Olivia Hanlon: Founder & CEO of Girls in Marketing

Name: Olivia Hanlon

Job title: Founder & CEO if Girls in Marketing

Career path: Before setting up Girls in Marketing as an e-learning platform and community, I was working as an SEO marketer for a property company. Whilst it wasn’t what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, I truly loved SEO and I was determined to find other marketers with the same passion for this industry as I did. 

That’s when Girls in Marketing was born! In the beginning, it was a side project alongside my full-time role. Eventually, our growth meant I could quit my nine-to-five and run Girls in Marketing whole-heartedly – with the help of a few freelance SEO clients I had on the side. 

Having weekly and monthly focusses is really important as a business owner so that you can stay on track. I have autonomy over my working week; something I never had working for someone else. I love being able to provide other people with opportunities and helping to train new marketing talent too. 

I wasn’t expecting my career path to land here; I just rolled with the punches! Sometimes the best things happen when you just go with the flow. To anyone out there worrying about where their career is headed or what they want to do, try to have faith and know it will all work itself out.

Ideas & Planning: There are so many complex productivity models out there that several business owners swear by. I recently read Grace Beverley’s Working Hard or Hardly Working, which is packed full of helpful methods to successfully plan any task or business concept. But the truth is, my process of planning ideas doesn’t use anything new – I just do what works for me and tailor my workload accordingly. 

When coming up with a new business concept, I schedule a meeting with my team almost as soon as the thought enters my mind. It really helps to air out the strengths and weaknesses of a larger project like this in order to move forward. I really value other people’s opinions, so sharing my ideas is the first step when it comes to planning. 

I will then put together a flowchart of how I envisage the project to run and what the overall process looks like (basically the bigger picture.) After that, I will go into further detail using a Google Doc before entering everything into a monday.com board. This helps the team to collaboratively see what tasks need doing and the due dates for each item. 

If I’m working on a small project or task, my best advice is to act quickly. Don’t let yourself overthink the plans too much. Instead, just take that initial step to getting it done and you’ll see your ideas come into fruition much quicker.

Finance: At Girls in Marketing, we carried out vital research around salary insights in the marketing industry as so many companies protect what they financially offer their employees. There is also a huge issue around the gender pay gap, as well as the gender seniority gap, something that Girls inMarketing aims to tackle through accessible marketing education and resources. Far more men maintain senior roles in marketing and are the decision-makers, despite the fact it is a largely female-dominated industry. 

Our research showed that over half of the women who participle feel as though their monthly paycheck doesn’t reflect their experience level or responsibilities. Typical marketing salaries completely vary depending on your position within the company, and the size of that company, but according to Glassdoor, the average marketing salary is around £33,0000 with a starting salary of £21,000+. As a small business owner, there are other financial factors to consider. From marketing tools and hosting platforms to equipment expenses, tax and other businesses fees, things can get extremely expensive. It’s important to be calculated with what you’re spending, and pay an account or accounting software to help you with your bookkeeping. Girls in Marketing offers a membership, which means we have hundreds of monthly transactions so it’s incredibly important things are kept in order, and we find paying a professional to do this is much more efficient.

Networking: Personally, I joined a programme for business owners and leaders located in the Liverpool region in 2021. The Shift programme by Gather was fully-funded and gave me a chance to network with other business owners in the area. I found it incredibly inspiring to hear other people’s stories and talking to others made me reflect on our services and offering, which is a crucial part of development and growth for us. 

I don’t schedule networking sessions on a weekly or monthly basis, and the Girls in Marketing community allows me to regularly communicate with marketers and freelancers but I always jump at the chance to attend an event if I can. It’s the best way to get creative ideas for other people and propel your business into success!

Work Environment: When I worked in my nine-to-five role, the office culture wasn’t inspiring or uplifting. As I started to build my small team and find an office of my own, I knew I wanted to create an environment for people that I had dreamed of. 

We have a very relaxed, creative space for people to work and we always carve out time for discussions about new projects.

I’m so thankful to have built a community of 170,000+ marketers across social media and be running the business of my dreams. If you want to join us, take a look at our website or follow us on Instagram.


New Year, New Me? So, you think it’s too late to land your dream job? Think again.

In the past, the discourse around job hopping or a even a complete change in career trajectory has been dominated by sentiments of concern, caution and befuddlement, but NRTH LASS contributor, Naomi Busuttil, investigates how a career change after the age of 25, into a world where you have no experience and qualifications, can be achievable and rewarding, so long as you have the the right mindset, willpower and connections.

