Jobs & employment blogs

Jobs & employment blogs

Your career is a journey with many opportunities to explore. As a trusted partner, we guide thousands of professionals and employers through every step of their way. From industry specific insights, interview preparation, to team management and in-demand jobs – we’ve got you covered.



KESHIA KHAN, Marketing Director, Americas, Hays

Marketing is one of the fastest-changing industries out there, with huge shifts in consumer behaviour and new technologies altering the way that organisations both market and sell their products or services. When faced with this backdrop of continuous change, marketeers must take proactive steps to secure their long-term employability.

So today, we’re joined by Keshia Khan, Marketing Director at Hays Americas. Keshia is here to talk to us about how marketing professionals can future-proof their employability and ultimately ensure a long and successful career.

1. Before we get started, please could you introduce yourself to our listeners and tell us a little about your background in marketing?


My name is Keshia Khan and I reside in the beautiful city of Toronto in Canada. I have close to fifteen years’ experience in strategic brand marketing and digital marketing. I’ve worked in fashion, beauty, lifestyle, FinTech, and within CPG (consumer packaged goods), retail and B2B (business-to-business). So really, a breadth of roles and experiences have shaped my career to date.

Did I know I would get into this back then? No. When I was in business school, I attended the Schulich School of Business in Toronto and I studied both marketing and finance, and I was actually intent on getting into finance at the end of school. But I had a super inspiring professor who opened my eyes to the world of marketing and then my first role out of school was a marketing role, and I never looked back ever since then, and so that’s how I’m here today.

2. What key changes do you think have influenced the marketing industry over the past few years?


I think the biggest thing is data and all the technological advancements that have happened over the past few years have allowed us to gather so much data to the point that lots of companies don’t know what to do with the data, and how to mine it and work out what’s important versus what isn’t.

So, I think that the major change that I’ve seen is data collection and sorting through that and understanding what nuggets of information are the most important. I feel like that’s definitely a big one, and the interpretation of that and linking that from marketing and sales together.

The other big thing is digital media and its reach, the impact of digital media on the marketing plan, and shifting that to be a lot more core to the marketing function. That next piece as well as social media. When you look at social media, I think the important piece is about the speed to which consumers can get information, whether it’s marketers sharing a new product update, a new campaign or a new launch, it’s the speed to which this information can get out there. And then the second thing is that marketers have had to become more comfortable with having less control over their narrative because of social media. The big plus for it is the fact that people get to share their thoughts about a topic or about whatever a company has shared. And so, you have less control over that narrative and that’s been a big change over the past few years as well.

And then connected to that piece as my last point around key changes, would be the power of influencers. As soon as you hear influencers, a lot of the time people’s minds go straight to beauty and fashion and you’re picturing some of the top influencers, whether it’s on Instagram or YouTube. But influencers have transcended industries, there’s very influential people in finance who are trying to break down the concept. If you look on YouTube you could almost find any topic where there’s someone super influential and I think the major change for marketers when it comes to this fear is understanding and measuring the impact of an influencer, and how to properly integrate that into your plan. And then that last piece with influencers is, how do you pay them? What’s the right way to pay an influencer? Whether it’s through product or monetary, because the demands of influencers have definitely increased over the past few years as well.

3. And it seems that a lot of these changes are being driven by technology would you agree?


Yes, I mean technology is the key to all the change. Data availability, the reason why we’re able to collect so much data in the first place, is because of changes in technology that’s allowed us to do that. The same thing with digital media, social media and reach and the fact that it’s given influencers a platform to be able to have such extensive reach.

4. What impact are these changes having on the technical and soft skills that marketers need to be successful in the industry today, both now and in the future?


It depends on the role, so I think from a technical perspective, I would say generally for marketers but then especially those who are getting into analysis or eCRM (electronic customer relationship management), the advanced use of Excel is becoming even more important in understanding how to mine data.

There’s the different tools that are available that marketers need to be experienced using whether it’s a Salesforce tool or a CMS (Content marketing system) platform. Being able to have background and understanding on how to use these tools is extremely important.

5. And that’s not to say that the more traditional marketing skills will become redundant. I imagine most of those will still remain important?


Of course, I mean it’s just about an evolution and where the focus is going, and I think the foundational skills of marketing are still relevant now. I think what’s happening is, we’re needing to up-skill and go in the direction that technology is going, which means all of us need to be in the know, teaching ourselves about the changes in digital and tech, and partnering with various people to learn in the industry.

So, I think it’s more an evolution of the skills rather than some skills just not being required anymore, and I don’t think any of us have actually seen that happen.

6. If we turn our attention to those that are just starting out in marketing, it can understandably be difficult to decide which route to take. How would you recommend our listeners decide which career path is best for them?


I think we’ve all gone through this early on in our career and I think my best advice to people now starting out, is first understanding that your career is a journey and you’re not meant to know the answer right away. So, I think that’s the first piece to keep in mind and will take a little bit of the stress off it.

What I suggest especially to lots of students who approach me as well is, research different roles in marketing because you have client-side roles, you have agency roles, there are graphic design roles, there are so many different roles in marketing. A lot of the time you find that people have one singular view of what it could be, and a lot of times that has to do with creative and taglines when really there’s a lot of numbers and strategy and insights that are part of marketing, including research.

