Have a passion for business and marketing? Looking for a role that involves both creative, communication and strategic thinking? Looking into a role as a Brand Manager might be the right fit for you!
We had a chat with Hind Simhairi, a Senior Brand Manager at PepsiCo, about all things brand management, from what she really does as a Brand Manager on the daily, what’s best about her job to keeping up with industry changes.
Interested to know more? Keep reading on!
Hind Simhairi works as a Senior Brand Manager at PepsiCo. She’s just finished a year of leading the campaign behind the new release of Red Rock Deli Chef Series.
In the span of less than a decade, she has also managed the brands of many things you can find in the shops — from Huggies, Kleenex, U by Kotex to Panadol for Children!
How did you end up in this role? What made you want to work in this industry?
Becoming a Brand Manager all starts with an interest in business and commerce. Hind first tells us, “I really enjoyed Business Studies and Economics at school. So, it was natural for me to enrol in Bachelor of Commerce at Macquarie Uni and I really enjoyed Marketing subjects so decided to major in it.”
The turning point for Hind was landing a 12-month Industry Based Learning (‘IBL’) program with GlaxoSmithKline, one of the top global healthcare companies in the world, during her last year of university. Throughout the internship opportunity, she realised she had her heart set out for Marketing.
Studies and Experience
Hind studied a Bachelor of Commerce at Macquarie University, majoring in Marketing. The IBL program that she completed with GlaxoSmithKline is part university scholarship and part internship, where students receive an education scholarship to work at the industry partner.
What is a Brand Manager?
Since brand managers work on the brand as a whole, they do a lot of big-picture thinking.
“The best way I would describe my role,” Hind says, “is you’re basically acting like a general manager of a brand.”
It involves a lot of leadership and strategic thinking to the direction the brand should follow. To execute this, brand managers focus on project and campaign based work.
Though creativity and innovation is definitely needed in this role, it also requires working with numbers and analysis — there’s a lot of research required into consumer insights, financial management, and working with internal and external stakeholders (other teams of the company and external businesses the project requires).
“As a brand lead, you become involved in everything that impacts a brand’s performance, so there’s a lot of internal and external cross-functional team alignment and influence to ensure you’re ultimately protecting brand health and profitability of the brand’s profit and loss,” Hind says.
Roles and Responsibilities
A typical work-from-home day for Hind as a Senior Brand Manager starts at 8-8:30AM, with a large cup of coffee at her desk.
“The thing about my role is that no two days are the same and that’s the beauty of marketing,” she tells us. “It is so varied that it really depends on what priorities are on during that month with campaigns, activations or projects.”
The only “typical” parts of her days is spending 85% of them in meetings (Zoom, currently), receiving no more than 100 emails a day and, above all, prioritising her team. Other than meetings and emails, a high proportion of her time is spent on project management, presentations, as well as finance and data analysis.
With project management, she ensures that the team’s on track with their stage of product innovation (from concepting, to development, to executing), so that they can deliver it on time and in full.
Presentations are given to the leadership team, internal cross-functional teams and external agencies. Presentations with internal cross-functional teams, or people from different departments, make sure that every team is aligned on projects, campaigns, executions, retailer requests.
Presentations with external agencies align on strategy, creative campaigns, artwork, as well as digital and social media strategy.
Lastly, a bit of number work is involved in Hind’s work. Finance and data analysis mostly includes analysing the monthly performance on brand and competitors, deploying action plans if needed, as well as managing the financial budget to meet the net revenue and profit targets.
Which industries can this career be found in?
Brand managers are employed in various industries across Australia. According to JobOutlook, the main industries are Wholesale Trade (13.6%), Professional, Scientific and Technical Services (13.4%), Retail Trade (12.8%) and Manufacturing (12.2%).
What jobs do people sometimes confuse this with?
Although brand managers and marketing managers have similar responsibilities, which can be performed together in one role, brand managers are more focussed on bigger-picture strategies, such as the direction of the brand and monitoring their financial targets.
Characteristics and Qualities
Knowledge areas you can anticipate a Brand Manager to be well-versed on are their:
- Technical knowledge (Communications & Media, Sales & marketing)
- Administration and Management
- Customer and personal service
Communications & Media and Sales & marketing are two areas of technical knowledge brand managers specialise in. At the forefront, they communicate the brand’s public image that is promoted through campaigns — most of this is digital and social marketing and creative excellence.
Behind all this, brand managers are researching, analysing and working out the consumer insights.
Administration and management involves leadership, such as coordinating people and resources on the daily. It also includes monthly financial management, checking that the profit targets and net revenue are met, and forecasting.
Lastly, through the interpersonal work in daily tasks and meetings, customer and personal service is a knowledge area important to brand managers. Presenting internal and external stakeholders is no easy feat, or leading a team — a keen sense of emotional intelligence is at the core of this.
Steps to Becoming a Brand Manager
What should you study?
Brand managers typically study some form of Business degree, such as a Bachelor of Commerce. Since brand managers work closely with the function of marketing, a major in marketing is definitely recommended!
