Digital’s in Fashion

On the first of my adventures into the trials, tribulations and reality of moving client-side, I went to meet Lucile, a Search Strategist working at luxury online retailer NET-A-PORTER.

Lucile

Lucile has an interesting story because after cutting her teeth and honing her craft in agencies like Mindshare Worldwide and MediaContacts (now Havas Media) she made the move in-house in a bid to work in the world of fashion. I wanted to know if the move has helped her to diversify her skills, aid career progression and how she views agency life from the other side.

As I waited in the coffee shop, I received a text. “On my way. I am wearing an electric blue jumper.” With the addition of the word ‘electric’, I knew I was dealing with a fashionista. I wondered how to describe the shirt I was wearing. I went with “kind of red”.

There are a number of perceptions about how moving in-house can affect career progression but Lucile’s opinion was fairly emphatic. “Career progression is definitely better than in an agency. I am involved in a bit everything in digital marketing because I have greater overall visibility – so I understand what’s going on outside of my channel”, adding “At an agency you can grow too, but normally only in one specialism.”

Having picked up more skills she now sits across SEO as well as PPC, the area of expertise she left her agency with. So in Lucile’s case, the answer to the question of whether it is easy to diversify has to be, yes. “If you are industrious and ask questions, you can go a long way” she remarks. Lucile makes it her business to talk to people in different departments and by making a few friends she is currently being taught coding. A good party trick for a search specialist and a good way to add another to string to the skills bow.

So what does Lucile put this extra agility down to?

“I think it’s the difference in attitude between agency and in-house,” she remarks. “However good the agency is, it’s still a master/servant relationship – the client has the final say. When you’re in-house you can be more passionate about the brand.” In this dynamic there is more cause and motivation to help those around you and work together. Lucile’s view of agency work is that it’s more a case of getting on with your own job whereas in-house you can adapt, communicate and diversify.

Lucile blew apart a cliché of in-house life by revealing the pace of work can be equally frantic and there are still times when she has to work late. It’s partly due to the sector she works in – fashion is such a fast-moving, dynamic area dictated by trends. She’s also at a very ambitious company which strives to remain at the cutting edge in terms of their digital presence. This isn’t something that Lucile sees as negative because it means she still gets the buzz and challenge associated with agency life – something I am sure will be touched upon again.

As a parting piece of advice Lucile recommended everyone learns their skills in an agency to get a solid digital understanding, but this is not the be all and end all. Just as important as digital skills when looking to work in-house is “a desire to learn and a passion for the brand.”

At this point I could see the bottom of my coffee cup which signalled the end of our time. It had been a revealing first instalment of this series about working in-house and I had learned a lot, in a fashion.