So, my best advice is first to research various roles and then find different people who are doing these roles and go for coffee and network. You want to do your research and ask as many questions as possible, so you could start to see, what you like now that your studying in school or that you might have an interest in and see which of those roles resonate most with you. So, to me, ‘coffee’ is key and it’s something I did starting off early in my career, networking with a lot of professionals and trying to figure out what I think would interest me most.

And then just pick something to start with because I think the beauty of marketing is you work with so many different people, whether it’s on your team, whether it’s in partnership with agencies or various vendors. And as you go along in your career, you’ll learn about other roles that may interest you and then that’s how you can grow your career and open your eyes to what else would be in there.

7. And you mentioned about skills evolving – so upskilling is definitely needed if technologies are continuously changing the marketing sector. For those listeners that are more established in their marketing careers, would you recommend that they consider a horizontal career move especially if they’re keen to expand their skillset and gain new experiences in different areas?


Yes, absolutely. I think it depends on the person and what you have experienced throughout your career and your interests. But definitely, horizontal career moves are always great to experience a different side of marketing, and open your eyes to that piece of it, so I would always say “yes” to that.

8. We’ve spoken about new ways of working that are emerging such as freelancing and contracting, and they’re becoming more and more common. Is this a trend that is also happening within the marketing industry, and what’s important for our listeners to consider if they’re thinking about exploring these routes?


So again, I think it really depends. Do I see freelancing and contracting making this trend in marketing where it wasn’t there in the past? No. I think there are certain roles that have always been more prone to be a freelance or contracting type of gig, but again, I think it depends.

So, the way I would suggest approaching this is, if you like to set your own hours and you like to work with various clients in various projects, spanning industries, et cetera, then that’s where freelancing and contracting might be a good option for you because that really gives you the opportunity to experience those things and really own and control your schedule and be choosy. You get to select which projects you want to work on as a freelancer or a contractor.

And some of the areas that we see more freelancers and contracting could be marketing consulting for strategic projects, so that could be something that’s done from a contractor or freelance perspective. Content writing is huge in this space, anything to do with SEO (search engine optimisation), whether you’re consulting, whether it’s for a project, whether it’s to help guide a team. Graphic design, visual arts, those are a lot of things that are freelanced or contracted.

And I think the big plus to that as an organisation as well is being able to control budgets and really get the insight you need to support your team and then for the advice side, on the other hand, it really opens up your experience and opportunity to touch into various industries, businesses and networking opportunities with different people.

9. As we’ve discussed already, employers are increasingly looking to hire marketeers who can adapt and embrace change as well as being committed to their own learning and development. How can our listeners demonstrate that they have these skills throughout the job searching process?


Funnily enough, this is something that I talk to my team about, I talk to people who come in and have interviewed with me in the past in terms of feedback. The advice I have here, is to always take a step back and think about five strong examples throughout your career that have shown that you’ve embraced change. This could be a new CRM (customer relationship management) system that was launched in your company. It could be a new organisational structure that begun. It could be a new leader came into your organisation or it could be a major tech integration. Really sit back and think throughout your career, what major change has happened while you’ve been there, and then start to think about how you embrace that change and what steps you took, and then you want to write these down.

So, some of the guidance I give here for really creating good stories around your five strong examples would be; What was the change that happened? How was it communicated to you? Were there obstacles you had to overcome? Then what actions did you take to overcome these obstacles? How did you collaborate and communicate with your team to get through the change? And then what was the outcome? What were the results?

I feel like if you can take those questions and put some strong answers beside them for each example, then what you have are five strong stories that show how you’ve adapted to change the steps you took and the obstacles. And then you really get to show the impact and the results your actions took throughout that change. So that’s the advice that I give around this and how you have those five solid examples and then you integrate that into your resume/CV and into the conversations you have throughout your interview.

10. And I’ve just got one last question that we ask all our podcast guests and that is if you had one piece of career advice, especially for those working in marketing, what would that be?


So, I think something I tell my teams as well, it’s be hungry. Be hungry to learn, never settle with what you know and as a leader, I can give ideas and examples of what I do, but you need to be hungry to learn and to evolve your career.

I think networking with people outside of your industry is so key to really expand your knowledge, you’re thinking, your ideas, and so just get out there and meet people just to learn – for no other purpose but to learn. And you’ll see that you’ll end up meeting someone who will be important later on in your career, or you’ll end up connecting with someone who will end up being your mentor, so that’s so important.

And look at your career progression in terms of the next challenging project, not job title. So many times, people get caught up in getting to that next title, but the real growth in your career – and you’ll see those opportunities come – is by going after that next challenge. That’s really going to open your eyes to marketing and to just upskilling yourself and that’s my best advice in there.

I guess we’ll end it with, be hungry and you know what you never have it figured out because life always throws you those career curveballs that you can’t be in control of.


Related Blogs:





Keshia Khan is a results-focused marketer with 10+ years in brand strategy, digital and media execution.  She brings a vast array of experience to Hays with past roles in B2B, retail and consumer packaged goods.  Keshia joined Hays in April 2018 as the Marketing Director for Hays Americas leading the U.S, Canada and Latin America.



As the world of work evolves, we are here to support you through both the current challenges and your longer-term planning. Discover all our latest insights.

/embrace-the-new-era box

As your lifelong career partner, we are here to help you navigate an evolving world of work – and move forward in your career. Discover all our latest tips, advice and guides. 


Looking for a new role? Search here for your ideal job or get in touch with one of our expert consultants.


Have a vacancy? Fill in your details here.


Hays has offices across the whole of the globe. Contact us to discuss your employment needs.