“Most careers turn into sales jobs when you get senior enough…”

With the aim of inspiring digital marketing jobs seekers, aspiring freelancers and the trailblazing entrepreneurs amongst you, we’ve tracked down accomplished industry professionals from a range of sectors to talk us through their own career journeys in this brand new series of blog posts.

Stephen Kenwright is the Co-founder and Technical Director at Rise at Seven and co-founder of SearchLeeds, a digital marketing conference growing successfully every year it’s held. Not only this but Stephen also mentors’ communications students and graduates who are starting their own business ventures at Sheffield Hallam University!

But what made this Marketer?

What did you want to be when you grew up?

I wanted to stay at university forever. I got a job when I graduated, panicked, and went back to do an MA just to avoid working for the man.

What & where was your very first job?

I did all the usual bar work and Burger King between 16 and 21. I did some freelance copywriting at university, which ultimately led to my first agency job.

When & how did you first discover digital marketing?

My first graduate job was at an “in-house agency” writing and editing copy for print ads and the website. I did a bit of branding, which I didn’t enjoy, and writing for SEO, which I did. In 2011 that seemed to be where the money was, so I left to join Branded3, a search specialist.

Share a mistake you made or an event you most regret from your career?

I don’t have regrets but I have made mistakes.

Jumping in a time machine, what pearls of wisdom would you give your 18-year-old self?

“Most careers turn into sales jobs when you get senior enough” – Sam Altman. Find something you’re passionate about because you’re going to have to sell it. If you want to get senior faster, sell. You can sell very successfully without ever having to talk to a single person who doesn’t want to buy.

…and you never really leave uni.

I chose not to do a PhD, in the end, because all my professors told me there was no life outside their subject; they have to be published constantly. 10 years on, I read more and write more now than I did then. Thankfully I like digital more than I like Shakespeare so I made a good call.

What industry skill do you wish you’d learnt sooner, and why?

PPC. It looked hard, so I avoided it. Almost nobody professes to be an expert in both SEO and PPC – there are almost no agencies in the market doing both equally well. It’s a huge opportunity.

If you were to publish your autobiography in 20 years time, what would it be titled?

I have no idea. But I always loved, via Patrick Kindlon, “Dude did some stuff. I’d listen to dude.”

What is the one thing you want to be remembered for from your career, and why?

I had a really strong backlink profile.


Thank you, Stephen, for this insight into your inspiring career! I love your point that most careers turn into sales role the more senior you get. Whichever way you look at it, as digital marketers, we’re all salespeople.

Do keep an eye out for more in our ‘Making Of A Marketer’ series as we’ll be continuing to publish new editions on a regular basis from equally inspiring digital marketing experts.

Could your career story encourage others to further their digital careers? Get in touch with me, Emma, via emma@clockworktalent.com or if you’re looking to begin a career in digital marketing, visit our contact page.