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Author: Jackie Cook

Choosing a future career

By Jacob Mosley, 16-year-old, Year 11 student with Stocksbridge High School in Sheffield.

During my work experience with Jackie Cook at CQ Strategic Marketing, I have learnt lots of new things and been welcomed to new careers and industries, therefore leading for me to have a better understanding of what’s out there and gradually piecing together a future occupation for me.

On day one, I had the pleasure of visiting NEC (Nuclear Energy Components, an engineering and manufacturing company located in Bradwell, Derbyshire). At NEC I was introduced to all the employees and their different job roles. Jackie gave me a tour around NEC, showing me all the different types of machinery and introducing me to some of the employees and which particular role they do on a day-to-day basis. I also gained an overview of marketing from Jackie and she told me what she does for the NEC while also helping me set up my linked in connecting me with a range of people. Jackie introduced me to Matt Keeley, who talked to me about which path he took to get to the position he is in now, from machining apprentice to Director, and what he does on a day-to-day basis. He gave me a further tour round the NEC where he showed me a demonstration of different CNC machines and showed me the different sectors of the company, all of which led to spiking my interest in mechanical engineering and machining.


On day two, I had the experience of going to Addition Design/AddParts (a Plastic 3D printing company) where they 3D print parts for machines on packaging lines. I met the Director of AddParts, Tom Fripp, which he showed me how 3D printing works and also gave me an overview of what the business does and the service they provide to their customers. Alongside this, Jackie helped me write copy for her business, taught me how to format text and also taught me the basics of WordPress (a website management system) all developing my marketing skills. Tom also showed me some of the projects they had previously worked on and showed me some of the parts they had at the office which opened my eyes to all of the different jobs tied in with engineering.


On the final day, I had the opportunity of going to Airmaster (an air conditioning company) where they fit a range of air conditioning systems into different buildings. Jackie introduced me to the different roles at Airmaster including CAD designers, mechanical maintenance engineers the on-site fitters and more. Sam Casadei (a Mechanical Design Engineer) showed me the principles of what he does on a day-to-day basis and an overview of his particular role. Jackie gave me the opportunity of managing her different social media channels for the day and showed me how to upload business related posts onto Facebook, LinkedIn and X. She also showed me how to add pictures to a website blog using WordPress and how to format them around the text correctly. This helped to advance my marketing skills and gave me an overview of marketing as a whole.


Jackie Cook, MD said “Jacob has been a pleasure to have on work experience, when he came on work experience, he started with an interest in engineering and in marketing but unsure of what career he would want to pursue. He has been willing to ask questions to find out more about the career options available. He has spent time in several different workplace environments, has behaved professionally, been willing to learn and shown an attention to detail in the work he has been given.”

Engineering The Future

unLTD’s Ash Birch spoke to Jackie Cook, founder of South Yorkshire-based marketing agency, CQ Strategic Marketing, to talk about her journey from leaving school at 16, to running her own successful marketing agency, receiving a Master’s degree in marketing, and helping shape the future and diversity of local STEM industries…


Jackie is a familiar face on the Sheffield business scene. Many of our readers will already know her as an enthusiastic force of nature, banging the drum for both her day job in marketing, and as an advocate for equality in the STEM industries she works in.

Today’s meeting is held at her office in Moorgate Crofts Business Centre, in Rotherham,and after a brief tour and a few quick snaps with our photographer, we settle down for a chat about what she’s been up to recently.

True to form, this morning Jackie is a whirlwind of information and personality, and she’s keen to tell us about an event coming up later this month that falls into all of her roles within marketing, equality, and the future of the industries she’s passionate about .

The Get Up to Speed with STEM careers showcase is an annual, one-day showcase event which aims to introduce students, parents and teachers to the world of work in the Science, Technology, Engineering and Manufacturing (STEM) sectors.

Organised by The Work-wise Foundation, an employer-led charity who support the development of young people, the huge event welcomes over 5,000 attendees to Magna on Wednesday, 20th March.

Jackie worked alongside Work-wise in a marketing capacity for around four and a half years, from October 2015 up until the pandemic, and tells us they’ve ‘been on a journey’, which continues to this day with their work on the branding of the charity’s events.

