FCDC SEO Story with Thierry Ngutegure – BrightonSEO Special

Episode Summary.

While we were at Brighton SEO back in September, we had an amazing conversation with Thierry Ngutegure. Thierry is the Head of Data Insight at SALT.agency and he shared his interesting journey into marketing and data from a background in biological science


Guest Profile.



✍🏾Name:Thierry Ngutegure

✍🏾What he Does: Head of Data Insight


✍🏾Noteworthy:  He oversees SALT’s data and insight product offering. He combines their renowned SEO and content proposition with a data-driven strategy – helping clients become more visible and execute their growth strategy.


Connect with Thierry;


Key Insights


💡 His early Work Experience

Thierry’s first job experience at Yorkshire Water, gained through a school work placement, offered him a humbling introduction to the profession.


Working in the kitchen exposed him to the complexities of cooking beyond casual familiarity.


He enjoyed working in the University of Leeds’ Students’ Union, particularly the marketing aspect, which led him to pursue a master’s in marketing at Huddersfield University while working full-time for Lloyds Bank.


💡Transitioning into Data-Driven Marketing

Thierry shares insights into his transition into data-driven marketing, starting as a data journalist at Epiphany and later as a Data Manager at Rise at Seven.


He discusses his role in leveraging data to create compelling narratives and stories for brands, driving digital PR initiatives, and securing press coverage.


💡Soft Skills to have as a person in Marketing


Thierry discusses the significance of soft skills in marketing, particularly the ability to listen and understand. He illustrates this with a compelling example of how effective communication involves not just conveying information but also holding onto complex ideas and weaving them into a cohesive narrative.


He suggests that while soft skills like active listening may seem basic, they are actually superpowers that few possess but can greatly enhance one’s effectiveness as a marketer.


💡Benefits of Having a Strong Workplace Culture


Thierry shares insights into the importance of intentional workplace culture and how it contributes to employee satisfaction, growth, and retention. Drawing from his experience at Journey Further and S.A.L.T agency, he discusses the significance of actively listening to employees’ needs and implementing policies that foster a supportive environment.


Thierry particularly praises S.A.L.T’s forward-thinking approach to crafting policies that not only address current staff but also anticipate future hires, showcasing a proactive stance towards organizational growth and inclusivity.


💡Networking and Career Advancement Strategies

Thierry offers practical advice for aspiring marketers, particularly folks from underrepresented backgrounds, on navigating the industry and advancing their careers.


He shares the importance of networking, attending industry events, and reaching out to professionals for mentorship or informational interviews.


Episode Transcriptions.

Chima Mmeje 0:05

Hi, we are back for another edition of the FCDC Story series. And I’m really excited because our first guest is on having trying to get on the show. Thierry hardware pronounce your last name.


Thierry Ngutegure 0:16



Chima Mmeje 0:17



Thierry Ngutegure 0:18



Chima Mmeje 0:19

What is the origin of that? Where’s that from?


Thierry Ngutegure 0:21

It’s Rwandan. Yeah. Rwanda. I still speak the language fluently.


Chima Mmeje 0:25

Oh Amazing.


Thierry Ngutegure 0:26

Yeah. My parents made sure that it was something that they said you know what you can tell you can learn English outside. So therefore our home was spoke at, you know, wonder which was, at the time frustrating, but now I’m super thankful for


Chima Mmeje 0:39

Because you’re bilingual


Thierry Ngutegure 0:39

It’s a good blessing. Yeah, it’s a really good blessing. So then when we meet with grandparents and other elders, it’s, there’s a nice commonality for us to be able to speak.


Chima Mmeje 0:48

I love that. Were you born in the UK?


Thierry Ngutegure 0:50

No, I was born in Rwanda, we came over when I was like, four. My sister was just born as well. So yeah, it’s even more interesting.


The fact that I was able to keep the language I’m not gonna lie is difficult to keep hold, because I don’t get to exercise it very often. But no, it’s a blessing. It’s a good blessing to have.


Chima Mmeje 1:06

Oh, that’s amazing. I think that people who are born outside and come here live here, I feel like we’re almost we’re always more appreciative of being able to like live in a country like this where I don’t want to say stuff work.


Well, stuff works better than back home. native countries in Africa. So what was the first job you ever did that first job ever did that put money in your pocket? Doesn’t matter if you were seven, if you were 10 years old, was the first thing you ever did.


Thierry Ngutegure 1:36

The first job I ever did you know what I actually didn’t work until uhm. In UK schools, you get to a point where you are given work experience, right? So they will it’s kind of taken out of your hands.


They asked, you know, what do you like, but really, no one’s really paying attention. They just, you know, call a couple of companies up and say, Hey, listen, we got like two hundred children.


