We caught up with Jenny Taaffe, CEO and Owner of digital marketing company iZest, who has just been nominated for IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year 2014. Here she tells IMAGE daily about starting with an empty diary and no clients, why your outfit could propel your career and why Ireland is a global hub for digital marketing…
Well, my Twitter profile mentions the 3 of the key locations we operate in London, Dublin and Dubai… nd of course my title, CEO & Owner of iZest Marketing Group. Naturally, it also mentions that I’m a finalist in the upcoming Image Business Woman of the Year Awards 2014!
Describe your average working day:
In our business there is very little that is ‘average’ about each day. The day starts very early, as I have 2 very young boys, so it’s great to spend some (5am!) quality time with them before work begins. If I’m not travelling I’ll head into the office to catch up on emails and set out a plan for the day. Then it’s a whirlwind of catching up with the iZest team on the status of current projects, calls with international clients and meetings with our local clients. The days go very quickly in our office!
How did the idea for iZest come about?
I had spent almost 7 years working for a company, and I had always wanted to work for myself. So when the downturn was in full swing at the end of 2009 I decided to make the jump. Everyone thought I was mad, but I really believe that you have to take opportunities when they are right for you in your life, not when the economy dictates.
What advice would you have for someone else interested in a career in digital marketing?
I don’t think there has ever been a better time to go for a career in Digital Marketing. It amazes me when people younger than me don’t see the opportunity that they have on their doorstep with the Silicone Docks in Dublin, and all the amazing local and international digital companies that have set up here.
Our international clients are always amazed that we can get meetings with senior people in Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter, just by picking up the phone to someone we know. There is no value you can put on that type of access – businesses in other parts of the world are very envious of what we have created here.
What has been the biggest highlight of your career (so far)?
There have been quite a few! Becoming MD of Pigsback.com at aged 29 was definitely one that put my career on a different trajectory, getting the keys to our office in Fitzwilliam Square in Dublin in January was also a highlight, and finally our plans to set up an international office in Dubai, which still seems surreal to me!
What was the biggest challenge you faced setting up iZest?
I think making the decision to do it was the hardest… And then waking up the first day with no clients and an empty diary. Luckily, that didn’t last long!
You do so much, how do you juggle it all and stay sane?
Ah, that’s the big question and I get asked this almost every day. Having an 18 month and 3 year old definitely add to the challenge! I think having my husband, Alan, join the business a couple of years ago has changed things hugely e work extremely hard but we also have great flexibility, so when the kids need us we are there.
What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?
Never be afraid to ask for business from a client. If I look at every single client we have now, I can honestly say that we are working with them because we stuck our neck out and asked them directly if we could have the business.
Your number 1 inspiration?
My Dad was always my business inspiration. I can remember calling his office when I was very small and being told that he was “in a meeting”, at the time, it sounded like the most glamorous thing ever… I’ve pretty much been in meetings ever since, and yes, the glamour has worn off!
Have you got a quote to live by/favourite quote?
“Dress for the job you want, not the one you have”. I always did this, and I’ve always advised people I’ve worked with to do the same. It’s a practical bit of advice that can really impact your next promotion.
When I’m not working you’ll most likely find me…
Hanging out in Marlay Park with the kids, it’s my second home.
The best thing about my work is…
Every so often I stand back and look at our brand, office, team and amazing client list that we have created from nothing. I’m really proud of what we have achieved.
How did it feel being nominated for an IMAGE Businesswoman of the Year award?
It has been brilliant for me and for the iZest team. It’s really nice to know that work that we are doing to provide jobs in Ireland and bring in significant international revenue from abroad is being recognised. I think awards like this are great, and rare chance to stop and take stock of where we have come from in a few short years.