CAREERS: Job interview

Name Stephen Isherwood

Job Head of brand marketing, ICL

Age 40

How did you get into marketing?

My first career interview was for a marketing position within a rapid-growth start-up. The market-led approach and vibrancy of the company convinced me that marketing was where I wanted to be.

What was your motivation for joining ICL?

ICL provided the next challenge that I wanted to accomplish in my career - international business-to-business marketing within the IT and e-business services arena. I also believed that I had a lot to offer a multinational company with Japanese parentage (ICL is a wholly-owned subsidiary of Fujitsu).

What is the greatest challenge the marketing industry faces?

To provide conclusive evidence that a strong marketing strategy can deliver continual customer delight, greater profits and increased shareholder value.

What are the marketing challenges for ICL?

ICL has successfully made the transition from being a UK mainframe manufacturer, to a European operation focused on innovative IT and e-business solutions. The challenge is to change the legacy image it still has today.

How does your MBA help in your role today?

It enables me to clearly understand the broad business issues facing the company, and has equipped me to identify potential strategies, evaluate options and implement programmes that drive the business with profitable growth.

What do you enjoy most/least about your working environment?

The interaction with a vast network of committed individuals, from within ICL and Fujitsu is what I enjoy the most. The many offices spread throughout the UK, rather than the majority of staff operating on a single campus site, is what I like the least.

What individual has influenced you most in your career?

Norman Harrington, my boss at Introphoto. An incredibly demanding person to work for, but the most visionary businessman and motivator I have ever met. The qualities that have driven my career success can in part be attributed to Norman's influence.

Where do you see yourself in ten years' time?

Successful, wealthy and playing with a vastly improved golf handicap.

What characteristics do you look for in the people you do business with?

People who are capable, creative, professional and truly interested in contributing to the company's success.

What would be the one piece of career advice you would give?

Choose a career you really enjoy.

What has been your biggest mistake?

I haven't made any howlers. However, I am very demanding on my own performance and continuously appraise how I could have approached something differently.

What has been your greatest achievement?

There are a number of milestones in my life that I consider as great personal achievements. However, growing the Hitachi brand from a 6% to 24% market share gave me immense satisfaction.

When and where did you last go on holiday?

Arizona in November. We even had the added benefit of witnessing the US election (or non-election).


1980-1986: Advertising and PR manager, Introphoto

1986-1990: Product marketing manager, Fuji Film

1990-1996: Marketing manager rising to group marketing manager, Hitachi Sales UK

1996-1998: European marketing manager, Hitachi Home Electronics Europe

1998-present: Head of brand marketing, ICL.


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