Can you take a couple in and and I ended up working for a company called Yorkshire water, which is a northern based company who basically look after once the entire Yorkshire water.


And I worked in the kitchen there, which was really interesting. And that was, that was super humbling, right? because


Chima Mmeje 2:17

what were you doing in the kitchen? Washing plate?


Thierry Ngutegure 2:18

no, cooking food, like the chef there she was, yeah, she put me to work. She, you know, put me through a couple of recipes and said, You’re going to run these during like lunch and dinners and things like that.


And it was really humbling because I think there’s something inside everybody where they think there are certain jobs in life where people believe that they have the ability to do it because they can see it.


And being a chef or cooking is one of those things because we all kind of see it. We do a day-to-day basis.


And so then you go Yeah, I’m a good cook. Yeah, I’m a good cook. It’s until you get into it. And you’re talking about, you know, flavourings and pairings and timing and preparation and how actually, if we want to, if we want to eat at 3pm, we need to be willing to work and prepping at 8am I’m like What is going on? He put it in the microwave airfryer what’s going on? but yeah, it was. It was a really a lot of experience. It was a good time.


Chima Mmeje 3:08

How long did you do that?


Thierry Ngutegure 3:09

I mean, you do it for like two weeks. It was two weeks. And then I called them up and I said, Yo, I liked it. Can you give me a full time job? They said no way.


Chima Mmeje 3:20

So how old were you?


Thierry Ngutegure 3:21

I think you’re about 16 at that point. Yeah, 16 you know, a lot of energy. You don’t know where to put it. You don’t know where to go.

And your mom was just like, you need to go a job and I’m like I’m trying to So yeah, that was a no, that was a door closed


Chima Mmeje 3:39

after that. What was the next thing you ever did for work?


Thierry Ngutegure 3:45

Yeah. So after that point, then I actually didn’t get another job until I went to university, which sounds really bad. But my parents were always of the ilk of education comes first. So therefore, anything that you do outside of that you’re detracting Yeah, you’re detracting from it.


He said, You got everything you need in this house? What do you what do you need to earn money for so I was like fair play? And so then at university, I got a job working behind the bar in the student union, leeds student union.


And then that started a cascade of many, many, many, many jobs in this at the same time. So yeah, so it’s one of those things where I think yeah, it is a whole spirit and also I think it’s innate in some in some generations.


And some diasporas to work hard. Like it’s it’s working hard isn’t like, frantically just moving around, but like doing many things at a decent level at the same time.


It’s almost like innate and built in and so for example, I would see my mom go to work and she’d be working day shifts and night shifts and then looking after us and then going to do and this and that.


So for me more than one job was seen as. Yeah, it was it was the thing that you did to in order to kind of survive so I ended up working Yeah behind the bar managing the bars or works in finance or worked in all the shops that were there there was like six or seven shops there.


I worked in everything from like delivery there too, there isn’t a single job I did. There wasn’t a single job that was there that I wasn’t part of or a team I didn’t work in in that student union


Chima Mmeje 5:19

So you worked in a bar, you worked in what again?


Thierry Ngutegure 5:23

the finance team financing the shops, that was for shops downstairs, I worked in.


Chima Mmeje 5:30

And I love this was within your four years of university.


Thierry Ngutegure 5:33

Yeah my three years


Chima Mmeje 5:35

three years of university. What did you study University


Thierry Ngutegure 5:36

I did biological sciences focusing on immunology and genetics.

Chima Mmeje 5:39

I’m sorry, repeat that again.

Thierry Ngutegure 5:40

Biological Sciences focusing on immunology and genetics, I know,


Chima Mmeje 5:44

biological sciences for genetics engineering?

Thierry Ngutegure 5:48

and immunology,

Chima Mmeje 5:50


Thierry Ngutegure 5:51


Chima Mmeje 5:52

immunology. Okay, okay. Wow. Yeah. What do you do with a degree? Like that?


Thierry Ngutegure 5:56

I don’t know. The science degrees? This is a really controversial opinion, because so I think that those types of Science degrees at that level, so at degree level, I think, for those who didn’t make it to medicine, dentistry veterinary, the core, yeah. Because that’s what happened to me.


I wanted to do dent, I wanted to do medicine. I said, I wanted my parents wanted me to do medicine. I knew, right, yeah. So I kicked myself in the knees. And I said, I don’t want to do that. So if I fail, then I don’t have to do it.


And then ended up doing Yeah, biological sciences. But then I think the people that end up then doing that actually then find a love for a very specific subject, which they would not have discovered had they done medicine.


So I think that those people who go on to do masters, PhDs, etc. It’s brilliant, or even going into industry, and go into research and things like that. They found their calling, by mistake.


