Haley McPhersonHaley McPherson, Global Marketing Leader of ProLabs is an experienced brand expert, marketing strategist and is skilled in: internal communications, analysis, promoting education and communication in the industry and social media.

Aged just 32, Haley has created a new era for vendor ProLabs, implementing and leading a complete global rebrand just six months after assuming the role in 2017, and has significantly improved internal communications and brand confidence, shifting ProLabs’ position in the market from an “average compatibles vendor” to a “high quality connectivity expert vendor”. The new messaging and positioning introduced by Haley challenges industry norms by looking to disrupt the OEM market by creating a new tier of expertise, quality and value.

While she excels at marketing and communications, she’s a keen advocate of promoting ProLabs’ people and team’s expertise and has pushed Thought Leadership as a key PR tactic, along with creating the CHOICE concept. Broken up into two segments: ‘CHO’ refers to the simple fact that they should “Choose ProLabs”, while “ICE” represents ProLabs as the “Intelligent Connectivity Experts” that they are.

Haley has worked in the industry for almost ten years across intelligence, cyber security, media and TV, where she has gained key skills and has kept in touch with everyone who has ever worked with her. A keen advocate for internal communications and a “happy workplace”, she knows the importance of a happy work place to encourage motivation and continued learning for staff morale.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

After graduating from university with a degree in Media Production and Communications, I had my heart set on a career in TV. I spent the summer volunteering at small TV stations and eventually ended up as a researcher on The Trisha Goddard Show! When the show ended, I knew it wasn’t for me and used my creative background to look for more communications/branding roles. I have now worked within marketing for nearly 10 years, from junior roles to where I am today as Global Marketing Director at the age of 32. I was headhunted for ProLabs back in April 2017, the CFO at the time was looking for someone who could build a team to execute a marketing structure and a global re-brand. I started as the Global Marketing Lead and with a large task ahead and a limited team, I found a great designer to help. Within 6 months, we had re-branded the business, built a new website and revitalised the internal culture to be proud of the business. I worked hard to reposition the business in the market, create a new style and differentiate the messaging, content style and thought leadership approach. I focused on building a new strategy that delivered results, ROI and a new era for the business – this new face of the business was an important factor of the merger that took place the following year. After a year leading ProLabs, I was promoted to Global Marketing Director and tasked with replicating the success of the ProLabs brand onto the AddOn brand which now sat under the newly formed Halo Technology Group – post merger.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

Yes and no. I knew that whatever I did in life I wanted to make my parents proud of me, my dad’s work ethic has always been my driving force so whatever career path I took I knew I had to work as hard as he did when I was growing up. I have always been creative, not necessarily academic, and I hit a rocky patch in my early career when I could have thrown it all away. My mental health was suffering, and I was on self-destruct, I pulled through and got my head down and gave my everything to my career and received promotion to Head of Marketing in my previous business. I love my job, I don’t actually see it as work, so I am lucky for that, marketing and communications are my passions and I am fortunate that this has been recognised.

Have you faced any career challenges along the way and how did you overcome these?

Being a young female in a male-orientated industry has had its challenges. I have had to introduce a fresh lease of life and new ideas to what could be seen as a dated industry. Being in a senior role in my early 30’s was tough – sometimes people would assume I didn’t know what I was talking about for someone so young or presumed inexperienced, but I have proven a lot of people wrong through my actions and deliverables.

What has been your biggest career achievement to date?

It was a huge honour to be recognised by CRN at the Women in Channel Awards, and recently being awarded Marketing Leader of the Year at the Tech Marketing and Innovation awards, both have most certainly been a highpoint and something I am extremely proud of. Aside from award recognition, seeing the impact of the global re-brand of ProLabs has been a particular highlight for me; the work that went into the project, the long months and late nights have paid off and the brand is now a market leader. On top of this, I have built an amazing team and watching young talent in my team thrive and grow in new roles makes me very proud.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?

My driving force along with my parents’ hard work ethic have been key in me being able to successfully complete the goals I wanted to achieve, not only for the global re-rebrand of ProLabs, but also in my life. I have been a long sufferer of mental health issues; I’ve had some very tough years and days due to this, but I am so fortunate to have a strong support network around me. My dad is my hero, a self-made man and my inspiration, he makes me want to be a better person and prove that you can do anything if you put your mind to it.

What top tips would you give to an individual who is trying to excel in their career in technology?

Don’t be afraid to be different, the industry is continually changing and growing and what may seem too bold now, could be the future. People told me that the branding we decided on for ProLabs was too modern, not like the rest of the industry and it wouldn’t go down well – this was not the case.  The visual identity of ProLabs is now industry recognised and the messaging and positioning has steered us towards being thought leaders.

Do you believe there are still barriers for success for women working in tech, if so, how can these barriers be overcome?

I think it has improved significantly, it is still a male dominated industry, but I do see barriers breaking as strong women lead tech and are recognised for it. Your gender shouldn’t define any role that you can do and promoting success and empowering each other will always be key. If you have great people in your business, shout about it!

What do you think companies can do to support and progress the careers of women working in technology?

Internal up-skilling and training programmes. We had a great Coding Manager within the business who started as a customer service rep, she had an interest in engineering and tech and we nurtured that interest. Within a year she was working in the lab and after 2 years was our Coding Manager and then trained as an Engineer. Just because someone starts a business in one role, doesn’t mean it’s the right one for them. A good leader or business should encourage growth to nurture potential. Its easy to be scared off by technology roles and technical job specs, but if someone has the skills and drive to learn they should be encouraged.

There is currently only 15% of women working in tech, if you could wave a magic wand, what is the one thing you would do to accelerate the pace of change for women in the industry?

Continued awareness on training and skills development. There are grants available out there as well as awards, publications and lots of amazing initiatives to promote women in tech, but more awareness of these is needed. I have been in a marketing role in technology for over 5 years and only recently aware of these myself.

What resources do you recommend for women working in tech?

Never stop learning – I learn something everyday and do not be afraid to admit that. I am studying for my leadership qualification with CIM and even after 10 years in marketing I am learning more every day.

I watch Ted Talks, read industry blogs and articles, as well as keep up to date with market journals for trends and analysis. I read a lot on LinkedIn from peers, its good to keep up to date with other people’s successes on social channels.

Networking and any events you can attend will also help with confidence and meeting new people, the first networking event I attended when I was about 23 was terrifying. I stood in the corner, ate the canapes and didn’t know how to approach anyone – but they are all designed to be open and friendly places to meet people and learn. I now go to several networking events and love them.