I love working on comms and marketing

Faizah Idris is a Marketing Executive at Johnsons Workwear, the UK’s number one workwear, protective wear and workplace hygiene services provider.

She has eight years of marketing experience, specifically in social media management and content creation, marketing campaign planning, digital marketing, influencer marketing, and internal communications.

Faizah has always been a creative person, and knew she wanted a career which lets her use her energy and enthusiasm – she actually wanted to be a kid’s TV presenter when she was younger!

I have always been a creative person, and I knew I wanted a career which lets me use my energy and enthusiasm – I actually wanted to be a kid’s TV presenter when I was younger!

When I left college after completing my Media course, I worked in housing for 6 years, alongside being wedding photographer at the weekend and evening.

I actually got my first proper Marketing role as a Comms Officer for Together Housing in 2015, which was a combination of my housing and creative skills, and I have had a great journey ever since!

I have since worked for Bensons for Beds, a sanitiser company, a recruitment company, and I’m now working for Johnsons Workwear, the UK’s number one workwear, protective wear and workplace hygiene services provider.

I absolutely love working in marketing, I like that I can be myself and my team allows me the space and opportunities to constantly share my wacky ideas and suggestions.

I’m excited to see what’s next and how I can develop my marketing skills even further!

Faizah Idris

Marketing Executive

Podcast questions:

  1. How did you get into comms and marketing as a career?
  2. Which parts of comms and marketing do you like the most/least?
  3. Would you do anything differently if you could go back to 2015 and your first job in comms?
  4. What are your top 3 tips for young comms people?
  5. What does 2023 hold for you?

Podcast transcript here:

Disclaimer: this is an automated transcript. Please don’t call the grammar police on us. You never know, we may have ChatGPT writing our next one…


Asif Choudry (00:06):

Hello, and welcome to another episode in the you’re my CommsHero podcast. And I’m your host, Asif Choudry. Today my guest is Faizah Idris, who’s a marketing executive at Johnson’s Workwear. The UK’s number one workwear protective wear and workplace hygiene services provider. That’s been written by a comms hero there Definitely hasn’t it? And it’s not me. So Faizah’s got eight years of marketing experience, specifically in social media management and content creation, marketing, campaign planning, digital marketing, influencer marketing, and internal communications. There’s always been a creative person and knew she wanted a career, which lets her use her energy and enthusiasm. She actually wanted to be a kids’ TV presenter when she was younger. We might find out a little bit more about that later. So thanks for joining me, Faizah, and it’s great to welcome you as a guest on the podcast.

Faizah Idris (00:56):

Thank you very much. It’s, , great to be here.

Asif Choudry (00:59):

So we’re gonna get to know you shortly, but before we do that on the day of recording, it’s your birthday today. So happy birthday. Many happy returns.

Faizah Idris (01:08):

Thank you very much. Yeah, what a, what a day. It’s my birthday and I’m going to record a podcast. It’s great.

Asif Choudry (01:13):

, , and we were speaking beforehand and we were talking about whether you brought cake in or healthy stuff, and you know, with all the debate that’s going on about cakes and office treats and all the rest of it. And, um, you have a massive visitors who’ve come in because you brought cake, which nothing wrong with that.

Faizah Idris (01:30):

<laugh>. Yes, absolutely. I, I’m very much a believer of calories don’t count on your birthday. So cakes all the way on your birthday <laugh>.

Asif Choudry (01:37):

Absolutely. So let’s get to know you a little bit then, Faizah. So we’ve got, um, , let’s kick off with, , are you an early riser or do you love a lion?

Faizah Idris (01:47):

Ooh, I don’t probably say I love a lion. I mean, every once in a while when you have to get up early, I accept it. But if I was to choose, definitely Lion

Asif Choudry (01:54):

<laugh>. Okay. Are you a phone caller or a texter?

Faizah Idris (01:58):

Oh, phone caller. I love a good chat. Probably, probably chat too much. But, , yeah, very much I like the communication of talking and, , listening to each other, to each other that way. Not a texter.

