Dr. Khaleelah Jones
Assistant Professor at University of the People, UK
Co-founder and Chief Growth Officer at Isbel & Co.
Founder & CEO at Careful Feet
How are you managing your three roles as an Assistant Professor at University of the People, Co-founder at Isbel & Co and having your own marketing agency?
I never sleep. Just kidding! I actually sleep a lot. I’m really lucky in that all three roles are very much related- I teach marketing courses and my roles at Isbel and at Careful Feet are very focused on consumer acquisition and company growth. Sometimes it makes me laugh that I can go from the theoretical, book learning side of things to the scrappy implementation side several times during a day. I like this, it keeps my brain sharp, I never get bored and it is nice to see theory in practice.
How are you combining your two points of view academic and industry in class? Are you bringing companies as a case study at your classes?
100%! One thing I’m VERY passionate about is ensuring students understand how to put theory in practice. I’m always looking for examples and insights from my work to bring in to the classroom, to show students why they should be bothered to learn the things that are on the curriculum. Often this is in the form of case studies or research projects and presentations.
How and why did you become assistant professor? What are the benefits of academia working with industry?
I started teaching on accident, I was getting my PhD and taught as a requirement, and just loved it! As my entrepreneurial pursuits flourished, I was presented with the choice to leave teaching or continue with it, and I just liked it too much to leave. As I mentioned before, I feel like it is my duty to give students real-world applications to what they’re learning, to really give them value for their tuition as well as leave them with tangible, accessible skills they can apply when they join the workforce, so I find that my having real-world experience is beneficial in identifying important things to highlight or reinforce in the classroom. I also find that my real-world experience helps inform my research, and has even given me a few research ideas.
You are having now your own marketing consulting firm, while marketing nowadays is very disrupted with digital. growth hacking and social media. How did you take the challenge of this digitalization? user-centred or product focus?
Most of my background and proficiency is in digital marketing, so this is more or less my native environment, particularly since I tend to work with startups that are very forward-thinking and open to new technologies and approaches to marketing and advertising. However, I’ve found that even companies that are quite traditional in their marketing are open when I show them how sophisticated digital allows them to be with targeting and segmentation, and how much money can be saved not only through these approaches but the data and analytical capabilities of digital and social marketing approaches.
How did you balance the traditional way of marketing with the new digital way? What is your digital and growth strategy for Isbel & Co?
Great question! For my agency, we tend to be approached by companies that already have a mix of digital and traditional marketing initiatives in the works, but aren’t sure of how to combine all this into an overall strategy. So that’s what we tend to do- package it all up and implement on it with a keen eye on analytics and cost. For Isbel&Co., it isn’t any different- we focus on a mix of traditional marketing such as PR and events as well as digital initiatives such as social media and paid advertising to attract new clients and win repeat business.
How did you position your customers and Isbel & Co, what are the key areas to start with new ways of communicating to customers, is it more content or strategy? How are you positioning the brand in the digital era?
I’m a big proponent of knowing the big picture, the outline, if you will- and then stepping back and starting to colour things in bit by bit. I guess this means I’m very strategy-orientated, I don’t think that throwing content up any old place will do anyone much good unless you have an idea behind why you’re doing it and who you are trying to reach. For Isbel&Co., I think the proof is in the pudding here- we are a company that is for women, by women, and we use digital marketing to reach our target market almost exclusively at this point.
What is your favorite place for holidays?
Asia, it is my favourite continent.
How do your mornings look like?
After going to the gym, I tend to sit down and work all morning, and take meetings and calls in the afternoon. On days where I teach, I tend to teach in the morning and hold consultations in the afternoon.
What are you doing in your spare time?
If I’m not working, you’ll find me doing yoga (I teach one class a week as a release, it is so relaxing and fun), reading or trying a new restaurant with friends or my husband.
You can read her Golden Rules for Living, here.