Nadine Campbell is an entrepreneur, marketing expert and diversity champion.
She runs her own marketing consultancy Digital Helpdesk and set up Ace Entrepreneurs, the organisation championing diverse entrepreneurs and women in business.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I am a business and marketing specialist, having worked in this field for the last 16 years in London with agencies and brands, with a short stint in New York.
9 years ago I became an entrepreneur when I founded The Digital Helpdesk, a marketing consultancy and I have had some incredible clients including Samsung, Virgin Media and Mobile, Unilever, Britvic and Ford. 2 years ago I started an eCommerce business Mummy Kit while on maternity leave, selling pre packed Mum and baby hampers for busy career mums just like me. I am a mum of a very active and fun loving 3 year old.
Finally, in March I launched ACE Entrepreneurs. This is a member network for black entrepreneurs and small business owners, helping with everything from securing investment, business training to the A-Z of starting up a new company. ACE Entrepreneurs is a culmination of everything I have done to date. It started with a small group of entrepreneurs chatting on whatsapp and has grown to a scalable project for my wider community. It has been so successful in the initial few months, I am now running this as a fully fledged start up.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
I never really sat down and planned my long term career. From my early teens my first passion was fashion design, which I studied in college and in university. I chose a double degree in Fashion and Marketing; to ensure I was set up for success later on. Then I surprised myself when I went straight into marketing, I was good at it and I have only ever had marketing roles ever since.
I did however set milestones every 4 years or so and kept ticking them off. At about 27, I knew I wanted to start my own business, I wanted to have more control over my career, more variety and to test myself by going out on my own. It took me another couple of years to muster up the courage to do so and I never looked back. By 2020 I had reached so many of my earlier goals and I was grateful for my hard work ethic and opportunities my family provided for me to get there earlier on. Earlier this year, I decided my next big goal was to give back to my community. I was not not expecting such a big career change or to start another business, however now I could not see myself doing anything else.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
I have faced many challenges! Although I am confident and capable, I was challenged a lot. I always overcome these challenges by showing what I can do, in spite of the circumstances. I believe this is the best way to silence critics, gain supporters and inspire others to do the same.
I was often the only woman in the room, the only person of colour and I look young too, so intersectionality was definitely at play throughout my career. However I believe you must have conviction in your own abilities to become a leader and to make your vision a reality. When it comes down to it, I always back myself to win. If I don’t win, I learn.
I know that challenges will be constant, so it’s how you deal with them that counts. Currently my biggest challenge is time – how to juggle a toddler, manage a home and several businesses all at once. The question I wrestle with is how do I streamline my vision and make it work with my new life circumstances? I am figuring that out, at my own pace.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Starting my marketing consultancy The Digital Helpdesk and running it with success for the last 9 years. I proved my concept worked, honed my craft and gained incredible clients from my constant networking. I kept learning, strengthened my skills, kept my passion and built my reputation along the way. This business was the springboard to many other achievements. It showed me anything I put my mind to was possible and I must listen to my own voice.
I came back off maternity leave to land a dream client, Samsung. Headhunted for the role, I felt extremely proud to make a real mark with the client. I went on to lead the campaign which won the eCommerce Social Campaign of the year 2019, for my work with Samsung and their partner retailers. In the same year I was a finalist for Marketing Freelancer of the year 2019. It was a complete whirlwind and I loved it. I felt very proud of myself, not just for that moment, but what it took to get there and doing all this while being a new mum.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
Extreme belief in my overall capabilities, a positive attitude and an optimistic outlook to life. The right mindset and good energy can take you literally anywhere. I describe myself as ‘a doer’, I have always worked extremely hard to get everything I got in life so far.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
Mentoring is an important part of career growth. I was fortunate to gravitate to people throughout my career that acted as mentors and they each helped take me to the next level. Whether it was distilling my vision, or creating future goals, or working on my current endeavours. Having a sounding board from someone else who is also successful in business and is neutral, is a priceless resource. I am so grateful to have just started working with 2 new mentors recently via Matchable, who are helping me take ACE Entrepreneurs to the next level.
I have always unofficially mentored people within the teams that I have managed, now with ACE Entrepreneurs, I provide a mentoring program for aspiring or current black entrepreneurs. I love talking to people about their businesses, helping them get their ideas down or helping people take the next step on their ladder. It is hugely rewarding to help others.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
All companies would be required to have an open list of base salaries for jobs and to show the percentage of male and female candidates on the base salary, or above. Salaries still being taboo is one of the biggest things holding back gender parity. If everyone could see the wide divide, it would become an even larger issue for companies which pay women unfairly.
I understand each candidate regardless of gender has their own skill level, which would afford them a raise in salary. However, with this visibility, it would be easier to justify if someone has a bigger salary when it’s based on additional skill or experience. It could also become a motivational tool for those on the base salary to literally see how they get to the next level.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
Go for every opportunity and don’t be afraid to go to new places to reach new career heights!
To be braver, bolder and shout more about your wins.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
My current challenge is to achieve a step change for black owned businesses, especially within scaling and funding. I want to be a major disruptor in this space, to ensure we achieve parity with how other small businesses grow. To drive my community to take charge of our micro economy, not only within business, but by providing motivation to those who have dreamt of being an entrepreneur, both young and old. We are the underrepresented, but it does not have to stay that way, I am creating opportunities by bringing us together to collaborate, for a combined goal.
My vision is to build the biggest member network black entrepreneurs, starting with the UK. I want to change the way we look at and control our financial future and career goals. It starts by being more visible and being heard, it continues with learning and sharing knowledge and it flourishes with an amazing group of like minded individuals all contributing to our entrepreneurial ecosystem.
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