21st May 2018
Women are making their mark in the world of business like never before. In every industry and at every level, we look to women who’ve made it their own as an example for us to do the same. For our latest series, entitled ‘How She Got Her Job‘, we ask women who have achieved stunning success in their field to tell us how they got there, and their advice on how we can join them.
We spend so much time on social media, we often think we should be paid for it. But digital & social media marketing manager Elaine Caffrey actually does. After completing two masters and a stint in digital media in Ireland, Elaine made the move to New York, where she now manages some of the biggest celebrity colour cosmetics, beauty and hair brands, with her most well-known client being (wait for it) Drew Barrymore.
What was your favourite subject in school?
I really loved business and physics, and they definitely influenced what I went on to do in college. I studied Marketing, Innovation and Technology in DCU after that.
What was your first job, and what other jobs have you had since?
My first job was actually a placement I did as part of my course in college. It was a full year working as a marketing assistant in Johnson and Johnson. It was marketing, but it was in a pharmaceutical company, which is very different from what I do now! From there, I went to work in a political PR company for a year, which drove me to go back and do my masters in D.I.T in Public Relations. After that, I went back to work as a Media, Corporate and PR manager for Basketball Ireland for 2 years. I then moved to Legacy Consultants, where I was the Head of Digital and Communications for 3 years, and I was able to do another masters in digital marketing while there. So over the last few years, I’ve really been able to combine the working world with additional education. I’m a big fan of learning as much as I can, and completing two masters was a big thing for me.
What was the first job you loved?
Definitely working for Basketball Ireland where I was able to run their social media. As soon as I started, I just knew straight away that I loved it. I had represented Ireland in basketball myself, and when I worked there, I was also playing in the Super Leagues. My first love is basketball, always has been, always will be. So to combine it with work was just the icing on the cake for me. I was obsessed with that job!
What does your daily routine look like?
So I get up and try to go to the gym. I know if I don’t go before work, I definitely won’t get to go after work! I live on the upper East side, so I get the 6 train down to Tribeca, which is where I work and I go to the same place every morning to get an omelette! Such a creature of habit. I normally get in about an hour before everyone else in the mornings, because if I don’t, I know I won’t get my to-do list out of the way and that’s the number one thing I have to get done every morning. Even though I work in digital, I’m very old school with my to-do list; it’s always pen and paper and have to have it ticked or crossed off to get that satisfaction out of it. The second everyone pours into the office, my to-do list goes out the window. My routine, in general, is that I work across exclusive brands at Maesa. There’s Co-Lab, which is the first influencer-led makeup brand in the world. We got eight top influencers together and they developed their own make-up line. I also look after Kristen S hair and PQ nails. My day is a combination of balancing the social and digital needs of my key four brands. I have to stay on top of all the daily requirements and long-term strategies and objectives as well. I manage a few different people, so I have to make sure we’re all synced up so that we can plan our goals for that day, that month and so on. Working with big personalities like Drew Barrymore, who have so much else on, you can’t really ask them to plan anything in advance! But it’s so much fun, it’s exciting, it keeps me honest and that I’m making sure I’m staying on top of things.
What’s your favourite part of the job?
Without a doubt, it’s working with incredible people that I would never have thought I’d be exposed to in this industry. With Flower Beauty, we meet with Drew once a week for an 8 hour meeting, where we go through everything that’s going on and everything that we need. I’m exposed to all these ideas and campaigns which are just brilliant to work on. Across all the brands, we move so much more quickly here than I had to do in Ireland and the pace of work suits my personality much better. We launch a brand new campaign every single Tuesday. I’m really obsessed with the creative end of things, seeing things evolve on Instagram and IG stories. I love it so much, I love seeing it all come to life.
What’s your least favourite part?
I get really upset when the campaigns are over really quickly! I don’t get to live in them for long enough. You spend so much time and so much energy on a campaign and then it dies so quickly but that’s the nature of social media. Even for me in my career, it’s not something that I would have had to deal with even five years ago. The pace of social and digital has rapidly increased and I’m sure that every digital marketer feels the same way, where you put your heart and soul into a campaign to have it be over very quickly. For me it translates as that “done is better than perfect”. That’s such a hard lesson for me to learn. I am a perfectionist and I had to learn to not be. The pace is so fast that you either do it or don’t do it. It drives me nuts!
What are the key skills you need to make it in your industry?
The pretty obvious things are to always be looking at trends and be on top of what other people in the industry are doing. For me, skills aren’t necessarily that you spent eight years in college and now you can do your job perfectly. The things that are the most valuable for me is being scrappy, being resourceful, being able to create. We often spend so much time and money on amazing campaigns but the ones that often go viral are where we’re whipping out our phones and snapping a picture of the person and the product and posting it. If you think you can capture a photo that can enable a campaign to go viral, even if it’s not a perfect setting with hair and makeup done, do it anyway. Sometimes shooting it and getting it out is what works well.
What are the most important lessons you’ve learned for success in your career?
I’m a big advocate for not selling yourself short. I say it a lot to people I manage too. If you’re in a meeting, don’t sit at a table and not say anything. If you have an idea, but you’re nervous because someone ‘important’ is in the room, don’t feel that way. Don’t sell your ideas short. It’s definitely something that you get more confidence in over the years.
I’m one of these weirdos that always says “no regrets”, “everything happens for a reason”, blah blah blah. But I really do think so. For example, I was supposed to come to New York a few years ago, and for a few personal reasons, it didn’t happen. At the time, I was wondering what could have been, but now that I’m here, I’m so happy that I didn’t come a few years ago. It’s the opposite of a regret. If I had have come a few years ago, there’s no way I’d have this job, I wouldn’t have had the confidence for it. Something that I thought was a regret actually aligned perfectly.
What do you wish you knew when you were starting your career?
Career paths aren’t linear. It’s okay to sidestep to do something else. Don’t be so hard on yourself. I really feel that, even when I’m working with very senior people, we’re all learning every day. One thing I definitely wish I knew was that every day for the rest of your life is still going to be a school day. When I started my career, I was probably very naive, thinking I’d done my course and that this was what I was going to work as forever. But you learn all the time and don’t be afraid of learning.
What’s one piece of advice you’d give to someone starting out in a career like yours?
Be a sponge. Take in as much information as possible, no matter what environment you’re in. Be prepared to sacrifice. When I was working and studying, I had to sacrifice my social life, but I knew it would be worth it. It was a short-term sacrifice for a long-term gain. Sometimes, you have to give up nights out and coffees and brunch, but doing it short term will be good long term.
Another tiny bit of advice, and I say this all the time, is don’t bring your phone into a meeting! It’s such a social thing now to always have your phone. If the most senior person in the room doesn’t have their phone out, then I put mine away. They’re busier than you, they have more on, if they don’t have their phone on the table, then you shouldn’t need to. It’s a sign of disrespect, because you have access to it all day so you can give it up for 40 minutes.
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