Neal Meets.... Smiley Monroe

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NL Smiley Munroe

Neal Lucas, Managing Director of executive search company Neal Lucas Recruitment, talks to Tim Monroe, Marketing Manager at Smiley Monroe, about his career path and role with the company which manufactures heavy-duty conveyor belts for the mobile construction equipment sector.


Tell us about your career path to date?

I must confess to being an accidental marketer and before that, an accidental art director. I spent ten years as a freelancer in the film and TV industry working all over the world. Dad asked me to join the family business to help “raise its profile”. So I agreed to give it two years, moved back to Northern Ireland and I’m still here eight years on. I’ve never regretted swapping celluloid for rubber!


What do you regard as your biggest achievement?

It would have to be helping to build our family business into a niché brand that is known and respected globally within our industry.


What are the greatest challenges in your role?

Mobile and social media present opportunities to connect with customers anytime, anywhere. So the marketing challenge is shifting increasingly online – creating content that is relevant, engaging, consistent and tailored for different channels and getting the right software to do this efficiently. As our company continues to grow and expand its global customer base, material needs to be adapted accordingly. Elimination of waste is at the heart of our lean manufacturing processes, so applying this to a value creation activity such as marketing, is both a challenge and an opportunity.


What skills and experience do you look for in the next generation of marketers?

We’ve actually just hired a marketing assistant. I think the right attitude, passion and commitment are things you can’t train for, so that’s the first thing I’m looking for. We also recently recruited a native German speaker to our sales and marketing team after a lengthy search. Export is vital to local companies like ours and the wider economy, so it’s a no-brainer that a second language is going to make you more employable and make it easier for your employer to do business overseas.


Who has inspired you during your career and why?

My Dad has always been my mentor, providing lots of support and encouragement. As a leader and entrepreneur, one of his real strengths is creating a vision and relentlessly driving it to completion. He never gives up.


What do you enjoy most about your job?

I know it’s a cliché, but no two days are the same, so it’s the sheer variety of the job. Marketing is such a diverse discipline that is constantly evolving, which is challenging, but at the same time exciting to be a part of. Ultimately though, there is nothing better than hearing positive feedback from our customers. That’s what it’s all about.



Networking Diary

27 November: The 2014 Northern Ireland Enterprise Awards, Belfast.


4 December: Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and Industry Christmas Networking Party, Belfast.


5 December: IoD Northern Ireland Director of the Year Awards Lunch, Belfast.