When Rubbi Boghal-Wood began her first job in marketing, she counted Sean Connery and Her Majesty The Queen as neighbours.
The role was based in central London, close to Buckingham Palace and a stone’s throw from the James Bond actor’s home in the capital.
These days, she’s more at home counting Saddleworth Museum and Uppermill Co-Op as close neighbours, but the change of location means she is no less driven.
Rubbi runs two companies, one of which is a social media strategy business called Wild and Form Digital and the other is a social enterprise called Skills 4 All.
“At Wild and Form Digital I empower organisations with social media skills, knowledge, and confidence to use supercharge their companies. Whether they are launching a new company, or product, taking their business to the next level, or upskilling their staff, I work to create a tailored training and strategy programme for them.
“I also work with young people to open safe, healthy, and non-judgemental conversations about social media. Doing so means young people start off their social media journey better equipped with tools, techniques critical thinking, greater empathy, and more to continue their experience with empowerment, optimism, and purpose.”
Social media is without doubt the phrase of the 2020s. Facebook now has more that 2.85 billion monthly active users, with business-favourite Twitter with over 300 million regular users. Set against that backdrop, there are concerns about personal data, cyber-bullying, and fake news.
Bhogal-Wood is philosophical about the role of social media: “We cannot slap a binary label on social media. It isn’t all bad or good. It’s about having a full awareness of what you’re signing up for, better understanding the mechanics and behaviours behind the channels, and then figuring out where you want to be in it, what you want to get out of it and how you want to contribute meaningfully towards it.
“For instance, consumption of social media was stratospheric during the pandemic. It brought many marginalised voices to the forefront to be heard by all, to instigate long overdue change, to remove barriers, to educate, and all in the name of being better human beings. Social media can be a place for unity while simultaneously celebrating differences. Its power is unique.”
Prior to launching Wild and Form Digital in 2017, Rubbi spent 18 years working in the advertising and marketing industry. She then went on to head up several teams including one that oversaw advertising at Manchester Airport Group. However, it was roles at Microsoft and Facebook partners where she developed a passion for digital marketing. But starting her own business in the field was, at times, overwhelming.
“You’re there doing everything within the business yourself – marketing, accounting, administration, cleaning, sales, finance, and so on – especially in the beginning when you’re bootstrapping. But you soon start to find your rhythm and you quickly learn to outsource parts of the business you recognise you aren’t an expert in. Rather than waste time and energy trying to do a sub-par job, I’ve been able to invest in other small businesses to help me shine in areas that otherwise I’d look rather dull in.”
Experience in marketing gave Rubbi a sound base for developing her own business. At a time when women can often struggle to be heard, she felt her mother was an ideal role-model in terms of making a mark.
“Often in my industry days I’d be the only woman around the board table. Having the courage to speak up, own my ideas and find ways to make them happen were aspects I quickly learned to embrace. Those are qualities I saw role-modelled by my mother. She was someone who didn’t hold back from sharing her viewpoints and did so eloquently and with grace.
“Since entering the SME world though I’ve found the atmosphere around female-led businesses to be electric. There are waves upon waves of organisations, networking groups, podcasts, social enterprises all of whom put women – and I’m referring to all those who identify as a woman – at the centre of their mission.
“If I think about some of the groups and businesses I’ve met or discovered thanks to social media, that have a unquenching thirst to freely share quality knowledge of what it takes to run a successful company blows my mind and makes me ridiculously happy. There is room for us all to succeed – and I’m talking financially as well as spiritually – and our successes are strengthened when we share our know-how willingly.”
Rubbi says she’s keen to live by her motto: ‘You control social media, not the other way round’. She arrived at this belief after experiencing complete overwhelm by social media while working in the business.
“It was the basis of my TEDx talk in 2019 and after realising how I could control it and still have a thriving business; it changed the direction of my company for ever more.
“I enjoy speaking in public, but not the moments that come just before I take the mic. Imposter syndrome often comes my way and tries to put me off my game. But once I see the audience and see them smiling back at me, I feel at home. The buzz I feel from speaking with an audience or panellists is unrivalled. I’ve spoken on panels about women in business, at networking events on topics from social media marketing to the suffragettes; I even have my own show on Instagram called ‘In Conversation With…’”
As well as speaking to invited audiences, Rubbi continues to visit schools to engage with young people about their experience with social media. It’s a project that compliments the social media safety lessons as part of the national curriculum.
“I thoroughly enjoy talking and listening to young people about their views and thoughts about how they navigate the world of social media. It’s often revealing – not in a shocking way – but maturity and depth which from my conversations with adults isn’t something they’re usually given credit for when it comes to social media.
“The conversations are illuminating and reveal that many young people are switched on about the dangers of social media but are also inspired by the content they consume to become change-makers for their families, friends, communities, and the world.”
Despite running two businesses in the rapidly changing sphere of social media and business, Rubbi says she doesn’t necessarily have a strict 5-year plan
“I have an end destination in mind and my daily purpose is to make as many good decisions over bad ones as I can to reach that dream place.
“Every week, something joyful will happen and I pinch myself knowing this is my life. I get to meet wonderful people from all walks of life and help make their dreams a reality by conversing and sharing my knowledge with them.”