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Q&A with Matthew Horobin

Updated: Jul 20, 2023

Exclusive Trusted Magazine Q&A with Matthew Horobin , Global Marketing Expert

How could you describe your career path in few words?

I was a military child so was born overseas and grew up travelling the world. This upbringing inspired me to prioritise continued global exploration within my own career and, as a Marketing professional, I was lucky to be able to do so quite effortlessly. As a result, I would describe my career trajectory as ‘Intentional happenstance’ wherein I let the winds of opportunity lead me to the countries and cultures that compelled me the most in the moment yet always endeavoured to seek out the most promising opportunities true to that location.

For example, having touched down in the Middle East, I was drawn to the global aspirations of Dubai and as such was inspired to take up a Marketing leadership role at DXB airport, the hub and beating heart of the city’s limitless global ambition. So, although I’ve moved around a lot, with every step I’ve worked to weave a thread of coherence through these distinct activities and environments to ensure I’ve accrued a cohesive, accumulative understanding of the world of Marketing, as well as the World at large.

What was your most challenging experience and it has changed your mindset?

Whilst based in UAE, I was seconded to China for a year to support a number of global brands in their local Digital Marketing efforts. This was much more than a mere culture shock:  it was an invaluable immersion – as well as lesson - in the true frontier of Digital Technology. From a social media perspective alone, this landscape was so distinct, diverse and dynamic. Interestingly, despite all of these cultural contrasts, I also learned that no matter how different a market and culture may appear on the exterior, below the surface, the core human emotions and motivations are often strikingly similar – although they may manifest differently for sure.

For example, we all crave status but what that means in practical terms will differ between cultures: in one context, it could be expressed by driving a supercar to work, in another it could mean choosing to cycle to the office sustainably. 

Based on your experience, what skills do marketers need the most in 2023?

The two most vital skills needed by Marketers today are the same two we’ve always needed, although today we likely need both in greater measure. Empathy and Agility. I don’t just mean social empathy – the art of understanding what moves people, communities and cultures which forms a base fundamental for our industry: I also mean commercial empathy – an ability to intuit the business opportunity inherent in a particular market window. This is the true business and brand value of empathy: pairing a cultural gap with a commercial opportunity.

My second skill, ‘Agility’ speaks for itself: as the cultural flywheel of society gathers pace with every turn, Marketers need to stay on their toes. Such is the pace of change in the world today, just as Lewis Carroll’s Red Queen declared in ‘Through the Looking Glass; ’It takes all the running you can do to keep in the same place.’ For those that want to get ahead, considerable reserves of speed and spriteliness are very much of the essence.

Based on your recent experiences, if you had one piece of advice for a marketer's success in the context of 2023, what would it be?

I would urge an aspiring Marketer to be careful to whom and what they listen. Don’t heed the headlines; take little notice of the trend forecasters; and pay scant attention to your competition – listen instead to your heart; listen to your hunch: it is far more likely that the answer lies within your personal understanding of the world versus any external influence.

Much like an old vinyl record, our industry suffers a lot of surface noise: don’t let this distract you and tune instead into the melody that reverberates through a deeper understanding of the universe.

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