Chima Mmeje 6:56

So you, you go to school to do a course that you don’t even want to do in the first place.

Thierry Ngutegure 7:01


Chima Mmeje 7:01

Then you do all these jobs, and just trying to picture what your headspace must have been like.


Because that doesn’t sound like a nice because, of course you need to read for to pass. Yes. All these multiple jobs and your hustling, did you want to have friends?


Thierry Ngutegure 7:15


Chima Mmeje 7:16

Did you have social life?


Thierry Ngutegure 7:17

I had a social life that was too good. Yeah, I was out. I really, really took advantage of it. And I think the reason I have those that many jobs is because I have a fundamental love of just people.


I love to be around people. I think that when you’re around people get the greatest ideas are cultivated, things are solved much faster conversations occur. There’s no Blurred Lines, there’s no I meant this.


No, I meant what the intention was. I think there’s a lot of things that can be done when people come together. And so then I just wanted to surround myself with a lot of people and collect as many skills as humanly possible.


Chima Mmeje 7:54

Damn, already thinking of the future. Alright, so you’ve graduated, what happens next?


Thierry Ngutegure 7:59

Yeah, so I graduated. And it’s really interesting, because Leeds University is quite a middle class university, maybe the upper middle class, in my opinion.


So a lot of people who went there come from a decent stable background that allows them to then go, Oh, now I finished university, I’m off, I’ve got a job at GlaxoSmithKline.


I’ve got a job at Deloitte, I’ve got a job at so and so. And I was like, Whoa, I didn’t know this was a thing, like, Sorry, what are grad schemes? No one told me about this. So then I kind of panicked. And then I went into I apply for a job in student travel.


So what you did there was, you were basically a sales rep in the office, and you sold student travel trips, from everything from skiing to South of Spain, etc. And once again, that was just putting into practice. I’ve met many people, I understand what many people want. And so therefore, I can tailor certain things for them.


And then within that, then I kind of developed we would go on some trips. So if you had booked a couple of trips, you can go on there, yourself.


So I went down there, and I really once again, enjoy being around people and was a bit of a class clown and entertainer. I ended up actually being paid to just like, live out there and be myself.

Chima Mmeje 9:14

Where was out there?


Thierry Ngutegure 9:14

So South of Spain, which was nice. And I literally just was, I’d received, like 900 students, like a week. And my job was to coordinate a small team out there to make sure they had a great time.

Chima Mmeje 9:29

Wow, that sounds like a fun way to work.

Thierry Ngutegure 9:33

It was good. It was it was for that age. Yeah, you’re like 2122 no responsibilities. Your mom’s telling you to go get a job and now I’m like, Yeah, I’m off to Spain to go work. She’s like, Yeah, as long as you’re out of my house, whatever.


But ya know, that was fun. That was fun. But it was of that time, so I could not repeat that. I don’t have the knees or the energy to be able to repeat that.


Chima Mmeje 9:56

Alright, so you’re doing this job where you are working with students. Are you thinking about the next step at that point in time? Or are you just like, Oh, I’m going to enjoy this for as long as humanly possible?


What was going through your thought process? Why are these jobs? When did it occur to you that, like, I need to leave this job and figure out my next move?


Thierry Ngutegure 10:13

Yeah. So I was quickly naturally burning through cash. Just because you live, you earn fast, you live fast when you’re living that kind of life. And, and that was kind of thing. And actually, a lot of my peers are progressing into what they want to do.


And I was questioning myself as to like, what do you actually want to do? And I have absolutely no idea. Because I’d studied something I didn’t want to do. So I’ve spent at that point, what, like four or five years doing something you never wanted to do pursuing a certain thing.


So I had a little thing and I decided, actually, I really enjoyed when I was working in the SU, the large proportion of the thing that I enjoyed was the marketing aspect of stuff, the way we spoke to students, engaged students, you know, run research to understand what it is that they want, so that we can action it and make that thing and possibly, it was really interesting, cuz I could see from the grassroots.


So having been in the marketing team, I could then see how it was activated. Grassroots. So then I thought, You know what, let’s do marketing. So then I went and applied for a master’s in marketing at Huddersfield University.


And I was like, I’m not going to get the funding for this. So I got a full-time job working for Lloyds Bank. Whilst I started my master’s at the same time, which was interesting

Chima Mmeje 11:27

So your job at Lloyd’s Bank paid for your masters. Yeah. What are you doing at Lloyds Bank?

Thierry Ngutegure 11:30

so Lloyds Bank, it was when the PPI scandal happened. So this is when there was mis-sold insurance policies to mortgages.


