Meet your newly appointed Surrey Chair Jarmila Yu

Get to know your Surrey Chair.

Name: Jarmila Yu

Position/company: Founder, MD & Consulting CMO. YUnique Marketing Ltd.

Describe your current role/company: I am the Founder and CEO of YUnique Marketing Ltd. We are an award-winning Surrey based marketing consultancy which works with ambitious Founders and CEOs in start-ups and SMEs to give them access to strategic marketing excellence and a full spectrum of marketing project expertise all led from a Chief Marketing Officer perspective. Services are provided on a bespoke on-demand basis, ensuring both time and cost-effectiveness and maximum impact, supporting business leaders to launch, grow or transform their business.

I’m on a business mission to bring the CMO Advantage™, traditionally only enjoyed by large corporates, to the pioneering purpose-driven Entrepreneurs and CEOs in our Start-ups & SMEs.

The big picture for our business is to provide the CMO advantage to the SMEs that are the backbone of UK PLC enabling them to prosper, as that will create better, more rewarding jobs and drive economic growth and ultimately deliver a better world.

Previous roles: I’ve spent over 25 years in senior marketing roles with businesses ranging from start-ups to some of the world’s largest brands, I know what it takes to develop successful marketing strategies and how to get the best performance out of teams.

My previous roles have predominantly been leading marketing teams within technology companies and I became particularly experienced at integrating marketing teams following mergers and acquisitions.

Other information (eg. Other positions held, charity roles): I’m a globally ranked Top100 CMO and a Chartered Marketer, multi award-winning businesswoman and proud mum, I enjoy forging strong links between education and business, and supporting my home county of Surrey. I’m often invited to share my insights on marketing, business transformation and the world of work at events and in the media.

Roles I currently hold include:

  • Enterprise Nation Local Leader for Surrey
  • Business Women in Surrey Chair
  • Council Member of Surrey Chambers of Commerce
  • EM3 Growth Hub Business Growth Champion
  • Chair of the Board of Advisors at The School of Business & Management at Royal Holloway
  • Registered Mentor with Help to Grow Management, Be the Business, Virgin Start-up, Small Business Britain, the IDM and the CIM
  • Outreach Director with the Worshipful Company of Marketors
  • Chair of the Talent Council at the DMA

Outside work (hobbies/interests): I’m extremely lucky in that I love my work and I get great pleasure from the act of research, listening and learning; exploring business transformation, the changing world of work, talent development and professional learning is my main hobby.

I also have two amazing daughters to keep me grounded and, thankfully, a very supportive husband (who is also my business partner) who does his best to make sure I go out on dog walks and enjoy good food and travel with friends and family!

How long have you been an IoD member? I’ve been a member of the IoD since December 2015, and soon progressed to become an IoD Advance Community member and enthusiastically took part in its activities such as being in the “mastermind groups”, delivering insight talks to fellow members and providing contributions to the IoD Director magazine.

The camaraderie and support between members is priceless. It was that “Connect” theme that then encouraged me to apply for a committee role and I was invited to take on the Surrey Vice Chair role as well as the Ambassador role for Marketing, PR & Comms.

Describe your role as an Ambassador: As Ambassador for Marketing, PR & Comms I’m an accessible, approachable “go-to” person for any directors seeking guidance and support on marketing and related issues. I am available for counsel not only to my branch committee peers, but also to other IoD branches, sharing my expertise on marketing, events and networking too!

What part of IoD membership do you value most? There are many tangible and well promoted benefits of membership and then there are the intangible ones too that come from you making use of the membership opportunity. For instance, growing your network by joining in with relevant special interest groups, learnings from interacting with fellow members and IoD content, and the feeling you get that as a director of a small business you are supported and have access to those that can make your voice heard up to the highest levels of government.

The fact that the IoD offers the platform to effect positive change not just for you, but for others similar to you, is particularly reassuring and confidence boosting, especially in these constantly uncertain and challenging times.

What are the top three things about your branch area? Living, raising a family, and building a business in Surrey I’ve had the opportunity to explore and get to know the county, although there’s always something new to discover. As a branch area Surrey has a great deal to offer. For instance, did you know:

  • Surrey is home to the Top Town for UK Business. Camberley in Surrey Heath won the title in the Enterprise Nation & Dell Technologies Top Towns national competition in 2022. Much of what made Camberley a top town for business is indeed what makes Surrey a great county for business too.
  • Surrey has a great mix of leisure and business facilities, is surrounded by areas of natural beauty and supported by economic development teams at the various councils.
  • Surrey has fantastic communications with 4G & 5G coverage, great travel links to central London and surrounding counties Berkshire, Hampshire, Kent, Sussex and Greater London and good access to motorways and airports for national and international reach.

If you could give one message to the Prime Minister, what would it be? If I had the opportunity to pass a message directly to the PM I’d say “in order for UK PLC’s productivity to increase and for business to achieve growth, we need the innovation you constantly talk about to be supported by investment in people. We need a concerted collective effort between education, business, industry professions and government to collaborate to fix the skills shortage. For instance, creating a pool of talented people but without affording them the opportunity to gain experience means they could fall at the first hurdle when job descriptions then call for ‘x years of experience’. We need to find better ways to support business so it’s able to take on ‘inexperienced’ yet valuable talent. I kindly urge you to consider collaborating with Talent/People/HR experts to devise ‘experience creating initiatives and employment policies and tax incentives to sit alongside the existing skills development initiatives’ And, then of course deploy the right Marketing, PR and Comms to support you in getting the valuable messages out.”

What are you most looking forward to in the next 12 months? In the next 12 months I’m most looking forward to increasing connection and collaboration. At YUnique Marketing as we enter our 7th year of trading we’re looking to develop and grow personally and as a business. For that to happen we need to deepen our professional connections and build stronger valuable collaborations with our growing associate team – continuing to deliver great stand-out projects together that support our clients’ business objectives and deliver beyond their expectations. We’ll continue to undertake personal development to sharpen our professional and business skills and influence others to do the same. You could say The IoD ‘Connect. Develop. Influence.’ is firmly part of our DNA.

Having just been invited to further extend my support of the IoD, by taking on the role of Chair for the Surrey branch, I’m looking forward to finding ways to support our members so they can maximise the benefit of their IoD membership.  At a time of social and economic challenge, and as the IoD continues to undergo an important period of transformation, now more than ever we need directors of organisations of all sizes to be represented, offered critical learning and skills development opportunities and given access to peer-to-peer networking for best practice sharing.

The valuable member connectivity and engagement activity that the IoD has always prided itself on providing, is vital to support the directors and the businesses they lead. And at a time when the government’s resources are increasingly stretched, it is even more essential that businesses have a voice via groups like the IoD that can influence those who shape the national business environment.

Looking back, what advice would you give yourself when you started out in business? Entrepreneurship can be lonely, stressful, and overwhelming. It can also be exhilarating, fulfilling and satisfying. There’s more support available than ever and there’s also a massive community of like-minded entrepreneurs and business cheerleaders keen to provide encouragement, inspiration and advice out there. Membership bodies, trade groups, and networking communities facilitate connection, but you have to dive in and be active to fully benefit. My top tip that I’d give myself if I started a business again would be to reach out, seek experienced support and think of business as a team sport. A coach I encountered at the start of my entrepreneurship journey introduced me to the concept that “environment dictates performance”. This principle has guided me to ensure I keep the right company; joining communities and surrounding myself with people who can share best practices, offer key resources, provide accountability and supply inspiration for the excellence standards needed for success.

Better directors for a better world

The IoD supports directors and business leaders across the UK and beyond to learn, network and build successful, responsible businesses.
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