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Women in Media
Since 2012 this Women in Media Q&A profile series has asked the most senior and successful women in the media, marketing, publishing and advertising sectors to highlight their careers and share their industry views.
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Lee Leggett - CEO at major media agency - Initiative
"I think our industry can do far more for working parents – both women & men. Action is needed at a National level by politicians to address the cost of childcare and support for working parents. From an employer perspective I think we have to be willing to look at flexible ways of working. Without that we risk losing some wonderful women (in this instance it is a female issue) from our industry which is huge loss, from both an equality perspective but also an economic one.
From a personal perspective I think we can do more to support each other."
Pippa Leary - CEO at APEX (Australian Premium Mobile Exchange)
"The Australian media, like most media markets is in a state of flux. The drive towards automated trading and the rise of the open exchanges has further commoditized the inventory of local publishers.
In order for premium publishers in particular to continue investing in quality content then they must differentiate their content from the long tail of amateur content currently available in these open exchanges.
This is the motivating factor behind the rise of publisher alliances – of which almost 20 have been formed around the globe."
Megan Brownlow - Executive Director at PricewaterhouseCoopers
"You can’t be lazy and you can’t be fragile. The market is tough but it’s stimulating for those who can hack it.
It’s a glamour industry still so there are youngsters in schools and universities who want to participate; they’re coming through with embedded behaviours of sharing and creating that are great for our industry. Reverse mentoring could be useful if you can put away your human need to appear to know everything."
Alex Allwood - Founder & CEO of The Holla Agency
"If event organisers really want more female speakers then they need to consider what it is they need to change within their organisations. Many companies are ’talking the talk’ but not ‘walking the walk’.
On their agenda is a desire for female inclusion, they talk openly on the topic and believe that their organisations function as meritocracies, however what tends to exist are cultural biases that stifle change. Ultimately it is leadership in attitudinal and policy change which is required to ensure broader inclusion."
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Gemma Hunter - MD of MediaCom Melbourne
"We learn as much from grads these days as they learn from us, they are the future of our business so we need to listen to them.
I think as an industry we should have more mentoring across businesses, but it doesn’t have to be women to women. I do think we could be more flexible with mums returning to work. In my team, I wholly support flexible working around the kids."
John Steedman - Chairman & CEO: GroupM launches a new initiative for gender diversity
"In challenging times, company culture is more important than ever – it can have a huge impact on results for clients, on fostering innovation and on improving staff retention. We have a lot of bright people working for us, so it made sense to listen to them and implement their ideas for improving our internal culture and the benefits we provide to our employees."
Nicole Sheffield - CEO: NewsLifeMedia
"Media employs more women than so many other industries however it saddens me that so few are rising to the top.
We need to retain experienced and educated female workers, it is in everyone’s best interest."
Mia Freedman - Founder: The Mamamia Women's Network
"I had a dreadful time working in TV. I went into a job that wasn’t well enough defined and there was huge resistance to my input. It was the biggest mistake of my career. And yet I’m glad I made it because it helped me work out what I DIDN’T want to do – which is crucial in propelling you into what you do want to do."
Joe Pollard - ex CEO: ninemsn. Head of Marketing: Telstra
"Male mentors are critical to a female’s success in the media industry. Throughout my career, I have had amazing males support and promote me, particularly at Nike. They are the ones who currently hold most of the influence (as there are more of them). If you don’t have a male mentor – GET ONE!"
Karen Stocks - Managing Director: Twitter Australia
"Women think and problem solve differently, so we need to create an environment where diverse opinions can be shared.
We also need to recognise that the whole family unit needs support, no matter what setup they might have that works for them. Often we can focus primarily on the women in a family, not the family unit as a whole."
Ellie Rogers - Head of Agency Sales: Facebook
"I would argue that our industry needs to do a far better job at supporting people full stop. The mum that needs to do the school run needs to leave the office as much as the 25 year old who wants to go to see if they can pick up the love of their life. Peoples lives are complex, and the more organizations can do to be flexible to accommodate the individual and specific needs of it's team the better."
Melina Cruickshank - Group Director: Domain - Fairfax Media
"Having three small children while my career started to get serious has also been tough at times and all it takes is a sick child on an important work day and it feels like it can fall apart quickly. But resilience is one of my best characteristics to call on. I have also found women colleagues to be incredible support mechanisms over the years."
Leah Whitford - MD of outdoor media business - iOM - and board member with the OMA (Outdoor Media Association)
"The key word is flexibility and embracing and nurturing different work forces in your organisation. Women of 40 with home commitments are petted against 24 year olds at the start of their career, which is unreasonable and unfair. Leaving for home at 5 should be applauded and not frowned upon if productivity is promoted and the hours spent in the workplace maximised."
Annick Perrin - Managing Director: Starcom MediaVest and Chair of MFA Member's Committee
"We need to support all people through their life changes, challenges and requirements, not just women. Only advice I’d give to women is tell the senior people in your business what you want next, don’t sit back and wait around hoping it will happen."
Karen Halligan - General Manager: Bohemia Group
"I am concerned at the lack of senior women in the industry, in particular those with families. We need successful role models and a supportive industry so that women can see that it is possible to have a family and maintain a career in media."
Bec Derrington - Founder: Sourcebottle
"I really hate the phrase, ‘work/life balance’, ‘cause it’s just a pipe dream for me. I have none. With a husband who works excessively long hours, and travels extensively, and three boys – seven, four and two – it remains completely elusive.
