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Women in Media - Jackie Maxted
Welcome to MediaScope's new profile series where we ask 'Women in Media' about their career and experiences in our industry. Our aim is to create awareness of the opportunities and ongoing challenges for women in the media, marketing, advertising and publishing industry - and hopefully generate some level of conversation within companies and employers of our capabilities and needs. Thanks to Jackie for getting involved.
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Tell us about your industry background?
I started my career in the UK at the BBC, first of all in HR and then got involved with the Press and Publicity Offices there. This immediately interested me so once I arrived in Australia my intention was to seek out a role in this field. After four years at Professional Public Relations as Group Director for the Health & Lifestyle Division I left to start my own PR agency, which has now become Maxted Thomas PR. While I no longer have any involvement with that business, the industry expertise I learned enabled the successful development and launch of beautydirectory, an online PR resource for the media and industry hub. By 2008 the audience had spread to 20,000 women all over Australia as well as the intended groups and as a result we invested in the launch of the first custom-built beauty reviews and news site for Australia, beautyheaven.
What is your role and what do you do?
We are a small business of around 25 people, but big enough that we now have a group of managers in place looking after the key areas. My role is to work closely with the heads of content teams, advertising managers, and those in marketing and administration to oversee the plans, identify potential problem areas and look out for new opportunities. I’m also a bit of a numbers girl, so I do like to keen eye on the P&L to make sure we are on track for the forecast and budget.
How do you personally manage your work/life balance?
I’ve had a family and run a business concurrently for over twenty years now so it’s certainly something I’m getting better at! Creating clear boundaries sounds like an excellent idea but it’s never easy to be absolute about it. Having said that I have always made time for holidays, and my yoga classes are rarely cancelled. The combination keeps me sane and helps me to refocus on where I need to spend time in the business.
While growing up, the children have definitely suffered from a lack of ‘domestic management’ shall we say? This means that our kids were often the ones with the wrong clothes, missing homework, lost library books and unsigned notes! Having said that, I’m hoping that, on the plus side, they learned a degree of resourcefulness and independence.
For me, I probably look back and wish I’d been a little less work-orientated with a better balance of time spent with my family. It’s not the actual hours I wasn’t there as I usually worked a three or four day week, but mentally I was often absent and caught up with issues which would have been better kept in the office.
Please outline your views on the general media market & the position of women?
It’s probably quite unusual but we are an office dominated by women. Not surprisingly the beauty industry does attract more women than men, and our office, as a result, is very female oriented. In digital publishing generally, I see no reason why women and men cannot be equally successful. Essentially similar skills for new media would be required as they are in traditional publishing businesses. Without wanting to encourage female stereotyping though, we are somewhat challenged with technology and heavily reliant on fantastic IT and web support from external (generally male!) partners
What advice can you offer to women who are considering a long- term career in our industry?
The digital publishing industry is not for the faint-hearted! Our content producers have to be good at all forms of communication – not just writing. We demand high levels of skill in beauty reporting via words, images and video so multi-talented, multi-taskers only should apply! Not only this, but we also produce high volumes of content so the pressure is always on.
In the Account Management area, we have tough targets and highest quality customer service. As a relatively small player in a huge market dominated by big businesses we have to do great work to be noticed and we’re conscious that our customers have plenty of choice so our challenge is to ensure we are doing the best work to deliver outstanding results.
What challenges have you faced in your career and how have you overcome them?
In the early nineties the beauty industry wasn’t especially interested in being online so while our business plan was sound, meeting our targets in the early days was a lot tougher than we expected. Beauty brands spent their budgets on magazines and to a lesser extent television and it was very challenging to convince many of them to sign up. Nevertheless, some did and we experienced five or six years of slow and steady growth.
I think you overcome these sorts of issues by believing in what you’re doing while at the same time being open to new ways, new ideas and always looking to meet the market as you go forward.
It can also be tough to lose great people from your team. Creating a place where people love to come to work is really important. I’ve learned a lot about myself too – identifying strengths and areas of weakness have helped me to identify the new people we need to make the business better and stronger.
What can our industry do right now to better recognise & support women & families?
I’m happy to admit that while I have an office full of women, as a business owner it can be frustrating at times because when families need support it’s generally the mother who has to be there. Having said that, I appreciate the need for flexibility in order to have a balanced family/work life, and have taken advantage of this myself for twenty years. Clearly if this didn’t work for my business I would have set about deliberately employing men and that hasn’t happened!
Women who work and have a family generally come with a fantastic attitude – I find that their job provides an additional and satisfying layer of their life. In return I get hard workers who appreciate having an opportunity to get back in the workforce.
In my opinion, allowing some flexibility in work hours, including options to work from home, start early/finish early and being understanding and supportive in stressful times allows women the option to enjoy some sort of balance.
What’s your favourite business and personal magazine, site or program?
Business-wise I read the AFR and The Australian on Mondays to get the marketing and media updates, Mumbrella daily, iMedia Connection and B&T occasionally and a couple of blogs including thefuturebuzz.com and Ben Shepherd’s Talking Digital.
Personally, I read every issue of Vanity Fair, sometimes Elle UK and buy a few Australian and UK weeklies when I’m travelling – usually Grazia and Hello or OK! I’m looking forward to seeing new Australian Vogue with Edwina McCann at the helm. I literally go to hundreds of sites all over the world for research and pleasure but among my favourites are mamamia.com.au for lively conversation and allsaints.com for great shopping!
If you know a 'Woman in Media' you'd like to see profiled please get in touch with your suggestion.
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