Mindshare Australasia’s CEO, Katie Rigg-Smith continues B&T’s Women In Media series. Here she reveals what it takes to get to the top, her inspirations and her dream job…
What roles gave you the best skills to become CEO?
Crudely speaking I have spent four years in the trading and implementation teams, 10 years in strategy – where I grew from a strategist through to national chief strategy officer – and then two years in the hot seat. I’ve been fortunate enough to travel the world with work, be exposed to some of the best training on leadership that exists and work across a plethora of outstanding clients.
Who inspired you to go into this industry?
Russell Tate is a family friend and gave me work experience at Singleton’s. I loved the industry from there on in. It wasn’t until I was at uni however that I understood that ‘media’ was a role and ended up pursuing that part of the industry.
If you weren’t doing this particular job, what would you be doing?
Curator at the Met (sigh).
What are your passions, both in work and outside of it?
I’m such an avid people watcher (which sounds like I am a stalker) but I am fascinated by what makes people tick, why they behave the way they do and what is happening in culture around us. This is obviously a big part of work but equally not something that I can switch off on the weekend. Other than that I love to paint as a creative outlet and anything to do with interior design.
How do you define leadership?
Someone who has a vision and a purpose but most importantly someone that can communicate that to others in a way that gets them inspired.
What makes you tick and go that extra mile?
I love a challenge and the fact that in this job, no two days are the same. I’m most energised and find pushing myself the extra mile when I am in the thick of things with our teams or our clients where we are working through solutions to business problems.
How do you get others onboard with your vision?
I’m a strong believer that you need a point of view and a vision that you have crafted enough to give direction to your team, but then to be completely comfortable to hand it over for them to build upon, challenge and help bring to life.
What are the qualities you seek in people you want to work with?
Provocation, energy, passion, intelligence, willingness to get it done, respect and people who enjoy a good laugh.
What is your proudest career moment?
Becoming CEO but not for the reasons people might think in that it was somehow the pinnacle of my career or something I have always strived for – it’s my proudest moment because it is the most fearful I have ever been in my career and most unsure I have been, of whether I could do the role. But I’m proud I took a leap of faith and said ‘yes’ because I know I would only be regretting it if I hadn’t taken a chance.
Proudest personal moment?
Getting married to my darling husband.
What’s the best thing about working in the industry?
The people – across the agency, clients, media partners and broad industry alike. What an amazing group of eclectic and different minds in one place.
What’s the worst thing about working the industry?
The burnout rate you can see among younger people. It is a tough industry and we need to do more to address balance in the work place.
Have you ever felt like giving up?
Absolutely, but only for like 10 minutes before I get feisty again and reframe the challenge in my head and throw myself back at it.
What advice would you give a female graduate or a newbie contemplating in the media/advertising/marketing industry?
My advice to anyone, male or female, coming into this industry is always the same: ‘learn your craft’. Rather than focus on the next job title or the next pay rise, focus instead on being truly amazing at what you do and have faith that the rest will take care of itself. This becomes particularly relevant for females, where my advice would be make sure you are never a ‘quota’ and that you are in the role are in by your own right. By being amazing at the job you do.
What’s the one thing you wish you’d studied harder at uni/college?
I was a bit of a geek so studied hard but two subjects I would have loved to (and still would love to) pick up again just for interests sake would be linguistics and philosophy. I loved both these subjects but never pursued them further.
What’s your ultimate career goal?
I would love to be known as someone that helped shape an industry that was going through significant change.
And make sure you enter our Women in Media Awards, or nominate a colleague, here!