Boss of the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB), Alice Manners, is next to reveal all to B&T in our ongoing Women In Media profiles. Here, the very mild-mannered Ms Manners talks her psychology background, her voracious appetite for books and her love of the downward dog…
What makes you tick and go that extra mile?
I work best when connected and engaged and the advertising industry gives me that. It’s an industry I fell into accidentally, and I don’t expect to ever leave. At University I gained a master’s degree in psychology; however, on graduating I soon realised I needed to get out and see the world before I settled into anything. When I came back I landed a temp job at an advertising agency and that’s where it all began.
Does the psychology come in useful?
Absolutely. Not just in the people, but from that advertising perspective. In some ways. In subtle ways.
What are your main passions?
Learning. In work, it’s the technology, the tech development and how quickly they influence our lives. How they work at connecting and engaging everyone. I think that really is a passion point for me. Actually, both in work and outside of work. One thing I’ve definitely come to realise is, no matter what I do moving forward, I need to keep learning and I think that’s where the personal interest makes a difference. So, by reading stuff, I don’t consider that work. I actually enjoy it. When there is something new I’m one of those early adopters who will be out there buying it, even though it’s three times the price that everyone else will pay just for that experience.
What’s your current favourite piece of technology or gadget?
My smartphone. It never leaves my side. It’s really sad actually, but the smartphone for me is my perfect partner. It’s always there when I need it. I am enjoying the wearables, too.
What’s your fantasy job?
I think I’m old enough and experienced enough now to be a psychologist, to go back to my roots. And if I’m dreaming, I would be a yoga teacher. As I’ve gotten older, I really enjoy my yoga and wish I had the time to do more classes.
How do you combine the work/life balance?
I’ve got two kids of 10 and 12 and have a calendar that is mapped out to the end of the year. It’s got every public holiday in there, every school holiday, everything. Also, what I do, even with the team, it’s all in the one calendar so that they can see where I’m at. It’s not about, ‘I can’t do this now’, it’s being upfront about the whole work=-life balance thing. The challenge with that is, I never stop working. But it’s great for the industry that I’m always on.
Do you have any other set rules in place to try and get the work life balance?
No, I should! It’s only when I go on holiday that I’ll check my phone in the morning and in the evening, but it’s off during the day. I need to learn to switch off but I suppose that’s the challenge. Look, if you enjoy it, you enjoy it.
What would you say the best thing is about working in the industry?
The people. They’re also the worst thing about working in the industry.
What advice would you give to your 20-year-old self?
Speak up and don’t care so much about what other people think. I think that’s really important, particularly for women. I wish I had been more vocal when I was younger. I read a study by Yao that went straight to my psyche stuff. It found that male executives who speak more than their peers, when they rated them, they came in something like 10 per cent higher in their competence rating. But when female executives spoke more than their peers, both men and women punished them with lower ratings. Their ratings were 14 per cent lower. Basically, what it’s showing is that women who worry about talking too much do so because they think they’ll be disliked. Well, they’re not paranoid, they’re right, the study showed that. I think it’s a case of, ‘don’t care about what other people think’ from a likability perspective, just speak up when you know you should.
What do you love most about your current role?
It’s industry wide – we’re representing the industry in so many ways. It’s got to be future forward – it’s not about just what’s happening today. It’s about what’s happening next in digital. Then always keeping up front and being relevant. But also, we’ve got hundreds of members that we need to insure are happy with what we’re doing for the industry.
What is your ultimate career goal?
To keep learning. And life-balance. I know that sounds corny, but if I can have both, I’d be very happy.
Who is your industry superhero?
I don’t know if she’s a hero but I loved Sheryl Sandberg’s book Lean In. Granted, I read it in two hours sitting by the pool, but I think it should almost be a handout to all women graduates in their first job.
Tickets for B&T’s Women In Media Awards in Sydney on 13th August 2015 at 6.30pm are on sale here.