Career /Behind the Creative: Five traits of a great marketing manager

Behind the Creative: Five traits of a great marketing manager

Welcome to our new series Behind the Creative, where we sit down with senior professionals in the creative industry and pick their brains about our industry, their experiences and some of the most pressing issues facing creatives.

We’re thrilled to kick off this series with Haley Shamray, Brand and Marketing Communications Manager at Target. After working at agencies for a decade, she decided to make the switch in-house to Target in May 2021.


Haley, what made you decide to move in-house after a decade working at agencies?

I started my career at Clemenger Group, a large marketing agency where I got to work with so many people across different accounts, clients, industries and audiences. It was a great place to cut my teeth and start my career before moving to a small boutique agency.  Eventually, I found myself wanting to get back into a larger organisation for the opportunity to expand my skill set – plus the intrigue of what really happens client-side was all too irresistible. I missed being surrounded by lots of people and all of those learnings you pick up when you work with such a diverse group. There were a couple of small stepping stones along the way, but eventually Steph found me this role at Target, and here we are!


Is there interest in hiring agency staff in-house?

There is definitely a huge appetite for agency people at in-house companies. People have this preconception – particularly at large companies – that there’s 50 or so people in the marketing department and everything is done in-house. The reality for some of these businesses is that their marketing department may only be 5-10 people, therefore the knowledge and work ethic that naturally is ingrained in people who come from an agency is priceless. These people often come full to the brim with fresh ideas, are a bit of a jack of all trades and can move quickly while keeping all the plates spinning.


If someone was looking to make the move from agency to in-house or progress their career to marketing manager, what things should they highlight on their CV?

There are always key traits and habits that are easily transferable between any career, which as a leader, should be part of your everyday modus operandi. However, there are five main things that I believe make a really good marketing manager:


They uplift their people. It’s in the job title, you’re managing people. The best managers give their people opportunities to learn, grow, present and get in front of the people who can take their career to the next level.

I’ve been really lucky that I’ve had some great managers that have afforded me the opportunity to tackle huge projects and campaigns for major clients to show what I’ve learnt. I’ve also tried to replicate this behaviour as a manager by giving my team a seat at the table wherever possible.

Also, by nurturing your team’s growth and giving them pathways to grow and progress, it makes them think “why would I leave when there’s all of these opportunities?”, which helps you keep great team members around for longer too!


They’re a firefighter. A lot of managing involves problem solving and putting out fires. No matter how planned and organised you are, things will go wrong. Most importantly, managers need to stay calm under pressure and follow the process to solve the problem – don’t panic!

Problems don’t necessarily mean that you haven’t done your job well or planned properly, but sometimes stuff just happens. The more issues you face over your career, the better you get at dealing with them, so make sure to embrace this experience.


They know their audience. You may have all of the tools at your disposal – people, a healthy marketing budget – so the possibilities for campaigns are endless, but the most important thing is to know and remember your audience. Essentially, fish where the fish are.

There’s always room to grow and expand your audience, but be loyal to the audience who got you to where you are. It’s easy, when budgets are large and you have lots of resources, to get carried away with brainstorming fun, interesting concepts that’ll potentially draw in new customers, but it doesn’t always need to be bigger than Ben Hur.


They understand sales. Money makes the world go round. At the end of the day, marketing is a form of sales, even though in many businesses the marketing and sales teams are kept separate. It’s all good and well to be creative and come up with amazing campaigns, but if they’re not reaching the right audience and the bottom line isn’t looking strong, then something’s gotta give. Keep a finger on the pulse on your business’s sales, be aware of the trends that come with these sales and use the data to successfully implement campaigns.


They keep an eye on the market. Know what your competitors are doing, know what creative and marketing agencies are doing (particularly US & UK agencies as they tend to work with the biggest brands) and know what the trends are. Most large retailers have an agency on board to research and conceptualise strategic frameworks as a starting point for any major campaign or NPD launch, so use what they’re doing as your go-to case study. You can learn a lot by seeing what is successful, what doesn’t work and what you could potentially implement in your next campaign.


Anything else they should consider to help them nail that next role?

Understand the general landscape of digital. Digital is a conversation I have 1000 times a day – how does digital impact our audience and their buying habits, how does it impact our campaigns, our channel choices? You’ll be left behind if you don’t play in this space.

In terms of retail in particular, social and content is a very important part of digital. Know how social and content works – not just how to use the tools, but what works for your audience and what doesn’t. Know how you get cut through with your audience and how that content will be consumed and live online.

If you’re a particularly techy person, think about experiential technology opportunities to enhance and curate the customer experience. Is it augmented reality? Is it tailored recommendations based on their buying or browsing habits? Keep your finger on the pulse and ear to the ground for the tech you can use to improve the user experience and ultimately increase sales.

Finally, keep learning and keep educating yourself. Now more than ever, the opportunities and avenues to learn and upskill are available in abundance. Get involved, ask questions, ask for a seat at the table, ask to work with other teams to learn new skills and ask for that training opportunity. It’s also kinda boring if we don’t learn anything new, right?


If you want to chat with Haley about this article or anything marketing-related, you can connect with her on LinkedIn. And if you’re looking for marketing roles, we’re the people to talk to. Get in touch with what type of role you’re looking for today at