OPINION: Caution, women at work

Jane Hutton
By Jane Hutton | 23 October 2012
Jane Hutton.

Last week marked the arrival of international networking and mentoring organisation SheSays to Melbourne. SheSays is all about collaboration, inspiration and education; and it’s open to women from all across the digital, marketing and advertising industries.

Laura Desmond, the only woman to lead a global media group as the head of Starcom, summed it up perfectly in AdAge recently: ““I grew up in a world where I was given the confidence to search for and reach my potential. I see it as part of my job to pay it forward. Helping others be extraordinary is the best legacy we can leave the industry.”

This is exactly what SheSays is about, and the Melbourne launch started me thinking about the amazing women within marketing around the world. I’ve kept it to my top five, and what they all have in common is ambition, pride, guts and the smarts to succeed.

1. The super woman – Marissa Mayer. It seems naive to think that anyone can “have it all” these days, but Marissa definitely seems to be close. Her appointment at Yahoo while pregnant was seen as a breakthrough for women. I see it as a breakthrough for everyone in this industry, having the best person for the job appointed regardless of their personal circumstances. I hope she succeeds and mostly I hope that the industry continues to support her as she adapts to life as both a mum and CEO.

2. The original individual brand – Martha Stewart. Before the mega-brands of Oprah and Gaga, there was Martha. She turned her passion for gardening, cooking and homes into a hugely successful business. Yes, there’s the whole insider trading affair but I still love her. Not only has she sustained her brand despite the scandal, she’s kept it relevant since 1982, which in this rapidly changing media world of ours is no mean feat.

3. The legend – Anne Parsons. She may not reside in Australia these days but her influence on the media and marketing industry is undeniable. Through her years at George Patts, Zenith and MediaCom, she oversaw some of Australia’s biggest media spends and was reportedly responsible for driving strong global ties for her agency in the early days of global alignments. The legacy she leaves is that there is room for women at the top. 

4. The CEO – Tracey de Groose. Head of Carat in the UK, Tracey leads a team of more than 600 people in one of the network’s leading offices. Her ability to galvanise a team of this size is what I admire about Tracey, along with her regular media commentary on the industry.

5. The mentor – Alessandra Lariu. The former ECD is now dedicated to driving initiatives to help women progress in advertising, including SheSays and her latest project, Everybody Shout, which is a program enabling women to collaborate and work together. She champions women at conferences all over the world and this year made it into Fast Company’s League of Extraordinary Women, alongside Oprah and Hillary Clinton.

Here in Australia today, we have many women achieving great things in media and marketing. Leilani Abels, founder of Thrive PR, running the agency she’s built up over more than a decade to 30 people across Australia. Kristen Boschma, head of Aegis Media’s social media division and Justine Watkins who leads our performance marketing and technology division are two women that I’m privileged to work directly alongside. All About Eve’s Linda MacGregor and Hello I’m Venus founder Bec Brideson are women running very successful businesses specialising in marketing to women. They’re all amazing and there are many, many more out there. 

SheSays marks the beginning of a new opportunity for women in marketing. Visit SheSays to get involved, and let us know – which women are inspiring you?

Jane Hutton
SheSays committee member and Aegis Media communications manager

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