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Women in Media - Advice for your Career Ahead


MediaScope regularly profile the most experienced women in the Australian media and advertising industry.  Here we've collated all answers to the key question 'What Advice can you offer to women who are considering a long-term career in our industry?

What advice can you offer to women who are considering a long-term career in our industry? 

Women in Media - Melina Cruickshank - Fairfax MediaMelina Cruickshank - Director of Life Media at Fairfax Media

'I would say understand that great careers take time and work really hard in the role you’re in before becoming too worried about the next step.  Hard work and luck go a long way in media. Be open to change and use those early years to deliver results and establish a strong reputation. If you decide to take time out of the workplace to have children that reputation will be one of your best assets. Understand that media is a volatile but also a fascinating and a wonderfully intense place to work within. Embrace all types of individuals and give respect to those people who have been in media for a while. I continue to learn every day from experienced journalists.'


Women in Media - Leah Whitford - OMALeah Whitford - MD of outdoor media business - iOM - and board member with the OMA (Outdoor Media Association)

'Maintain some perspective and try not to get caught up in the politics. Give it a go. Media is a dynamic and fun place to work but it also can be ruthless and unrelenting so you need to move through it and get your hands dirty along the way. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and take advice from those who have been doing it for a long time, whether they are male or female. And most importantly don’t forget to have a sense of humour.'


Women in Media - Annick Perrin - Initiative MediaAnnick Perrin - Managing Director at Initiative Media and Chair of MFA Member's Committee

'If working, a career and a senior role is going to make you happy go for it.  There are times in your life when you need to take your foot off the peddle to ensure the happiness of the people around you, don’t think it will set you back, you’ll come back stronger when you have the energy and the headspace.  If you decide not to take your foot off the peddle make sure you have a lot of support around you to help.  It’s OK to accept help.'


Women in Media - Karen Halligan - Slingshot MediaKaren Halligan - General Manager at Slingshot Media

'My advice on having a successful career in this industry is the same for men and women and it falls under 3 buckets:-

  •  - Keep current - the industry is changing if you don't embrace it you will become irrelevant
  •  - Be nice - this is and always will be an industry based on relationships
  •  - Find a role you love - you just do a better job when you do'


Women in Media - Bec Derrington - SourcebottleBec Derrington - Founder of Sourcebottle

'Believe in yourself and go for it. And since you’re bound to be your harshest critic, ignore the majority of what you say to yourself and remember that you’re doing your best. Oh, and never let anyone else dictate your career trajectory.'


Women in Media - Sophie Madden - MFASophie Madden - CEO of The Media Federation of Australia (MFA)

'To go for it, aim high and find a good mentor (male or female).

Male or female, I think being flexible and open minded to different opportunities is really important.  A diversified skill set is critical nowadays and this may mean some sideways moves along the way. 

I’ve never been very good at setting career goals and development plans to get there, looking back I wish I had been better at that.  This includes things like not being shy about putting your hand up for challenges that help get you noticed and learning about and taking some P&L/commercial accountability.'


Women in Media - Katie Rigg-SmithKatie Rigg-Smith - CEO of media agency - Mindshare

'I truly advocate learning your craft as opposed to just chasing a title, be passionately curious about why people act the way they do and how it impacts their decisions with media and brands.  Put your hand up for any and all training you can and seek out mentors to help you.  Lastly have a career path but be flexible with it, if you surround yourself with people from different backgrounds, skill sets and points of view you never know what career opportunities will present themselves that you might not have expected.'


Women in Media - Caroline OveringtonCaroline Overington - Author, Walkley Award Winner, Journalist & now Associate Editor of the Aust Women's Weekly

'Women have a tendency to aim low. As a general rule, a woman will shy away from a job that they aren’t fully qualified to do. Men never think like that. They leap in, and have a go, and if they muck it up, somehow convince themselves it’s not their fault, get a huge payout, and go and get employed somewhere else. Women should adopt that attitude: go for it.'


Women in Media - Lou Barrett - Network TenLouise Barrett - Long term industry professional and National Sales Director of Network Ten

'I would offer women considering a career in our industry the following advice:

  • Make sure you stay focused on your long term goals
  • You will need to become multi media skilled in this day and age to have a truly successful career
  • You must take calculated risks and be comfortable with the fact that they won’t always deliver the desired outcome
  • Learn from your mistakes, everyone makes them
  • Be nimble and adaptable
  • Don’t ever think that you can’t have a family and juggle that with a successful career.  You can and you will feel very fulfilled.
  • Be absolutely dedicated and driven and you will succeed'


Mia Freedman - well known media commentator and founder of Mamamia

Women in Media - Mia Freedman - Mamamia'It’s a tough time and I don’t know what to suggest. Print is looking like a very bad career choice. Interestingly when I first started working online, I would still meet so many young women and girls who wanted to work in magazines. I’ve noticed a dramatic change. They just don’t have the currency or the aspiration factor anymore. Online is where it’s at.'