When I quit my job as a makeup artist at 24 to pursue a new career in PR and marketing, I entered a world where I had no experience, qualifications, or contacts. At first, it was tough. Even trying to secure unpaid internships was difficult when I was competing with PR and marketing undergraduates who already had several work experience placements under their belts. 

I went months without any form of employment or income before I finally managed to secure a six-month unpaid work placement with a PR agency in Leeds and, eventually, a paid entry-level role as a public relations executive for a German brand with a UK head office just outside of Leeds.

Having been born and raised in the north and never having strayed too far from my roots, I also faced the added challenge of seeking a role in Leeds in an industry that is saturated with talented candidates, but fewer opportunities for them due to the North-South divide. 

More recently, due to lower living costs and the realisation that talent also lives north of the Watford Gap, a lot of companies have made the decision to move their headquarters up north – Channel 4 being one of the most notable – but London was traditionally where most big brands were based. As well as the in-house roles that the brands provided, naturally, companies in a lot of industries chose office locations closer to the capital to be nearer to potential clients and in turn, this meant that there was less competition for roles down south. 

Now, with 5-years’ experience in the marketing industry behind me, I look back and realise that there was – and still is – a lack of support for candidates who are starting on a new career path.

Aside from the traditional routes of finishing education at 18 or 21 with the relevant qualification already under your belt or starting young on a career path and working your way up, other options can be hard to find, but it’s not impossible!

Rebecca Lockwood, now an NLP Master Coach & NLP & Hypnosis Trainer in Huddersfield, retrained and started her own business after leaving school without any GCSEs and working in sales from the age of 19.

Rebecca Lockwood

“I found myself in a sales job at 19 and within a year I began a role in a start-up telecoms company building the retentions and telesales department from scratch, later being promoted to sales manager before I decided to change my career.

“I found Neuro-Linguistic Programming while looking for sales training to help me with supporting my team and had a bit of a breakthrough moment. I experienced such a transformation myself through NLP that I knew that I had to help as many other women as possible to experience it too!”

Rebecca is now a #1 best-selling author teaching neuro-linguistic programming, hypnosis and coaching to female entrepreneurs, but she believes that there isn’t enough support for individuals who want to change their career or find a new route in employment.

“When it comes to business, resources exist to aid people who are wanting to embark on a new business venture, but not enough people know about this help and not everyone can invest in these kinds of things either – the government could certainly provide so much more support.”

Manchester based, managing director and Founder of The Career Break Site, Rachel Morgan-Trimmer also made the move into self-employment after spotting a gap in the market for providing career break information and advice. 

Rachel Morgan-Trimmer

First entering the workplace as an editorial assistant before taking several side steps in her career, she believes that networking and utilising social media is the best way of getting a job. 

“I’ve found that networking – both on and offline – is one of the best ways to get a job, but it can take time. Do your research and make a connection by asking someone in your chosen industry for guidance – people love being asked for advice and the information they give you could be really useful to you too!

“You should also tell your friends and family that you’re looking for experience as you never know who they might know. And, make sure your public social media accounts reflect the professional image you want to project, including LinkedIn which is vital for recruitment. Be mindful of connecting with the right people, posting relevant news and articles, and so on.”

But, going self-employed isn’t the only gateway to changing your career as Katie Maudlin, a consultant at Acorn Recruitment’s Salford Quays branch experienced.

Katie Maudlin

“I had to take a step back to move forward myself and I don’t regret making that decision at all. I had worked hard in sales and was proud to be one of the businesses’ top two performers. But, once I’d hit my target for the month, there wasn’t anything to focus on until next month and I felt unfulfilled. I wanted my earning potential to reflect the hard work I was willing to put in, so I moved into a role in recruitment, which meant starting right at the bottom and working my way up all over again.”

Katie advises that you should be committed to your career change and engaging in activities outside of your current role can help to prove this to an employer, in addition to helping your CV to stand out.

“If you’re sure of the direction you’d like to move in, I’d encourage you to show your willingness to succeed in a new field by taking on personal projects and training courses in the relevant areas in your spare time. You should also tailor your CV to ensure that it briefly explains your motivations for changing paths and includes your experience and skills that match what the employer is looking for.

“I’d also recommend working with a recruiter as employers will often dismiss a CV from an over or under-qualified candidate without having met or spoken with them. A recruitment consultant, however, can work as a conduit. Having screened the candidate beforehand, they are aware of the applicant’s experience and motivations for wanting to start from the bottom and are more likely to convince the employer that they are worthy of being shortlisted.”

Words: Naomi Busuttil