Rachel McElroy is Sales and Marketing Director for Cranford Group a specialist Cloud Assured Resource provider.
She has an extensive background in marketing within the IT Service Management and Technology sectors. She was the marketing lead for VeriSM, a Service Management approach for the digital age, a project with over 70 global contributors. She has a keen interest in digital transformation, cloud adoption and its effect on people and the traditional structures of business.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
I’m sales and marketing director at Cranford Group – a cloud and DevOps specialist business based near Leeds, Yorkshire. It’s an incredibly varied role with a huge tech and customer experience focus. My job is to help market the company in a way which helps to get talented people into the right organisations. I’ve been in sales throughout my professional career – from my very first shift as an estate agent aged 18.
After working as a regional sales manager for a large corporate company, I was self-employed from 2012 and set up two businesses. The second firm was with the help of an ex-colleague which specialised in social media management, marketing and PR for companies as an outsourced resource. Within the last three years, it became technology, IT, training and development-focused because of the organisations I worked with.
During this time, Cranford was one of those clients and they had so much work coming in, that my freelance role turned full-time in January 2019. I absolutely love it at Cranford. I work with a lot of talented people – in an industry that never stops – and the business itself really focuses on autonomy and work-life balance for employees. I get to be out meeting people and attending events, and I love to keep up to date with what is happening in the tech industry in this way.
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
No, I didn’t. I could say that I studied English and media at A-level, therefore have always had a desire to write and talk about exciting developments – but I wasn’t driven down a particular career path. I did go to university briefly, but it wasn’t for me because I wanted to be out in the world.
I’m a people person – my children laugh at me because I talk to anyone – so I’ve always tried to use that skill in my customer-facing roles, such as marketing and business development. Being able to network has also helped shape where my work has taken me.
Have you faced any challenges along the way?
My roles have been largely male-dominated, so I’ve worked hard to be taken seriously and not suffer from ‘imposter syndrome’. I tackle it head-on by believing in myself and striving to improve my work.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
Definitely setting up two companies – and making them a success. My children were young at the time too – my eldest was just four months old when I founded my first firm – so that was a challenge. I moved areas and didn’t know anyone either, so I had to start from scratch with everything.
What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?
My personal drive – I make the choice to get up early and work hard. I’m my own worst critic and have a crazy, internal motivation to always improve. It’s been a way of life for me right from when I was a young teenager working in a pub washing up. I’ve always had a really strong work ethic, and that’s something I’m keen to pass on to my children.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?
I haven’t had formal mentoring outright, but I’ve learned from so many people along the way – particularly in the tech industry, where people have been really supportive and taught me a lot. A former boss in particular stands out during my four years under her wing, she always pushed me to go to events and develop my skills. She was a fantastic influence.
If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Parity, what would it be?
This is an interesting topic because I’ve spoken to a lot of women in the tech industry about this and there are so many opinions. For me, it’s about celebrating talented people for the work they do – both men and women – and I think we need to support each other as much as possible. I’ve got young daughters and want them to enjoy work in the same way I have – and not feel as though they can’t do something because they are female.
When it comes to tech, we need to play a greater role in encouraging children to enjoy what it offers and understand how huge a role it plays in our lives. If we keep doing that, young people – especially girls – will enter into the industry and stay to grow it even further.
If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?
I’m my own worst enemy, so I would say ‘don’t be so hard on yourself’.
What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?
At Cranford, I’m leading – and delivering on – a cloud tech white paper, as well as quite a few other projects across marketing, business development and office systems. It’s a really busy first quarter, but a really exciting time for the company.