Asif Choudry (02:09):

Yeah. And, um, do you prefer an ebook or a proper printed book?

Faizah Idris (02:15):

I’ve actually recently just got back into reading, actually. , a colleague of mine is a massive reader and he’s been trying to convince me, um, at this moment in time, I’d like having a physical book. It, it just, the imagination that comes with that I think is a bit stronger than, than an ebook, I would say.

Asif Choudry (02:29):

Yeah. What have you, what’s your current read then?

Faizah Idris (02:33):

I’m reading a book, a fantastic book, , called The Hate You Give, um, which is very BLM sort of themed, very, very powerful book. So yeah, I’m, I’m reading through that at the moment. It’s very, very good.

Asif Choudry (02:44):

The Hate You Give. What’s that? Yes. Excellent. Okay. And final one? Um, apple or Android.

Faizah Idris (02:51):

Oh, Android. All the way. I’ve always been an Android person. I’ve only used Apple for work, so yeah, Android <laugh>,

Asif Choudry (02:57):

You’re booking the trend trend there cause it’s usually, , apple all the way. But we’ve had, , I’ve done a couple of recordings already this year and, um, yeah, two Android users, so, , yes, it must be a thing now. It must be a thing. So thank you Faizah, for sharing all that. And, um, we we’re here because recently you posted on LinkedIn that you, um, you’re celebrating your one year anniversary and your current role at, um, Johnson’s. And I thought it’d be great to get you on the podcast as a guest to just talk about and share your com zero journey so far, because there’ll be people who are, , seasoned veterans to the communications professional, look back and think, oh, um, what would I go and tell my younger self if I could go back? And also people who were just looking to start in the profession or actually started, who probably take a lot of interest in this and, um, , on the journey you’ve actually gone on. So we’ve got some questions to, to pose to you. So first of all then Faizah, how did you get into comms and marketing as a career? , did you, is it, is it, did you fall into it like most people that I speak to do? Or did you actually choose it?

Faizah Idris (04:06):

, it’s a bit of a funny one, really. I, when I left college and did media, I instantly knew I had to do something creative, whether it’s me being a TV presenter or working at some sort of marketing job, that was something I needed. Um, I, you know, advice from my very well wise dad was, you can’t just go straight into the bbc. You can’t just work on CBBs. You need a real job. So I got myself just a local job at a housing association, , just as a, as a housing admin. , worked there for years. And on the side, because I needed that creative kind of buzz, I, I started being a wedding photographer, so I was a little bit like a, like a Batman during the day I was housing and at the weekends evening, cause I was a wedding photographer and I did that for many, many years.

Faizah Idris (04:47):

Yeah. , worked in housing for a long time, actually, I think it was eight years in total as well as the weddings on the side. And I think what happened was I was starting to, some of the video and photography started to creep into my housing work and I was starting to make little videos for presentations and awards and I started to sort of think, actually maybe this is the career that I want. It’s not so how, as well as doing housing, I was good at it and the admin was great. I thought I need to do something creative full-time. So I actually decided to kind of take a big leap and I left a job in housing in 2014, , just to pretty much focus on getting something creative. Um, now I knew at the time there was marketing jobs in lots and lots of businesses.

Faizah Idris (05:26):

It wasn’t something we talked about in school, but I think I started learning about marketing probably, , when I was about 18, 19. Um, so yeah, I left, I left my housing job and then I was very lucky to actually get an interview for a marketing officer job in a housing association, which was incredible because that’s the two things that I wanted in one goal. Yeah. Um, so I, I got the job covering Mater maternity cover part-time, and that’s sort of built and built when I became full-time. I then got hired full, you know, panently. , and it’s, that’s pretty much where I started. So officially I started as a comms officer in 2015. , so in a way I kind of did fall into it, but also I aimed to get there at the same time. , so yeah, that’s pretty much where I started.

