Name Sara Zimmerman
Job Group marketing and communications director at leisure car rental company Holiday Autos.
How did you get into marketing?
I went into marketing after graduating. I was attracted by the breadth of the role, and the combination of creativity and commerce.
What was your motivation for joining Holiday Autos?
I had worked previously for blue-chip companies and was looking for a more entrepreneurial company culture. I was impressed by the calibre of Holiday Autos' trade marketing. I was excited by its positioning as a challenger brand and a consumers' champion within the car rental sector.
What is the greatest challenge the marketing industry faces?
To make e-commerce effective both for the customer and critically in terms of delivering profits. This year has seen a massive reversal of fortunes for e-commerce in the business world. The result is that it is treated with widespread suspicion. Having experienced the roller-coaster ride, the marketing industry needs to add e-commerce to its tool kit, and develop strategies to ensure it fulfils its potential.
How has the industry changed in the past ten years?
Probably the most significant change is the explosion in available media, and the impact it has had on consumer behaviour.
What are the challenges Holiday Autos faces in its sector?
The travel industry is changing rapidly, with increased vertical integration, and the introduction of new channels of distribution through e-commerce. The challenge for us is to protect existing channels, while developing business through new intermediaries.
What do you enjoy most/least about your working environment?
There's an incredible energy at Holiday Autos that I love, but we have completely outgrown our existing offices, so conditions are far from ideal. We will be moving to a new building in March, which will make a huge difference.
What individual has influenced you most in your career?
I have to mention two people, Graham Atkinson at United Airlines, and Clive Jacobs, Holiday Autos' chairman and chief executive. Graham gave me huge moral support and was a great sounding board. Clive is an inspirational leader. He has great clarity of vision and has built a tremendous team to work toward that vision. He has influenced me both in the direction of my career and in my own leadership style.
What characteristics do you look for in the people you do business with?
I look for people who are challenging and open-minded. Integrity is also critical.
What is the one piece of career advice you would give?
Aim high and don't look back.
What has been your biggest mistake?
On the basis that I prefer not to look back, I couldn't say.
What has been your biggest achievement?
The development and implementation of Holiday Autos' e-commerce strategy. The company is now widely recognised as having the most user-friendly car-rental web site in the market. In less than a year our web-generated business has grown to 20% of our total bookings.
What do you do to unwind?
A good meal with friends.
1985-1986: Commercial executive, Intasun Holidays
1986-1989: Product manager, Portland Holidays
1989-1992: Marketing manager, Thomson Holidays
1992-1994: General manager, United Vacations
1995-1997: UK marketing manager, Iberia Airlines
1997-present: Group marketing and communications director, Holiday Autos.
This article was first published on Marketing