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Started with a Spark

Nothing great happens overnight except a baby.

When it comes to working and reaching for our dreams, millennials are usually told that we take circuitous routes. Often we feel pressured to conform to a certain box- we aspire for established companies, aim for certain salary brackets, decided on the basis of benefits, always wary of the risks.

My name is Franco Santos. I am a millennial, and this is my story. How I took a string of uncertainty, “nothing” answers to what I wanted to do with my life, and waited for the right sparks to turn it into something great.

I never would have guessed that I would end up working in public relations or marketing.

My first job was as a Human Resources person for Star Cinema, a stint I stayed at for only three months. I then moved on to work for my family and became a stockbroker. Still unsettled at this point in my life, I decided to go back to school and enrolled at the Ateneo for my masters. Even after this, I found myself doubtful if I was on the right track.

I then worked for a digital company, where I was a project and product manager for E-games. We worked with GMA to produce digital marketing components. I learned a lot from digital work- especially about learning what your target audience wants. After ten years though, I resigned and found myself with nothing again- no semblance of clarity about what I wanted.

Then one day my sister said “You’re madaldal, why not try PR?” So I applied. After four long months, I began working at Bridges PR, where I would eventually become marketing director. I never even thought I could work in this field because all I knew was digital during the time!

I love working in PR and marketing. There’s this great sense of collaboration with the people you work with. When I begin to think about projects we’ve done and how they’ve brought new experiences and culture to the country, I feel proud. There was the Clear Dream Matches which started out as a simple game and turned into a league with notable players- some legends like players from Manchester United- and was done nationwide. We started the music festival culture here when we began the Close Up Forever Summer concert series.

The six years I spent with Bridges was what I would consider the best time of my life. But at some point in my work there, I found myself turning 30 and wondering what I could truly call my own. I was inspired by my bosses- they would share stories about how from simple chismis at Starbucks they could sign on new big clients. I wanted that. I wanted my own story, something I could share to inspire others as well- something beyond being an employee rising to the top, beyond promotions. I wanted to have my own string of firsts- first clients, first awards. I wanted to become the big guy who was able to achieve something on his own. So I started Spark It!

I believe that all my experience has helped mold Spark It! Into the company it is today. We aspire to become the number one influencer management company in the Philippines, one that goes beyond just marketing or just public relations.

It has not come without challenges- sometimes it can be a struggle to convince people that influencer marketing is the way to go. Often people are still looking for traditional means of communicating new ideas, or in things like heavy advertising. At Spark It! we believe that influencer marketing is something organic and unique- that it allows people to tell stories from their own voice and own perspective. I am proud that we are the industry catalyst for strategizing influencer management and helping clients best decide how to convey messages through influencers.

In the year that we’ve been working, aside from earning, we’ve made great partnerships with companies like Unilever, Nestle, GSK, and SM- companies I’ve always looked up to as a marketing professional. It is amazing to think about how we have done something right in such a short amount of time.

If there’s any advice I would give to people in this generation, it is this: don’t pressure yourself too much. We- millennials- are all eager to become our own selves but at the same time become millionaires overnight. When it comes to your own personal journey, take it slow. As long as you realize what you want, everything will fall into place at the right time. Just be open to it, and remember- sometimes all it needs is a spark.

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