Asif Choudry (06:09):

Yeah. Great. And, um, , interesting that, , you were aspiring to the Dizzy Heights of bbc, but feet put firmly back on the ground and having to work your way up. And we had a recent, um, at com a week last, , last year in October we had a session, which was, , when I grew up, I want to be a comms hero, which is just, it was really just asking people who were new into, or, , you know, young members of the comms profession and some experienced ones as well, just how could we make this profession one of those that is up there where I want to be a YouTuber or a TikTok or whatever it might be. You know, just one of those things you, you want to do and it’s on, it’s high up there on the list. And, um, you know, how how good would that be in a 10 years time, if that, or even shorter if that was the case. So you mentioned children’s TV presenter, so are there any particular shows that you would, you know, if you could be on any show, which one would it be?

Faizah Idris (07:06):

It’d have to be something craft related. I love crafts. I am crafting stuff all the time, whether it’s Rhine stoning a pair of jeans or putting glitter on shoes or making things for my colleagues for people’s birthdays. It’s, yeah, it’s something, I’m quite a bubbly personality and I love working with children and, you know, many, many people, even though they don’t know, that’s something I wanted to do, I’ve said you’d be great at that. Um, so yeah, initially I, I really wanted to be a TV presenter or a fashion designer. , and, and TV presenter was definitely something i, I wanted to do, but I’m not going there just yet. I’m starting to do a little bit of presenting in, in, in work, but not for kids just yet. So you never know. It might happen still.

Asif Choudry (07:44):

Excellent. Well, we’ll watch out for you. So, um, , before Faizah was famous we got her on the com podcast, so we’re the lucky ones, <laugh>. So tell us then, which, which parts of comms and marketing do you like the most and , and which ones do you like the least?

Faizah Idris (08:01):

The most I would have to say is I love that you can just think outside the box for so many things. I think that that sort of stuff is encouraged within comms and marketing. I think you can work for so many jobs and it is very kind of regimented. There’s very much that’s the standard or that’s the route that we take. And, you know, any ideas outside of that is a bit tricky cuz we’ve tried to test it, it doesn’t work. But I found through my kind of marketing career that actually those wacky ideas that I have in the middle of the night while I’m brushing my teeth or while I’m doing something else, they are encouraged. And actually those are the kinds of ideas that people want. It’s, you know, the fun stuff, the wacky stuff, the things that nobody else has thought of.

Faizah Idris (08:36):

, and for me that’s really great cuz that’s very much how I work. You know, I, I <laugh> I recently, , we were told that we were gonna do some sort of poem at Christmas last year, a Santa Workwear related poem. And for some reason my best ideas of the whole poem came at one 30 in the morning, just one night I thought, thought of the poem, I wrote it down and we went with it and, and worked with it as a team. , but I love that though. I love that when we come up with some sort of campaign, I can just go, how about that? , and people love that. So yeah, that’s definitely my favorite part is, is the creativity and the wacky ideas are are encouraged.

Asif Choudry (09:10):

Yeah. And, , we’re talking, we’re kicking off the season in 2023 with, , CLA Clarissa Langham, and that’s, she’s talking about rest and recharging and relaxation and what benefits it has for creativity. And you mentioned exactly there those moments that you’re actually not forcing creativity mm-hmm. <affirmative> and you are allowing your mind to just, you know, just go where it needs to go or where it wants to go, more importantly. And that’s when those best ideas tend to come up. And we, you know, we have creatives here at resource that, um, you know, scheduling time for thinking, you can’t, it’s not something you just switch on. You need time for it to No, kind of rummage around in your head really, and let ideas flow.

Faizah Idris (09:51):

Absolutely. I find it really funny when I, I tell people that I don’t switch off. That’s an honest truth. I’ve never been able to switch off necessarily. And people find that really odd, oh God, do you not want a hot bath or just sit in your pajamas or lounge around? But I find that because I’m so kind of, my brain is always so active and I’m always thinking of things, that’s what puts me one step ahead of some things. It’s almost like I’ve already thought of something that I can then use on another project. , and I feel like it’s a little bit of a superpower in a way. Um, you know, me switching off, yes, it has its downsize of a little bit hyper. I’m sure my siblings and my parents would love for me to switch off a little bit, but actually it’s a benefit for me and my job. , so I I actually prefer to be more switched on.

