Totum’s Rising Star Awards ran for it’s third year in 2024, recognising upcoming talent in Marketing & Business Development (M&BD). We spoke with this year’s M&BD Winner and Highly Commended stars about how they started their career and key takeaways learnt from winning this recognition. 

The role of marketing and business development teams in the professional services sector continues to grow in importance, with the next generation of talent bringing new skills, capabilities and expertise into the sector.

With that in mind, Totum’s Rising Star Awards 2024 recognise the best of up and coming talent. As ever, the standard of nominations was outstanding. However, two candidates stood out for our expert panel of judges, bringing fearlessness, enthusiasm and new ideas into their positions.

We asked our winners how it felt to recognised for their excellence at such an early stage of their career.

Winner: Natasha Carmichael, Marketing Executive, KennedysNatasha Carmichael had no idea she’d been entered for Totum’s Rising Star Award 2024 until she received a congratulatory email on her nomination that left her ‘shocked but grateful’. However, since being announced as the winner, she’s received plenty of praise internally and admits it has taken a while to get used to her new profile.

“It was really nice to be recognised for all the work I’ve done. There was a period when my face was constantly on social media! I thought people would get bored of seeing me,” she laughs.

Carmichael joined Kennedys two and half years ago as a marketing executive in the content marketing team, having previously gained ‘good experience’ in marketing roles at an insurance broker and Infopro Digital (Insurance Age & Post). Her role, while varied, focuses on content and campaigns, both global and UK focused.

One campaign her nomination focused on was for the latest edition of Kennedys Global Legal Handbook, which outlines the main legal and procedural issues case handlers face when working in different jurisdictions. The 2023 edition introduced 13 new country chapters taking the total to 53, and Carmichael was involved in delivery, sending out to clients and the entire marketing campaign from beginning to end.

Carmichael stood out to our judges for her fearlessness in taking on new opportunities and her drive to succeed. In 2023, she successfully applied for a marketing secondment to the APAC team in Australia, spending three months in Melbourne between September and December.

“Since I’ve been at Kennedys, I have had lots of opportunities to try new things. I hadn’t really worked in a global setting before, so working with international colleagues and learning about global campaigns has been really interesting,” she says.

Her time in Australia saw her involved in a range of projects and campaigns, including event management at key client events and working with colleagues on report delivery, where she was able to implement processes that had worked in the UK into APAC.

“The secondment really helped me to build global contacts within the firm and develop relationships with my business development colleagues in APAC. It was a unique, once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I’m very grateful for it,” says Carmichael.

The feeling was mutual, with Carmichael’s APAC manager being one of three people to nominate her for the Rising Star Award, alongside her UK manager and head of department.

Carmichael’s first experience of marketing came during her time at university, when she took part in a professional placement module in the social media team at the University of Reading. The placement opened her eyes to how she could apply the skills from her English Literature and Film degree to the workplace.

“That placement was my first real insight into marketing. The team was small, but very dynamic and the role really captured my attention,” she says.

For today’s generation starting out in marketing and business development, things are quite different, argues Carmichael. The sheer number of free resources online makes it easier to take control of your personal professional development, with Carmichael name checking The Girls in Marketing podcast and Google’s Fundamentals courses as helpful. She advises new professionals to make use of work experience placements, internships and free training as much as possible.

With the Rising Star Award providing a boost to her personal brand and building her profile at Kennedys, we are sure that Natasha Carmichael will have an exciting future in marketing. We wish our Rising Star 2024 winner the very best for her future career.

Highly commended: Natalie Carter, Marketing Executive, ForstersNatalie Carter is a business development and marketing executive at Forsters, working in its private wealth department. Charged with seeking new business opportunities, building connections with clients and developing strategic partnerships, Natalie’s role has evolved from dealing with practical, task-driven responsibilities to that of a trusted advisor – all while juggling the responsibilities of being a first-time mum.

Carter took an unusual route into marketing. Fresh from finishing a career on stage as a ballet dancer in Russia, she’d returned to the UK without another career lined up. Then, while working on an undergraduate business degree at the Open University, she was offered a two-week work experience placement in the business development and marketing team at Forsters.

The chance to join Forsters came at an opportune time. The business development and marketing team was expanding, with plenty of new and exciting projects to work on. Two weeks’ work experience quickly turned into an internship, then a temporary contract, before a permanent role was offered.

In her five years with the firm, she’s seen rapid career progression, moving through work experience, administrator, assistant and now executive roles. In her nomination for the Rising Star award, Carter’s manager praises her proactivity and eagerness to learn, explaining how her confidence has grown exponentially and calling her “a crucial member of our BD and marketing team”.

One of the key projects Carter has worked on during her time with the firm was its Vineyards campaign, which tied in lots of different capabilities – corporate, employment, tax and disputes, among others – into one holistic service to complement the firm’s core rural land and business offering.

The campaign helped promote Forsters’ Rural Land and Business team’s expertise in a niche sector resulting in new work, including referral opportunities from existing clients, a pitch opportunity for a vineyard sale, and one of the firm’s first direct instructions from a social media campaign. 

“This campaign had a really different feel to it. We had created the content in response to the booming English Wine market but essentially, the target audience was much narrower than you would usually aim for when developing a campaign. Promoting our expertise in a niche sector resulted in new work that the team perhaps were not previously considered for,” says Carter.

As Carter has progressed at the firm, she’s been able to narrow down her remit from working on several areas to focusing on private wealth, with the full support of her managers. As a result, she’s been able to spend more time honing her craft and developing ideas and corporate partnerships that have led to new instructions and pitch opportunities for the firm.

These include partnerships with the Hong Kong Association to deliver a panel event on property investment and another with the DURA Society, which facilitates networking opportunities for female industry leaders. 

“I feel very appreciative for the support and training that Forsters have provided me to accelerate my professional development and refine my skills,” says Carter.

The energy, drive and enthusiasm Carter brings to her role means we’re sure she’ll continue to drive new business development and marketing opportunities for Forsters in the future. As her manager says in her nomination – she is a true rising star.