Part of that work has been to help change what people’s perceptions of manufacturing is. Jackie explained: “I have an issue with the film The Full Monty. The reason being, it portrays a bad image of manufacturing; it’s closing down, there’s no future in it, and it’s grim up North! “As a film, it’s fantastic, obviously, but we need something that portrays a positive image of manufacturing because since then, Sheffield Forgemasters have had massive investment, socalled ‘mucky manufacturing’ is expanding, and they need skills.

“But then you’ve had businesses like Rolls Royce, Boeing and McLaren come to the city. So, you’ve got all that expansion in new technology in a ‘clean manufacturing’ environment. I mean, some of those you could practically eat your dinner off the shop floor!

“It’s how we shift that perception of what manufacturing needs, and what types of jobs there are. It’s not just the shop floor roles, we also need Project Managers, HR, and Marketing. There’s also diversity in the different types of engineering – it’s civil, it’s mechanical, it’s electrical, it’s nuclear, and we’ve got all of that in South Yorkshire. I get really fired up about this!”

That passion translates into her efforts to spread this message throughout the region and one way to achieve this is through The Work-wise Foundation and their events. Jackie, along with Gaynor Carr, a Senior Designer with CQ Strategic Marketing, have been pivotal in making the charity’s work a success.

The reasons for CQ Strategic Marketing’s success with Work-wise, and indeed their lengthy list of clients, can be found in their experience and passion for the industries they work in, as well as their desire to learn about their client’s businesses.

Founded in 2012, the journey to Jackie setting up her own business was far from traditional. Leaving school at 16, she signed up at Chesterfield College on a secretarial course and became an office junior at 17 at a manufacturing firm. Here, she learned a broad overview of the good grounding for what came later.

She then moved to Sheffield in her early-20s when she was made redundant, and took a job at accountants PKF, where she worked for nine years. Starting out as a secretary, by the time she left she was a Marketing Exec with two Chartered Institute of Marketing qualifications and a Master’s in Marketing Management from Sheffield Hallam University.

“It was a big thing for me.” Says Jackie, “That’s where I moved into marketing, and the company supported me with all the qualifications.” Despite still working from the very same desk here in her new office (she baggsy’d it when PKF moved offices and were clearing out), she left PKF in 2008, just after the financial crash, as she felt it was time for a new challenge. This is when she moved back into the manufacturing industry, but this time in a marketing capacity. She went from being part of a larger marketing department to being the marketing department at heavy engineering firm DavyMarkham, which was a ‘scary’ prospect and a very different environment to what she had become accustomed.

“Most kids are like this, but I remember my mum saying that I always asked, ‘but why?’, and I get the impression that I kind of still do. I get to go into businesses and ask why?, what product or service do you provide? Who to? Why do you go that route to market? Why do you stand out from your competition?”

When DavyMarkham was sold, she took a job at a valve manufacturer, which was part of a large international group. The role was based in Staveley, and as a result, Jackie felt removed from the Sheffield community she loved being involved in.

That combined with a culture that didn’t suit Jackie’s style, led to Jackie taking the bold decision to set up her own marketing company as a sole trader. She spotted a gap in the market to help SME manufacturing businesses in South Yorkshire that didn’t have their own in-house marketing, and after discussions with people she had worked with, she went for it.

“It was scary”, says Jackie, “but I did it with enough behind me that I knew I could cover my bills for a year and give it a go. I set out, and this is what we’re still doing, working with owner managed SMEs across South Yorkshire and North Derbyshire, who haven’t got in-house marketing.

“We try to work on a retainer basis, so it’s businesses that need that ongoing support but don’t want somebody full-time.

‘I’ve been on the other side of it, where we’ve had marketing consultants, or PR consultants working for us and occasionally you get an invoice at the end of the month and go, what did we really get for that?

“I didn’t want to be in that model, where we set up a marketing agency, we get an office and have meetings with clients. I wanted to be on the ground, with the clients, understanding their business.”

Initially, she worked from her dining table, which is now home to the kettle in her office, and physically worked from the company’s sites, a practice she continues to this day. Clients appreciated this proactive approach and it also meant Jackie got a real feel for each business.

Jackie continued: “Clients don’t always remember to tell you what you need to know. By working on site, you get to know them better and vice-versa. You become part of the company, and from their point of view there’s a transparency.