And that’s what pretty much kind of led to the financial crisis in like 2007 2008. So the My job was to analyse the mortgages and and figure out whether they were fit for the individuals or not, and if not, refund those individuals. And if if they weren’t, then we kind of continue on.


But a large proportion of that was, it’s really funny, because, like a lot of jobs in my opinion, can be systemized quite quickly. So like, when I did that job, we were had to go through like 16 cases a week or whatever it was an analyse whether they were correct or not. And a large proportion, I’d recognise patterns quite quickly


So for example, there is a certain thing you have to look for in order for something to be a refund. So every single time I found something, I would note it down, and note down the response I had to put in order for that to happen.


So then I ended up building a 92 page, Excel, not Excel, PowerPoint documentation, where I could copy and paste the responses now that I’ve seen that pattern occur. So what that meant was, instead of doing 16, in cases that we could do, like 30 to 40. That’s just just by naturally being systematic.


And so that was the first time where I kind of applied not so much data, but like logic and rigour to something. And that was picking that off on my kind of marketing course, which is quite cool.


So yeah, that’s when I first saw that kind of glimmer, like data and like marketing kind of come together weirdly. But yeah, no, it was good. It was a good time. But yeah, stressful. Yeah.


Chima Mmeje 13:04

Working in the bank?

Thierry Ngutegure 13:07

Yeah, going to go into uni nine till three working three till 11pm. Everyday for a year.

Chima Mmeje 13:13

Wow. Yeah. And somehow you survived. Yep. So what was the what would you say were the most fundamental skills you learned from your marketing degree that prepared you for what came next?


Thierry Ngutegure 13:26

My marketing degree really just helped me understand and secure that this is where I want to go. So it’s not that it added lots of things to it, it just confirmed that this is something that you have to chase.


I do think though, that there is a different pace between academic marketing and the real world marketing. So I think the academic rigour so there’s a lot of theory that has been done.


So like real world moves at such a pace that things happen, and that academics review the thing that I’ve happened, and then we’ll conceptualise a theory towards it and why that happened, and therefore we can apply this elsewhere.


But it means that it’s naturally almost being left behind quite a lot of time. So there’s a lot of things I was I’d be reading, market orientation, audience, etc. Or even ways of like collecting audience data and understanding your audience.


And, you know, I was like, oh, that’s quite an old way of working considering the kind of digital space that we exist in right now. So yeah, it was really interesting to see those two bits exist in tandem.


Chima Mmeje 14:29

So you graduate and what happens next,

Thierry Ngutegure 14:32

apply for a job at a marketing team within my su again, I do a year there. Just a year placement that helps me understand market research. So I got market research job there.


So this was understanding students and then helping us apply that to our strategic direction or what the students want, when do they want and then that opened the door to my first agency.

Chima Mmeje 14:57

Alright, let’s go. That’s market research. You were analysing data to like help make decisions?


Thierry Ngutegure 15:05

Yes. So we’d collect data on students. So let’s say freshers freshers for that first semester, we want to understand what are the struggles you’ve had? What are the things that you’re looking for that we didn’t provide?


Are there any ways we can do better next time? Are there any events? Is there a thing that we’re missing from an inclusivity? perspective? What types of students do we have? And so then all of that data allows us to then strategically say, okay, brilliant.


So this cohort of students, for example, there was a stat that was like, I think was like, the first time we’ve seen it back then, where it’s like one in three students that will come in at that time, don’t drink at all, no alcohol.


No, you’ve got to imagine in British culture is very much a thing that is like it’s by default, to drink, especially Freshers Week, especially students.


So that was a really defining moment for us to go, actually, we might put a lot of events and we talk a lot about kind of, not even us, or just the events in general might be very alcoholic centric.


What non alcoholic events are we putting on here are non alcoholic focused events. And so then that’s where we start to see some change, whether it’s like headphone desk, or roller disc goals, like, like things that bring people together where alcohol isn’t a central component.


Chima Mmeje 16:19

That’s interesting. how data can help you make decisions that lead to more revenue. Yeah, yeah. You get your first agency job. And what is your role there?

Thierry Ngutegure 16:26

Yeah. So I am a data journalist.

Chima Mmeje 16:30

A data journalist? that sounds interesting.

Thierry Ngutegure 16:30

yes. Yeah, it was cool. So was for a, at the time was earned. And traditional PR, so digital PR hadn’t become a thing yet, really.

And my job was to help create audience stories for brands around their audience. Ultimately,


Chima Mmeje 16:50

what did that mean?

Thierry Ngutegure 16:51

So it might be that, for example, as a brand, there is a certain message, or tone of voice, a way of speaking that we want to convey to our audience. And I would create stories that would help them not only get links, but also brand awareness around a specific topic.


