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Women in Media - Katie Rigg-Smith

Welcome to MediaScope's 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.

I'm pleased to present newly appointed CEO of Mindshare - Katie Rigg-Smith.

Thanks to Katie for getting involved.

Name: Katie Rigg-SmithWomen in Media - Katie Rigg-Smith - Mindshare
Company: Mindshare
Role: CEO

Tell us about your industry background?

I have worked at Mindshare and in the media industry for the past 15 years.  I also spent a few years lecturing part time at the University of Technology Sydney in Media and Communications.  Despite having only worked at the one agency I have been afforded many different careers because I have tried out all parts of the business from trading, implementation, strategy through to management.  This is probably one of the things I love most about this industry is how dynamic it is and how many different career opportunities there are.

What is your role and what do you do?

I was recently promoted to CEO however prior to this I was the National Chief Strategy Officer in charge of our strategic product and responsible for a large and diverse talent base of strategists ranging from analysts, researchers, communication strategists through to creative media thinkers.

What are your family circumstances and how do you manage your work/life balance? 

I realised a long time ago that to be truly great at what you do in your work life you need to step away from it.  Which sounds counter intuitive but what I mean is that to be innovative, imaginative and inspired you need to get out and live, you need to enjoy a strong cultural diet and create space for your mind to cultivate fresh ideas and perspectives. 

When I am not practicing what I preach (let’s face it, we all know what it is like to get pulled in the pitch void) I am fortunate enough to have family, friends and a fiancé that will happily tell me to snap out of it…

Please outline your views on the general media market & the position of women?

I feel very grateful to the strong women that came before me in this industry, who challenged the notion of a boys’ club and made it acceptable for women to have a seat at the table.  Equally I am grateful to the strong male mentors I have had in my career that have always looked beyond my gender and promoted me and believed in my capabilities.  That said, I am by no means naïve enough to think that there is no longer an issue or that my experience is the norm.  The data shows that there simply aren’t the same number of females in senior leadership positions or on company boards as there are men and you only have to speak to women in the industry to know that there is clearly much that still needs to be done to address this.

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

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.

What challenges have you faced in your career and how have you overcome them? 

When I started at Mindshare 15 years ago I was an assistant fresh out of University in my first real job.  So for me the main challenge has been to grow up within the one organisation whilst simultaneously reframing perspectives (mine, my peers and my clients) with every promotion or step I have taken.  Fortunately I am lucky that my clients and peers have always been so incredibly supportive of any promotion so really the onus has been on me to make sure I step up into the new role and coach my successor to take on my old job. 

What can our industry do right now to better recognise & support women & families?

We need to keep women in the industry as a first and obvious step.  From everything I am hearing and reading on the topic it would suggest that women leave for two key reasons – to either have children or because they are frustrated at not being afforded the same opportunities as their male counterparts. 

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. 

Equally we need to consider the changing face of families and consider working dads in this.  When it comes to equal opportunities we need to empower females with tools and education on how to voice their needs to employers.  As employers we have responsibility to reward and acknowledge people based upon their performance not their gender.

What media do you read or view for both business and personal?

I have a voracious appetite for all media.  I believe it comes with the territory and so I make it a point to consume as many different types of content and channels as I possibly can because it broadens my perspective and helps me understand our audiences better.

That said I am a hopeless people watcher and love real stories so I seek out any reality or documentary format which lets me peer into other peoples’ lives to see how they live, how that shapes the way they act and what if any are the cultural differences at play.

Thank you!


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


Further Resources

  • - Digital People Profiles - over the past 3 years we've profiled over 100 of the most well-known and experienced people in the Australian digital media industry through trade site - Digital Ministry
  • - 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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