The inside scoop on my Estonian job

I’m now one week into my new job in Estonia and, while I could never mention it and maintain a veil of mystery over my employment, work is such a large part of our lives that it deserves to be introduced to the blogosphere. I also wouldn’t be here without this job, and if I wasn’t here there wouldn’t be a blog, so by that logic my job is also responsible for This Estonian Life!

What am I doing?

I’m working as the Head of Content for a financial trading company, which involves creating the global content strategy and managing the implementation of our content marketing activities across 16 countries. (It sounds a bit impressive when I put it like that, doesn’t it? In reality, I’m one week in, so I haven’t actually done any of that, yet.)

If you don’t have a marketing background, the previous paragraph was probably a whole lot of gibberish, so what does it mean?

Content marketing is an area of online marketing that uses content (articles, videos, infographics, images, gifs, eBooks, emails, social media posts, online courses, etc.) to:

  • Increase brand awareness (in plain English (henceforth, PE) – help people who have no idea who your company is find out who your company is)
  • Generate leads (PE – find new potential customers)
  • Nurture those leads (PE – continue communicating with those potential customers so they get to know us and start to build a relationship with us)
  • Increase conversions (PE – increase the number of people who start paying to use our services. Ultimately, we want to help them move from being potential customers to actual customers)
  • Improve retention (PE – keep existing customers happy)

I’ve been working in content-related areas for about 11 years now, with the last 7 of those focused in online marketing, and the last 2-5 focused on content marketing (I’ve done a range there because I’ve also been running my own publishing business since 2013, so was doing a lot of content marketing to grow that, but it wasn’t the main focus. It has been since the beginning of 2017, when I started doing some corporate work again).

So that means that the field I’m working in isn’t new, but this is a more senior position than I’ve held before, and I haven’t been in charge of strategy for a global company spread across a number of international locations, so it is an exciting challenge.

How was Week 1?

Well, I survived. ‘Survived’ sounds a bit bad, as it wasn’t an ordeal, but it was a rather chaotic week.

Technically, I started working remotely when I was in Australia, so had two weeks of getting used to the systems and processes and starting to connect with people virtually. However, the real work started when I arrived at the office on Monday.

Beyond the usual new-starter activities (IT set up, HR orientation, meeting people, getting to grips with ongoing work and processes, etc.) here’s what happened:

  • Day -3: Before I hopped on my flight, I had a call over Slack with my boss (the then-Head of Content) and my boss’s boss (the Management Board Group Marketing Manager, aka head of all things marketing). On this call, I discovered that my boss would be leaving on the 30th – my fourth day in the office. This was quite unexpected, and made me realise just how little time I had to become independent in the role.
  • Day 1: I discovered we had a new person joining the team in the following week, who was hired in the same position as me (Content Marketing Manager), and that she and I would have to battle it out for a promotion to the Head of Content role (which was now available, due to my boss’s impending departure).
  • Day 3: I got promoted to the Head of Content role (kind of proud of that turnaround time, though I’m not sure I had that much to do with it. I think it was more to do with ensuring there were clear reporting lines this week when our new team member started).
  • Day 4: My boss left the company.
  • Also day 4: There were drinks and cakes for my boss at 5pm, after which everyone went drinking at Sigmund Freud (very cool, but very popular cocktail bar in the old town). Later a handful of us went on a haunted ghost tour of Maiden Tower, after which we rejoined the others at Sigmund Freud and later went to karaoke (in a strip club, of all places). The evening culminated with the stragglers getting pizza at 3:30am before going home (day 4)
  • Day 5: After two hours of sleep, I got to work at 8am. No one else showed up until 11am. (Though I’ve discovered that 10am is the typical start time over here.)

So it’s been a rather crazy introduction to the company! I’m assuming that not all weeks are like this.

At the same time, I was also working on getting all of my adminy things sorted, including getting a personal ID code, finding an apartment, and trying to open a bank account, all of which I was trying to squeeze in during my lunch break of after work, so it’s been exhilarating, but exhausting. I’m looking forward to things calming down a bit.

How am I feeling?

Honestly? Excited, but a bit anxious.

When I accepted the Content Marketing Manager role, I was confident I could do it. It was the same level I’d worked at in the past, and I had a boss who’d been at the company for a couple of years (though only in her current role for about six months, I think) who could guide me and support me as I learned the ropes.

Now I have a fantastic opportunity that I never would have expected. I can already see lots of ways our existing approach can be improved, and am looking forward to seeing the difference my team can make.

At the same time, while I’m comfortable with the content marketing side of my role, I am worried about navigating the company itself – it’s not a very large company (I think there are about 250 people around the world, half of whom are in the Tallinn office), but there area lot of moving parts. Every country has its own marketing implementor, whose role is to implement the strategies we create in the global office. However, they are under-resourced and many have their own ideas about how things should be done, which means that there’s a challenge ahead of me to figure out the best way to work with them.

Within our own office, I’m also a bit lost when it comes to who to ask about different things, as well as who owns what. In fact, there are some content-related things that would have sat under my area in other companies, but don’t in this one. At this stage, the big one seems to be paid social media – while we can schedule organic posts, we can’t promote them ourselves, which is crucial if we want our posts to get noticed.

But I think the biggest thing is that I feel like I need to start delivering results, and soon. This pressure hasn’t come from the company – it’s entirely internal – but I’m aware that they have invested in me (to date, my flight to Estonia, my accommodation for the first two weeks, and two weeks of pay while I was working remotely back home), and I feel like I need to deliver a return on that investment.

This is then compounded by the fact that I seem to have pretty big shoes to fill. I didn’t realise how big until my boss had her goodbye drinks, and all of the speeches made it sound like she accomplished a lot in her time here, and she seemed to be universally liked, which means there’s a lot for me to live up to.

Current status? Cautiously optimistic

Having said all of that, I’m optimistic about this role. The people are great – everyone has been quite friendly, and everyone seems to be quite experienced and knowledgeable in their respective areas, which means lots of opportunities for collaboration.

And, when it comes to the work itself, I’m confident that my experience is a good match and can see plenty of room for improvement – it’s just a matter of figuring out how to make those improvements within this particular organisation.


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