Marketing podcast: Life after advertising with Linda Locke

Have you been enjoying Marketing's "Survival Instinct" podcast series? Well, buckle up because you are in for another ride! This week, we launched a new series titled "Life After Advertising", featuring the biggest names who once ran the ad industry on what their careers have been like since leaving advertising.

With the new series, we hope to inspire individuals who have had to face uncertainty in their careers in recent times, and share tips on how to hit the restart button.  Kicking off this series is Linda Locke, former marketing director at Club 21 and regional creative director at Leo Burnett. Locke left the industry in 2006 due to a global reorganisation. Locke shares what it feels like having to leave the industry that she spent 30 years in due to a global restructure, and what she has been up to since then.

Listen to the full episode here.

Marketing: You've had an illustrious career holding many high-ranking posts, and the last one was in the ad fold, being regional creative director at Leo Burnett, after which you transitioned onto the marketing role with Club 21. Tell us a little bit about when you left the industry and how you decided it was time.

Locke: I left the industry in 2006 when the Leo Burnett higher ups in Chicago decided that they wanted to reorganise the world along with what was then the buzzword at the time -  the BRIC markets - Brazil, Russia, India and China. So, they decided to remove all the regional roles, and my role at that time was regional creative director.

Barring finance (what a surprise), all of marketing, creative and strategy disappeared. Alternate market digital servicing disappeared as well. They were literally left with the finance people, the HR people and the managing director, essentially.

I was then offered another position as a Southeast Asia creative director where they would have me based out of Thailand for maybe [half the time]. So I could travel back home and come back in again. 

I felt like it was the universe saying, you know what, if they don't think all these things are really important, then maybe it's time for you to go, which frankly, I had been mulling over doing for some time anyway.

So, in a way, it helped me because it just made up my mind for me. I thought then I would leave, and essentially, I thought I could retire. But I ended up being given the role of coordinator manager marketer for the second Engage conference. So, I carried on working into 2007, but as a consultant, really. [...]Then 2008 happened. We were in a global recession. I thought, "Oh, dear. why do I always pick the wrong times to do things?"

That's when  I got offered an opportunity to meet Christine Ong, founder of Club 21, who was looking for somebody for a short time. It was meant to fill a void, that she could replace a marketing director, but also feel that the ship was in safe hands. So, I went to meet her, and I liked her very much. That's basically how it started. It was supposed to be about a two to three months role, but somehow, we just carried on. We got on very well, we worked very well together. I enjoyed it. I was learning a lot of new things which I always like doing and kind of lasted eight years. 

Marketing: With the books that you're writing post leaving the marketing world completely, do you feel this was an active choice in the direction you wanted to take with your life, or did it just happen quite organically?

Locke: A little bit of both. I had deliberately kept a book with all these little notes in them from my time I was raising my son - because they just struck me as being something that could be turned into stories - with the idea that maybe one day I would have the time to do it. In that way, it was pressing of me to think about it that long ago.

But I think that I may never have got going, had it not been for trying to do to make sure the actual story of the [family] orchid got told to children.

It gave me confidence and also built a relationship with a publisher that allowed me to go on to do the next lot of books and the next lots of books, basically.

Marketing: If we had to drag you out of retirement now, would you do it?

Locke: I'm trying to learn something I've never done for 30 years - to try and learn to enjoy my life a bit more. So, no. Nothing could tempt me back. I enjoy doing little forays, working on little projects. But to come back full time and try to do it now, I'm not interested in it anymore.

Listen to the full episode here. Hit Subscribe to keep abreast with the latest episodes.

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