Perspectives - Empathy, compassion and emotional awareness

10 December 2020
Hayley Westoby

This first appeared in the AdNews Annual 2020. Subscribe here to make sure you get your copy.

AdNews asked young guns for their perspective on the year that was and the prospects for the road ahead:

Hayley Westoby, experience & content director, WPP AUNZ

What you think was the best od 2020

There’s nothing like a dose of perspective to boost your daily gratitude, and 2020 has served it up on a silver platter. Going into 2021 we won’t take the ‘little things’ for granted - eating at restaurants, going to the gym, hugging a loved one or simply going for a walk. We are now acutely aware of how hard it can be without those ‘little things’ in our life – and without doubt, that’s been the best thing about this year. We’ve lost a lot, but a gained sense of perspective.

What was the worst 

I think the worst part of 2020 is the toll it has taken on people, physically, emotionally, mentally and financially. We are exhausted. Goals and milestones have been put on hold, finances are being closely monitored and plans have been put on pause with no guide as to when they can recommence. As a person who is a planner by nature, the lack of certainty is exhausting and definitely has taken a toll.

What changed for you 

Two things changed for me in 2020.

Firstly, having spent a large part of my career managing in person large scale events and experiences I quickly realised that I needed to learn all things virtual events as a matter of urgency. Spending 10 days taking courses, watching YouTube clips and reading reviews on various platforms, I was able to translate my in-person event and experience skill set to the world of virtual events.

Secondly and more recently I was able to confidently talk about my struggles with anxiety. Now this might not seem like a big deal, but 2020 has showcased a lot of bravery from many people I know. Bravery to navigate teams and businesses through the changes. Bravery to sidestep and reshape a skillset. Bravery to continue life as we know it through pay cuts and redundancies. It is this bravery that allowed me to share my story about mental health because 2020 is not the year to be scared of change.

What you want/see for 2021

There are many things I want to see for 2021. I want to see people embracing change and see what positives can come from it. I want the open conversation to continue about mental health. I want active listening to become more of a priority for people. I want flexibility to remain a priority for workplaces. I want empathy, compassion and emotional awareness to continue to be a valued trait in everyone, especially our leaders. But who knows what 2021 will bring. Will it be the refreshing change we all need? Or will 2021 be the main event with 2020 simply serving as a trailer for what’s to come?

Have something to say on this? Share your views in the comments section below. Or if you have a news story or tip-off, drop us a line at

Sign up to the AdNews newsletter, like us on Facebook or follow us on Twitter for breaking stories and campaigns throughout the day.