Chiquita King, managing partner, DDB Sydney shares her keys to success – be wise about who you surround yourself with, inspire others and properly understand your client’s business through and through – in this early season opener for B&T’s Women in Media profile series.
On ‘having it all’
It’s been asked a million times from women the world over: Can you have it all? And, while far too many of us are led to believe we need to choose a career over a family or the other way around, I’ve learned that you most certainly can have it all – just not all at the same time. And of course, it must be said, success is hard to reach without the support of a team.
Early on in my career, I believed that accepting help from others was a sign of weakness but, in fact, it’s just smart and pragmatic. There are so many people that have a hand in my success and I’ve learned the more comfortable I am with that, the more successful I become.
Nowadays, my mandatory ingredient for success is simply being wise about the people I surround myself with.
Inspiring a future
Whilst being smart is crucial, it is often accompanied by arrogance and that is something I’m allergic to. So I guess my brand of leadership is not to exert authority but inspire a vision that motivates others to give the best of themselves in order to deliver success. That only happens if they believe that they have something to contribute and that their contribution is valued.
I’ve experienced first-hand what it means to have someone believe in you. You end up giving far more than you ever thought you were capable of and that’s leadership at its best. So, when I see young talent, I grab hold of it and believe in it. The return on investment is rewarding for both mentor and mentee.
Of course, no matter where you are in your career, it’s always important to have people who still contribute to making you better. And for me, it’s my network, comprised of the most influential women I’ve had the pleasure of working with since my arrival in Australia eight years ago.
They are all smart, powerful and influential in their respective fields but, more importantly, they are comfortable in their own skin and stay true to who they are no matter what. Those are the kinds of people I lean on. I host a dinner once a quarter where we get together to talk about anything and everything. I’m immensely grateful and, as this network grows, I’m reminded of how important it is for women in business to support each and inspire confidence in our ability to make a difference. When we give each other permission to be the best version of ourselves, success is inevitable.
I guess the ultimate measure is success. Unless you can marshall the resources of the agency to impact the client’s bottom line, it’s all talk.
My approach has always been to demonstrate an understanding of the client’s business beyond the context of communication. Whatever is keeping my client up at night, will be the thing keeping me up. It’s only when we truly understand the business problem (alongside the politics that inevitably exists, the complexity around siloed P&Ls and so on), can we appreciate the degree of difficulty they face day-in and day-out.
I’ve always found this perspective builds immense trust and, whilst advertising does not solve problems the way it used to, creative problem solving is a whole different ball game and the life blood of our business.
Yes, admittedly, ads will always be a part of what we deliver but we are capable of so much more. Product development and experiences designed to make consumers fall in love with brands are just the start.
Clients are equally accountable and have a huge part to play in getting the most out of their agency partners. The more security clients instil, the more agencies can stop worrying about procurement and focus on what really matters – growing their clients’ business.