Carat’s digital executive, Natalie Herscu, recently attended Liquid Learnings’ ‘Women in Digital Leadership Summit’ – a two day conference aimed at optimising the leadership potential for women in the digital space. In this guest piece, Herscu shares three pieces of advice imparted by some of the digital industry’s most influential women.
The ‘Women in Digital Leadership Summit’ brought together some of the biggest names in the Australian digital media landscape, including the likes of Google’s Renee Gamble, Pandora’s managing director Jane Huxley, Dell’s MD Angela Fox and CBA’s head of mobile digital experience, Abigail Thomas.
As someone in the relatively early stages of their digital media career, a line up like that is an opportunity too good to pass up – albeit an intimidating one. I was initially nervous, given it was hardly a panel of my peers, that I might be a little out of my depth. However the day kicked off perfectly with ‘advice to my younger self’, setting the scene for what was a fantastic and engaging two days.
For anyone looking to make an impact in digital media, regardless of gender, age or experience, here are three great pieces of advice I took away:
Don’t be complacent. Take Risks.
It was Faye Ilhan, the chief digital officer from Dan Murphy’s, who put to the audience this question: “why do so many of us let the years go by without ever questioning or challenging ourselves?”.
She emphasised the importance of constantly challenging ourselves to realise our full potential. Are we setting the right incremental goals by which to do so; are we maximising our opportunities for progression? These are questions we all need to be asking ourselves to ensure we are changing and improving as rapidly as the digital media landscape in which we work.
Her mandate was to always cause disruption and challenge the status quo. Unfortunately, so many of us (myself included) do not challenge ourselves enough, whether out of complacency, fear, or the perceived difficulty associated with engineering change.
Ilhan urged attendees to push these questions and fears to the back of their minds. After all, if we are not disrupting and challenging, we are not progressing – as an individual or an organisation. And nobody wants to get left behind.
Network, network, network!
For some of us, meeting new people can be both awkward and uncomfortable – especially in the absence of liquid courage (other than caffeine). I am certainly in this camp. One of the key take outs from the seminar, however, was the indispensable role of networking in building a successful career in our industry.
Kate Boorer, the CEO and founder of Young Professional Women Australia, shared with us a range of examples of individuals who have connected through networking, and as a result have been able to assist one another to take on challenges and progress in their careers.
I know these typical success stories may sound a bit clichéd, or even a little obvious, but they do prove the importance of building connections with people outside of our friends, family, and especially outside of our comfort zones.
We simply can’t assume to have all the answers. Networking exposes us to people we can all potentially learn from in some way. Let’s be honest, the old saying, “It’s not what you know but who you know”, as much as we all hate to hear it, is just as relevant today as it ever has been.
So, as inconvenient and uncomfortable as it may seem, we need to start (or continue, if you’re already on it) to put ourselves out there and get building those invaluable relationships. Who knows where a conversation might take you?
I am my own USP.
What does it mean to build your own personal brand? And how can this help in your professional career? These were the questions posed by Jane Huxley, the MD of Pandora, as she shared with us her journey to the top of the digital sphere.
Huxley’s contention was that we are all unique, with varying interests, behaviours and passions, and it’s these things that set us apart. Whilst our functional skills are important to our career development, we cannot neglect the behavioural skills that will ultimately come into play throughout our careers.
Renee Ramble, an inspiring woman in her own right, manages ‘Google for Work’ in Australia and New Zealand. She shared about Google’s vibrant and somewhat quirky culture, mentioning that when hiring new staff, one of the key criteria is based on the individual’s ‘Googliness’.
Ramble attributed her success to the fact that she learnt to take little bits of inspiration from others around her, helping her to become ultimately the best version of herself. Rather than trying to emulate other people’s behaviours, she suggested working on your own USP, sculpting your own personal brand and uniqueness in the process.
Since returning to work, I’ve reflected on the theme of the conference. Not wanting to look back on an uneventful and uninspiring career in 20-30 years, my key takeout has been to be proactive and act now. There’s no point in waiting idly to take a risk, seek out someone to talk to, or work on my image – this will only delay success. A great career requires an approach to learning and development along the lines of ‘do it early and do it often’.