Career Stories: Rebecca Caroe – Following the Squiggly Line to Find Work You Love

Rebecca Caroe is a strategic marketing and the voice behind ‘Creative Agency Secrets’, a company focused on Business to Business marketing and effective copywriting. After being made redundant three times in one year during a recession, she started to approach prospective employers from the perspective of them being customers rather than employees. From here she launched into the world of self-employment and has never looked back. Learn more about Rebecca’s career story and how she uses her non-conventional career to her advantage.

In 2-3 sentences, please tell us a little about you! (your background/story and anything you feels you’d like to share)

I’m a self-taught marketer specialising in business to business. I have three times been at the forefront of radical innovation which has been super-exciting – from customer relationship management, social media and professional services marketing. When I moved to New Zealand ten years ago, I couldn’t find a job because I was told over and over that I had no New Zealand experience. This saddened me.

Why did you sign up to be a part of OneUpOneDown?

I am moving my career into governance and so am seeking business leaders who work at board level and can help me find non-executive director appointments.

What does success mean to you? How do you align with your definition at the moment?

Success for me has two components. Doing satisfying work and continuing to learn. I have a hungry brain and so my move to governance is the “shiny new thing” while my B2B marketing work gives me challenges working with new clients whose situations are always novel and unique. I’m working in my sweet spot right now and OneUpOneDown is part of the success.

What prompted you to pursue the career you’re in now?

It was a squiggly line that developed over time. Each job I did lead me to seek out improvements and ways to be more effective – I learned to read business books, to experiment, to research and reach out to more experienced people who were always very generous with their insights and guidance. That’s why I am self-taught – I keep my eyes and ears open and have a gigantic Evernote catalogue of research which I draw on for my clients.

How did you know this is what you wanted to do?

It makes me happy. I find that when I can deliver a solution or an insight to a client which makes a material difference to their profits, it is very satisfying – and I get referrals and positive reviews as a result.

Have you made any big transitions or changes in your career? What were they? How did you do it?

A transition was forced on me when I got made redundant three times in one year during a recession. I realised that I wasn’t getting job interviews and so I started to approach prospective employers directly. And I’ve never looked back. This ties into my form of B2B marketing – start with a list of prospects, research, approach, refine, pitch and land a long term customer. 

What is something that has been particularly challenging throughout your career?

My CV looks unconventional and I think that puts people off who want to see a predictable career path. My diverse experience brings insight to clients which they wouldn’t get from someone who’d stayed in the same country and same industry all their working life. And it takes a particular type of risk-taker to choose to work with me. It’s worth it!

What have been your go-to tools and strategies to overcome challenging experiences or people in your career?

Challenging experiences always happen. I try to think and reflect about what happened rather than argue in the moment. Then I seek guidance from someone more experienced. What do they think? What could I have done differently? Where to from here? 

People are harder. I once worked for 4 years with a man who simply hated me. He tried 3 times to get me fired. After the second time I bought him a book about relationships at work and asked if he’d try to work with me to improve things. That didn’t happen. 

What is one personal or professional skill you’re working on at the moment and why?

Corporate governance – understanding the difference between being an executive and being a non-executive is challenging. I’ve just completed the Institute of Directors Chartered Member course.

What is something you wish you’d known when you were first starting out in your career?

That there is a lot of goodwill to tap into if you only ask for help.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone navigating their own career?

Keep working out what you enjoy doing. Try to do more of that and less of what saps your energy.

How can we follow your journey?

I’m on most social media channels – search for my name. And if you happen to be into masters rowing, I’m world famous for my Faster Masters Rowing Radio podcast!


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