I started my advertising career as the part-time mail and receptionist ‘girl’ at Young & Rubicam Mattingly. It was all they could offer me at the time. That was less than 20 years ago in the times when men dominated the management team and a tea lady did the rounds with a trolley full of pikelets.
Starting at the bottom, as a young woman largely amongst blokes, I knew I had a very steep hill to climb. But I also knew I was up for it. Determined. Resilient. I pushed hard, relentlessly, to reach where I am today: Managing director at BWM Dentsu, Melbourne.
Getting there took its toll, and it reshaped my view on the future of our industry.
At the beginning of 2017, when I broke my ankle wakeboarding – a 20-year hobby – I realised I was burnt out. I took an overdue ‘life break’ and, post ankle recovery, spent some time in Greece. Exploring the culture, the cocktails and the sunsets, I reconnected with my interest in ‘male’ and ‘female’ energies - and the Ancient Greek deities’ philosophy. Standing at the Acropolis, it all came flooding in….
The Ancients believed that ‘female’ energy comes from a fluid, intuitive, yet very grounded creative thinking style. Conversely, ‘masculine’ energy is more action-oriented: pointed, competitive, problem-solving and risk taking.
I identified a paradox in my career; in my consuming ambition to get to the next level, I’d become (too) absorbed in this ‘masculine’ world and it had brought out my masculine energy. It had morphed me into someone who was tirelessly on the go delivering with little room for her more intuitive and creative side. I needed to discover what I now call ‘work, life, flow’. How could I find the right balance between the feminine and the masculine within me, ongoing, to once and for all be authentically me - authentically Bee - in my life and work?
After my life break, in late August 2017, I was promoted to MD. Now every day, I find myself striving for that ‘work, life, flow’ between the ‘masculine’ and the ‘feminine’. I’ve focused on channelling more of my ‘feminine’ energies – in my leadership, my people skills – to reinforce my own, and each and everyone’s unique value/s.
We do this through a number of BWMD rituals, such as holding a Monday morning ‘kick-off’, where we engage with each other on our movements for the week - not just from a business sense, but in a personal and spiritual way too. Everyone, from the most junior to the most senior, is important and has a voice.
Nor am I neglecting my ‘masculine’ energy. Our client partners are demanding, more than ever, for us to provide transformative and fleet-footed business solutions. So being definitive and action-oriented is critical.
If I could give just one piece of advice to anyone fresh to the industry, it would be to find yourself two sponsors, one female and one male. Two people you respect. Different. Unique. Pick their brains (and hearts) to unlock and nurture both ‘genders’ of your business psyche. I believe we work best for ourselves and others when these ‘male’ and ‘female’ energies are in a state of ‘flow’, working symbiotically together. Don’t be afraid to learn from others how to navigate this flow. And of course, back yourself.
This reshaped view I now have on our industry, there’s no split. it’s all about inclusiveness. The art of blending the two most powerful energies on earth to create cultural and creative alchemy, that’s what my team and I are focused on, leading the modern way.
By Belinda Murray BWM Dentsu's Melbourne MD