GGP Hot Seat with Sarah Gyde

Sarah Gyde, Marketing Director, Mila

What sparked your interest in the hardware industry?

I have worked in the hardware industry since I graduated from uni. My first role was within the marketing department at Mila in 2000, and looking back, it was a great place to gain an understanding of Mila products, customers and the wider industry. The Mila culture got me from the first day – people were instantly welcoming and very supportive in terms of training – I loved working there. They say once you come into this industry you never leave, and it’ll be my 21-year anniversary at Mila in July.

How creative is your role?

Very. As Marketing Director, I manage the Mila brand in the UK and across the Mila Group. I am responsible for the marketing strategy as well as creating everything to deliver it. I lead a small in-house creative marketing team which enables us to be hands-on with product launches, website design and content and even exhibition design. I am passionate about the Mila culture too – both putting our customer at the heart of everything we do and supporting and training our teams across the business.

If you could have chosen a different career, what would it have been?

Something to do with horticulture – maybe a garden designer. I love gardening and growing my own plants – dahlias in particular. If I have any spare time you can find me in the garden, all year round (I won’t mention that I garden with a head torch when It gets dark!) – and Gardeners World on a Friday evening is pure joy.

How has the industry changed over the decades you’ve worked in it? Are those changes good or bad?

It’s great to see even more women coming to the fore and leading the way for other females across the industry. It’s no secret that our industry has been male dominated for many years, certainly when I first started out. In recent years, we’ve seen the WIGS campaign (Women In Glazing) aimed at raising awareness of the opportunities for women, and there are many more high-profile, successful ladies heading up major businesses now. For new people coming into the industry, you don’t need to look far to model excellence. Across the board though, the industry is so professional today and one I’m proud to be a part of.

What are your predictions for the industry (over the coming months, years)? Will smart hardware continue to dominate trends?

Yes, for sure. There are many great smart hardware innovations already on the market (and I’m one of those people who remembers Mila’s original ‘Centralock’ product which surely led the way!) We might have been ahead of our time with that one, but I won’t say much more because we have something very exciting in the pipeline.

What innovations are you looking forward to within the industry?

From a marketing perspective I think we’ll see continued growth in digital. Like lots of businesses, at Mila, we took a ‘digital first’ approach throughout the pandemic and it was really exciting to see just how eagerly our customers embraced that. Everything from creating rich content on our website, to introducing ‘digital toolkits’ for our sales team, creating CGI product showcases and producing product installation animations which were brilliant to share with customers via Teams or email. Even our press and advertising campaigns went digital. We are always thinking about making touchpoints across the business easier for our customers – and we’ve recently launched The EDIT, which is a ‘collection of carefully considered hardware, all in one place’ at mila.co.uk

What achievement are you most proud of, personally as well as professionally?

Professionally – climbing up through the ranks and today being the only female and youngest member of staff on the Mila board. Mila is run with integrity and I like to think that I have helped to shape that over the last 21 years.

Personally – I am a keen runner and over the last few years have raised nearly £10k for charity – specifically the MNDA – through running. I am a carer for my mum – and she was my biggest inspiration to not only complete my first marathon but to run the two largest marathons in the world – London and NYC in 2019. During the pandemic, I ran the virtual London marathon and, this year, as sport hopefully comes back, I’ll be running the Berlin marathon in Berlin, the London marathon in London and the Boston marathon virtually – all on three consecutive weekends – wish me luck.

Where do you see yourself in five/ten years?

Seeing my mum terminally ill has made me appreciate life even more – so, in Cornwall would be lovely – maybe gardening with a sea view – and running along a coastal path!

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