AdNews is following the WFH Diaries with a series of Perspectives, asking two questions: What did you learn in 2021 and what are you looking forward to in 2022? We've also encouraged the industry to glam, dress for the best, and face next year with optimism.
Nicole Prior, ANZ Managing Director at Xandr:
What was the biggest challenge of 2021?
Challenge is one of those words that became a catch cry for many things during 2021. But there was no greater challenge for me than witnessing the struggle of having two teenage kids separated from family and friends and home schooling. As a single mum who raises my kids alone, the impact of COVID-19 on youth is something I’ve never had to face before.
Sitting on a screen in their bedrooms for 15 hours and not interacting is something you never plan for. I became psychologist, cook, cleaner, teacher and the constant megapone encouraging them to get outside . Watching those struggles was really hard without being able to change anything.
What did you learn?
During lockdown everything seemed to be dictated by and centre on time – with classes, non-stop Teams meetings, the 11am daily announcement by the government. As a family we alleviated that pressure – if my kids wanted to go to park and do maths later that was fine, we learnt to be flexible around time.
As humans we put a lot of pressure on ourselves. The way me, my family, and my team got through that was with a greater level of kindness. At work, giving people permission to do what they needed to do and when, treating each other well and being grateful for what we have. It’s about having empathy and checking in on people.
I am a lot stronger than what I thought I was. I was able to be quite centred in my thoughts, resilient to get through challenges – such as being able to do multiple business pitches via Zoom calls and turn up each day. I feel like I can do anything now. Once you have gone through something like that you come out much stronger.
Finally, I learnt to put myself first. I was not looking to leave UM, however a good friend in the industry came across the Xandr role and told me I had to go for it. It was literally my dream role – it was written for me. During lockdown I went through seven rounds of interviews with multiple stakeholders in multiple countries over more than four months – but it was really the first interview with Jerome (Underhill, Senior Vice President EMEA, APAC and LATAM) when I absolutely knew I wanted to be at Xandr. The way Jerome conducted it, I interviewed him to see if Xandr was an organisation I wanted to be part of. The hardest thing was resigning to a leader at UM who I really wanted to work with. But I needed to put myself first – that was very powerful for me, instead of going with the path of least resistance.
What are you looking forward to in 2022?
I am most excited about being at Xandr. The Australian team is extremely talented and passionate and I’m looking forward to the opportunity of growing their careers and supporting them professionally and personally.
I am also excited to share and showcase our bench strength here, shaking things up a little, and really focusing on products and solutions that deliver for customers. We have a key role to play in supporting a robust, transparent, premium marketplace because we are pioneers in this area.
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