Janice Williams - Publisher from Australia's largest independently owned magazine publisher - Universal Magazines

Women in Media - Janice Williams - 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.'


Wendy Hogan - Aussie expat based in Singapore and Vice President of CBS Interactive APAC

Women in Media - Wendy Hogan'Be prepared for constant change and working within a relentlessly fast paced environment.  Be open to new ideas and changing strategies as the competitive set and technologies dictate that what worked yesterday isn’t necessarily going to work tomorrow. And finally, find a great team of people who you can learn from and that you love spending time with. '


Bobbi Mahlab - founder of one of Australia's most successful custom publishing houses - Mahlab Media

Women in Media - Bobbi Mahlab - Mahlab Media'Work for talented people who will teach you. Endeavour to broadly understand all the pieces of the puzzle so that you always have a sense of the big picture even if your working world is in the detail. Support other women.'


Jackie Maxted - founder of well-known womens lifestyle site - beautyheaven

Women in Media - Jacqui Maxted - beautyheaven'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.'


Amanda Gome - Publisher of Fairfax Business Media including titles such as Aust Financial Review and Business Review Weekly

Women in Media - Amanda Gome - ANZ'Media is a tough industry so toughen up. There are lots of hurdles in the way so know when you need to jump high and when you need to knock them over. And seek out male and female mentors both inside and outside the industry. You need a plan and mentors help you work on the skills you need to fulfil that plan.'


Cathy O'Connor - CEO of dmg Radio and one of the most senior women in the Australian media industry

Women in Media - Cathy O'Connor - Nova Entertainment'My advice would be to see it as that, a long term pursuit.  Ideally create a career plan for yourself that allows you to maintain skills as the media industry progresses.  That doesn’t mean that career breaks aren’t possible, but staying connected and continuing to learn is essential to ensure the opportunities are there in future.'


Meg Gossert - CEO of independent agency - Multi Media Planning & Buying Services

Women in Media - Meg Gossert - Multi Media'The media market is a vastly different place today.  I find that people do not have all encompassing skills but have focussed on one facet.  I believe having all round knowledge of all things media augers well for the confidence your clients will have in your ability.  Try to gain experience in television buying, radio, print, magazines as well as the all-important digital arena, and you will find your value strengthens.'


Women in Media - Jane Huxley - PandoraJane Huxley - Managing Director of personalised streaming music service - Pandora - Aust & NZ

'Work hard, love what you do, and be brave enough to say what you really think.'


Women in Media - Marina Go - Private MediaMarina Go - CEO - Private 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.'


Women in Media - Virginia HylandVirginia Hyland -Founder - Hyland Media

'Don’t take NO for an answer. There are many ways to climb the mountain. When I started in the industry I worked for large corporate companies. After 10 years I moved to a small media shop that opened my eyes to the success that can be had at any level. These guys were driving Ferraris!

Believe in yourself and your capabilities. Don’t apologise for who you are. Act confident and be direct with your boss about what your expectations are.

Stay open to feedback. Ego can prevent you from learning how to be the best that you can be. Welcome criticism and challenges so that you can understand how to do it better than anyone.

Respect your peers – everyone works as a team. At the end of the day we are all working together and the memories that you will remember will be those that were formed with your workmates.

Recognise that you need help if you want to stay in your career when you have a family. Don’t try to do it all and feel you’re doing a bad job of everything. You need focus and having a great support system will help you.

Speak up for what is important. Wall flowers are not promoted to run a company.'


Leanne Brinkies - Managing Director - Zenith Optimedia Melbourne

Leanne Brinkies - Women in Media'Be passionate about the industry; be engaged in what is going on around you; be prepared to work hard but make sure people are aware of your contributions - sell yourself; and above all love what you do.  It's a tough industry but it's also hugely rewarding and absolutely worth it.'






MediaScope Women in Media - SheSaysSheSays - is a global networking organisation to support women in advertising, media, marketing and creative. It's entirely free and everyone involved is a volunteer. Come and join us at our next event. Find out more here - & join the SheSays Facebook page. 

MediaScope Women in Media - Who's Your MommaWho's Your Momma - is a free mentorship program for women in advertising, digital, media and marketing run by SheSays. We know no matter where you are in your career it's good to have somebody to turn to when you need some advice and support. Find out more here.


If you know a 'Woman in Media' you'd like to see profiled please get in touch with your suggestion.


Further Resources

  • Media Owner Profiles - we ask some of Australia's most successful media owners about running their business and ask them to offer advice to other media owners


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