In this guest post, Azk Media’s founder and B&T Women In Media shortlister, Azadeh Williams (main photo), says you’re probably a darn sight more talented than you or your employer thinks you are…
“You could be worth millions”
Imagine this. You’re at an interview for an editorial job of a leading business magazine. Before entering the interview room, the publisher stops you in your tracks. He opens your portfolio, looks at it, and says, “Looking at your global media experience I’m not going to hire you, because you could be worth millions. But I’m not telling you how to achieve it, because I know you’ll beat me to the game.”
This is what happened to me six years ago. Fresh from a five-year stint at one of the world’s leading newspapers, publishing executive reports on technology, law and finance in The Times UK, I came back to Australia with a big portfolio and an even bigger dream to bring my skills and talent back home.
But it took me another six years to discover what that publisher really meant – and why my skills were valuable to the media, technology, martech and adtech landscape. So how can you evaluate your worth? And can you even put a ‘price’ on talent?
Look beyond your job description
The first step is to look beyond your own job description. Think about it. We’re facing an era of unprecedented change within the media landscape. The way we advertise, market, publish and consume information – is all evolving at a phenomenal pace. This means the skills that were valued even a few years ago within the industry, compared to those that are relevant now, and in the future, all look dramatically different.
So discover the skills you have right now, in your current role, that are truly unique and could translate as rare and highly sought after within new and potentially pioneering roles. A digital marketer? Maybe you have the skills to pioneer an innovative voice of a customer program. An advertising creative? Perhaps you could learn how to use AR to boost brand engagement. Remember complacency kills a career in today’s cut-throat media game, so always be learning, filling knowledge gaps and evolving.
Next, take a holistic look at not only your experience, but all the connections you made along the way. One thing I had undervalued in my career as a journalist were the sheer volume of global industry connections I had made along the way. These turned out to be invaluable in the world of public relations and communications, especially in digital advertising and martech were there’s so much cross-border overlap.
Creativity and the ‘softer’ skills
Never under-estimate the true worth of ideation, creativity and design thinking to your career in media. Companies pay thousands, if not millions for innovative business, media, marketing and communications strategists. So if ‘coming up with great ideas’ is your thing, nurture it and celebrate it.
Finally, never underestimate your soft skills. At executive level, nobody has time to do business with annoying, rude people they don’t like. So have a genuine passion for what you do, be empathetic and sensitive to client needs and leave your ego at the door. These can go a long way in fostering positive business relationships and driving good leadership acumen.
A wake-up call for women
If we want to have a rewarding, fulfilling career in the media, where we feel like we’re achieving our true potential, we need to be more attuned of the immense value of our individual talents – from the moment we graduate. And this is even more important for women.
Recent data from the Australian Department of Gender Equality shows median undergraduate starting salaries for women are still 4.8 per cent less than for men. This inequality continues to widen as career paths progress, with women holding only 13.7 per cent of chair positions and representing 17.1 per cent of CEOs in Australia. Once a woman retires, her average superannuation balance is a whopping 42 per cent lower than her male counterparts.
It’s time we celebrated our strengths, moved on from unconscious bias and rejected archaic ideas of what ‘leadership in the media looks like.’
Six years on from that fateful encounter, I’m now running a fast-growing communications and content marketing firm. And I’ve always vowed I’d never be like that publisher. Because if we want our media landscape to be more powerful, our business messages to be more impactful, and the quality of the content we consume more engaging, we need to celebrate and nurture talent, not quash it for fear that it might supersede our own. After all, the future is only as bright as the leaders who are brave enough to pave the way for change.