Career Story with Laura Bull

Getting Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable, Career Story with Laura Bull

Meet Laura Bull, mentee and mentor at OneUpOneDown and Digital Marketing Manager at an eco-conscious company in the UK. Laura started her career a little bit unsure of what she wanted to do for a living, but she persisted and developed herself each day to get to where she is now. She strongly believes that everyone should pursue a career that makes them happy and is a great example of how you can achieve that by never giving up. Find out more about Laura’s journey from building her confidence to finding a job that aligns with her values and beliefs. 

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

My name is Laura Bull. I am a digital marketing manager for a UK based subscription recipe box company. I’ve had quite a squiggly career so far. My first job was as an admin assistant at a magazine and events company, and at that point, I didn’t know what I wanted to do for a living, let alone what marketing was. By setting small, realistic goals for myself I’ve managed to slowly get closer to the kind of role I eventually want to have.

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

I signed up for OneUpOneDown originally because I knew having other people to discuss my goals and plans with would help me get closer to achieving them. And although I’ve been lucky to be surrounded by strong female role models, I recognise the importance of having external support, outside the organisation I’m working in.

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

Success for me changes on a daily basis and is more about maintaining a positive mindset than achieving a certain goal. I live with two chronic health conditions, and it can be a lot to deal with, so I’m constantly adjusting the expectations I have of myself. 

Some of the big goals I have are quite long term, and I find it easier to stay motivated when I count small daily successes. By doing that, I can always find something to celebrate, and those small wins amount to a whole lot of progress. 

But ultimately, if I end the day as a kinder, stronger and more confident person I’ll feel successful.

What prompted you to pursue the career or business you’re working in/on now?

I love the balance of creativity and science that comes from being a marketer. One moment you’re knee-deep in numbers, forecasting what business you could generate for your organisation, the next you’re trying to come up with a creative concept that hooks in your audience and nudges them toward taking a certain action. I just find it so fascinating. 

As a consumer, I’m careful about the organisations that I support – the only way we can make up for the damage humans have done to the planet is by making considered purchase decisions. I find it easy to get passionate about purposeful organisations that are making the world a better place, and I want to put my marketing superpowers to good use, so my current role in the food industry for an eco-conscious company is the perfect place for me right now. 

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

Truth is, I didn’t – I’m still making it up as I go. The one thing that I do know is myself. I think once you’ve got a good understanding of what you value, and where your strengths and weaknesses lie, you can make better decisions about the path you want to take, and what you are and aren’t willing to compromise on. 

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

I feel like every transition has been a big one! When I moved from a general office job into marketing, I actually ended up handing in my notice without having another job lined up. I knew that without forcing myself to take a leap of faith, I wouldn’t make the kind of change I needed to.

This isn’t the kind of decision everyone is in a position to make, but I had enough savings that I knew I could last a little while without a job, and I know myself well enough to know that I need to be under pressure to do my best work.

I think the two things I’ve relied on during every transition period is my support network (friends, family and colleagues), and confidence in myself and my abilities (which does not come naturally to me). 

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

I think the biggest challenge I’ve had in my career is my confidence. I’m very self-aware, but this tends to manifest itself in criticism of, rather than confidence in, my knowledge and skills. I’ve only been in my current role for a few months, but I’m still massively feeling the imposter syndrome I had when I got offered the job. 

Truth is, no one should ever be doing a job they’re 100% confident in because then there is no challenge. It’s the getting comfortable with being uncomfortable that takes some getting used to!

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

I think I have a lot of these, depending on the situation. I’m a big fan of trying to think of things from everyone’s perspective – you might have a challenging conversation with your boss that was really important to you, but to them, it was just another Wednesday. I tend to take things to heart, so reminding myself that business is just business is important.

The other general piece of advice I have is to build your network wherever possible, then you’ll always have someone you can reach out to for support no matter what challenge you’re facing. The caveat with this is that you need to be a genuine addition to them too – don’t just connect with someone on LinkedIn so you can ask them for advice without offering to support them as well.

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

The biggest thing I’m working on at the moment is my confidence. I know that I often sell myself short and I have lots of limiting beliefs about what I’m capable of. If I’m ever going to make my freelance dreams come true then I need to figure out a way to overcome this or I’ll just get in my own way!

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

That everyone is human and we all make mistakes and experience failure. It’s how you bounce back from that that counts. I recently learnt that James Dyson made over five thousand prototypes before he created the Dysons we know today – it’s just that we don’t tend to brag about our failures!

I think the other thing I’ve learnt is that you don’t need to have a certain kind of education or upbringing to achieve your goals (to a certain degree). I never dreamed I’d be able to land the job I’m in today, and I’m constantly grateful for it, although I recognise that there are people who’ve faced far more adversity than I have.

What is one piece of advice you’d give to someone who is about to embark on the journey that you have been on for the most recent period of your life?

Have faith in yourself. Find yourself a mentor who can remind you how valuable you are. Figure out what you want, and make a plan to get there. It might take a while, and you might have to take a few detours, but you deserve to have a career that makes you happy.


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