So it might be that, for example, we want to be known as the greatest shoe brand on earth. How do we do that? What do we understand about our audience to be able to do that as a brand, but also, what stories can we create from that?


So yeah, it was very much like an audience piece and a brand piece at the same time as well. And that brand piece, by default, then, therefore would lead to digital PR, which would lead to links.

Chima Mmeje 17:32

Wow. I never thought about it that way. Yeah,

Thierry Ngutegure 17:35

like it was, it was really, it was really, really, really good fun. Because, you know, we’d have a budget to go away and write I need to understand what this audience what what, who are they what triggers them?


What moments do they think of us? Where’s that mental availability, when they’re considering us in that kind of purchase journey? That was the first time I’ve ever really considered anything like that. And I sat next to the SEO team.


And those Malcolm Slade, who is phenomenal SEO. And he taught me, SEO as a byproduct of me talking to him about data, data and audience research and things like that.


He’s like, actually, do you realise that you could action run this? Through SEO and things like that, and I was like yeah, take me in!


Chima Mmeje 18:17

So what soft skills do learn from this very first, I want to say quote, unquote, proper job in the industry.


What are the soft skills that you learned? These are not like hard skills of doing the job itself, like, what soft skills did you learn then?


Thierry Ngutegure 18:29

being obsessed with not only what you are doing, but what other people are doing? I think it’s easy to join an agency, sit in your seat, mind your business like, and honestly, like, that’s a great way to live in some places.


But I think the soft skills are being easy to work with, is actually underrated. So when I say easy to work with, it’s not bending to everybody’s will, easy to work with is I’m interested in what your projects are, as much as I’m interested in what I’m doing. So I’ll ask you.


So with Malcolm, I just poked him and said, Listen, I’ve heard about this SEO from what’s going on there. And being interested in other people and being around certain conversations, not just sitting with your team.


So whether even just as little as like at lunch, I’ll go and sit with another team and just be like, Yo, so what you guys do and what stresses you guys out?


Because you learn about yourself too, because it might be like, Yo, listen, your team is stressing me out because you’re doing X, Y and Zed.


We never knew we just be existing. Right? So yeah, soft skills just be around people like it’s by default. People are nice. It’s just that I don’t know sometimes I think we’d project something that puts people off but no one’s ever mean to somebody who’s curious.

Chima Mmeje 19:45

So what other soft skills did you learn?

Thierry Ngutegure 19:50

soft skills…. uhm speaking in public.

Chima Mmeje 19:56

Oh that was when you were speaking in public?

Thierry Ngutegure 19:57


Chima Mmeje 19:57

that was when you started speaking in public from your first agency job?

Thierry Ngutegure 20:00

yeah, because I had to present my work

Chima Mmeje 20:04

Oh it’s true because it’s data.

Thierry Ngutegure 20:06

Yeah. So I had to present my findings. So like, I remember, I just started by presenting like 90 page, my slide deck, and they’re like, Oh, God, this is overload. So then I don’t know. That’s what I started to understand.


Okay, well, how do I present to a data analysts versus a director? And what is the difference between data and insight? So like, what can I take away and action from those types of things? So I can, the best way to describe it really is if you think about it in the form of Lego, right?


So Lego the individual bricks of the data, so this is, I am this old, I like these things I shop at this time, I spend my time here and there. If you put that Lego piece together, that picture that you build is then the insight that you take away.


So then by putting that together, I now understand Ah, so actually, yeah. So actually, thierry is this individual collectively, whereas data is your individual component

Chima Mmeje 21:09

Building block

Thierry Ngutegure 21:09

Yeah, Building block that’s

Chima Mmeje 21:11

that’s amazing. All right. So when do you know that it’s time to leave the agency? That’s always the interesting question when people go, okay I have been here for maybe a year or two, when do you know it’s time to leave?


Thierry Ngutegure 21:23

Yeah, I always said that. If I’m not learning any more, then it’s my time to leave. And what I mean by that is like, is there anybody above me or to the side of me that I’m really consuming a lot of energy from and a lot of knowledge, if not started to move? I like I enjoy being the stupidest person in the room.


I really enjoy knowledge. Yeah. Because otherwise, why am I here? What am I here for? I actually find it very difficult to teach weirdly, do you see what i mean?

Chima Mmeje 21:59

that sounds very, very selfish for someone who enjoys learning and just soaking up knowledge.

Thierry Ngutegure 22:05

Yeah, I find it difficult to teach. I find the difficult. But this is why I do a lot of talks, though, because it allows me to verbalize what I’ve learned.


I just find that difficult to sit down and go, Okay, of everything that I’ve learned here is the process because nine times out of 10 I’m not gonna lie to you.