Asif Choudry (10:33):

Good one. Yeah, I think most, a lot of creatives that I’ve met over the years are like that, that, you know, comms is a just inherently part of the always on culture. I think that’s why mental health and wellbeing’s an important part that, you know, people in comms, comms profession have to recognize. And it is being recognized very widely now and rightly so because you are constantly looking that creativity. Creativity is and natural things. What do you like the least about comms and marketing?

Faizah Idris (11:02):

I would probably say the misconceptions that still are around about marketers and marketing as a job and, and what we do. You know, I’ve worked in it for a while now, even to this day, we always have to fight a little bit to explain that what we are doing isn’t just a doss around. It’s not easy work. It’s not just us scrolling through Facebook all day. There’s so much more to it. And, you know, having to prove that sometimes it’s almost, it feels like you’re having to show off a little bit extra than you normally would, or you have to shout a bit louder about what you’re doing, but it’s part and parcel of the job, you know. , an example is, , a colleague of mine is currently working on a catalog and, you know, the, the model’s hand is kind of not right.

Faizah Idris (11:40):

So I spent my, , Friday taking a picture of his hand so he could remodel this image. , and you know, it’s little things like that that people don’t think that’s the kind of work that goes into what we do. Um, or the content content creation. I think content creation is such a underrated skill. , people just think you can come up with content for anything out of anywhere. , and you know, that, that people just think that’s an easy skill. But actually it’s, there’s a lot of work that goes towards content creation and marketing, marketing general. Um, so yeah, I’d say that’s probably my least favorite part is having to constantly tell people, actually, I am busy. I have a lot of work to do. There’s a lot involved in what I’m doing.

Asif Choudry (12:18):

It’s not just the coloring in department and various of the slogans that we’ve got on many comms hero t-shirts. Um, can you just pretty it up and can you just this and can you make it go viral and can you put it on the homepage, et cetera, et cetera. There’s so many that, , I’m sure lots of the listeners will be, , nodding an agreement and inspired by what you’ve just said there, that, that the least, um, you know, nice part of the job is continual justification to, , to people who don’t necessarily understand what it is that we as comms and marketers do. Okay. Yeah. So tell us then, Faizah, would you do anything differently if you could go back to the start of your career in 2015 and your first comms job?

Faizah Idris (13:04):

I think I’ve thought about this recently, actually. I’ve been thinking about the journey that I’ve been on and the, you know, the different jobs I’ve done, the sort of the way I’ve got to where I am right now. You know, initially earlier on I thought, I wish I could have done things differently. I wish I’d spoken up a bit more. I wish I had tried this. But actually in, you know, in hindsight, I am happy with the way I went about things. I’m happy that I started off in housing and marketing. I thought that was a brilliant start. I’m happy that I had to go through a couple of different jobs to get to where I am. I’m very much a firm believer of everything happens for a reason. And, you know, I am where I’m today due to not just my own hard work, but the support that I’ve had through my managers and my colleagues and my very skilled marketers that I’ve worked alongside, , in all of those jobs. You know, I’ve learned about video editing and, you know, bits about photography, copywriting, digital marketing, just all the skills that I’m kind of now able to do. It’s all stuff that I’ve learned through my, my jobs. Um, so yeah, I, I would say I wouldn’t change anything. I’m pretty pleased with the way it’s happened and I’m very happy where I am right now.

Asif Choudry (14:07):

That’s a great answer because, , you kind of have that, um, temptation to, you know, go back so many years and think, oh, I would’ve done this differently and that differently. It’s just quite refreshing to hear somebody who said, no, actually I’m, I’m pretty happy with the what I’ve done. And, um, , maybe we’ll interview on the concert podcast if we’re still going another 10 years time and see if that’s still the same answer. Um, and if you, if you’re continually happy with, I’m sure you will be. So no, that’s sort of refreshing, um, answer there. So tell us, what are your top three tips then for young comms people?