The only way I get by is to just sleep a whole lot less."
Sophie Madden - CEO: The Media Federation of Australia (MFA)
"One of the hardest things I found was how to return to work, particularly for those people that have taken a long break. We work in such a fast paced industry that it can be particularly daunting to get up to speed when you’ve been out of it for a while. Transitioning people (not just women) back to work after they have had a career break is an area that I think we could do more in."
Katie Rigg-Smith - CEO: Mindshare
"When it comes to taking some time to have children we have to create processes to on-board mums back into the industry, appreciate that flexibility is key and to focus on output as opposed to measuring impact simply according to hours worked in the office."
Caroline Overington - Author, Walkley Award Winner, Journalist & now Associate Editor: Aust Women's Weekly
"It isn’t going to be the industry that leads to change. Change is going to come from individual women storming to the top, being followed by many other women. One day, half the top jobs will be held by women and men will be doing half the work on the home front. I will of course be dead and buried by then, and so will you, but that day is coming."
Louise Barrett - National Sales Director: Network Ten
"It’s all about providing flexibility for women in their working hours. I have found that women who work part time or require flexible hours are extremely hard working and perform above expectation."
Janice Williams - Publisher: Universal Magazines
"Media is a great career for women – so see the bigger picture for your organisation and how your role fits in within that. If the things you do are aligned with overall company objectives then you will forever be positioned as a useful person who gets in and sorts out what needs to be done no matter what the role is. People who solve problems, improve things around them and work creatively get promoted.
Wendy Hogan - Aussie expat based in Singapore
"There are a lot of very talented and smart women across the spectrum of the media industry in Australia. Some have used social media to develop their profiles and others use their entrepreneurial skills. Not all of them are in management positions or are high profile, but there’s no shortage of female talent out there."
Bobbi Mahlab - Founder: Custom publishing house - Mahlab Media
"The internet is a great boon for entrepreneurial women. Woman are starting online enabled businesses at a rapid pace, often because they can do business from anywhere, anytime. They are not confined by traditional hours or norms. Some of the most interesting and successful new publishing businesses are women led."
Jackie Maxted - Founder: beautyheaven.com.au
"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."
Amanda Gome - ANZ BlueNotes
"There is a very strong business case for attracting and retaining women to senior ranks, particuarly through those difficult years when they are combining young families with work. Include men in the conversation. All the men I know don't want to miss family life either."
Cathy O'Connor - CEO: Nova Entertainment Group
"The position of women is directly related to the senior executives of any media company and the culture they build. Proactive strategies about working conditions that support women (and men) in managing for flexible work /life conditions will shift the number of women in senior roles. This is a leadership issue and requires belief and commitment at the top."
Meg Gossert - CEO: Independent agency - Multi Media Planning & Buying Services
"Ok – Basically/eventually I was a single mother – three young children. Driving a business and coping with those very important lives. Companies need to recognize the need for tolerance, flexibility and understanding with circumstances women are often confronted with in their day to day lives. The women who form part of my business have children, and their children know me and are welcome at any time in this office. The girls appreciate that, and the effort they put in is my reward. Management needs to wake up to the fact that you get what you give, and loyalty will flow if there is a generosity of spirit."
Jane Huxley - Managing Director: Pandora - Aust & NZ
"It’s an amazing time to be in media, and I have never met so many incredible women in my life! It’s a tough business to be in and some of the skills that are “innate” in women are really coming to the fore. Resilience, patience, compromise, communication, tenacity – are the new core capabilities for a successful career.
They are behaviours rather than skills and they have become an important part of survival in the long game."
Marina Go - Publishing Director: Bauer Custom Media
"The media industry can offer a rewarding career. It’s an industry where talent can really shine. Who you work for is more important than the brand you work on. Choose an employer with strong representation of women in leadership roles."
Virginia Hyland - Founder: Hyland Media
"After one day of giving birth to my second child, my client called me to say that a global pitch on their business had been announced. With a one day baby I pulled out the laptop on my hospital bed. I had worked with this client for 9 years and they were very important to me. My agency was up against many of the multinationals. I rolled up my sleeves with a crying baby and went to work on strategizing as to how we could retain the business and fend off multi-million dollar companies. This was not the time to crack and I had to call on all my belief in myself and my team to deliver the very best our industry had to offer. Thankfully we retained the business."
Leanne Brinkies - Managing Director: King Content
"We need to train women on how to find their voice. One of the biggest barriers I see is that women don't sell themselves and the work they do - you need to stand out in this industry. I was loud. I made sure my bosses knew what I was doing and always sought feedback and recognition. I stayed top of mind. If we can help women learn how to do this, I think we'd see a big change."
- GroupM aiming for 50% women leadership by 2016 (AdNews - Mar 6, 2015)
- Look past the condom jar and see the real problem (Mumbrella - Mar 6, 2015)
- Radio boss: We provide condoms to stop staff having babies - and work/life balance is bullshit - (Mumbrella - Mar 5, 2015)
- Do women over 30 disappear from adland? (AdNews - Feb 25, 2015)
- Why aren't more media companies offering job share to get experience back in the door? (Mumbrella - July 23, 2014)
- ZenithOptimedia's Ian Perrin writes a letter to the men of the Media Federation (Mumbrella - Mar 19, 2013)
- 5 steps to achieve a gender diverse workforce (The Communications Council)
- What Advice Can You Offer to Women Starting a Career in our Industry? - Women in Media have their say
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