I believe that difficulties are opportunities. When it comes to women in business, there are plenty of opportunities to move forward. Heather Elder Represents is entirely women run, and we could not be stronger as a team. Each person comes with her own diverse experiences and perspective, which collectively renders us a fierce group that values drawing from those experiences to find solutions. I celebrate my team every day so was particularly excited when Campaign US held their annual Female Frontier Awards on Thursday, March 4th. We were lucky enough to join in and listen to what women in the industry have to say about what being a woman in the marketing, advertising, and creative spaces look like in 2021. Here’s what we learned:
The panel was comprised of three women; Danielle Venne, Director of Innovation at Man Made Music, Sofia Colucci, VP of Marketing at Molson Coors, and Juliana Akuamoah, Chief Talent Officer at Arnold + Havas Media in Boston. These women brought a different perspective to the conversation, and while no two women’s experiences are the same, they all could agree on three things – empathy, mentorship, and perseverance are key to being successful in this industry.
Empathy: The past year has been hard for everyone. It challenged all we thought we knew about work/life balance, race, politics, and identity. It was a turning point for leadership to evaluate how they approach work culture. Juliana noted how they spend a lot of time talking to large groups and individuals to see what is going on in their world, more than just what is happening in the office (so to speak). Sofia also reflects on the last year and how burnout is a very real part of life as the line between home and work is very blurred. Leading with empathy was a thread through this conversation.
Mentorship: A large portion of the discussion was spent on the importance of having a mentor and also being a mentor for younger professionals. Juliana recalls how, while she didn’t have the traditional mentors that people talk about, she became a sponge to everyone around her and created her own committee of mentors, whether they knew it or not. Danielle adds that it’s not just about being a mentor, but giving access to younger professionals in the industry. She really values Man Made’s internship program as a way to give access to up-and-coming leaders, but also notes how much she learns from being a mentor. Both sides of the coin are imperative to continue learning and growing.
Perseverance: Imposter syndrome came up a few times in this conversation. Imposter syndrome is defined as “doubting your abilities and feeling like a fraud. It disproportionately affects high-achieving people, who find it difficult to accept their accomplishments. Many question whether they’re deserving of accolades.” [Harvard Business Review, 2021]. Many people feel this way in their job or personal life. However, women are dis-proportionally “diagnosed” with imposter syndrome, which is an inherently sexist descriptor. Sofia reflects on her career and has found that her mentors continually lifted her out of ideas of imposter syndrome, which were imperative in helping her get where she is today. Danielle also notes how there were so many times when she would be sitting in a meeting thinking, “I don’t belong here.” Over time she realized that those instances actually mean that she actually needs to be in that meeting.
It’s been a long time since women were expected to work from the home. If this event taught us anything, it’s that females are breaking down those stereotypes and exploring new frontiers of what it means to be a career person. We should all remember how far we come, celebrate one another, and create our future — there is so much further we can go.
Missed the event? Watch the recorded livestream here.
Many thanks to our Directors and Photographer for the images. And to Campaign US for the header image.