It’s not a process. Sometimes I do 10 things at once. Let 10 horses out. And then I’m like, okay, that one’s working. Okay, that one’s own. But those are not working. Cool, right? We’ll tweak it.


So when someone says, What did you do? Um, I have no idea. I have no idea. But I understand the general principle of how we got here.


Chima Mmeje 22:39

Organized chaos.

Thierry Ngutegure 22:40

Yeah. So I never was I need to sit down and watch what you do. I’m like, they would think I’m an idiot. Like, this man has no idea.


Chima Mmeje 22:47

Alright, so what was the was the first company, the first agency?

Thierry Ngutegure 22:51

Chima Mmeje 22:53

Thierry Ngutegure 22:53


Chima Mmeje 22:52

where did you go to next.

Thierry Ngutegure 22:54

And that’s when I went to rise at seven.

Chima Mmeje 22:58

Oh, how long were at rise at seven?

Thierry Ngutegure 23:00

About two and a half years.

Chima Mmeje 23:01

Wow. That’s a long time.

Thierry Ngutegure 23:03

Yeah. Bout two and a half years.

Chima Mmeje 23:04

Alright, so what did you do at rise at seve? Data?

Thierry Ngutegure 23:06

Yeah, so I came in as the Data Manager, but all that was. So data is a huge umbrella, you can do data for basically anything, any sector, any, any way of understanding anything.


So this one was specifically for digital PR. So what I was doing there for them is helping them create narratives and stories that they can use to therefore gain press, and therefore getting links.

Chima Mmeje 23:29

Explain what that looks like.


Thierry Ngutegure 23:32

Yeah, so we will have a brainstorm where we’ll come up with some ideas. So we have a fast fashion brand, when they come to us, and they say we want to increase our visibility or brand awareness or mental availability for dresses.


So then we’ll we’ll get together and have a brainstorm. And my job is to think about how we can do that in a data lead way. So are there any ideas, or one of the speakers today actually coined a really good term was like shoulder topics.


So it’s like, you want to increase your relevancy for dresses, but what are the other topics that people who buy dresses talk about? So it might be wedding season? Or it might be the races or the occasions that you go and dress up for?


And so then I would think about how do I create a data led story that sits with those moments that we can therefore talk about, but still be relevant to the dresses?

Chima Mmeje 24:30

Yeah, that is brilliant.

Thierry Ngutegure 24:32

Yeah, it was good fun. It was, yeah, a lot of fun. And we, I think I was like number six, I think was like 113 by the time I’d left in two and a bit years. Wow.


Chima Mmeje 24:44

So you leave rise at seven now? And where do you go to next?


Thierry Ngutegure 24:47

I want to journey further agency in Leeds. So ironically, the founder of journey further was also the founder of epiphany. And I’ve kind of been watching then grow. And they’re a super, super, super intellectual bunch.


So not just kind of the digital PR and SEO piece, but they do everything from like, it’s like a prop integrated agency. PPC, the strategist who truly understood like media buying and why people, why people buy when and what you should be doing with your media mix modelling. Like, I’ve never even heard of anything like this, which was absolutely fantastic.


Chima Mmeje 25:24

Because now you’re learning.

Thierry Ngutegure 25:25

Yeah, honestly was like going back to uni. And I was getting schooled every day. And it was fantastic. Because I was curious, it will I never took it as like a, like an almost like an imposter thing of like, oh, I need to go away and hide in the corner and learn and come out.


I was just like, what is media mix modelling? Like, what’s going on here? Oh, like? Why do we need to do segmentation to understand our audience?


Oh, well, so therefore, we can tailor certain marketing strategies to focus on certain people when they need to, when they have the intent to purchase or even if they don’t have the intent to purchase so that we understand what that journey looks like.


And therefore we’re always front of mind by the time they get blew my mind. Yeah, was a great time.


Chima Mmeje 26:05

So what were the big things, the main things you learnt both on the hard skill side, and on the soft skill side at Journey further

Thierry Ngutegure 26:12

Yeah, hard skill side was pure play, how to work with first party data. So I worked with my manager there. James, he was a data scientist, and he was just absolutely phenomenal. So he really taught me the hard skills of like, right?


If we’re dealing with if we want to understand our customers audience, and we’re gonna go straight to first party data, what should we be doing there, which is amazing, soft skill wise, is I was in a lot of pitches.


Now, pitches are completely different to presenting your data because you not only have to convey your findings, but in a way that is super interesting, and of the narrative that you want to guide somebody towards.


So those were really good, soft skills in a sense of saying, You don’t in a pitch, you’re not just going oh, it’s my turn now. Okay.


Well, the day said that, I have to be listened to everybody and understand, okay, how my data is, yeah, how my data contributes to that, and how collectively what is a collective strategy that we are going to put forward?


