Inspiring stories: Elise Hofman

In the category "Inspiring stories" we are featuring young amazing marketers. In this blog article, Elise Hofman shares with us her successes and failures, inspirations, and tips for fresh marketers. Grab a coffee and get to know amazing Elise.

Hi Elise. 👋 Can you share a little bit about yourself?

I’m what I like to call a walking hybrid. In other words, a midwestern American with Dutch roots.

I grew up in Minnesota and moved to Arizona to pursue a B.S. in Marketing (Digital and Integrated Marketing Communications) with a minor in Sustainability from Arizona State University - go Sun Devils.


During my studies, I took part in a Marketing & Communications internship on the Global Brand Strategy Team for Avnet, a leading Fortune 200 tech company headquartered in Phoenix.

After graduating a semester early, I decided to pack my bags and try out life across the Atlantic. Now I’m exploring my Dutch roots and experiencing what it’s like to work abroad in an international environment.


I dove into the startup world with bunq, a European online bank, and fintech powerhouse, when I first moved to the Netherlands. I worked alongside an extremely talented group of people and was given the opportunity to quickly grow into a management role at a young age. I’m proud to say that I truly got to make a difference in the company at its early stages and successfully built and led the first Content Marketing Team from the ground up.


Then it was time to expand my portfolio and take on a new challenge. I entered into the world of hospitality during (unexpectedly) one of the most unstable years for this industry yet. But as a wise wo/man once said... "with no risk comes no reward". Now overseeing a talented team of 3, I manage all Marketing & PR activities for Zoku International: hybrid hospitality frontrunner and “one of the 25 coolest hotels in the world” as quoted by Forbes.


One of the proudest accomplishments in my career so far was being a key player in tripling Zoku’s portfolio across Europe during a pandemic. Now operating in 3 countries, we successfully expanded to Copenhagen and Vienna in 2021 and can now call ourselves an international home base for global nomads in some of Europe’s most lively hubs.


The next step? Opening Zoku Paris in fall 2022!


Tell me one thing people don’t know about you.

Although it may look like it on paper, my career path wasn’t a straight line. My failures (quite literally) turned into my successes. After extending my full-time summer internship to work alongside my studies, I thought I would work full-time for the same company after graduation.

Then surprise! Real life happened. A company ‘reorg’ took place and the job I thought I had lined up after graduation fell through. My amazing manager at the time (special shoutout to Bethany Brannan) was to “not put all of my eggs in one basket”, which sparked me to take initiative and get out of my comfort zone.


It’s easy to compare yourself to others at a young age and focus on failures, but it’s hard to roll up your sleeves and take a chance on the unknown. Flash forward to today: I’ve been living in Amsterdam for almost 5 years and have worked in the marketing field for some pretty innovative startups.


So the moral of the story? Not getting that first job ended up being the best thing to ever happen to me.


What inspired you to pursue a career in marketing?

I didn’t specifically lean towards one subject in school. I struggled to find my true “calling” and to understand my true passions. I thought this was a weakness at the time, but then one miraculous day it occurred to me that this was actually a huge advantage. I was good at math AND writing. Go figure!


Having both of these skills set me apart from a lot of people, since I could be creative and critical-minded: exactly what a good marketer needs. My people skills and generalist-mindset led me to pursue a career in marketing, but my ability to work creatively and analytically led me to grow my passion.


What are some lessons learned that have made you successful in your position today?

Here are 3 pieces of advice I wish someone would’ve told me when I started my career:


1. No job is too small.

Don’t think you’re ever too good for something, especially when you're just starting out. After proving my dedication, strengths, and commitment, my hard work paid off and I became a manager in my desired field within a year. Of course, everyone's path is different, but one thing holds true for us all: pay your dues and stay humble.


2. Never burn bridges.

I’m honestly still shocked by the number of people in senior positions who haven't learned this. The world is small - and your home city is even smaller - so don’t talk badly about your previous employers or experiences. They might have not been right for you, but negativity doesn’t get you anywhere. A motto to live by... always leave the room (or office) with grace and dignity.


3. Don’t be afraid to network.

Networking used to intimidate me when I was younger. I was afraid to approach people and I didn’t understand why someone more experienced would ever want to speak with me. Little did I know... insecurities get you absolutely NOWHERE. Get out there, be yourself and simply start having conversations with others to learn from them. They’ll “surprise surprise” learn from you too.


Nowadays quite some organizations publish entry-level jobs that require “two-three years of experience”.

What would be your advice to fresh marketers?

Take your imposter syndrome, and throw it out the window. If a position looks amazing, go for it! Worst case scenario you may get a reply that you’re too junior for the role. But guess what? The company could potentially offer you another position in the company that you can learn and grow from. Working your way up is a real thing.


When I personally hire for junior roles, I understand that everyone has to start somewhere. You can teach people hard skills, but you can’t teach them intrinsic values: such as hard work, dedication, and proactivity.


So in the case of entry-level positions, your passions and ability to do the work come across even stronger than your previous experience. That’s why I like to test critical thinking skills with an assignment that is relevant for something in the role. This gives everyone the opportunity to prove their skills despite their background.


- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - -


Thank you for reading!


Do you need an extra push to be more open to opportunities? Connecting and talking with one of our mentors can inspire, motivate, and help you on your journey as a marketer. Schedule a session with a mentor of your choice now.