My story so far: Sophie Castell on moving from Coke to water

The director of marketing, communications and fundraising at the Canal & River Trust says a fascination with water has moulded her career

Sophie Castell
Sophie Castell

As a child, I wanted to be a research scientist or an opera singer - and my jobs have combined the drive and curiosity you have as a scientist with the creativity of singing.

After taking a PhD in biochemistry, I didn't fancy academia, so I worked in market research before moving to Coca-Cola's UK operations.

I ran the marketing for Diet Coke, developing those iconic Diet Coke break ads, and later relocated to work for Coca-Cola in the US, where my son was born. When we moved back to the UK in 1993, I was planning to start my own business, but my son was diagnosed with autism and I didn't have the bandwidth to support him and start something up; so I become an independent consultant.

I found I enjoyed using my commercial skills for third sector organisations that had traditionally been less commercially focused - I'd also become involved in charities through my son.

In 2012 I got tempted back to run strategy at Coke's water division and became fascinated by the impact water has on our lives. My Canal & River Trust role brings together things I've enjoyed in previous jobs. It grew out of the public sector and in some ways it's still transitioning to being a charity, so I'm looking forward to taking the brand to the next level.

All organisations have someone they serve - a customer or a beneficiary or a donor - and for me marketing is about putting them and their aspirations at the heart of everything and engaging the public with that.

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