Chima Mmeje 27:22

Your brain is literally like working, like your brain is working like overtime? Like, oh, this is Oh, how do I put this?the insights you’re going to share?


Thierry Ngutegure 27:30

Yeah, I absolutely love it. I love it. And I also love nothing more than one speaker is talking and they reference something else somebody said, because it shows that you paid attention, you understand the relevance of that. And you’ve applied that within your conversation. So yeah.

Chima Mmeje 27:45

So that’s the hard skill side. Now, what about the soft skill?

Thierry Ngutegure 27:48

Well, sorry, that was so the hard skill would be the analysis portion, first Pi Day, and then the soft skills? Was that kind of pitching and understanding, listening, being in tune? How do I take what you’ve said, and apply it those those soft skills? It sounds really funny, because I’m saying a soft skill is listening.

Chima Mmeje 28:06

it’s still a great skill for every marketer to have.

Thierry Ngutegure 28:06

But not a lot of people. Yeah. And like having the ability to listen to somebody regurgitate what they’ve said in them, in a way that sits within your narrative is a superpower I’ve seen a couple of people do, like, a really cool skill somebody taught me once was like holding an idea, for example, right?


So when somebody is trying to convey a complex topic to you, I’ve seen I’ve seen them do it, they basically go, okay, there are three reasons this thing would happen, right?


And they go, one, that earth and they go to dinner, and they go through that a and remember what and then they reference back to one that for some reason conveyed it feels like such a superpower, that they’ve held three thoughts in their head, have taken you through each one and then gone back to the first one.


I’m going oh, by the way, this then relates to their I saw that in a pitch once and I said, Listen, give that man the money.


Chima Mmeje 28:59

Kind of re-enforcing the idea so you don’t forget. Yeah.


Thierry Ngutegure 29:01

But they have the ability to keep you engaged across three topics and then jump I think they’ll probably be a psychological thing, principle around it. But when I first saw it in action, I was like, Oh, this is phenomenal.


Chima Mmeje 29:14

Let’s talk about workplace culture. I’ve heard that journey further has like a very, like really good workplace culture, I’ve heard. I don’t know if it’s true but I’ve heard.


How important is it for a workplace to have to be intentional about their culture, and to have a culture that doesn’t just foster creativity, but also gives people the room to grow? Yeah,

Thierry Ngutegure 29:37

I think firstly, it’s incredibly important. I think journey further were absolutely amazing at it because they, you know, they had a team and they were dedicated in order to do it now.


But what’s really interesting actually is then the agency I then went on to next, S.A.L.T, which I worked for now, because they like Jennifer is really interesting because yeah, from, they kind of listen from the ground up, so they listen to their staff, and then we’ll action it.


And they have a team that is dedicated to just listening to what it is that their staff wants and, and to make sure that that is cultivated.


What really strikes me about salt. And the company that I worked for now is with a lot of these agencies, most of them consider it as they go, right?


So you start from two, three or four, you know, your band of rebels, and now you’re your bigger group. Now, you’re 50. Now you’re 100.


And you have to consider those things because people start saying, Hey, listen, you need to, I need I need maternity and paternity leave like what’s going on here?


Whereas S.A.L.T is really interesting agency, because when I came in what baffled me was those policies exist for an agency, that is they could cater to 100 people. So there’s 38 people in the agency at the moment.


But the policies that they’ve incorporated, are diverse enough, in my opinion, to to add in 200 people because they have not just considered the people who exist today, but the people who could exist.


That’s what I really find interesting, right? So then when you’ve got like, grievance, and maternity and paternity and parental support, and things like that, when none of your demographic is that that’s super powerful.


So you’ve not even conceived not just conceived the people that exist today. But the people you could attract.


Chima Mmeje 31:19

So even when you attract new people, your company is growing, you already have all these policies in place for them

Thierry Ngutegure 31:25

exactly. Like it’s just a really smart way of working.

Chima Mmeje 31:29

Being Proactive.

Thierry Ngutegure 31:29

Yeah, and even even from like a training perspective, right. So one of the hardest things I think sometimes is, as a manager is coming in, and then having to train maybe a lot of junior staff, and it takes away from you being able to do that.


So they’ve got an internal Academy, where they have training that could take you what from a junior all the way up to a principal consultant. And it’s already housed and held there. So mean, so then if I get a new member of staff, I don’t have to go on, and I’m gonna have to eat up like 15 days within this month, and just training, they go through an academy.


So by the time they get there, they have the ways of working the habits that are conducive to working that salt. Sort of mean. So if you it’s a really smart thing as well for longevity, because if you can’t find the talent, externally, so if let’s say you’re out there looking for technical skills, that actually we’re not really finding the level that we want, that’s fine.


