East Midlands marketer, Barry Michael Aldridge has received chartered kudos for a fourth year through the Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM).
We caught up with Barry to discuss all things marketing and why being chartered feels so important to him.
Barry, this is your fourth academic year of being a fully chartered marketer through the chartered institute of marketing. Who are the CIM and why does being chartered feel so important to you?
The chartered institute of marketing is the world’s largest leading authority for my profession with around 28,000 members worldwide of which only approximately 2,500 are fully chartered.
Being chartered is the highest accolade given by the CIM so when looking at the numbers, it is a huge honour and feels incredibly important for me to have reached this standard.
Becoming chartered is no easy feat and quite rightly there are some stringent processes you must undertake for this award to be given.
The first step is to become a graded member, then complete two years of continuing professional development and finally, pass the marketer assessment.
Is it necessary to be chartered to work as a marketer?
Not at all but for me it was more of a personal desire and ambition. As I had pursued the academic route, I really wanted to see the process all the way through.
What is great is that to retain chartered status I am required to submit a certain number of CPD hours each academic year which means, I am forever learning and discovering new things!
What got you into the marketing profession?
My career started in graphic design and was trained in this artisan at Loughborough University School of Art and Design between 1997 and 2000.
A common misconception is that graphic designers and marketers are the same but, they are two completely different disciplines.
It was whilst working at Office Depot from 2003 to 2005, that I was introduced to the marketing profession.
At the time I was a graphic artist, churning out mail order catalogue pages where the marketing function was an entirely separate department.
Gill Ryan then Marketing Director said to me that if I wanted to learn more about her team and what they did, to come have a chat. I took Gill up on the offer!
Around this time, I attended a staff meeting where Richard Carvell – also Marketing Director – outlined the organisation’s marketing strategy.
I found it all very exciting and could see the commercial value of the profession.
Graphic design and visual communication still play a major role in my working life but, marketing has become my main function where just like design, is also a passion and hobby.
Joining United Refrigeration in 2005 saw me ascertain my first official marketing role and it was here that I decided to become officially qualified where a little desktop research introduced me to the CIM.
Then Finance Secretary, Gillian Warner encouraged me to study at the highest level possible and so, I commenced with a level six professional diploma which was successfully passed in 2007.
It was in 2017 and around the same time as entering the rail sector that I pursued a Postgraduate in marketing leadership and worked my way through the ranks of CIM membership, first becoming a member and then achieving fellowship status due to being elected on to the Board of Directors of the Rail Forum and accompanying contribution towards the sector deal for rail.
You have a fondness for trains, why is this?
Firstly, I love working in the rail sector, I agree with everything it stands for and what it is trying of achieve. There is a real sense of community in rail and us as a sector are very encouraging and supportive towards one another.
There is a legacy of rail in my family with ancestors having worked on the GWR line. In one form or another, trains have been present throughout my life.
Admittedly, trains are a childhood love affair, so it feels truly rewarding to work both in a sector and profession which stimulates my imagination so much!
Do you recommend marketing as a profession?
I certainly do. Marketing is an exciting profession and with digital disruption in full swing is set to have an incredibly vibrant, thrilling challenging and rewarding future.
It is always satisfying for me to mentor younger people and support those on their journey with marketing at whatever stage they are at.
You mentioned digital disruption, what does this mean?
Digital disruption is capitalising upon the internet of things and connectivity to transform things for the better.
It was whilst I was studying at university that web 1.0 disrupted the world.
Connectivity for the masses was born and I got busy teaching myself to script, code, design and publish web sites and content to an international audience.
Web 2.0 brought us social media and as we move towards web 3.0 the metaverse holds opportunities to promote products and services within an entirely different digital landscape and existence.
Machine learning, ai and data science are forever becoming more sophisticated and meaningful.
This is a vast and important subject and is something I discuss in greater detail quite frequently.
Despite the uprise of digital, traditional marketing models remain robust, solid, and as relevant as ever.
You often talk about CSR, what has this got to do with marketing?
Corporate social responsibility is important to all of us, and I do believe that marketing can be an influential force in ensuring ethical business conduct.
I have long been a believer in aligning commercial activity with ethical behaviour.