Faizah Idris (14:41):

I would say, as I mentioned earlier, don’t be afraid to be creative. Don’t dismiss your wacky ideas and your silly kind of thoughts. Get them out there because out of those 10 wacky ideas make on one or two fantastic kind of ideas that then become something and, you know, that could save a campaign that could make that campaign different. It makes it stand out. So I would say, you know, we all do this. We think, oh, is that good idea? Really? And, you know, I spend a lot of my, my time throughout my career thinking that, is that a good idea? Do you think they’ll take that? And do you know what I’ve, I’ve through age and growing up and, and learning that actually that’s what people want, you know, that that’s now taught me actually those ideas I have is something that somebody else hasn’t thought of.

Faizah Idris (15:23):

And that’s what makes you stand out. So don’t be afraid to be creative and be yourself. I would say firstly, um, number two, I would say be prepared to learn outside of work as well. You know, as much as it is great to learn through work and you do things through work and through your colleagues and your job, you know, don’t be afraid again to take extra courses tr watch extra webinars, you know, if there’s things going on, anything you can attend, anything you can watch, , take that all in, soak it in because eventually you will be, you’ll be using that in your career going forward. That’s something I’ve, I’ve sort of done. I didn’t start doing that earlier on in my career. I thought, you know, it’s fine, it’s just work. But actually growing up again, I’ve now started to do extra things and, you know, learn extra things and now helping me where I’m now.

Faizah Idris (16:09):

Um, and number three I’d say is quite similar. I would say don’t be afraid to volunteer for things. Don’t be afraid to ask questions. , because some people assume you know something or you’re good at something doesn’t mean you are. So if you’re unsure, if you wanna learn more about something, just speak up. Cause I’m sure the other person’s always grateful to have an extra hand. And, you know, you volunteering for something just shows your eagerness and keenness to do more. Um, again, that’s something I’ve tried to do throughout my career is just do more, you know, go above and beyond. Um, and, you know, you never know. That might then put you forward for a potential promotion or any, any kind of opportunity that comes up in the team further down the line.

Asif Choudry (16:49):

Yeah. Brilliant. And you’ve mentioned in there about the second point about, um, doing learning or in our world, C p D, so continual professional development mm-hmm. <affirmative>. So what kind of resources have you come across that you’ve been able to, , tap into to, for this learning? Is it professional membership, body learning resources, and your own? What kind of advice can you give to the listeners?

Faizah Idris (17:15):

Yeah, so I, I was very lucky, , to do a CM level four in digital marketing many years ago. That’s something that I did through work, but it, it took my own time outside of work to attend that and do the assignments, do the research, do the projects. So that was kind of something I did through work. Um, I also use frequently the digital, , the Google Digital Garage, , which has plenty of courses on there, whether it’s digital marketing or specifically social media, seo, ppc, that sort of stuff. , HubSpot I know is very, very good for courses as well. There’s lots of things for a variety of skills and interests on there as well. Um, but yeah, in ts of courses as well and, and attending, , sessions, you know, regularly, I I Google what’s coming up in my area to attend, you know, little marketing courses or marketing speakers, , that sort of thing. So I’d just say keep doing that. And there’s plenty going on for free as well. There’s not a lot of, you know, people automatically say, oh, it costs a lot of money, I can’t afford it, or my business won’t pay for it. But there’s lots of things going on for free and I would recommend that you regularly check what’s happening in your area. You know, there might be something around the corner that you can just go to and that you might learn something there that changes your job completely.

Asif Choudry (18:29):

Well, thanks for sharing that and some good advice there for people. So, professional learning, but also lots of free resources that are available. And who knows, we may be in a few years time doing training courses through TikTok. Who knows? Um,

Faizah Idris (18:41):


Asif Choudry (18:42):

<laugh>. And, , so what does 2023 then hold for you, Faizah, and what are your comms and marketing plans for the year ahead?

