My journey from Marketing Executive to Manager at Xpand

Our Digital Marketing Manager, Danni Johnson, celebrates three years of working at Xpand, so we’ve asked her to share her...
Danni Johnson

Our Digital Marketing Manager, Danni Johnson, celebrates three years of working at Xpand, so we’ve asked her to share her experience…

There comes a time in your life when you have to take a step back and decide if what you are doing is really what you want to be doing forever. Four years ago, after the birth of my twin boys, I did just that. 

I had returned to a job that I thought I loved – the truth is, I did at first, but my career wasn’t heading in the right direction anymore. After having my twins, I realised I needed more from a job. I love being a mummy but I couldn’t be just that. I needed to be something else too, so I decided to start sending my CV to local marketing agencies.

I wanted to specialise, I wanted to learn and I needed somewhere close to home so I could still be there for my boys.

Unfortunately, I just missed out on a job opening at Xpand and I was gutted. I remember Simon Patchett letting me down gently. They’d already started the process… and it wouldn’t be fair on the other applicants if they just threw me in the mix. I respected that, so I went back to my old job and just got on with it.

Then a few months later, I was contacted again by Simon, asking if I was still looking for a job! I was delighted! And well, the rest is history…

Where it all began

19 years ago I collected my A-Level results. I remember the day clearly. I knew I had messed up. I had done ok at my GCSEs, and so, I stayed on at 6th Form.

I wasn’t sure what I wanted to do, I wasn’t academic, I learnt on the job, BUT apprenticeships weren’t a thing back then, well not for the average achievers like me anyway. That said, I knuckled down and tried to crack on with my A-Levels. I really did try. It worked for a while but then LIFE happened and my results evidenced that, so I left education, and got a full-time job.

I worked hard at my career. In every single job, I gave my all to climb as high as I could, as quickly as I could. I’ve worked in retail, sales, recruitment and now marketing. Yes, my CV is extremely long and varied, but, so is my experience, and that’s ok.

I didn’t go to university, I learnt ON. THE. JOB. And look where I am now… A Digital Marketing Manager at a highly regarded digital marketing agency.

Why marketing?

I dabbled in marketing whilst working as a recruiter and was given the opportunity to run a marketing department. Now, I will admit I knew a bit, but not enough to be what I believed was needed to lead a team. So, I enrolled on a CIM diploma and off I went, ready to learn. That learning didn’t stop there… I watched all the webinars, went to all the free courses I could possibly find, and read so many blogs but still, I wanted more.

So, after 16 successful years in sales, marketing management, recruitment and customer service, I did it. I took the jump into the digital marketing agency world, do I regret it? Not one little bit. I love it! 

Why Xpand?

In my interview, Jag Panesar and Simon told me about Xpand and the company values. I took them with a pinch of salt, as I had heard similar things so many times before. But, I quickly realised how wrong I was to do that. These guys both truly live our values especially ‘in it together’ because for me I have never felt so supported. When I’m feeling the pressure, they do too, I’ll explain.

3 years ago this week, I joined Xpand and in my first week one of my twins ended up in hospital. My car lost its wing mirror whilst parked outside my new office, and I was late on my first day. Challenges come in threes, right?

In those moments of panic for my poorly child, I also worried about what my new employer would think, day three and I am already phoning in sick… BUT I didn’t need to worry.

When I made that call to Simon I burst into tears, as it was the first time I had actually spoken out loud and heard my own words ‘Lewis is in hospital, they’ve kept him overnight on oxygen’. At this point, I had been away from one of my boys for over 24hrs. 

Simon listened, offered support and explained that family always came first and not to worry about work. It was at that moment that I realised we really are ‘in it together’ and I knew I wanted to stay at Xpand for as long as they’d have me. It turned out, that this was going to be the start of a really amazing journey.

Cue Global Pandemic 

During my fourth month of working for Xpand, the country went into a national lockdown, and I went into panic mode. How was I supposed to work and look after 1 year old twins? 

I needn’t have panicked as my team had my back, and Jag worked with me to arrange a schedule that suited me and the business. It wasn’t easy, but the flexibility and support given to me during that time is what truly helped me through.

The pandemic actually put a lot into perspective for us as a team. We were forced to rethink some of our strategies. I was able to take a lead on improving our social media packages, especially for LinkedIn. Then came webinars, which I loved. They gave me a sense of purpose in what felt like a really weird and lonely time. I felt needed, appreciated and respected. And in a time where friends were losing their jobs, or feeling very unsupported, I knew that I mattered, and that Jag would do whatever he could to keep me in my job.

June 2021 – A day to remember

In January 2021, Jag presented me with the question everyone dreads… Where do you see yourself going with Xpand? Now, I’ll be honest, at this point I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to manage people again. I’d done it for a long time and I didn’t think I was very good at it. Don’t get me wrong, I love coaching and guiding people, but I had always hated the actual people bit.

However, Jag and I sat down and discussed a personal development plan. He talked about how I would be enrolled in Xpand’s management coaching program, and I would get support from our business coach on a 121 basis. I discussed this at length with my husband and lots of my friends. I remember one friend saying to me “Danni you can do this, you’ve done it before without the support of a company like Xpand, so imagine what you can do, who you can help and where they can go with that support”. So I did it, I embarked on a journey to become a member of the senior management team. 

And after only a year and a half of working at Xpand, I was promoted to Digital Marketing Manager. 

So what’s next?

Well… It’s only been 3 years and I’d quite like a rest… but, that’s just not how I roll. 

We have so many exciting plans for Xpand and now with a solid team alongside me, I know we can make some big waves in the world of digital marketing, especially social media. And another thing I do know for sure is that, I have never been so happy or felt so valued in any other position, and there’s a lot of those. Believe me.