As part of our regular interview series with leading figures in the national business community, we welcome Justin Gale, Global Digital Director for healthcare company GSK.
As Global Digital Director for a worldwide healthcare company, Justin’s role is multi-faceted and encompasses a wide range of responsibilities. To help us better understand, Justin breaks his job down into 4 main functions;
Digital Strategy for the Skin Health Category – developing and putting the global digital strategy into action to accelerate revenue delivered from digital opportunities.
Digital Capability – resourcing the right talent and agency partners and enabling them with the right tools and training to be successful.
Delivery of Healthcare Technology – Influencing stakeholders to adopt new ways of integrating technology into business processes, managing the global roll-out of new technologies and functions.
Digital Operations – Managing the balance between internal and external communications, outsourcing the digital marketing functions to external agencies where required. Ensuring that both internal and external communications are working harmoniously.
The Biggest Challenges
We asked Justin about the challenges that he faces in his role; “The biggest challenge we are currently facing is influencing stakeholders to adopt new ways of doing things – the consumers are very quick to pick up new ways of doing things. In this respect we are always running slower than our consumers”.
Part of the issue, Justin comments, is the length of time it takes to roll out changes; “for example, one small change needs to be consulted with 20 different people, all in different locations”.
A major challenge Justin faces at a global level is Digital Capability; he explains that it is imperative that right people are in the right places, and that they are equipped with the skills they need to succeed.
This brings our discussion on to the topic of the skills shortage in the Digital industry.
The Skills Shortage
On this topic Justin comments; “There needs to be a substantial cross-over between traditional and digital marketing. In fact, the term ‘digital marketing’ is becoming irrelevant, as digital is now a fundamental channel of marketing. Soon job titles with ‘Digital’ in will become obsolete, as most roles do now include an element of digitalisation”.
Delving deeper into the this subject, we ask Justin where he has been experiencing a shortage in skills; “Data is one of the areas with the biggest shortage” he explains, which corresponds with worrying reports published MIT Sloan in 2015 stating that 40% of businesses struggle to find data analytical talents.
Another area Justin touched on is the lack of convergence between creative and media skills “more of a mixed skillset is needed, for example, a UX designer needs basic coding and vice versa”.
Skills For Success
Justin has excelled through his career at a supersonic speed, and we wanted to know which of his skills were most significant to his success.
In terms of hard skills, Justin says his strength is in Digital Operations at large scale; this was the topic of his MBA dissertation and gave him a good leverage for being hired by GSK.
In terms of soft skills, resilience has been fundamental to Justin’s success; “resilience is something you learn through experience; making mistakes and taking time to reflect. Having a clear vision of where you want to be and how you will get there will really help with resilience”
Cultural skills have also been an instrumental part of Justin’s success “absorbing different cultural ways of working helps develop emotional intelligence” he says. This ability has certainly been beneficial to Justin’s current role where he manages a global team across 20 different countries.
Justin affirms that it is these skills that help him influence at a senior level.
Justin’s 3 Top Tips for Succeeding as a Digital Marketer
1 – Practical Skills – Justin expresses that practical skills are very important, in fact, he would prefer to hire new talent based on practical skills with a complimentary degree in a subject such as psychology, rather than marketing accreditations such as CIM or ILM.
2 – Have a Vision – Justin comments “it’s easier to get where your going if you have a clear vision. Work out what you need to progress your career and focus on achieving it”. This leads Justin on to his final tip.
3 – Be Flexible with Job Roles - Justin has worked for both small and large companies and has found major benefits working for both; “for every role, work out what you will get out of it. For example, there are skills you will get from working for a small company that you will not get working for a larger company, however, there may be more room for progression at a bigger company”.