Sian McNicholas: Career Profile

Publican's daughter Sian McNicholas has carved out at career for herself within marketing, but has stayed close to the family business by working with pub companies Young's and Geronimo Inns

Leisure Management graduate and publican's daughter Sian McNicholas worked in events before taking up the role of marketing development manager at London-based pub company Young's. Following the company's purchase of Geronimo Inns at the end of 2010 she became head of marketing for Geronimo Inns where she now manages all PR and marketing for the group.

How I got to where I am now:

I did my degree in Leisure Management at university in Birmingham and after that was lucky enough to work for a couple of retail leisure providers in the event space. After nine years in Birmingham I decided I wanted to be closer to my family in Kent so decided to make the move down to London and got offered a job as marketing development manager at Young's looking after the hotel side of the business and new developments.

Two-and-a-half-years later Young's bought Geronimo Inns. At the time they did have a marketing assistant with Ed Turner as the main marketing director, but with the purchase he moved up to chief executive, so there was a role for somebody and luckily I was given the chance to move up to head up the marketing team for Geronimo Inns. 

As marketing manager of Geronimo Inns I look after the pubs at a local level, so if they want to organise any local events I look after the PR side while working closely with our PR agency Memo Interactive. I also look after all the digital media for the group - everything from social media, to our website and all our email marketing. Luckily we have an in-house graphic design team, so all design is kept in-house which gives us a chance to really develop our brand identity. I work closely with them and the operations team so that all the big things for retail outlets, like Christmas are planned in and project managed. 

My greatest achievement: 

Getting the marketing position at Geronimo, it gave me a massive sense of achievement to be asked to take on that role and to then take the role forward and change peoples' perceptions across both Young's and Geronimo Inns of how things could work better. I'm very pleased with myself for doing that. 

My biggest challenge: 

I think it has been trying to position the brand during these tougher financial times. Because we are at that top level of pubs, we try and offer something that is value without discounting, so we are always trying to rack our brains to find a price point where we are not under-valuing and under-selling ourselves, but that doesn't seem too expensive. That has been one of the biggest challenges, to do that, without diluting what we're proud of which is our quality food offering. 

Top tips for building a career in hospitality marketing: 

Get some experience and that means experience working in pubs and shadowing people in various departments. I'm a publican's daughter. I was born and bred in pubs as my mum and dad owned five freehold pubs that they'd build up and sell on, so it's in the blood for me. 

Also do some sort of Chartered Institute of Marketing course to really understand the background into the psychology of the customer, rather than being proud of your brand, you need to understand what they'll buy, but my biggest tip is always have fun. I think the moment you stop having fun, that's the time to end the job you're in. 

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