Faizah Idris (18:52):

I, I would really love to focus, , on an area that I haven’t kind of done too much on. And that’s the digital marketing space, , seo, ppc, paid adverts. That’s something I’m really now honing on in on. It’s, it’s a skill that we, , are kind of missing a little bit of in our team, but we wanna now gain because it just makes you an all round fantastic team. Um, you know, we’ve got the video skills in house, we’ve got photography, we’ve got copywriting, what design, it’s now that little digital marketing arm that I really wanna kind of, , get hold of. Um, and you know, for me personally, lots more video work. I’m very passionate about filming and editing and the whole producing and that sort of side of stuff. So more of that for me would be fantastic. Um, and just sort of just learning. I’m very much one of those people that will always learn. I don’t sort of sh you know, shy away from learning more, learning new skills, learning from my colleagues, my peers. So, you know, if I can get kind of more learning in this year as well, that’s even better. So yeah, that’s, that’s what I’m thinking for this year.

Asif Choudry (19:57):

Okay. So yeah, just adding more to your skillset and learning and, um, , I’m, I’m sure progressing further into your career will, , no doubt come hand in hand with that. So that’s been really fascinating to hear that journey. And I’m sure, you know, , many listeners and myself included, will be inspired by, , the journey and it’s, it’s a real journey. It’s one that you’ve gone on and one that you’ve shown progression throughout, but not without putting the time and energy into that yourself as well, both inside and outside of work. So lots of good takeaways there for people. So we met, didn’t we, Faizah at, um, a Comms here event back in 2017 now in Manchester. You did, yes. So you’re part of the community. So why is comms here important to you, and would you recommend people in comms and marketing to be part of it?

Faizah Idris (20:46):

It’s great because like you said, it’s a community. It is a real community. I, I’ve found that, you know, it’s one of those things where if there’s something you don’t know or if there’s something you wanna learn more about, there’s always somebody out there that has that knowledge or skill. Um, and you know, it’s a real helpful environment. No one sort of shy away from helping. No one sort of says, oh no, that’s my job. I’m not gonna help you with that. There’s no competition necessarily. It’s very much a team effort. It feels like all of us marketeers and concert heroes are all in one bubble and we all wanna help each other. , and you know, I, I like that. I think it’s, it’s really, it’s a nice feeling that, you know, if I’m stuck with something or if I’ve got a question, I can just pose it out there and somebody will always know the answer. Or if they don’t, they’ll help you find it. Um, and, you know, if, if that’s something that you want, if you like that kind of community feel, then that’s, I would recommend it. Absolutely.

Asif Choudry (21:40):

Well, thank you. And it’s great to, it’s great to hear that. And, and it is a fantastic community way. You’re, you’re absolutely right. People are, , willing to share and help others, , irrespective of whether they’re in the same organization or not same sectors, just to give them a, a leg up and put some advice, but also then go to that same community for advice and support when they need it as well. So, no, it’s definitely been part of that. And we’re entering our 90 year in 2023 as well as a community. So long may it continue. So Faizah, it’s been, as I said, it’s been absolutely fascinating and we’re talking about community and connection. It’s important. We want people to connect with you. So how can people connect with you, what your social handles?

Faizah Idris (22:23):

, the best way to connect with me is probably on LinkedIn, I would say. So just search my full name, Faizah Idris, and , you’ll find me there. , you should be able to recognize me cause I’ve got very big curly hair. So yeah, that’s, , that’s the best channel to connect with me on.

Asif Choudry (22:38):

Great. And you’ll find this podcast on Spotify, apple and on our website com zero.com. And you can follow us on Twitter at CommsHero. And if you do listen on Spotify and Apple, please do leave as a rating and review and also, , follow the podcast as well. And you’ll be kept up to date with new episodes. And if you do, fancy yourself in the guest hot seat, like Faizah’s done on this, , this recording. Drop as a line, drop me a line on LinkedIn or Twitter. DM is fine. And um, if you’re passionate about a com subject, just tell me about it and let’s see if we can get you on in 2023. So Faizah, thank you very much and it’s been an absolute pleasure.

Faizah Idris (23:16):

No problem. Thank you very much for having me.