Rising through the ranks with Dow Schofield Watts

Katie Walton, Dow Schofield Watts’s Brand & Marketing Manager, joined in 2018. Here she discusses her role, the changes she has seen, and her involvement in the firm’s ESG strategy.

DSW MarketingHow did you come to join DSW?

The business was looking for someone with a blend of marketing and design skills. My previous role was design-focused, and I was part way through a graphic design degree, but it also involved maintaining relationships with various stakeholders, feeding back their marketing needs to the wider team. This was the ideal background for the role and how DSW operates.

After meeting with Giovanna Jackson (now Operations Manager) and James Dow (CEO), I immediately liked the ethos of the team and the passion James had for the company. They were looking for support with improving brand consistency and social media and, from the start, were open about how I could make the role my own. I knew this was a great opportunity, so I took an 18-month break from my degree to fully immerse myself in a new sector and a dynamic role. 

Have you continued with your degree?

Yes, I graduated in 2023 – a few years later than initially planned. I was fortunate that DSW allowed me to reduce my hours so I could focus on my studies in those final years and progress in my career at the same time.

What are the main changes you’ve experienced at DSW?

My time was originally shared between the corporate finance and head office teams. The role was North West focused and we had around 50 people in the network. Since then, we have diversified our portfolio, and my team now offers support to all businesses within the DSW Network, which is now 100 plus people across 11 UK offices.

This expansion has broadened not only my responsibilities, requiring me to deliver to a wider range of stakeholders, but also my knowledge of a variety of niche professional services. These now include, amongst others, insolvency, tax advisory, corporate debt advisory, asset-based lending risk management, and fractional advisors. We also have Pandea Global M&A, an international network of 30-plus independent firms focusing on mid-market M&A activities and cross-border transactions.

However, the most strategic change was our admission to AIM, which marked a significant milestone and required considerable effort from everyone involved. The process was intense but invaluable, establishing robust frameworks, systems, and processes. It was a learning curve, but it provided me with an excellent opportunity to gain experience, particularly with stakeholder management in a regulatory environment.

What’s your biggest challenge?

Staying ahead in a competitive landscape while maintaining brand consistency across rapid growth can be challenging. We have to leverage our digital strategy to keep up with the competition, maximise our ROI and move quickly.

On a personal level, having big goals and wanting to change the sector for the better can seem daunting, but it’s the fire that keeps the DSW Capital team moving. As part of the marketing strategy, I use this vision to guide us in the right direction.

How do you manage brands within the DSW network and the DSW Capital plc brand?

Our business model differs from the norm; each business has its own audience, message, expertise, and autonomy. I maintain balance by dividing my focus between the aims of DSW Capital and supporting our DSW business owners to achieve their own goals. Ultimately the vision is to make the DSW network the most sought-after destination for ambitious, entrepreneurial professionals to deliver a range of client-focused services.

My role involves overseeing the combined marketing strategy for all brands, ensuring that our decisions contribute to stronger market positioning. I act as the bridge between the network members, their brands, and audiences, aiming to establish trust and credibility.

What do the next couple of years hold for you and the team?

Our focus will be expanding the range of services we offer to current and prospective network members, accompanied by growing our internal marketing team. This year’s strategy emphasises digital content, including SEO and PPC, and increasing our media profile remains a priority. On a personal note, I am passionate about upskilling the team and helping other young people harness their talents.

What’s your role with DSW’s ESG agenda?               

Since joining, I’ve been engaged in our charitable efforts and am excited to see how important they have become to our stakeholders. The formation of an ESG Committee is an exciting next step. We have a broad remit and are currently reviewing the charitable causes we support and how we can deliver the most impact to create the change they’re striving to achieve.