This makes me think about social marketing. I spend an awful amount of time supporting charities and not-for-profits in delivering workshops and mentoring to younger people in my local community to educate and empower them to find self-belief, make positive choices and understand that through hard work, success can be achieved.
I do this because I am aware that not everybody finds it easy to access education or learning and for me, education is extremely important to everybody, especially the younger generation.
I believe that there is great deal of work needed to make education more accessible on an international level.
Ethical marketing is about more than creating awareness, it is about making progressive and positive change.
Just recently, I felt it important to lead my company towards becoming a disability confident employer.
Of importance is sustainable marketing where implementing some of the trusted marketing P’s can address this topic. Sustainable products, sustainable packaging, sustainable processes, etc.
With recent events such as pandemics and conflicts, it seems more poignant than ever for companies, organisations, and institutes to adopt an ethical culture.
Of course, this needs to be more than a box ticking exercise. It must be heartfelt and genuine, otherwise it is a wasted effort.
Diversity and inclusion are of incredible importance, and I chose to include these topics as part of my organisation’s core values.
You frequently discuss SMEs in a passionate way, why is this?
I do feel incredibly passionate about small to medium enterprises and their contribution to the UKs economy.
According to Government figures there were 5.6 million SMEs in the UK in 2021 which accounted to over 99% of all businesses.
I love the flexibility of SMEs and their ability to make swift change. The SME community is diverse, too.
Working for SME Flotec, a trusted and leading supplier of hydraulic hose and engineering solutions to both rail and other industries is really enjoyable.
In my role, I witness first-hand how vital the SME supply chain is to help keep the UKs rail network operational.
Flotec is a wonderful company offering unique engineering solutions to solve technical issues and last year won an innovation award for its variable pitch fan which eliminates return to idle engine complications for diesel multiple-unit trains.
Having had an eclectic career, I have finally realised my heart and home belongs to British SME manufacturing.
On the manufacturing side of things, it is amazing to think how much the UK has influenced and transformed the world.
The first industrial revolution began in the UK and introduced the modern manufacturing factory.
Living in the East Midlands UK, a place I like to visit is Cromford Mills in Derbyshire. It is here you will discover the worlds first modern factory, taking the form of a water-powered cotton spinning mill.
Of course, we are about halfway through industry 4.0 which is concentrated on connectivity, M2M, IoT, ai, etc. and it will be interesting to witness what industry 5.0 brings to the manufacturing sector.
What has been the highlight of your career so far?
Achieving chartered status is right up there!
However, my career has been very lively with many things being undertaken so there isn’t one standalone highlight but lots of different adventures and achievements along the way.
One endeavour which gained a lot of people’s attention was the China Story. I think it created intrigue because it felt to many impossible to see me accomplish an exporting initiative to China.
Firstly, I had to get official authorisation to trade with the country. Then I set about building a stand-alone Chinese web page with the corporate colour changed to a prosperous red, obtain professional translation, integrate Alipay and get the site ranking on Baidu!
It wasn’t easy but was achieved with the first export to China being on the 2nd of January 2019!
All of this done remotely and using digital platforms!
At the time, I was interviewed by East Midlands reporter David James, awarded Department for International Trade Midlands Engine Export Champion kudos, and received a congratulations letter from Elizabeth Truss MP who was then Secretary of State for International Trade.
What next for Barry?
Continuous learning and personal development to remain chartered and for on-going betterment.
Flotec has recently become employee-owned, so the future is exciting with the destiny of the organisation being in our hands!
For me, it is important to keep driving the marketing strategy forwards with brand, CSR, mission, and core values communication to all stakeholders and the promotion of products, services and sharing of good news stories about our people.
What else? I have plans to write and self-publish a book… Watch this space!
Barry Michael Aldridge FCIM CMktr
Notes to Editors:
Loughborough based Flotec Industrial Limited has been supplying hydraulic and pneumatic solutions to both rail and wider industries since 1995.
For more information, please contact Barry Michael Aldridge FCIM CMktr, Head of Marketing for Flotec Industrial Limited
Flotec Industrial Limited
Off Pavilion Way, Jubilee Dr, Loughborough LE11 5GW
Tel: 01509 230100
Online Store: https://www.floteconline.com