Ilana is a consultant & novelist with a cat, likes shooting rifles (at cardboard targets, not animals), karaoke, dancing and driving her car very fast.
Ilana has been working in marketing and user engagement since 1999 for key lifestyle and consumer brands, leading departments at The Daily Mail, The Sun, and ASOS, and consulting for companies such as Trinity Mirror, Arcadia Group (Topshop, Topman, etc) and River Island.
Ilana has also consulted for a range of smaller retailers and start-ups offering top-down solutions through a range of marketing specialties (paid, acquisition and retention marketing, brand marketing, social marketing, content marketing, inbound marketing, PR, organic and channel marketing).
Ilana’s most recent roles have been Chief Growth Officer at Create Internet Ltd and Chief Marketing Officer at Audioboom PLC – leading teams of up to 50 people in global offices through SaaS and growth strategy.
As well as an in-demand consultant, Ilana is also an author (four novels published by Orion Books; currently writing her fifth), publisher (The Brighton Beezer, a community paper launched August 2017), and journalist (national newspapers, leading magazines and websites).
She lives in Brighton and London.
Ilana, Welcome to the Leadership Interview!
How do you start your day?
With coffee, porridge and a sense of incredulousness at how lucky I am. I’m working on some once-in-a-lifetime projects right now and I’m very grateful.
What was your first job and what was the worst job you have ever done?
My first job was in my father’s factory in my school summer holidays: there was a misprint on some brochures and they needed someone to stick labels over the mistake.
I don’t think I’ve had a bad job, although working as a barmaid in a rough pub wasn’t a highlight. The only thing I really learned was how to duck when pint glasses went flying.
What advice would you give to others about furthering their careers?
To be fearless and believe that you can.
Who inspires you and why?
My friends. They’re all doing such incredible things, from raising children as single parents, to running huge companies, to creating initiatives to help people who need it, to changing the world to make it a better place. It all counts. They make me want to continually try to be a better person.
Do you think a talent to lead is nature or nurture?
For me, it started off as nature, but it has to be continually nurtured to be effective and helpful. I’m naturally driven and organised and quite bossy, but it’s taken years to ensure I’m leading sensitively, collaboratively and respectfully. I think I’m quite good at it now, but it never stops being a learning process.
How can a leader fail? Do you have a personal example?
A leader can fail by failing to lead – but ultimately that failure probably comes from not listening and not taking responsibility.
What are your greatest strengths and weaknesses?
I think my greatest strength is probably courage – not being scared of trying a new idea, asking for help, or trying to carve a new path.
When I look back at things I’ve done I’m always amazed at what I’ve managed to do just by being gutsy.
I’m quite impatient: one of my weaknesses is not thinking about things enough and just getting on and doing things. I have to always remind myself to slow down, to consider all the options and then make my move.
What do you find most challenging about being a leader?
Slowing down to ensure that everything is a team effort.
I can get a great idea and work on something without communicating it to the rest of my team, which then throws progress off-balance.
A great leader always includes the people they’re working with, not just in terms of ideas, but in terms of pace.
What are you most proud of?
I’m pretty proud of the people I’ve mentored over the years. They’re amazing people doing astonishing things.
What’s your biggest self- indulgence?
Probably Deliveroo’s when I can’t be bothered to cook, and Uber’s when I can’t face public transport.
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