“It’s worked really well. One of my first retainers was Rollem in Barnsley, and I worked with them for nearly 10 years. I was happy that I’d made the right decision and quickly got back into the Sheffield business community that I loved.

“There were a few months of slogging it out, but I was putting the plan together, I built myself a website and figured out what it was I did.

“I still had major doubts but fortunately, I had a great network behind me that believed in me and supported me, and that helped massively.” Around 18-months in, Jackie decided she wanted to become a limited company and needed a rebrand as she wanted to add ‘Strategic’ to the name of the brand, in an effort to help clients understand the strategic thought processes that came into the marketing that she was offering. This is when she met graphic designer, Gaynor Carr.

“That was another big part of the journey”, says Jackie, “We met in Caffe Massarella, in Meadowhall, and we actually went back for lunch for our ten-year anniversary. We do like a tea and cake – it’s fundamental to our creative process.

“We really hit it off, so we began going out as an offering together, with Gaynor doing the design and print work.”

With a team beginning to take shape, another strand of the business developed; equality, diversity and inclusion became more and more fundamental to what Jackie wanted to do.

“I’ve always worked in male dominated sectors,” says Jackie, “so when I set up in business, I joined Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber, and they recommended I got in touch with Jackie Freeborn, who was chair of The Women in Business Committee.

“That was about trying to put more women on boards and senior management positions. I’ve had it in previous roles where I was one of only three women in a senior management team of 15. Even now, I can quite often be the only woman onsite.”

“We need to create role models in order for people to see it to be it. If kids can’t see that it’s possible to be a woman in engineering, we’re not going to get the next generation.

“I try to raise awareness of the issue. Last year, we did an event and raised £700 for the Master Cutler’s Challenge, which was all about putting more into equality and supporting disadvantaged communities.

“Diversity is not just about gender, it’s also about neurodiversity, LGBTQ+, race. I started with gender because as a woman in STEM, I know what problems I’ve had, but five years ago I was diagnosed with Fibromyalgia, so I have some understanding of the issues that people with neurodiversity might have.

“Traditionally, engineering, manufacturing and construction have been very white male dominated sectors with a stereotypically lads culture, that is changing. I am passionate about our manufacturing and construction sectors which have interesting and varied range of career opportunities and a skills shortage. We need to continue to attract more diversity to continue to grow and innovate UK engineering, manufacturing and construction industries.”







unLTD Business feature: Celebrating 10 years in business

South Yorkshire based businesses CQ Strategic Marketing, Agemaspark and Airmaster are all celebrating milestone anniversaries this year at 10 years, 20 years and 30 years respectively. They took part in a roundtable to discuss how doing business has changed during that time.

The panel was Chaired by Caroline Broad of Clarion Solicitors.

Jackie Cook, managing director at CQ Strategic Marketing specialises in marketing services for manufacturing SMEs without their own in-house marketing team. Since starting out as a sole trader in 2012, Jackie has witnessed many changes in the industry and more recently created the Equality in STEM network to encourage greater diversity in the industry.


Manufacturing has always been at the heart of my profession, even back to the days where I worked as a secretary. After a few years, I had the opportunity to join the marketing department and the company supported me through gaining marketing qualifications before later joining an international engineering company. From this, I noticed that many engineering SMEs didn’t have access to an in-house marketing team, so the idea for CQ Strategic Marketing was born and now we work with businesses across South Yorkshire, and Europe!, to essentially become their marketing team. I love the diversity of what we do, every day is different.


We work with a very diverse mix of clients, and I love finding out more about what they do and how things are made – especially when we get to visit the factories and become immersed in the processes. My clients are based internationally, so advances in technology facilitate those relationships.

When I first started out in marketing, we were sat stuffing piles of paper into envelopes and doing everything manually, whereas everything now is done digitally. It’s been a very welcome change, as clients are keen to know how their marketing is working and more specifically, which parts are most successful. We can provide so much data to the clients now – details of traffic on their websites, open rates of emails which helps us to be far more strategic than 20 years ago.


We are working with clients on promoting their apprenticeships and training programmes as we know there is a skills shortage, so we need to work on enticing people into the industry and helping them to grow within it. Social media is also key in this day and age to promote the business and the sector – gone are the days of the mailer where you never knew if anyone actually read it or if it went in the bin! Working with trade associations is another way we can promote the sector as a whole, as well as our own business.