We have an academy to build our own. We can take people who have never talked about SEO ever to,


Chima Mmeje 32:26

turn them into like really good SEO a few weeks.


Thierry Ngutegure 32:28


Chima Mmeje 32:29

That’s amazing,


Thierry Ngutegure 32:30

right? It’s just forward thinking like those types of things. Yes, proactive. Yeah, super, super proactive.

Chima Mmeje 32:37

Like, lead us to your next role at Salt, I want to ask the first question, What was the thing that attracted you to sort that made you say, this is a no brainer, I want to work for this company.

Thierry Ngutegure 32:46

It’s once again, they are a super, super smart bunch of people. So I came in as the head of their data insight, but it’s not because they were lacking the knowledge there. It’s like they’re an extremely data-literate agency that just needed maybe somebody to be a little bit more creative with what they’re producing.


And so that, in that learning environment that you know, we’ve got an academy and we’re like, yeah, I want to develop myself too. You don’t get to a certain level and just go, I’m just gonna sit here now. just regurgitate everything.


Now I really want to absorb and, and grow. And so that Academy, that kind of learning environment. You can put any idea forward there. I’ve put some stupid ideas forward at S.A.L.T and everyone’s like, that’s right.


We’ll check that out. We’ll see. You know, we’ll, we’ll see if it works. And everybody’s super open. So yeah, that kind of learning and agility. Yeah, I was a big fan of.


Chima Mmeje 33:42

Alright, so what has been the main takeaway for you right now? You’ve worked for S.A.L.T for how long?

Thierry Ngutegure 33:48

Since May, I believe? Yeah.

Chima Mmeje 33:50

So what have you apart from? What exactly have you learned? You said you’ve learned from the Academy. But what exactly have you learned?

Thierry Ngutegure 33:59

Yeah, so for example, take like, analytics. It wasn’t it was a thing that I kind of worked with. But specifically talking about like GA, for example.


Right? So that thing happened as I crossed over, okay. And it’s never really a thing I really focused on.


I was like, Oh, it’s fine. You know, your way is there I go in I have a little look, no problem. And yeah, from a reporting perspective, amazing. We can actually quite a few things.


But then they kind of allowed me to strip it back and say, Okay, let’s actually teach you the foundations of analytics. And therefore, why the pros and cons for GA four, and what all the alternatives exist. So yeah, it’s allowed me to operate in a new fraction.


Chima Mmeje 34:40

That’s amazing because everybody’s still fighting. Fighting. You’re fine. Yeah. You try to enforce the learnings like I am right now. All right. This has been amazing. If someone is trying to get into the industry, specifically a person of colour, trying to get into industry.


They’re in school right now. And they’re consuming their options. What advice to give to them as a way of getting into agency world marketing industry, what should they be doing right now while they’re in school?


Thierry Ngutegure 35:11

Attending talks like this, listen to the two conversations like this. Absolutely. Because then you are, you’re arming yourself with something that is happening right now with the people who are the positions you like to be in the future.


And then get on LinkedIn and DM, everybody who you think is doing an excellent job. Drop them a link, can I have a coffee with you? Can I see you


Chima Mmeje 35:31

Does that even work? Sorry to cut you.

Thierry Ngutegure 35:31

I do it now?

Chima Mmeje 35:35

You do it?

Thierry Ngutegure 35:35

I do it.

Chima Mmeje 35:35

Okay. I’m just saying.


Thierry Ngutegure 35:37

I did it. I did it to luke Carthy. I love it. Yeah, that’s fine. Like, you know, 1010 people. One person says, Yes, you just need one. That’s it. Like n luke Carthy he’s a prime example. Like I said, Listen, big man.


I love what you do is sick. I need to grab your coffee and we need a chat, grab a zoom, whatever might be, you know, he might hit me to a link to his resources. Fantastic. I’ve never had that to begin with. Yeah,


Chima Mmeje 36:00

sure. So what was it you said again, LinkedIn, this is a talk like this. And what again?

Thierry Ngutegure 36:09

and shake the tree, shake the tree go and see what falls out. Yeah,


Chima Mmeje 36:14

I’ll definitely have a kid attending industry events like this network like your life depends on needs. take courses.


There’s so many free courses you can take. I work for Moz now. I know the most has. Amazing,

Thierry Ngutegure 36:25


Chima Mmeje 36:27

Take, take those courses, put it on your resume. It gives you step up above everybody else who hasn’t done anything and just trying to get the same jobs as you. This has been Thierry


Thierry Ngutegure 36:38


Chima Mmeje 36:41

Ngutegure, with us from salt agency. Amazing session.

Thierry Ngutegure 36:45

A pleasure. Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. Bye bye.