5 of 50

2019 is our 50th anniversary and we are championing some of the people who help make Scottish Ballet a great place to work. Each week we will introduce you to a different career at Scottish Ballet and the person behind it. 

Anna Bateson is Chief Customer Officer of Guardian News & Media and has been on Scottish Ballet's Board since May 2017.

We spoke to Anna about a career journey that's seen her work at media giants including MTV, Google and YouTube, and she gave us her advice for any aspiring marketeers. 

What was your first job, and what attracted you to the media industry?

I graduated with a degree in Politics, Philosophy and Economics.  I sat the civil service exams, and explored being a researcher for an MP, however the unpaid nature of the work was a barrier. I applied for a number of roles in both political and financial PR, so my first job was as a Financial PR Executive

I learned about the world of media and discovered I was incredibly interested by the press.  My grandfather was a foreign correspondent for the BBC, and I had always wanted to be a journalist.  I realised during my time at university that journalism perhaps wasn’t for me, but to be able to work near it, or around it was very appealing. 

Can you briefly describe your career journey to your current position as Chief Customer Officer at The Guardian?

My career journey has been anything but planned or particularly considered.  I have been lucky, and have tried to take opportunities as they present themselves. This has mainly served me well, with a few mis-steps, let's call them learning experiences, as well.

I went from a year in PR, to working for Bloomberg and latterly directly for Mike Bloomberg running European Marketing and Arts Sponsorship. I tried working in a start-up, which was not a success, moved into TV because there was a job at Artsworld, and from there went to MTV, and then ITV, always in the marketing department. I was headhunted to join YouTube after the company had been bought by Google, and spent 7 years running marketing in Europe and latterly in a global role based in San Francisco.  

When I returned to London I wanted to do something different and left Google to work briefly at a start-up, that was not in the media. It was an interesting moment of late self discovery when I realised that I missed the curiosity, culture and people of a media business. Starting at The Guardian felt like I was coming home.

You worked in the USA for a number of years, were there many differences between working in the US/UK?

American corporate culture is very different to the UK’s: much more optimistic and 'can do', but also more conventional and hierarchical, which surprised me! There are different expectations to how you behave in meetings, react to emails, and demonstrate engagement, which took a little bit of adjusting to, but I grew to love it. It was an exciting time to be in Silicon Valley and in tech, there was still a sense of optimism about what we could achieve.

What has been your career highlight?

My career highlight is right now - working on a brand I passionately believe in, The Guardian, at a time when brave independent news has never mattered more.  I have been lucky enough to be here during a hard fought turn around, from a time when we were losing a great deal of money due to the changing realities of our business model, to one where through innovation and experimentation we have found a way to compensate for the revenue lines that are declining, by turning to our readers around the world to fund us. 

What advice would you give to someone who wants to get into the media marketing industry?

My advice would be you need to be passionate about the media or the brand in order to enjoy what you do. It's very hard to work in a business or organisation where you do not share the values or believe in the purpose. 

What attracted you to Scottish Ballet, and how did you get involved as a Board Member?

I am a lifelong lover of ballet, having danced quite seriously up to university and have been a passionate fan ever since. I am married to a Scot, so although I am not Scottish I feel I have shared family and heritage, and my children are half Scottish so I want them to understand and care about what that means. 

I remember arriving to be interviewed for the role and the man walking me to the waiting room commented on how incredibly lovely the Scottish Ballet directors on the interview panel were. He remarked that this was not always the case, and he was absolutely right! 

What's your 'get up and go song'?

a-ha - Take On Me

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