Some degrees to check out include:
How long does it take to become a Brand Manager?
As a leadership position, becoming a brand manager requires three to five years’ of experience in a junior marketing role. However, this will vary company to company.
Other than knowledge you’ll learn through work experience, there are many softwares you’ll work with as a brand manager. This will also vary depending on the size of the company you’re working for.
For marketing research and data analytics, Hind uses the IRI, Nielsen and Quantium. For digital and social marketing, she uses Facebook, Instagram, Sprinklr, Google Analytics. For meetings, presentations and emails, Excel, PowerPoint, Outlook are a must.
What will this career look like in the future?
How in-demand is this career?
As consumers are increasingly and always changing in their needs and wants, brand management is important to being in tune with consumer consciousness and reflecting that in their brand. Brand management is a career that is in-demand — however, leadership positions are, of course, less frequent than a team-member role.
“Brand Management will remain a crucial industry, but it has become very different to what it was 10 years ago. So, the key is to learn, learn, learn, adapt, expose yourself to different skill sets and adopt new technology… and most importantly, move at speed!” Hind says about keeping up with industry demand.
Are there opportunities to grow or specialise?
“Absolutely! I don’t think you ever stop growing or learning in this field no matter what level you get to. The scope is so broad because you need to be across so many different elements as the brand custodian — growth exposure in revenue management, finance, data analytics, product development, category, Shopper, Sales, Marketing,” Hind says.
“Let’s take Marketing on its own. It’s diverse enough because there are different areas you need to know, and also decide to specialise in, whether it be client side or agency side.”
As Hind explains, you can stick with the client side of brand management and specialise in Digital, Media, Consumer Insights, or Project Management.
You can switch to the agency side of Brand Management, where you provide external services for the brand instead of managing it — think more innovative and creative roles such as strategists, copywriting and digital and social media managers!
|Annual Salary||Future Growth||Skill Level Rating|
|$115,648+||Strong over the next 5 years||Very high skill|
Influential Trends and the Future of this Industry
Consumer behaviour, Hind tells us, is where the future of the industry is heading.
“From brand or product expectations to media consumption, perspective is changing so rapidly. Which means that brand management and marketing as a whole looks very different now. It’s no longer a 1-size-fits-all approach,” Hind says.
“Every brand role is unique, and each target consumer is unique. It’s about looking ahead at trends and ensuring we stay at the forefront of consumer needs to remain relevant.”
Best Thing & Worst Thing
What do you enjoy most about this job?
“I love my job! I absolutely love that every day looks different for me and it’s never repetitive,” Hind highlights. “I love having a vision and seeing the bigger picture to then deploying it and influencing the organisation to share the strategic intention of the brand and eventually see it all come to life.”
“But what I love most about my job is being surrounded by incredibly intelligent and supportive people who empower me on a daily basis. At the end of the day — it’s the people and your team that makes you love your job.
What do you enjoy least about this job?
Hind says, “There will always be elements in every role that you dislike no matter what level you reach. Let’s see… okay, I think it would definitely have to be the Quarterly Audit Control Protocols (that is, financial management done every three months)!”
Advice for Aspiring Brand Managers
What is the workplace culture like?
“Really depends on the company. In FMCG (Fast Moving Consumer Goods) and PepsiCo it’s very fast paced — the fast eat the slow!” says Hind.
“There’s certainly high expectations to deliver, but it’s very much a collaborative, high team engagement, supportive and fun culture. The marketing team is usually the heart of most organisations!”
“Absolutely! Very flexible culture at PepsiCo and it’s no longer about standard 9-5. There’s recognition that everyone works differently so it’s about delivering your work on time in a way that works for you or your role,” explains Hind.
“I think with COVID-19, this has definitely become and will continue to be the norm in most organisations who recognise you can do your role remotely.”
What do you wish you had known before you started working in this career?
“Most people expect that you need to be creative to be in marketing and a perception that you spend majority of your time on advertising and creative campaigns. Reality is that “creative marketing” is probably 10% of my role (in a more junior role, it’s probably about 40%),” Hind notes.
“It’s more about leading a multi-million-dollar brand so you’re in charge of the bigger picture and along the way you need to empower and influence stakeholders — internal and external with various experiences and skills to align and execute the strategic direction of the brand.”
“I would also say that Finance and Data Analysis is actually 40% of brand management! So know your numbers,” shares Hind.
Why should people consider taking on this career?
“Brand management is something where you’ll mix the fun, creative and experiential with finance, data and management. So, if you want your morning to look different to your afternoon then consider taking this career!” says Hind.
“If you love to learn, if you like diversity in your job, if you hate repetitive tasks, if you like fast-paced work and seeing the bigger picture… And above all, if you want to be the heart of an organisation where you’re involved in the decision making alongside every single department as the brand custodian, then you’re in the right place.”
Lynn Chen is a Content Writer at Art of Smart Education and is a Communication student at UTS with a major in Creative Writing. Lynn’s articles have been published in Vertigo, The Comma, and Shut Up and Go. In her spare time, she also writes poetry.