Natasha McDonough is managing director of marketing and research company, MMC. She is also chair of the Sunderland Committee, North East England Chamber of Commerce and was recently appointed to Council. Natasha was elected as a Fellow of the Chartered Institute of Marketing in 2017


@MMC_StrategiesIf you could invite four people (living or dead) to dinner – who would they be and why?

Barack Obama – because he’s smart, funny and he oozes charisma.
Larry David – because he’s hilarious and I’d be waiting for the moment he puts his foot in something!
Ellen DeGeneres – she’d make us all giggle.
Annie Lennox – because of who she stands for and what she’s been through. I admire her.

Do you use social media, and what is your opinion of it?

Yes, always! However, I’ve set a time limit that comes up on my phone nowadays to stop me going on it instinctively. Recently I banned myself from flicking onto Facebook or Instagram while I’m at my desk. Sounds extreme but it helps me focus when I’m in delivery mode.

I take social apps off my phone when I’m on holiday with my family. My point is that I’ve learnt to enjoy social media more effectively in shorter, sharper bursts. I’d like to believe people will eventually shift to using it for information sharing as opposed to personal sharing.

What’s the best business decision you ever made?

Last year I launched a market research division at MMC. The decision was very much about the person I wanted to hire to run it. We’re a people and service business after all. She is what makes it the success it has become.

The reason I believe it to be a good decision is because within three months, we won a tender against 15 other research companies. For me it validated the decision as a good one.

Which five words do you think people you deal with would use to describe you?

I asked colleagues and clients who said: knowledgeable, strong, trustworthy, a compassionate leader and engaging.

What are your favourite places in the North East, and why?

I moved here 11 years ago from London. Before then I lived in Los Angeles. My husband’s line in his wedding speech was: “How I got a lass from Venice Beach to Roker Beach, I have no idea.” With that said, Roker Beach is by far my favourite place, plus it’s on my doorstep. I also really like Amble Beach.

Name your fantasy board of directors, and why you have chosen them.

Dare I say I’m too fiercely independent to have a board of directors. However, I’d love to work with and learn from John Doerr.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing now, what would be your dream job, and why?

I have it now. Even when I was a nine-year-old I asked for letter-headed stationery and a typewriter for my birthday so I could write to people in my street to sell my car washing services. A natural born marketer and business owner!

What kind of music do you enjoy the most?

I stream Apple Music nowadays. I’d say it’s mostly old soul, jazz and funk such as James Brown and Miles Davis through to very old house music!

I also love listening to Craig Charles’ funk show and Giles Peterson – both on Radio 6 every Saturday afternoon.

What type of books do you like to read and what was the last one you read?

Last book I read and recommend was Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway for the second time in my life. I know when I’m fearful, I get anxious, and this book is a great reminder that it’s ok to keep pushing myself out of my comfort zone.

I only read novels on holiday, as I look at words all day long. During the week, I’m more likely to watch Netflix before I crash out. My most recent favourite was The Kominsky Method.

If you could choose somebody to play you in a biopic, who would it be, and why?

Jodie Foster because she’s small and gutsy.

What’s your best piece of business advice?

Know your numbers. Even if you can’t justify the cost of a finance director, become the finance director and spend serious time each month on those spreadsheets, don’t just dip in once a quarter.