Meet James Ferguson

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James is the Marketing Executive at The Outward Bound Trust, based in Penrith, Cumbria

What is your job in a nutshell?

Three words: Bums on seats. That’s what I was told when I first started my career in marketing. My job was to get people sat down and then to sit-up and take note of what The Outward Bound Trust was saying. From original copy, presentations and blogs, to mailing lists, video and photography – you name it. I soon learned that it was more complicated than that, but that was the gist. To capture people’s attention and interest, turn that into desire and encourage people to take action (or AIDA, as I now know it).

In particular, my job is to support our sales and fundraising teams to help get bums on seats. Whether that’s young people through our doors and participating in our summer adventures, or marathon runners volunteering to fundraise for us.

Tell us about your career journey so far?

I’ve been at Outward Bound now for almost five years, I started as a Marketing Executive in 2014, and I’m aspiring to become a Marketing Manager in the (hopefully), not too distant future. Before then I worked for a Member of Parliament on the campaign trail for the 2014 European Elections, and before then I was at University studying (surprise, surprise) politics.

I found the move from political campaigning to marketing reasonably natural. The two have a lot in common, you are ultimately selling an idea or set of values/principles, and that’s what I enjoyed most about it. As an educational charity, Outward Bound’s mission and belief is something I strongly resonate with, and I genuinely believe in what we do – which makes marketing here all the easier.

Since working for Outward Bound I’ve had plenty of opportunities to develop, from copywriting courses with the London College of Communications to attending Marketing Week Live and, of course, completing my CIM Certificate in Professional Marketing Level 4 with nesma.

How did you get your first job?

Not counting my paper-round or a brief stint as a pot wash during my teenage years, my first real job was when I worked for a politician. In 2013 I applied to the Conservatives Campaign Manager Academy, and after a few rounds of online tests and phone interviews, I was invited to a ‘physical interview’ in London with a panel of three MPs. It was terrifying. There was a bust of Winston Churchill chewing a wasp in the room, staring at me. But I survived the interview and got the post! I lasted 12 months before deciding the world of politics wasn’t for me.

My current job felt like a perfect fit for me, it aligned with my personal values and interests (as a Scout Leader I’ve always been passionate about outdoor learning), and it was closer to home. That application involved submitting a CV and covering letter as well as two rounds of panel interviews. It was just as daunting, and I’ve never looked back since.

What is the most enjoyable part of your job?

The marketing team at Outward Bound have a fantastic culture and sense of camaraderie, it’s a great team to be part of and definitely what I enjoy most about working there. I’ve learned a lot from the team and picked up much of what I know about marketing from them.

The role itself is also significant, I get to work on a range of different projects and create campaigns that appeal to different audiences. From parents who are looking to get their teens away from their phones, to teens who are looking to get away from their parents. The best days are when you get to escape the office and visit a centre. This opportunity comes around every now and again when you get to go into the mountains to capture or create some specific content for a campaign or social media.

What do you love about working in your industry?

It’s great working in the charity sector as it gives you a real sense of purpose. It may sound textbook, but having a mission statement plastered on your walls really does remind you of why you’re doing what you do.

As an educational charity, we get to support young people from all walks of life, and that’s really satisfying. The days when you get to visit centres and watch a presentation or speak to young people about what they’ve learned reminds you why getting bums on seats is so essential.

Has studying with nesma helped you in your current role?

Without a doubt. As someone who joined a marketing team without any formal qualifications or experience, completing my CIM Certificate in Professional Marketing with nesma was invaluable.

It gave me an insight into what marketing is all about and provided me with a real foundation to help build my career and future in the profession of marketing. Enrolment was dead easy, and I was fortunate enough to have financial support from my employer to help make it possible.

I was also able to fit my study around my work with significant support from the team at nesma. Allowing me to enrol on modules when it suited me and also be tutored remotely via Skype in addition to a classroom environment with my peers.

Lastly, nesma has also given me an excellent opportunity to meet with fellow marketers from my local area with regular lunches and networking opportunities.

Find out more about The Outward Bound Trust at their website or via their twitter account @outwardbounduk.

You can study all the CIM qualifications Level 3 to Level 7 in Cumbria, most of our classroom sessions and tutorials take place at The Guild in Carlisle on a Tuesday.