Watch Me Bloom: Alex Uprichard
Alex Uprichard has worked in the industry for 24 years, both agency and media sales side before founding her own website business and seeing it through to acquisition. For the past 3 years she has been at Intermarketing, playing a key role in the recent integration process of Home, and joining the board of newly combined force IMA-HOME.
In her role as director of channel strategy she advocates channel agnostic planning, and a blended approach to paid, owned and earned media strategies leading to real world audience connection.
In her Watch me Bloom content, Alex shares some great insight into how she handled returning to after having a baby, and how she created opportunities where she felt her current industry lacked. It’s all very inspirational!
What big lessons have you learnt over your career so far?
I think the first big lesson I learned was to not let fear of the unknown hold me back. The first 7 years of my media career were spent as a TV planner buyer at two Manchester agencies. I was offered a role which involved moving to London to be regional account director for Viacom brand solutions- a dream opportunity as I was a huge MTV fan.
However, it also involved a lot of change- living on my own in a place where I only had work contacts rather than friends, moving from agency side to sales and becoming very commercially focused- plus having to get to know a whole new city. I am so glad I pushed through all of my anxieties as it was the best move I ever made- I learned not just media sales, but also creative selling as I latterly moved into content partnerships and sponsorships. I made great connections and friends, including meeting my husband and felt empowered by succeeding in such a huge life change.
The second biggest lesson would be if you can’t find what you’re looking for, create it! After having children and moving back to Manchester, I really struggled to find a role in media/marketing that gave me the flexibility I wanted having a young family.
My best friend also felt the same. It resulted in us setting up our own business, a parenting website called Mums in the Know- which provided a hyperlocal resource to help parents find things to do with the kids in their proximity. We built the site and social channels, and brokered deals with advertisers literally with our toddlers sat on our knees. We helped multiple women in the same situation as ourselves, as they joined us as local area managers and ran their local area sites completely flexibly around their parenting priorities.
In the end we had over 70 local Mums in the Know sites and sold the business to Emma’s Diary.. I never would have thought I would found and sell my own business, but necessity is the mother of invention.
What helped you through the process of making this big change?
After much stressing, what helps me settle down and accomplish change is thinking forward into the future. I found it important to have a strong sense of where I wanted to get to, visualising accomplishing that broad goal and assessing every decision on the basis of how effectively it would help me reach that goal.
During periods of change, we can get derailed by focusing on the minutia- detail is important but you can also get into a paralysis by analysis scenario where nothing moves forward. Thinking more broadly and high level was really motivating for me and helped me prioritise the factors that would make a difference.
We are going through a big change as an agency currently merging two big agencies into one, and thinking about where our combined expertise will take us in the next 3 years is the exciting guiding principle that makes all the logistical technicalities of the change worth it.
I also tried to relax my expectations and think contentment first! I had a vision of what the perfect career looked like and when I started it revolved around working my way through the ranks at an agency. However, as my career progressed, I realised that for me, roles that meant I would be available to my family, that helped me progress my learning and enabled me to contribute something of value were my main motivators.
As a result I have made career decisions which have spanned a range of different areas- but now I am back agency side I feel I can genuinely contribute with experience when looking at our clients business issues.
What would you recommend to anyone feeling like they are in a similar boat?
I recommend talk, talk, talk. Reaching out to people who are on a similar journey or who have achieved what you want to achieve is a great way of building confidence and conviction in your chosen path of change. It also helps you build a network of champions who will support you on your way.
I would also strongly support seeking out a mentor, who can help you explore your goals and guide you in achieving them. Having that objective ear who will question the why behind your why is invaluable in my experience.
That.. and yoga!