Mark Jackson studied for a BSc in Management at Aston Business School. Graduating in 2000 Mark is now the Head of Marketing & Communications at Avalon Entertainment Ltd. working with many of Britain’s most famous comedians from Harry Hill to Al Murray. He tells BusinessBecause how his degree helped him land his job.
Originally from Sheffield, Mark attended Aston Business School after a surprising set of A-level results; “It was a bit of an odd one, I was meant to be going to University of West England but I got better results in my A-levels and thought I would upgrade to Aston.”
Having had an interest in business from an early age and “always being an organiser” the decision to study management was an easy one. At Aston modules included Strategic Marketing, Innovation, Consumer Behaviour, Leadership and Strategic Management.
Even though Mark graduated twelve years ago he still refers back to strands of marketing theory, change management and innovation in his job now.
The media industry, with a particular focus on live events, was always where Mark saw his future career. “I started off with consumer and trade exhibitions but took a bit of a turn into live entertainment.”
Aston’s BSc Management degree was a four year degree with a placement year. “I worked on partical physics exhibitions and events in a marketing-events capacity and that experience helped me land my job at Avalon. Getting the job was also helped by applying for a junior level role at the Edinburgh festival and of course having a degree from a reputable business school.”
Having had a “full-on and busy month” working for Avalon at Edinburgh festival, Mark enjoyed all aspects of the company from the colleagues to the clients. “It was a well-recognised company based in London who were high profile and fast-paced. I did way more than I would have done in any other job.”
Three years after joining Avalon Mark decided to travel the world and hopefully find some work abroad. “I combined a trip with a job interview in New Zealand and stayed out there for over a year working for WOMAD festival and the country’s main arts festival in the winter.”
After being away from England for close to two years, the pull of England and his network of family and friends became too much. “I was tempted by opportunities that were offered in New Zealand, my career was going well and I was getting recognition which gives you confidence in your ability. But I came home.”
Mark returned to freelance in London and landed a job at Sport Relief, “it was great working with the BBC as it is such a large company and very visible. The links to Comic Relief were also relevant to my career ambitions. After I finished there it led me back into Avalon.”
In these interim years the company had grown significantly, in terms of the number of acts they represented and where these acts were playing. “There were two of us in marketing and there are now six in marketing. We are developing much more on the digital side of things too as well as arranging many more tours as live comedy has really kicked off.”
The permanent staff at Avalon is around 80 but this swells to 200 with freelancers and with various other production companies they own. How do you become part of such an exciting company? Marks personal advice is that he looks for people who are “energetic, people with a good degree of at least a 2:1, people who have done their research about the company and who can talk about what is good about themselves.”
The company continues to grow and there are many growth opportunities so Mark sees his future in the company, “and with a baby on the way it is difficult to say where I will be in the future. The work I do is really interesting and it is a great place to be.” If his circumstances allow it Mark would like to know more about management and study for a qualification from the Chartered Institute of Marketing. “But what I am doing now is a senior level of marketing so not totally sure what I would get out of more training.”