Gareth Dean – BA (Hons) Marketing

Current employer: Jaguar Land Rover

Current job title: Powertrain Planning Manager, Global Product Marketing

Current location: Oxfordshire

"Do a work placement and don’t just expect the University to find one for you. I wrote a lot of letters and sent off a lot of CVs to get my work placement and it was a catalyst for the rest of my career."

Tell us about your career path since graduation.

I started off in a start-up automotive and sports PR agency, which had been working with the company I did my sandwich placement year (Caterham Cars). I did four and a half years there, leaving as an Account Manager to go to Honda Motor Europe where I specialised in emerging markets PR and then alternative drivetrains communications (hybrids and fuel cell electric cars). Thereafter I worked on a content creation project at Ford, but was then head-hunted to join Nissan Europe as an Electric Vehicle Communications Manager. This year I was approached to join Jaguar Land Rover and go back to my roots in a marketing role, specialising in future powertrain (engines and gearboxes) for Jaguar and Land Rover.

Has your career path changed since graduation?

I had every intention of going into a marketing job, but was offered the PR agency role just after I walked out of my last exam. I had some struggles with it early on, but found I had an aptitude for PR and I enjoyed it. I was always going to work in the car industry but, having started out at a company that made the fastest, simplest cars possible, I could never have imagined I would go on to specialise in electric vehicles.

What is the best, most exciting or fun thing that you have done in your career?

Very difficult to choose. I have crossed Lake Garda on a bouncy castle, been driven round Silverstone by the Stig, chaperoned Elle McPherson at Top Gear Live, and flown all over the world. To be honest, the travelling can be amazing, but you do see a lot of chain hotels and airports: you are very rarely sightseeing!

What advice would you give to anyone wanting to get in to the same line of work?

Get to know your subject, do lots of research, visit the retailer/dealership/website or whatever. Get involved in the products or services and understand what they mean in the real world. Do a work placement and don’t just expect the University to find one for you. I wrote a lot of letters and sent off a lot of CVs to get my work placement and it was a catalyst for the rest of my career.

How did studying at Plymouth help you?

There were some excellent lecturers at Plymouth. John White stands out as an interesting and engaging expert who had a passion and in-depth real world knowledge of his subject. Plymouth was a good city to study in, reasonably priced, and different to where I had come from in Kent: so all good life experience. The sandwich format of the course, with placement year, was invaluable too; it really brought the subject to life and gave me my start in the job market. Don’t even consider not doing one, but make sure you get one that adds value to you and your CV.

Would you recommend undertaking a course with Plymouth University, and why?

I would definitely recommend people to study at Plymouth; the course, the lecturers, and the format led me to a career in which I am happy. Some people insist their education was better because they went to a red brick university, but their degrees tend to be too theoretical to be useful in the workplace. Plymouth struck a good balance with theory being applied to real world situations and that is what makes the difference in the work place.