Bold doesn't always mean big
It is 13 years since I joined the business. Having then just completed a degree in psychology, I’d chosen the industry after becoming interested in the psychology behind consumer behaviour towards advertising, and having done my research I knew the media industry and specifically Carat was where I wanted to start my career.
When I interviewed for my grad role, we were a small business, there were only 6 people in the company, and I was to be the 7th. At that point women definitely outnumbered the men at 6:1, not something which is common place in our industry. As soon as I met the team, I loved the passion, the vision, everything they stood for, and I saw a really exciting opportunity to grow with them.
Although I always had a clear vision of where I wanted to get to, for the early part of my career, in every appraisal or 1-2-1, my lack of confidence was always highlighted as a weakness. Whether it was not feeling confident enough to speak up in meetings, being worried about what people thought of me, or not selling myself by communicating some of the great work I’d done - I’m sure this is something a number of women may relate to. However, it soon became clear that my own perception of myself could end up being the biggest challenge I faced. So I made a choice, a bold choice to overcome it.
The change in my mind set meant I started to believe in myself. I soon flourished and worked my way up the ranks. After a while, I wanted to progress further and by this point the business had grown, so I saw an opportunity to carve out my next role. The business supported me and as a result client groups were formed to allow for more senior opportunities within the company. I progressed to Associate Director and as one of the first people in this role, I had to make it my own, I had to own it.
This experience taught me about hard work and determination. Having that clear vision of where I wanted to get to, helped me to remain focused to make sure I got there. Don’t get me wrong there were barriers along the way, we face barriers everyday as both men and women, it’s the nature of our industry and our business. Not everyone is going to agree with what you think, people may make unfair assumptions of you, clients won’t always do what you suggest and media owners won’t always give you what you want, but you shouldn’t let this hold you and your ideas back. It’s important to remember that barriers aren’t always a bad thing and sometimes just require us to think slightly differently about a situation. Everyone will face barriers of some sort along the way but learning to deal with them and manoeuver around them is what’s important. Never let them stop you.
Whilst I was an Associate Director I was offered the chance to take part in Route 500, the Dentsu Aegis Network high potential development program, which helps future leaders to build their capability and perform at a higher level to accelerate their career. I knew it was a great opportunity, and although it would require me to push myself out of my comfort zone, and meant I would have to make sacrifices in my personal life, I jumped at the chance to take part. I knew that if I was going to do it, I needed to commit 100% and that would require me to be bold.
However, bold doesn’t always mean big.
1.(of a person, action, or idea) showing a willingness to take risks; confident and courageous.
"a bold attempt to solve the crisis"
synonyms: daring, intrepid, courageous, brave, valiant, fearless, unafraid, undaunted, dauntless, valorous;
As you can see from the synonyms associated with the word bold, it is subjective, it means different things to different people, what might be bold for one person, won’t be for the next. One thing that is clear though it that being bold requires two staple ingredients: confidence and courage. Sometimes day to day challenges, often require, confidence and courage (bold actions) from yourself and it is so important to make those bold choices, which is exactly what I did during the Route 500 process.
I had to present Carat to a senior person within Dentsu Aegis Network North. That was it, that was my brief: “Present Carat”. You might say as an AD, surely you’re used to presenting and standing in front of people and yes, that’s true. Except, this time I decided not to show my presentation to anyone before I went into the meeting. I wanted them to see me and my ideas. Not an amalgamation of ideas and recommendations from my peers. I saw it as an opportunity to learn, to mould my future.
Whilst on Route 500 I was promoted to Director of Carat, which is where I am today. I’m also pleased to say that within the Leeds business we have a pretty equal split of both men and women overall, as women lead the way at a ratio of 1.12:1 in fact we’re leading the way for women in leadership roles, as we currently have 5 women leaders for every 3 men.
It is incredibly important for us to ensure we have a diverse leadership team, made up of both women and men. It’s certainly no secret that men and women are different, mentally and physiologically, but diversity is not just about gender, it’s also about race, ethnicity and class. The more diverse our leadership team, the better chance of success we will have.
I was bold and you can be bold too - don’t ever underestimate what you can achieve. All you need to do is set your mind to it and remain focused on getting there.