The second half of our piece celebrating International Women’s Day 2020, where I asked 20 inspiring female marketing leaders from all walks of life “What advice would you give your younger self?”
Amy Kean, Head of Strategic Innovation, Starcom Global Clients at Starcom
My advice to my younger self is: Sleep! Sleep from 10pm to 7am, sleep on the weekends, sleep on trains if you have to. Sleep on holiday (on that note, take holidays!). Sleep with your makeup off and don’t fall asleep watching Family Guy every damn night.
“When you stay late in the office to crazy o’clock no one’s ever that impressed: They generally think you have appalling time management skills and cannot cope”
For the first half of my career I worked ridiculous hours. I thought the longer I stayed in the office, the more dedicated I would seem. I did ALL the work. Sleep took a back seat because I was so intent on proving myself. I’d work until 10pm, get home at 11pm, end up passing out at about 1am, and then back up at 6.30am to go spinning or head into the office early. I didn’t realise how much I needed to recharge – and alongside water, sleep is what our body needs the most.
If my younger self had slept more, and worked normal hours, she would have been happier, her brain would have been clearer, and she would have been less stressed! When you stay late in the office to crazy o’clock no one’s ever that impressed: They generally think you have appalling time management skills and cannot cope.
Sue France, Head of Marketing (e-commerce, Loyalty & Incentives) at eBay UK
Imposter syndrome is universal. Everyone feels it in some way. The people who feel confident talking about numbers may feel awkward in a creative brainstorm. And someone who is great at managing a project meeting may suddenly feel out of their depth presenting at a conference.
So remember you are not alone. There will be things you are great at that others aren’t and people who are great at things that you aren’t.
“Imposter syndrome is universal”
New ideas must start somewhere, with a new thought, a new idea and a challenge to the status quo, and your ideas are as important as anyone else’s in the room. Man or woman, junior or more experienced. So be brave and share your thoughts and ideas, and don’t worry if they’re not accepted every time. There may be information or context that you aren’t aware of and you can learn from any feedback.
Oh, and don’t worry about being too nice. It will lead to much more meaningful relationships in the long term (and the people who aren’t so nice will come unstuck eventually).
Karla Rivershaw, Head of Marketing at Turtl
To not be afraid of being myself! Particularly as a teenager, there’s so much pressure to fit in and the funny thing is, when you get older, you realise you are celebrated for your individuality. As a leader, I think being yourself is absolutely key as it helps you to be your most authentic self, create meaningful relationships with those around you, and ultimately stand out which will help you move up in your career.
“There’s so much pressure to fit in and the funny thing is, when you get older, you realise you are celebrated for your individuality”
Komal Helyer, VP Marketing at Pure360
Don’t worry if you haven’t found your passion yet.
Life is about exploring and being curious. It’s very likely that you haven’t found your real passion yet. Don’t beat yourself up about that! Have a diverse reading list, be curious about the world and ask lots of questions. Believe that you can do anything if you put your mind to it. And ultimately have a lust for life!
“Be curious about the world and ask lots of questions”
Diane Perlman, Chief Marketing Officer at Blis
Always be open to opportunities that come your way and be brave and bold in your actions, but always be mindful to take others on the journey. Finally, you should endeavour to be a leader, friend and coach that always puts herself into others’ shoes – empathy is a really powerful tool that can easily be overlooked in the leader’s toolbox.
“Empathy is a really powerful tool”
Amy Williams, Founder of Good-Loop
I’d tell my younger self to listen more and speak less. As a young, enthusiastic person, I was desperate to get stuck in and to have my voice heard. But I’ve since recognised that often the most useful and insightful people in the meeting are the ones who listen first, take time to deeply understand the topic and speak once they have something meaningful to say. I’m so fortunate to be surrounded by an incredibly smart and capable team at Good-Loop, so often, all I have to do is listen.
“Listen more and speak less”
What’s more, by actually listening to people, you’re sending the signal that you appreciate and value what they have to say – it’s so obvious, but so often forgotten in business contexts!
Beverly Jackson, Corporate VP of Social Marketing at MGM Resorts International
Age and wisdom remind you that at any point in time you only know what you know, but hindsight is a powerful tool. It’s important to reflect, adjust and share so that others learn from your journey but it’s equally important for our own personal development.
Looking back at my career and life I’m reminded and grateful for every experience, failures and successes. I regret not paying more attention to my health. What I put my body through has impacted my current state as well as my future. The ability to prioritise self care is something I believed there would be time for later when I took care of everything else. It simply wasn’t a priority and there was no time to stop.
