Celebrating International Women’s Day
It's International Women's Day and to commemorate we're pledging to 'celebrate women's achievements' while getting to know some of the Edinburgh office's most inspiring women – from all levels - and finding out what International Women's Day means to them.
Anneli Ritari-Stewart - Managing Director, iProspect Edinburgh
Jenny McManus – Head Of Display, Carat Edinburgh
Maddy Sim – Strategy Director, Dentsu Aegis Network Edinburgh
Jen Macfarlan – Media Administrator, Dentsu Aegis Network Edinburgh
International Women’s Day celebrates the achievements of women all over the world. In your experience as a successful woman, what is its significance?
Jenny: First of all I don’t ever think of myself as a successful woman. Having said that whilst there are many inspirational women working in media and I feel like this is a very inclusive industry – I don’t believe that there are many other industries as a progressive as ours and International Women’s Day is a good opportunity to both celebrate achievements but also to highlight that there is more work to be done.
Maddy: For me it’s a reminder of the gender gap across the world. It’s easy to let your own situation cloud your judgement, and to think that the work’s done. It, of course, isn’t- there are places in the world where one’s gender has a severe impact on your opportunities in life and work. In those places there’s a great deal to be done. There is, of course, still a gap here – but the day itself makes me think of those in places with even further to go.
Who are your female icons?
Maddy: Caitlin Moran – she’s always first on my ‘ideal dinner party guest’ lists. She’s part of a group of intelligent and funny influencers who have made feminism more accessible. It’s a cliché, but so true, to say that ‘feminist’ used to be a bit of a dirty word. Caitlin Moran has really railed against that – anyone who believes in equality, in liberation, is a feminist and what can be dirty about that? Her books and articles are hilarious and brilliant.
Anneli: Pipi Longstocking When I grew up it was my favourite book about this little girl, the strongest girl in the world who was truly original, unconventional and went her own way. Even though she’s a child she wins over the adult world with her playful sense of humour. She embodies a lot of the personality traits that I admire.
Jen: Without sounding too cliché it has to be my mother. I love it when people ask me “So what does your dad do?” And I respond “Well my dad is a driving instructor but my mum is a financial director of large company.” People always assume that your dad is the breadwinner. My Mum has always told me to be independent and to never rely on anyone else. She has shown me that you don’t have to give up your life when you have children, and that women can be successful.
What drives and motivates you?
Anneli: I set goals that are pretty demanding for myself and I thrive on performance. Outside the office I love exercising and set ambitious challenges. For example, I started out running a 10km then ½ marathon, then a marathon, then 10 marathons before embarking on ultra-distances. Since having my children I had to find a new sport less time consuming and took up powerlifting. I’m now the Scottish M1 champion for my weight category and hold several Scottish records. I’m stronger and faster now than I ever have been and I going to try to continue to push the boundaries and get outside of my comfort zone until I’m in a zimmerframe.
Jenny: The variety of the job that I do motivates me – I really enjoy working across so many different industries
What is your biggest career achievement to date?
Maddy: Being invited to Mountain View when working in Australia – I was invited as part of the senior GM marketing and agency team to discuss the latest developments at Google and to define the opportunity and strategy for the car brand in 2014. I didn’t just love it for the chance to snoop around the Googleplex, and for all the free food on offer...what was most exciting was so many different providers coming together to discuss what was next.
Anneli: My first ever job after University. I joined an internet recruitment company as the 5th employee and the company grew to 500+ people, 10 markets and IPO. I started as an assistant but within 2 years I helped roll out the other offices before being sole responsible for setting up the UK operations in 1999. So I came to London in my early twenties and was setting up this company and negotiating some pretty significant deals. It felt scary but oh so rewarding at the time. I worked hard but the company really invested in me because of my capabilities, not because of my age or gender.
What barriers have you faced, as a woman, in becoming successful in your field? How did you overcome them?
Jenny: I have worked at Carat for a long time and never in that time have I felt discriminated against. However, the fact is that being a woman with a family can be challenging and you can sometimes be torn between priorities in the workplace and at home. It is fair to say that in the past Carat have always been very supportive; over the years they have accommodated flexible working hours when my kids were young, had no problems with orthodontist appointments etc. Sometimes (probably just me) I have felt like I have had to prove myself - to myself as well as to others - that I am up to the job and can manage everything and not show any of the stresses and strains that come with being a working mum and all the juggling that goes along with it.
It has not always been easy bringing up my family whilst working full time. I am very lucky that I have had really supportive parents living close by or I would never have been able to do it!
Do you think there's equality between men and women in your workplace?
Jenny: Yes, I do think there is. There are many talented and successful women here in Carat who inspire me every day.
Jen: I have always felt that people want to push me to go far in the industry, I see a lot of opportunities for my future within the company. I think on the whole yes there is gender equality within our office but obviously there are more men in leading roles than women, which I would like to see balance out in the future.
Anneli: In our office, I believe that there’s equality between men and women but it’s a problem in the wider industry and something that needs to be addressed. Especially with regards to the pay gap. I’m truly inspired that we have a women CEO, Tracy De Groose. I’ve also joined the Women and Leadership programme in the UK, and I’m committed to help drive change any way I can.