25 September 2019

Ask a Consultant: Is job-hopper a dirty word?

Anthony Stabourlos, social media manager at Newpharma and digital marketing expert and strategist, shares how his rapid-growth start primed him for a career in consulting, and why he would never look back.

Anthony got his start more than 10 years ago, but really he had a lot of starts. New projects, new roles, and new companies started adding up, as he quickly learned new strategies and skills, and how to apply them in different companies and industries. “It was the best thing I could have done, looking back at it 10 years later, because I started working for a lot of different companies and brands and industries, but I also started very early with my own tech startups.

“The more I got into the marketing world, with projects like ambassador marketing, or social media, or digital strategy in general, more and more companies asked me to come work for them and set up similar projects. So from the outside, it looked like I quit jobs like I was changing my favorite drink or something. At a certain point, someone called me a job-hopper, and that’s when I realized: a lot of people do this, they get paid for it, and they don’t get judged about it--why not take the risk and become a consultant and a freelancer? I did that full time in 2016, and it was the best decision I ever made for my career.”

At a certain point, someone called me a job-hopper, and that’s when I realized: a lot of people do this, they get paid for it, and they don’t get judged about it--why not take the risk and become a consultant and a freelancer?

Why is Anthony so confident about his decision? “I love it because I get to see a lot: a lot of industries, a lot of people, a lot of ways of thinking, a lot of techniques of project management. I grew into agile management and scrum just by doing it, because a lot of companies I’ve worked with are using it. One of the biggest benefits is that I develop myself and get experience for other companies I will be working for. My actual job is to learn industry knowledge, but also to improve myself at my job.”

This commitment to learning and development usually has to come from within. For some it can be challenging, but most consultants, like Anthony, it’s the best of both worlds. “I have to coach myself. That’s something you have to do to grow, push yourself to learn--it’s one of the biggest challenges and the biggest benefits. And you get paid for it! I would never go back to payroll.”

Cross-industry experience has helped Anthony earn success for his clients. Applying his mentality and experience to each project, then adapting it to suit the specific company and industry in that moment has been key. Anthony explains, “I almost always start in the same way but the way of working, the work I do, the perception of what I do, the result--it’s always completely different.”

My actual job is to learn industry knowledge, but also to improve myself at my job.

One of his first successes as an entrepreneur was in e-commerce, which really took off thanks to a real understanding of consumer attitude. “We had our own ideas about e-commerce, a really different idea from others. Shopping online wasn’t a big thing at that time and people were scared, they thought it could be fraudulent. So we had to build trust in e-commerce itself. We showed people that it didn’t have to be scary by building a platform that was made up of local stores, so when you bought something you would still know there was a person behind it. It was a really early time in e-commerce, and it was a way to teach people to be comfortable shopping online. It was a success because merchants wanted to do it, and customers bought there. That was my very first project in e-commerce, and I can apply it to a lot of markets. I’m at Newpharma now, and I still use that learning that I had to teach myself and develop in order to get to the next level.”

Currently, Anthony is the Social Media Manager at Newpharma, launching their social media strategy and implementing a scale-up plan to bring the company to the next level in digital. Despite applying learning from past experiences and other industries, pharma and wholesale offer their own set of challenges. “It’s really difficult to be a leader in wholesale marketing. You sell 100 different categories to 100 different audiences. It’s really difficult to focus on a certain audience or way of communication. It’s hard to shape the experience. With pharma, there are a lot of regulations you have to keep in mind. Like, we can’t directly speak about medicine, but you need to sell medicine. You have to find ways to stay at the top of the customers mind.”

What about challenges for the future, for digital markers and strategists across industries? Anthony notes that it is entirely possible that an activity or field that a professional chooses to develop could be made obsolete rather quickly by AI. Another challenge? New entrants, but not in the way you’d think.

“Companies are becoming more digital,” says Anthony, “and they have to be more active on social media. More and more companies are hiring freelancers, and of course, that’s a good opportunity because we can earn more. But that also means that the market will become more normalized, and that consultancy and freelancing is the new way of working. I’m sure that consulting and freelancing will be the new normal, and it will replace the payroll mentality. I’ve already seen that growing.”

Amidst that normalcy, it’s likely that an already-common misconception will grow. “A lot of people think that if they hire a freelancer with a junior profile or less experience that just because they are a freelancer that their quality of work will be high. I see a lot of companies buying into this perception, and it’s not always right.

“People have the perception that a freelance worker is always better than a payroller. Sometimes that can frighten other companies into not hiring freelancers, as the costs can seem unjustified. That hurts truly experienced consultants, who really do deliver.”

A way to help with this is to work with a partner like Ariad, who can advise both consultants and clients to find the right fit. Anthony says that from the beginning, working with Ariad felt like a natural fit. “The approach at Ariad is definitely that they want to take care of you. They’re open to help, talk, have new ideas--you never feel like just a sales target. At Ariad there’s a family feeling, and I often feel like I’m actually on the payroll working at Ariad when I talk with them, part of their team.”

Interested in working on different, interesting projects as a consultant? Check out our latest opportunities, or get our guide to becoming a consultant with Ariad!