came back from the Americas with no job to go into in the middle of March 2020. I was fortunate enough to be in a position where I didn’t have to panic, and this break allowed me to take stock and think about what I actually wanted from work. The support and belief I have received from the leadership teams at White Marble and Cornerstone have made this transition much easier than I ever expected.
What do you think will be the biggest influencing ‘thing’ in marketing in the next 10 years?
For marketing professionals, it will be having the information and tools at their disposal to really pull up that seat at the table. As we know, asset management tends to be five to ten years behind in its application of marketing innovation and best practice. Until very recently, the marketing team has often been seen as a support service for the rest of the distribution business. Happily, that has started to change – see my blog post on why sales shouldn’t have all the fun(nel) – and in my opinion this move is both irreversible and long overdue. It’s not a case of marketers taking over the helm, but rather they are becoming genuine peers and representatives in the c-suite and on boards.
What is the best book you have read recently?
Girl, Woman, Other by Bernardine Evaristo. It follows the lives and struggles of twelve very different characters – mostly women, black and British – as they tell the stories of their families, friends and lovers, across countries and through the years. Like its cover (and I do often judge a book by both its front and back cover!) it is colourful, vibrant and contemporary. It was so refreshing to have stories from these groups brought to the fore.
What is the coolest place you have ever been/ What is your favourite holiday destination?
La Ciudad Perdida in Colombia. I wouldn’t call it a holiday destination as it took 4 days trekking on foot to get there. But it was absolutely the highlight of my trip to South America at the beginning of 2020. It is the equivalent of Machu Picchu in Peru but is actually older and was lost for many centuries (hence the name, which literally translates as The Lost City). It was remarkable. Closer to home, I love anywhere with a coast (bonus points for mountains) and, given my love of Hispanic culture, Spain is a firm favourite for holidays.
What is your favourite dessert?
Not exactly a dessert, more of a tea-time treat – Marks & Spencer’s iced, spiced buns. I’m usually too full after dinner for another course but love a sweet pick-me-up mid-afternoon!