I’ve set up a network called Equality in STEM. We’ve started running columns in unLTD magazine (strategically chosen as it goes out to a range of businesses in South Yorkshire, not just engineering companies) showcasing female role models in the industry. In the industry, we recognise issues with diversity and skills shortages, but we must get the word out to parents, teachers and others out in the community in the hope of moving practices forward in the future. There’s lots of different options for career paths, and we need a shift in perception that engineering doesn’t have to be a man’s profession. We need to remove any barriers and restrictions to the industry for it to be for all.


I think technology will continue to change as much as, if not more, than it has in my last 20 years in the industry. The ways we communicate will be changing, and we’re moving to an era where we need to market to all of the stakeholders, so the marketing emphasis is shifted to include the supply chain from an environmental perspective and the attraction of future skills as well as feeding the business development/sales funnel.

To read the full article in October’s unLTD Business magazine please visit: 

To watch the video of the discussion, please visit:

CQ celebrates 10 years in business!

10 years in business!
Wow! We are delighted to be celebrating 10 years in business, it was this day in 2012 that Jackie Cook left employment to start what has become CQ Strategic Marketing.
Jackie said “I started off as a sole trader whilst I could see if it could work. 18 months later, after an introduction from a mutual friend, I met up with the lovely Gaynor Carr at Café Massarella in Meadowhall where we came up with the ‘CQ Strategic Marketing’ branding. Little did we know that would be the start of a great working relationship, I can’t imagine CQ without Gaynor now, thank you for all you do, graphic designer, friend, sounding board… we recently went for lunch where it all started to celebrate our 10 years in business.”
“Around 8 years ago we met Peter and Ash from Spotlight Studios through a mutual client, which was the start of another great partnership becoming an integral part of our team, they have worked with us on most of our clients’ developing websites, digital animation videos, SEO and PPC campaigns. We share the same values and approach to clients, prioritising their needs above our own.
“I set out to support SME manufacturers without in-house marketing teams, we have worked with companies from Norfolk to Leeds, we still work with one of our first retainer clients and have recently helped them develop a marketing strategy and communications plan including, new branding, website, marketing materials, selecting various business exhibitions for them to launch their new business. Along the way we have added marketing training and coaching with our separate brand CQ Marketing Academy where we train your in house team to run some of your marketing or we provide marketing strategy and planning for senior management teams.”
We are currently working with manufacturers based across South Yorkshire trading nationally, as well as a couple of manufacturing trade associations including one based in The Netherlands. A recent addition to our client base is a specialist recruitment consultancy looking after recruitment of design engineers for technology and engineering businesses.
The spin out of my 18 years of work in engineering and manufacturing is my passion project, Equality in STEM in partnership with Spotlight Studios who share our passion for inspiring, developing and supporting more diversity in the STEM sectors.”
A massive thank you to our clients, suppliers and business network and we look forward to many more years!
#10yearsinbusiness #businessbirthday

Jackie Cook joins Women’s Engineering Society Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Group

CQ Strategic Marketing, Managing Director, Jackie Cook has become a Fellow of the Women’s Engineering Society.

Jackie has joined the newly formed Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Special Interest Group.

Jackie who is studying for a Diversity and Inclusion Certificate from AIHR has teamed up with Spotlight Studios to set up Equality in STEM

The CQ marketing cycle – Step 2 – Marketing Strategy

Step 2 in our weekly series on The CQ marketing cycle is to create a marketing strategy. So, what do we mean when we say that:
– Branding – logo a visual identity to help you stand out, make you recognisable and appeal to your potential customers
– Audience – who is your customer going to be? what do they look like? describe them to me. Is it another Business or an Individual? Where are they based? Gender? Age? Type of business – are they in a particular sector or industry or at a particular growth stage? Individual interested in hobbies? etc
– Segmenting your market – once you know who your customers are, will you have different products/services for different customers? a range of complementary products/services? maybe at different price levels? or offering different advantages? Which segments of your market are more profitable?
– Route to market – how will you sell to your customers? direct? online? through a distributor or agent? is it a retail business? are you providing a service?
– Competitors – who are they? what is there route to market? pricing position? quality of their service? do you want to be a market leader?
– Positioning – how do you want to be seen by your customers and potential customers? Are you going to be high quality, high price? Low price? Where will you be based, what perception does that create? What level of customer service will your provide?
– Message – What product or service are your offering? What problem are you solving for the customer? Why should they buy from you over the competition?
For more on how we help with Segmentation, Targetting and Positioning please click here