“Greatness is not built by skipping meals and pulling all nighters, but by simple gestures that build character”
Self care is realised in so many extraordinary ways… food, exercise, sleep and mindfulness. I always assumed there would be time but at some point the calendar simply runs out. Today I prioritise me: My health, my spirit and my soul. My goal is to apply the rigor I’ve associated with my career and other parts of my life to self care. To drink more water, put down the screens, sleep more, rest my mind and nourish my soul and spirit. And perhaps most importantly, spending quality time with those who really matter to build meaningful relations filled with rich and textured memories.
Greatness is not built by skipping meals and pulling all nighters, but by simple gestures that build character.
Solange Baki, Growth Marketing Manager at Badoo
In your career, you will likely meet some incredible women, who will help you develop personally and professionally. Try to not compare yourselves to other people, but learn from their success.
“Try to not compare yourselves to other people, but learn from their success”
Emma Wynne, Head of Growth at Pasta Evangelists
The biggest piece of advice I would have given myself starting off in digital marketing is to not rely on the people around you to learn from. There is so much valuable information available online – from blogs to podcasts to Youtube. Use these to inform growth hacking ideas, your creativity and your process and you’ll always be a step ahead of your peers.
“There is so much valuable information available online”
Some of my favourites are:
- Hubspot blog
- Marketing School
- How I built this
- Social Media Marketing
- The Growth Marketing toolbox
Becky Simms, Founder and CEO of Reflect Digital
If I could offer one piece of advice to my younger self it would be – creativity comes in many forms, it is more than art lessons at school. If I could ask a young Becky if she were creative the answer would most definitely be no, but in the early years of my career, I discovered a real creative talent that I did not identify when I was at school. Whenever I speak to students in schools, colleges or universities I always use my personal example to get them thinking about their skills and what those skills might be able to lead to.
“Creativity comes in many forms”
I am creative every day in my role of leading an agency, be that in directing creative campaigns for clients, coming up with creative strategy or problem-solving which is intrinsically linked to creative thinking. I think focusing on skills and not so heavily on subjects is a real opportunity for the young today in helping guide their pathway to a successful and fulfilling career.
(NB: When we reached out to female marketing leaders, we were blown away by the number that wanted to contribute, so we’re sharing responses from four more inspirational women.)
Josie Klafkowska, Marketing Director at Cognifide
I’m a true believer that you can achieve beyond your own expectations if you are comfortable and confident with who you are. I would tell my younger self not to try to conform to type and, instead, to focus on being the best me that I could be. There’s far too much mental energy wasted on concern about what other people think. The most important thing is to have the confidence and resilience to believe in yourself.
“You never know where life will take you and you should never walk away from an opportunity”
I’d also tell myself not to sweat so much about trying to define my career too early on. I see graduates today who are desperate to try to badge themselves with a specific role and I think I was the same. I had to be an Account Director at a top ad agency by the time I was 26. That was my goal and I wasn’t going to be swayed. Since then, my career has been a jigsaw puzzle of connected, but different pieces, with a few exciting side hustles thrown in along the way. I’m now Director of Marketing at WPP Martech consultancy, Cognifide. If someone had foreseen that in a glass ball when I was younger, I wouldn’t have believed them. You never know where life will take you and you should never walk away from an opportunity. Always have the conversation.
Emily Miller, Marketing Manager at This is Beyond
Advocate for yourself. There’s a time and a place for this, but recognise when and where that is and respectfully present why you deserve what you deserve. Own your accomplishments – you’re the only person you can guarantee will always champion your career.
“You’re the only person you can guarantee will always champion your career”
Emma Franks, Account Based Marketing Manager at TAB Bank
Every day of your career, you will know more than you think you know. Be confident in your skills, don’t be afraid to speak up and share your ideas. Be aware of others around you who have not yet learned what you have and look for opportunities to share resources or connections that will help them grow. Be bold in pursuing your dreams – you will be surprised how often you get what you want just by asking for it.
“Engaging with other great minds will open the door”
Every day of your career, you will also know less than you think you know. Be humble and curious, do not hesitate to ask questions and strive to continually improve. Spend more time listening than speaking. Take time to read the news, read industry blogs, listen to podcasts, or attend workshops and conferences to expose yourself to new ideas and perspectives. Engaging with other great minds will open the door to communities and networks you might never have found on your own.
Davina Rajoopillai, Project Manager at Mindshare UK
As an Asian female marketeer and the chair of a steering committee championing ethnic and cultural inclusivity, the advice I would give my younger self would be to speak out about equality sooner and find my voice, as you can always make a difference at any age.