Careers, continuous learning and lessons from brand-driven organisations

We sat down with Westpac CMO Suraiya Phillimore-Smith for a chat about her career, values, and the importance of knowledge-sharing and continuous learning in the marketing industry.  

Suraiya has personally experienced the value of professional certification from her time in the UK and now supports the Westpac marketing team on their journey to become professionally certified through the Marketing Association’s NZ Marketing Academy.

Global brands and inspirational leaders: How the UK marketing industry and the NZ Army shaped my values and my career 

I feel incredibly fortunate for the path my career has taken and the opportunities that have come my way. In 1997, I crossed paths with an Englishman that led me on a thirteen-year adventure in the UK.  

During this time, I had the privilege of working with major brand-driven organisations like Vodafone UK, Group, and Sony EMEA, expanding my marketing skills across diverse industries, managing global campaigns across cultures, and collaborating with inspiring leaders. My journey also included partnerships with esteemed agencies like JWT and BBH, as well as exposure to the innovative world of digital agencies.  

Returning to New Zealand, roles at Vodafone NZ and Westpac NZ enriched my skill set in P & L management, customer segments, and data analysis. My foundation, however, was shaped during my time in the NZ Army, where I imbibed values of integrity, duty, loyalty, and selfless service, qualities that have been my guiding principles throughout my career.  

Building my network and my knowledge with professional certifications 

Professional certifications hold immense significance in the field of marketing. They serve as tangible proof of your expertise and current industry knowledge. These certifications showcase your commitment to continuous learning and adherence to industry best practices, making you stand out in a competitive job market.  

From a personal perspective, my certification journey in the UK was pivotal. It wasn’t just a badge of accomplishment; it became a prerequisite for career advancement, ensuring a level playing field for promotions by guaranteeing a standardised level of expertise. Additionally, it provided a network where knowledge-sharing and learning thrived. 

It’s a privilege to now be able to support not only my own team but New Zealand marketers in general to work towards their own professional certification through Westpac’s support of the MA’s NZ Marketing Academy. The feedback from my team speaks for itself. 

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