The CQ marketing cycle – Step 1 – Understand your market

As part of a new weekly series looking at The CQ Cycle, we will be talking you through some of the steps we use with our clients.
Step 1: Understand your market – Identify and understand your business objectives:
Before we can start working on a marketing and sales strategy and plan, we need to understand your overall business objectives.
– Are you looking for growth in existing markets?
– Are the owners looking to sell within a certain timeframe?
– Are you looking at expanding geographically?
– Are some of your products or services more profitable than others?
– How competitive is your market place?
– Is there increasing or decreasing demand for what you do?
– Are you developing new products or services?
And many more questions that will influence how we pick where to communicate and what your message should be.
Find out more about our marketing strategy services here

New combined sales and marketing service for SME’s

Sheffield based businesses CQ Strategic Marketing and AT Management Solutions are teaming up to launch a new combined sales and marketing service for SME’s and have already won their first contract for an international manufacturer.

Jackie Cook from CQ Strategic Marketing has worked in marketing for 20 years, with 15 years in the manufacturing sector. Angela Taylor from AT Management Solutions has worked in sales and manufacturing for 25 years. They recognised a need to combine their experience to help SME businesses that may not have their own in-house sales or marketing resource. CQ Strategic Marketing work with a number of associates to provide clients with a complete marketing service including marketing strategy, planning and ongoing management with an experienced team of professionals in graphic design, web design, hosting and maintenance, digital integration of IT, SEO & PPC, social media management, digital animation, video production and PR. The addition of a sales professional will provide a more comprehensive service for the full business development pipeline. AT Management Solutions provide sales strategy, management, training, risk and forecasting analysis and business development.

Jackie said “I have worked with many companies where we put in the marketing strategy and activity which generates sales leads for the business but there is a gap then in terms of following up that lead, the development of a long-term potential customer relationship, managing getting on framework agreements or getting on preferred supplier lists. I see this association with Angela as meaning we can help our clients maximise the return they get on their investment in their marketing.”

Angela said “My experience shows that an excellent personal understanding of each client needs is critical for long term mutually beneficial business. This understanding supports the generation of new business and winning more opportunities, developing relationships, and developing key accounts. There is a symbiotic relationship between sales and marketing – a dual aspect approach, enhances growth potential and presence versus your competitors. Being at the forefront of your clients’ or target clients’ mind through a multi-channel promotion represents best practice.  I see this collaboration as providing a complete customer centric approach.”


To launch this new service Jackie and Angela will be presenting a FREE webinar ‘Connect to Thrive – Courting the Customer’ for Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber of Commerce on Thursday 5th November at 10am till 11am.  To book your place, please visit the Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber website:

Jackie Cook becomes mentor on Barnsley and Rotherham Chamber Scheme

CQ Strategic Marketing, Managing Director, Jackie Cook has signed up to become a Mentor as part of the Member Mentoring Programme for Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber.
Jackie said “I have 20 years of marketing experience and have run my own business for over 8 years now. I am delighted to be able to offer this advice and support to other businesses in the South Yorkshire area, particularly during this challenging time for all businesses at the moment.”

Are you looking for guidance from an industry leader? Do you lack particular knowledge gaps in your business strategy? Our “Member Mentoring Programme” aims to promote the industry leaders from within the Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber network to help mentor business individuals in their expert field.    

We understand the pressures the recent pandemic has put on many businesses within our region, in response the Member Mentoring Programme aims to introduce key industry leaders with businesses throughout our region to help guide you though the revival phase of your recovery.

Mentors will help your business by establishing areas which can be improved and help advise you on the processes you can implement. Each Mentor has specialty skills which you can find by browsing through the categories below. They will offer you impartial advice and guidance based on the problems which your business is facing.

A Mentee can request a maximum of 2 hours of mentoring per session from any of the Mentors listed below, the Mentor can accept or reject any mentoring request depending on their own commitments to fulfill the mentoring request.

All Mentoring provided is free for the Mentee, this is a fantastic opportunity to gain guidance from an industry leader from the Barnsley & Rotherham Chamber network.

For more information about the mentor scheme please click here