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#GettingToKnow Ajalin Zenon, Global Brand Strategist at Goat

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Tell us a bit about your role! Is there a “typical” day?

For me there is no such thing as a typical day, more a typical week. It’s important that we start the week prepared in order to deliver the best work for clients. On a Monday, as manager’s, we go through all the client briefs, establishing what’s due to come in and what the workload looks like across the team.

We can then establish which strategist is best placed to work on a project, and ensure no one is over capacity. Once roles and responsibilities have been set, we begin researching the target audience and industries for each brief. By doing a deep dive, looking at social trends and associated hashtags, we can start to build a strategy that offers a unique creative approach.

What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?

I have faced a couple of challenges in my career so far, the first being geography. The Goat Agency is a UK based business, and I was the first US based strategist. Battling with time zones was a big hurdle particularly when I first joined. There is only about three of four hours crossover each day, which can obviously make learning and training more difficult. Luckily, the team were very supportive, and it has led to the US branch flourishing over the past few years.

Another big challenge was trying to find ways to stand out in the US when I was knew not only to the company, but to the influencer marketing space as a whole. I preferred to look at it like a blank canvas, a chance to excel and create exciting new opportunities.


This was  not easy at first, but I used it as an incentive to grow a team that works innovatively and successfully to offer real value to clients. The scale at which the US team has and will continue to grow – by introducing new training programmes for junior strategists – means we continue to see success across our  projects .

What is your personal background and what role did it play in your career?

I was fortunate enough to grow up in New Orleans, Louisiana. As a city it’s very touristy, which meant I could study and work in the hotel industry for six years. Although it was never my true calling in life, I am super grateful for the valuable skills it taught me, particularly customer service skills which have of course proven invaluable in the client management aspect of my role today.

Dealing with hotel requests teaches you to listen and read between the lines of what people want. By understanding these (sometimes!) unspoken requests, has helped me digest client briefs and offer real value in the campaigns we produce at Goat.

What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?

The biggest loss was having to leave an agency because the position wasn’t right for me. I knew I was in the right industry, but my daily job roles and responsibilities just didn’t fit me personally, it was unfulfilling and mentally draining. A wise older woman at that agency told me that I was struggling because the position didn’t allow me to work within my natural talents and I think she was correct.


It could be argued that my biggest win is finding Goat, working in a realm that allows me to employ my natural strengths daily with fun clients and an amazing team. But if you ask me, now that I’ve found what excites me, I’m just getting started. I’ve just co-hosted my first versus style webinar with the Director of Strategy and now I have my eyes set on sitting on a panel at a marketing conference.

Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?

I gain inspiration from the team that surrounds me every day. Being amongst such hard working and creative people spurs me on to produce the best work I can. Outside of The Goat Agency, Bozoma Saint John is an icon of mine within the marketing industry. She is currently the CMO of Netflix but has had previous experience as the Chief Brand Officer at Uber as well as being a renowned author.

I view Bozoma as synonymous with marketing, she’s very knowledgable on how to nurture and grow brands and as a person of colour her confidence is inspiring. People gravitate towards her when she enters the room, and I’d love to be viewed as an expert in this industry in the same way she is.

If you could go back to your teenage years, would you have done things differently? Do you have any regrets?

You wouldn’t be human if you didn’t have a single regret as a teenager! For me, I would change my approach to finances and scholarships. At school, I was often a straight A student, who was susceptible to distracting my peers when I finished my work. I was then enrolled in honour classes that proved more challenging and  I was no longer a straight A student.


Being unable to receive full scholarships left a constant weight of student loans. This meant post college I was limited in where I could afford to work and missed out on moving to cities with a better marketing culture - such as Washington DC or Austin, Texas. I often think about whether missing out on internships at these bigger firms reduced the amount of industry knowledge I could gain? And if this is something that could have helped accelerate my career, or shaped it in a different way?

If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?

I always had an interest in physical/occupational therapy due to my mum working as a respiratory therapist. However, this required six years at college – a commitment I was not willing to make! This choice to not follow this path was also made easier by the fact that science wasn’t one of my strengths. Luckily, I found my true passions in marketing and haven’t looked back since!

What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?

Diversity is still an area where we need to see major improvements. I constantly see campaigns that target specific groups of people, but do not accurately represent or respect differences, ultimately this stems from lack of representation in the ideation stage. You can’t just have one advocate, the industry needs to become truly inclusive and appropriately celebrate the differences in people.

What are your top tips for aspiring creative professionals?

It may seem simple, but pay attention to the industry around you. Subscribe to industry publications, be inquisitive of your favourite campaigns, look at the people behind them. See what they studied, where did they intern, what are their life experiences that helped craft the marketer they are today. By doing this, aspiring creatives can give themselves the best opportunity at success.


Find a mentor. This doesn’t have to be someone you know or works in the same industry – they could be from a podcast, or an online blog! These people can often be the best people. They can teach you wider professional and personal skills that are translatable into all walks of life and help set you up for success in whatever career you choose.

What are your top tips for other creative leaders?

You’re only as good as the team around you, so make sure you look after them. If your people are happy, they create better work and unlock better levels of creativity, and this shouldn’t stop at a professional level. By understanding the personal needs of your team, whether that’s childcare or elderly parents, find opportunities to give back to the people that work hard for you.

The same goes for looking after yourself. Everyone has a life outside of work that has to be acknowledged. Take holidays, relax and unwind, and get into healthy routines that help you maintain work life balance. Not only is it good for you, it will also help avoid burnout.

When you think about your team, what is the thing that matters to you the most?

A lot of what I mentioned in the previous question applies here. In simple terms make sure they enjoy their work. Pizza parties are a thing of the past, we need to offer meaningful work and meaningful benefits.


This all stems from effective people management to support both professional and personal growth. This can include helping them learn new skills, offering training opportunities to better their career, sharing constructive feedback to help them become a more well-rounded employee, and more importantly, person.

Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?

There are so many great resources out there for creatives, but these are just a few of my go to reads:

Good to Great: Why Some Companies Make the Leap... and Others Don't

A management book by Jim C. Collins that describes how companies transition from being good companies to great companies, and how most businesses fail to make the transition.

This Is Marketing: You Can't Be Seen Until You Learn to See

A book by Seth Godin showing you how to do work you're proud of, whether you're a tech startup founder, a small business owner, or part of a large corporation.

Atomic habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits & Break Bad Ones

Atomic Habits is the most comprehensive and practical guide on how to create good habits, break bad ones, and get one percent better every day.

Black Women Talk Work

Black Women Talk Work is the podcast candidly exploring the experiences of Black women at work while highlighting our success stories along the way. Myriha Burce interviews women across different industries and at various stages of their careers, offering insightful conversation into career pathing, diversity, and inclusion, and reimagining the world of work for us, with candour, authenticity, and purpose.


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